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5 Monetary Consideration About Eating When Working Out Of Town

Some of our clients are independent consultants, and sometimes have to be out of town for a week or more for their work. Some have the options of fixing meals in their rooms, while others are eating out every single night.

road food
Supposedly chicken & dumplings;
see any chicken?

It seems like a glamorous life to those who work close to home, but it’s a tough way to live for a long time. It takes a lot of discipline and a recognition that you’re not in total control, thus there are many things to get used to living such a life. Here’s 5 things to help get you thinking about food and money in a different light while you’re working on the road.

1. Every extended stay hotel offers some kind of meals here and there.

Instead of staying at a regular hotel, find an extended hotel to stay at. Most of them offer some kind of breakfast, full or continental, every day including weekend, and offer some kind of dinner Mondays through Thursdays. If your stomach and palate can handle it, you can save money by eating in the hotel and only having to worry about lunch.

Unless the hotel also has a restaurant, which is rare unless you’re staying in an expensive place, the food you’re eating is mainly frozen foods that are thawed out and you’re not getting the most nutritious stuff, let alone the tastiest fare. Still, if you can deal with it you can use most of your money for other things; that and they always offer free cookies! 🙂

2. Your kitchen isn’t going to be like at home.

If you can cook in your room, your cooking space isn’t going to be luxurious. Saying you have a full kitchen is a major misnomer. If you’re lucky you’ll get a stove top with 2 electric coil burners, a small frying pan and a sauce pan. No big pots, which means you can’t make a big meal and save it for the week unless you bring your own stuff.

If you’re working or on the go every day, it’s more tiring than being used to a routine at home. Having to cook every night can feel like a major chore. If you still want to prepare easy and relatively inexpensive meals, go for sandwich foods and possibly frozen vegetables; maybe even cereal. Don’t forget that you’ll have to buy condiments and butter if you go this route, though they’ll last for a while. A side note here is that you’re probably going to end up throwing a lot of stuff away before you go back home, so take time to decide what you know you’ll eat before you purchase it.

3. Eating out all the time can be expensive and dicey to your diet.

Unless you want to eat at fast food places all the time, realize that almost every restaurant you go to is going to for dinner will cost you at least $20 a meal, not including tip. Even local diners can end up pricey depending on what you’re ordering, although sometimes you can get a great deal here and there. While you’re on the road you can decide to pay for your meals and write off 50% of the costs, or you can accept the daily per diem, which depends on where you’re working.

Something else to consider is how far from home you are when eating out. If you live in the northeast and you’re heading down south for work, you might have to learn how to deal with burning in your stomach for a while because food is spicier, even though the locals will tell you stuff isn’t; they’re used to it. If it’s the other way around, you might have to get used to food that tastes bland compared to what you’re used to. No matter whether you’re close to home or not, be careful when trying dishes you’re not used to; one of the worst things in the world is feeling sick and being in the bathroom all night and into the next day because your system couldn’t handle the food you ate. lol

4. Grocery foods might be different than what you get at home.

Why do we recommend sandwich foods? Because in other parts of the country you might find that even food you buy in the grocery store is different from what you’re used to. Those hamburger patties you buy might not only contain hamburger meat in them; that rotisserie chicken might have seasonings you aren’t prepared for or don’t like. You might find yourself throwing away a lot of what you buy at grocery stores because you keep thinking things you buy such as potato salad or baked beans are going to taste like what you’re used to. That can get expensive because it’s always expensive when you don’t eat what you still have to pay for.

5. Ask questions about everything, even if you think you know what it is.

Something you’ll learn quickly is that certain foods you buy at home in restaurants might have the same name, but aren’t necessarily the same food you get in your hometown. Chinese restaurants can be dicey because it’s a large country and the food tastes different depending on where the cooks are from. The same goes for almost all international foods except Japanese restaurants, and even there the sushi you can get at home might go by a different name on the word.

Unless the restaurant is very forgiving, if you order it you’re paying for it. You’ll either have to order something else or go elsewhere to get something else to eat; either way it’ll cost you more money. Is it worth ordering something, having to still pay for it, and ending up spending $40 on dinner which includes the Whopper you picked up after leaving the restaurant?

Here’s an additional recommendation; make sure you’re stocked up with something that can help relieve your stomach issues; you just never know. 🙂

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