If you have celiac disease or food allergies, using an unfamiliar kitchen can be almost as daunting as eating at a restaurant. When I travel, I prefer to cook my own food because it is more affordable, leads to fun and interesting cultural experiences, and is guaranteed celiac-safe (see last week’s post: Why I Cook My Own Food While Traveling). My solution to the kitchen problem is to keep the supplies I need in one ready-to-go bag, my “packable kitchen” so to speak. This allows me to embark on spontaneous adventures without worrying about my dietary restriction!
This Packable Kitchen is best used for car trips and public transit where your luggage has a little extra room and the final destination has a kitchen(ette). I use this system for various types of travel, including road trips, weekends away, staying at a friend’s house, or visiting family within driving distance. For those of you who are frequent flyers, stay tuned for the packable kitchen I use when flying (article coming next week)!
In some ways, staying somewhere with a kitchen(ette) is the easiest type of travel cooking. You have access to a stove top, running water, refrigerator, microwave, and sometimes even an oven.
However, there are several notable challenges:
- Previous gluten-eaters contaminate the surfaces and utensils, making it unsafe for celiacs or people with food allergies. If you’re unfamiliar with cross contamination, I encourage you to read 5 Things Non-Celiacs should know about Celiac Disease.
- With access to traditional kitchen amenities, you may find you have higher expectations for the quality of your meal compared to travel destinations where you are limited to a “microfridge” or camp stove (packable kitchen solutions coming soon for these also!).
Through several years of travel, I perfected the kitchen packing list to find the perfect balance between comfort and minimalism (optional items to the left of the blue line):
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- ~ 3 qt pot with lid and/or frying pan
- Large Collapsible Bowl
- Flexible Cutting Board
- Aluminum Foil
- Dish towel
- Small strainer
- Swiss army knife (one with knife, can opener, wine bottle opener)
- Packable version of a kitchen knife
Personal and Cleaning
- Lightweight food bowl
- Eating utensils
- Cleaning wipes
- Dish sponge or brush
- Dish soap
- Container(s) for leftovers
Optional items (pictured to the left of the blue line)
- Cheese Slicer (I ❤ cheese)
- Rice cooker (I use and highly recommend this one)
- Small water boiler (this one is super compact and packable)
- Oven mit/Trivet
- Baking sheet/pan (if you plan on baking)
- Water Bottle (not pictured)
Also if you’re planning on drinking anything other than water, I recommend this amazing, lightweight travel mug from GSI:
BONUS: All core kitchen items fit easily in a reusable grocery bag with room to spare!
Pro Tip: Over time, you may decide to include some of your own favorites in your packable kitchen. I often include a few nonperishable food items like olive oil and spices!