How to Eat Healthy Cheap Meals in a Five Star Hotel

Driving back from your holiday do your pants seem to fit a little tighter? Is there a distinct smell of gas emanating from the backseats that isn’t related to a petrol leak? You had a great holiday but now it’s getting pretty uncomfortable and we all know what caused it.


Apart from being insanely expensive, highway food is stodgy, and really unhealthy. I’m always optimistic that I can find something healthy on the road, but even petrol station sandwiches are white bread and mayonnaise laden fart packets.

So I gave myself a challenge, to feed our family healthy, cheap meals on our trip to sanctuary cove. Did I mention we stayed at the intercontinental – that’s right, you heard me THE INTERCONTINENTAL! aka (money sucker lodge) and my cousins wedding at Byron bay.

Do you think you could save money here?

Was it perfect? no. I do however think we did a pretty damn good job of keeping some money in our pockets, and junk food out of our colon.


Preparing food the night before the big trip.

We always end up at our first destination late and hungry. This leads to us purchasing shitty, expensive local pizza. We did however work out a remedy for this little problem.



Pizza is quick, transportable and delicious. My lovely husband to be did a bang up job making some the night before we left. He used the left over ingredients in our fridge and came up with some pretty amazing combinations.

Adobo pork with caramelised red onions.
Sweet potato with baby kale and goats cheese.
Zucchini with capsicum and marinated artichokes.

That night I also made a big tray of sweet potato and parsnip roasted in coconut oil and steamed a few extra veges to snack on.

Let’s pack it up!

Time to pack our stuff into the car. When you do this don’t forget to:


box of food

Pack a lot of food, and I mean a lot! you may think you’re a light eater but your probably forgetting all the snacks and nibbles you eat during the day that don’t get registered in your conscious mind. We humans need pretty big amount of energy to keep going through the day, so what ever food you planned to take double it. Not taking enough of our own food on holiday has always been our downfall.

To get an idea, this is what we brought for the first two days for a family of four.

  • 4 pizzas
  • 2 cans of chickpeas drained (Frankie and Imi love to snack on these)
  • 1 large tub of natural yogurt
  • 1 Jar homemade almond butter (this lasted the two weeks)
  • 4 oranges
  • Bunch bananas
  • 4 Apples
  • 1 sweet potato and two parsnips roasted
  • 2 cups of steamed vegetables
  • 1 container of cut up carrot, cucumber, capsicum and cherry tomatoes
  • 1 pack of mountain wraps
  • 1 packet of ryvitas
  • 3 avocados
  • Small container of fermented cauliflower
  • Activated almonds
  • Chia seeds
  • Loaf of sourdough
  • Coconut oil
  • Vegemite
  • Chamomile tea
  • English breakfast tea.

Also a chopping board and a sharp knife does come in handy. Which brings me to another thing..



That one will be explained in a little while 🙂


Monday went gangbusters. With a song in our heart and some yummy homemade food in our tummy we made it all the way to Arrawarra with only only little glitch

My husband – Saboteur!
lunch first day
Lunch went swimmingly. There was also some pizza and fruit involved here.


Dinner time at Arrawarra!
And our dinner! These pizzas were so much better than the processed ham and pineapple stodge balls we would have picked up

Day two.

It was easy staying at the lorikeet tourist park. The cabin had a kitchenette and we had enough food to make it there without stopping. We had a hearty Aussie breakfast of vegemite and avocado on toast and headed off to sanctuary cove.

Pit stop.

Who could resist driving through sunny Queensland without stealing some of the local sugar cane from the hardworking local farmers (sorry guys).

sugar cane

We thought we’d take a bit of a detour and stop at Chaswick to have our lunch and sugar cane. We checked out some of the local sights while we were there.

thong tree
What’s a pit stop without a giant thong tree?
big banana
Apparently big things are form of artistic expression unique to Australia?.. hmmm interesting.


We made it!



Here we are at beautiful Sanctuary cove! We had time to have a swim at the resort’s lagoon before I walked down to the local shops to pick up some supplies for dinner. This is where the rice cooker comes in.

We stayed in the Rhapis quarters.. hmmm.. didn't that one through did they?
We stayed in the Rhapis quarters.. hmmm.. didn’t think that one through did they?


Cooking main meals in a rice cooker

Yes it can be done, and I felt mighty thrifty staying at a five star hotel and largely side stepping their exorbitant restaurant meals.

hotel rice cooker
Take that Sanctuary cove Intercontinental!

The idea of using a rice cooker for one pot meals was first championed by Roger Egbert. It’s aimed at people like college kids who neither have the time nor the facilities to prepare healthy meals. He wrote a cook book about it called The pot and how to use it. You can also read his blog post about here.

My first one pot rice cooker meal?



I basically followed the instructions on a jar of green chicken curry paste. I first added the rice then the coconut milk (using stock when I ran out of coconut milk). I added the curry paste and mixed it through.

Chicken was then added (which I bought pre cut into strips) and 3 big handfuls of baby spinach. I put the lid on turned the knob to cook and that was it… voila!


chicken curry

Just like a chicken curry. the chicken was cooked through and the spinach was wilted to perfection. The only problem was that the jar of curry paste wasn’t as mild as I thought it would be. I also didn’t mix the paste through evenly enough so there was big blobs of spicy paste throughout the rice. Needless to say the girls didn’t eat much.

clean up
The clean up

Day 3

Breakfasts were included which was a major bonus. It means we got to have a big filling breakfast of things like eggs, sausages and salmon before hitting the spa;)

I stocked up on snacks and ingredients for lunches and dinner the day before, then sneakily replaced the contents of the mini bar with my healthy fare.


For dinner that night I cooked a chicken and rice dish using shallots, garlic, butter, stock and a ton of veges – it was delish and we all gobbled it up while kicking back and watching Disney’s tangled.

chicken dish


It’s important to note that even though my rice cooker meals contained rice, rice cooker meals can contain practically anything. Try Quinoa, legumes, soup, even a frittata can all be made in this humble little device.

Day 4

This is where our heroes starts to slip a bit more into spend thrift mode. Although breakfast was free and I made lunch in our hotel room we decided we’d treat ourselves and have dinner at the hotels restaurant – you’ve got to relax a little right?


Off to Byron to the wedding. We had an amazing time staying on my extended families farm for four days. The wedding was beautiful.

Thanks Anna and Chris!


Because we were staying with family and had access to a fully equipped kitchen, it was really easy to plan meals and take our on food on our adventures around Byron Bay . On the way home we again packed a large amount of snacks and lunch.

on the farm
Farm adventures

On the last night, we treated ourselves to a dinner at South West Rocks …… I guess this it where our story ends.

We could have stuck it out and not gone to a single restaurant but where’s the fun in that?

The main thing is we’ve got a good game plan now to eat healthy cheap meals while we’re travelling.

And no more trips to the dreaded servo shop.


How do you eat healthily on holidays? Is there anything you would have done differently?


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