The subtitle of this post is really “How to Survive Hotel Life with 5 Kids and a Slow Cooker.”

Baby Cam is finally rolling from her tummy to her back. And actually, I’m surprised it’s happening at all since she has hardly been laid down to play on her back or tummy since we’ve been living in the hotel. Sorry, I’m a germ freak. My little engineer eats his lunch everyday perched on the cooler while his brother’s enjoy the benefits of eating lunch at school and a real table. And my oldest son, Jackson, works really hard to get dressed, get downstairs to the continental breakfast (he’s loving the Cocoa Puffs – gag! – since his mean mother never buys them for him), and back up to give his baby sis some snuggles before the school day starts.

I’ve mentioned several times here and on Facebook that armed with my slow cooker, panini press, and rice cooker, I’ve been rockin’ the home cooked meals during our hotel stay. Well, maybe I shouldn’t say “rockin'” but it sure beats eating at the Dairy Queen every meal. I am living proof that hotel stay doesn’t necessarily mean the loss of a decent dinner. Although if I said I’m fine living without a real kitchen forevermore, I’d be a major liar.

Here’s what we’ve made so far:
Ultimate Beef Stroganoff (with steamed rice)
Crockpot Lasagna from Christy’s blog (made mine meatless since I didn’t have a way to brown hamburger)
BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches (and if you think I made homemade buns, you are crazy!)
A version of this popular Italian chicken made without the cream of chicken soup (I’ll share my variations in a future post)
Grilled English muffins with ham and swiss (on the panini press)

I also have yet to try this macaroni and cheese in the rice cooker (seriously, get out!) and a few others that many of you recommended on Facebook. The advantage we have is that in our hotel, we have a mini fridge which has been a lifesaver. We don’t have a home yet but we have a few options that may mean our hotel stay might be nearing it’s end. Until then, at least I know dinner can be a no-brainer (now, entertaining a 3-year old and his three brothers for hours after schoool…that’s a different matter!).

32 Responses to Snapshot Saturday

  1. Kim in MD says:

    Hi Mel- I was catching up on the posts that I have been missing out on and stumbled upon this one. Can I just say it out loud? You are SUPERMOM! Seriously, you are making meals in your hotel room? That’s amazing! Your children are so precious, and I totally agree about not letting Camryn lay on the hotel carpet…yuck! I’m praying that you find a house soon so your family can get into a normal routine again! πŸ™‚

  2. Oh Mel, your kids are so adorable. I’m with you about letting your little one down oon the hotel carpets – No Way!!! I bet people staying at the hotel are wondering where that smell of amazing food is coming from. That is so funny about your son running downstairs for the Cocoa Puffs. It is kind of like me growing up where my mom made all of my clothes and how I would have loved to have a store bought dress. I didn’t even have a pair of jeans until I after I was in college. Hope you have a house and moved in very quickly!

  3. Martha P. says:

    Thanks once again for some precious pics of those beautiful children and sharing your life with us. I am sure this is difficult at times for you but seems as if you are doing a bang up job – and – YOU ARE MAKING MEMORIES! Hey, my kids and grandkids could have lived in a motel forever if they had breakfast and a pool! They begged to go to them – and we took them just for the fun of it – in their own home town when we visited! And – I think cooking as you are doing is so creative – always loved a challenge – still do. Best of luck to all of you.

  4. Lauren says:

    Have you looked for a playgroup in your new town? That was a lifesaver when we moved and had to stay in a hotel for 5 weeks- it got me and the little ones out of the hotel and meeting new friends a few times a week. We had 3 then and I was pregnant with #4, now we have 5 like you and I can’t imagine cramming that many into 1 room! Good for you for cooking- wish I would’ve thought of a crock-pot. We ate out way more than I wanted to for lack of a better idea. Hope you find a house soon!

  5. Kim S. says:

    May I recommend doing a “roast”–chuck roast in the crock pot with potatoes and carrots? Or you could just throw in the chuck roast with some broth/consumme and shred it for sandwiches. I would then grill buttered buns on the panini press so the juice doesn’t soak through! Good luck! I have been praying that you find a more permanent residence!

  6. gigi says:

    wow! I give you soooo much credit. i have twins snd between work and preschool for them I don’t think I could do what you do.The fact you have five kids including a baby and accomplish what you do…amazing.

  7. Stacie D. says:

    Cute pictures! Glad you are surviving in the hotel and making the best of things. Hope you get into a house soon! I am looking forward to your Italian Chicken recipe!

  8. Rebecca says:

    You are amazing. Has anyone told you that yet??? πŸ˜‰

  9. Stephanie says:

    Oh my goodness…you need an electric pressure cooker!!! It can brown, saute, and cook things SUPER fast. I love all of the one pot meals I can make in it. It’s our favorite kitchen appliance ever.

    Good luck!! I hope you get into a house very soon!! I absolutely love your blog. You’re always my first stop for meal planning. Thanks for all of the great recipes!

  10. Melody says:


    I wish we could all just send you some meals through cyberspace! You know every one of us on this blog would do so if it were possible but I am impressed as well at how you’re making it through your current circumstances. Hopefully, it will soon be a memory.

  11. Oh, Mel! Are y’all anywhere near northeastern Kansas? Come stay with us! I hate the idea of y’all in a hotel room. You’re supermom for pulling together meals like that, though! Best wishes!

  12. Kelly says:

    Living in a college dorm room with no stove/0ven, I used an electric skillet for EVERYTHING. I was always in class or working during dining hall hours and I wasn’t willing to eat Ramen and Banquet frozen meals. They’re pretty cheap ($20 or less for sure) and give you a ton more options for cooking.

    I never thought to use a crock pot in the dorm! How much more delicious would my meals have been with it?!

  13. Tracey says:

    You are seriously just amazing!!!

  14. Oh bless your souls! Y’all are troopers for sticking it out for this long! Hopefully you all will find a home soon. Kudos to you for cooking home cooked meals in the hotel. I don’t know if I would have ever thought to utilize my crock-pot in a hotel usually having any food (ie: leftovers) gets tricky in a hotel, but luckily you have a mini fridge. If you need more crock-pot recipes I have quite a few I can share (if you’re interested), including peanut butter pork and a pizza soup that is some of our favorites.

  15. Sheila h. says:

    For crockpot spaghetti or lasagna, I buy grassfed beef that is lean and cook it in the crockpot first, then put it in a bowl to start the layering process. There is barely any grease. A lot of your pork loin recipes work great in the crockpot and add diced sweet potatoes or apples.
    Is there a park nearby for the kids? Card games or board games? I am sure you are already doing these things but wanted to mention them just in case.

  16. Mel says:

    Tiffany – yes, I think the no-boil noodles could work but they’ll probably cook faster than regular lasagna noodles so you’d maybe want to shorten the cooking time and check so the noodles don’t get mushy.

  17. Katie says:

    Been in your shoes…stayed in hotel for 10 weeks with 2 kids, 2 dogs and hubs…crock pot, toaster oven, the minibar fridge and an electric skillet…have to say that the electric skillet gave me sanity and it didn’t occur to me until about 4 weeks into our stay to get one. My friends made fun of us, but in the end, we ate in our room almost every night and saved a lot of money (and calories) along the way. And I became a far more creative cook too…hope your stay ends soon.

  18. Stephanie W says:

    I have to tell you, your comment about your son and the continental breakfast made me laugh so hard. Whenever we go to a hotel, my 4 year old says, “YAY! I get FRUIT LOOPS! Mom, why don’t we ever have Fruit Loops?” Because I too am a mean mom that won’t buy them for you πŸ™‚ Hopefully they will thank us someday.

  19. Tia says:

    My husband & I moved to Pensacola Florida for a Air Force Tech School for 6 months – they put us up in a hotel with a small/half kitchen! Needless to say I use the crock pot ALL the time because our only other option was the microwave (gag!)
    That is how I found your blog – I made one of your slow cook recipes & have been hooked ever sense! Goodluck!!

  20. Anissa says:

    I have totally been there regarding survival in a hotel room with many kids. I didn’t take a crockpot, but I did use my convection cooktop and a big pot. I consider those a necessity for vacations or moving. πŸ™‚ I visited lots of parks and other places to let the kids burn their energy off…especially necessary if there is no pool or only one adult available.

  21. Tiffany says:

    I’m intrigued by the crockpot lasagna. I am lazy, and only buy the “no boil” lasagna noodles – and I happen to have some in the pantry right now! Will the result be the same?

  22. Katrina says:

    Wow! I remember doing that – in Minnesota, no less, and with 5 children also! We had a 6-week long hotel stay before we could get into our house. For the first week, it was like a vacation – we had the hotel breakfast, I made sandwiches for lunch, and we ate out for dinner. After a week, we realized that there was no way our budget could afford to do that anymore. I used a hot plate and a slow cooker, and we survived. Best of luck to you! How much longer do you have in the hotel?

  23. malinda says:

    I never comment on blogs, but I had to let you know, I have been there…armed with a george forman, a crock pot, mini fridge and a microwave purchased from DI. I actually used a lot of your recipes!!

  24. Pam Runyan says:

    We recently survived a kitchen remodel. Something that REALLY helped was to buy a little induction “hot plate”. We got it on line for @ $75. It helped me choose which type of cooktop I wanted in the new kitchen (induction boils water in seconds) and it’s easy to clean up with its smooth top. It also helped me to discover that my Cuisinart stainless steel pans, which claim to be induction-ready weren’t. However, Cuisanart gladly replaced them all for free! While waiting for the pans to be shipped I cooked with a couple of camping cast iron fry pans and bought a 3-qt pasta cooking pot at Macys to use. These, with my microwave (even baked in it), rice cooker (did all-in-one recipes in it) and crock pot made the 3 months without a real kitchen almost enjoyable! Good luck!

  25. Lana says:

    You’re an inspiration! That’s so cool. Clever, ingenious, brilliant…whatever. They all fit here. Oh my gosh, good luck on finding the right place for you guys. You’ll be so happy to have an oven and stove again!!

  26. Oh my goodness, Cam is absolutely adorable!!!

  27. Mistie Barfus says:

    By the way, I wanted to let you know that yours is my favorite cooking blog and I just popped in this morning to find a good chili recipe before I go grocery shopping this morning. Thanks for all the great recipes!

  28. Mistie Barfus says:

    I have been through many many moves with my family–most recently about three months ago with six children (including a three week old baby) and it is never easy! I’m very impressed at your efforts to continue to make home cooked meals for your family. What an awesome mom and sweet kids! Hope you will be able to get back to normal as soon as possible, but in the mean time, hang in there!

  29. Aubri says:

    Oh my goodness Mel…that is crazy! I don’t know how you’re doing it! I swore off condensed soups a while back, but when my husband begged me to make that Italian Chicken last week, I did. I felt guilty. I’m looking forward to your version! I did find that the “Pacific” brand makes condensed cream of chicken soup without any junk. I thought I might try that next. Good luck with the crowded hotel room, the rolling baby and the small appliances! Hope you get into a home soon soon soon!!

  30. Wanda says:

    This adventure will be fondly remembered in years to come (you just have to give it enough years….) πŸ˜‰

    You’ve been on my mind – I hope you get to land soon. Adventures can be very stressful!!

    You get an “A” for Attitude, Melanie. Please convey our love and warm wishes to your dear ones. We miss you all!

  31. Cammee says:

    Holy crap Mel, you are AMAZING!! I can’t even believe you have cooked like that while in a hotel room. You are Super Woman! Seriously, I’m having your suit made up. I didn’t even cook while we got new carpet. Hopefully the hotel stay is coming to an end, although I wish someone cooked my kids continental breakfast before school. πŸ™‚

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