mirrorshard: (Tarragon)
[personal profile] mirrorshard
Cheers muchly to those who commented on my last post - it was almost universally really helpful.

And now, as they say, for something completely different.

The Bicon accommodation this year provides no useful kitchen equipment or utensils. I'm told they have a "two-ring hob and basic grill", microwave, kettle, toaster, fridge, and freezer. (This is for the standard rooms. Those booking for en-suite get an oven too, and a couple of extra hobs.)

If the hob/grill arrangements are what I think they are, basically you can forget about them for anything other than heating stuff up, and not fast at that. Also, attempting to cook more than one item at once is doomed to either failure, or extreme slowness.

So, having survived multiple conventions, LRP seasons, and other camping-type things on less, here's my guide to eating under those constraints.

Assumptions made here are that you're trying to dash away from something interesting, grab something to eat, and dash back ASAP; and that you don't enjoy cooking-and-eating as relaxation or decompression time. Also, that you're only cooking for one, either because you're there on your own or your schedule & food needs don't coordinate with your partner's. Also, that you're trying to cut down on weight and not carry anything you don't need to. If your circumstances don't match up to those, scale up and add a few extra items.

First off, you're there for four days, and you have access to a fridge. To a close approximation, nothing is going to go off, assuming you're smart and get anything that actually needs refrigeration when you get there instead of carrying it on overheated trains & buses. In that category, you're mostly looking at milk, cheese, and things that would probably squash when packed anyway.

Second, plan on microwave cooking if you can stomach it. One bowl, less packing, less waiting.

Third, do your washing up immediately after you eat, and make sure you know where the things are for next time. If you know & trust the other people sharing your kitchen, this is easier.

Fourth, make sure you know in advance when you're going to eat, and try to stick to it. Remember the 5-3-1 rule. At least five hours of sleep, three meals, and one shower per day.

Fifth, check out the food sources on campus early on and remember what they sell & when. It's student fare, in conference season, so it's going to be crap and overpriced, but it's there.

Packing: you will need the following implements.
1 bowl (large, microwave-safe).
1 spoon.
1 fork.
1 table knife, for spreading butter if nothing else.
(I've been known to substitute chopsticks for the above, but then I tend to keep a pair of chopsticks in my satchel anyway, because they're so very useful.)
1 mug - travel or standard ceramic, whichever you prefer. I've never seen the point of enamel ones.
1 small plate - both for eating from, as a chopping board, and to cover bowls of stuff in the microwave.
A tin-opener - this is extremely important.
A small sharp knife - large ones are useful but optional. A bread knife is a very useful alternative. If you don't have something sharp, however, you'll regret it at some point.
A tea towel or two - both for washing up and for handling hot dishes.
A bottle opener - even if you don't drink things that come in bottles which need opening, other people do and will have forgotten to bring one of their own.

If you plan on cooking for two, you'll need at least one extra bowl (a larger one) and/or a saucepan. If you have extra space, the most useful things you can add to the list are a good kitchen knife, an actual chopping board, a wooden spoon (or equivalent) and a teaspoon. If you're really strapped for space, the absolute minimum is a large mug, a smallish spoon, a tin-opener, and a tea towel.

Be aware that anything you take may be lost or damaged.

Food: obviously, this varies according to your own diet, budget, and prep time at home. Things I've done in the past have varied from a loaf of bread and a few tins of sausages-and-beans to a pile of crusty rolls and small tupperware boxes with pre-sliced chorizo, peppers, carrots, and fruit. Teabags, or equivalent, are also invaluable. Taking a half-dozen microwave-ready meals might seem like an expensive option, but it's still cheaper (and generally both quicker and more likely to fit your requirements) than eating in the cafeteria or ordering in pizza.

Any other comments? What've I left out?
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