Monday, July 19, 2010

Con Dining: Beyond PB&J

SDCC is about to hit the west coast while all across the globe the convention schedule for fans of almost anything continues to grow with new events and old favorites.

In the heat of battling for exclusive items, attending seminars, meeting your idols, and taking it all in it's important to remember to eat. How does the savy attendee solve the dilemma of finding easily accessible food and yet also saving funds for that got-to-have collector item?

I have given this a lot of thought as this year some of my gaming BFF's and I will be attending GENCON. I don't want to spend the time and money tracking down restaurants compounded by the fact that I have to find gluten free and vegetarian fare for my dietary needs.

Let me introduce you to some foods that would make either good snacks or great meals for those on a budget. Even if your hotel room doesn't have a microwave almost all hotels have a microwave in the lobby. Your first step is to make sure you stay at a hotel with some kind of free breakfast as that will simplify some of your food needs.


There are a lot of good meal bars that you could stash in a bag of holding or your Cthulhu waist pouch. Some good options that also happen to be gluten free, healthy, and taste pretty great are Soy Joy, Luna Bars, and Cliff Bars.

Cliff bars lead the pack as they have more calories than the others, a number of added vitamins, and are quite filling. Paired with an apple from your free hotel breakfast this would make a fast and healthy lunch between seminars.

Other good options would include trail mix, microwave popcorn, tortilla chips, and of course cookies (which for the gf person there are many options these days).


Here is the beyond PB&J, beyond ramen, part of the post. If your hotel room does not have a fridge it may seem like you are very limited in your food choices. However, a trip to an International Grocery, larger chain store, or a co-op/natural food store will yield amazing choices that are not perishable. These foods will give you a full complement of nutrition and even veggies.

First up on my recommended list are the meals by Tasty-Bite. They make items in the vegan range, gluten-free range, etc. Can you imagine after a long day coming back to your hotel room and fixing a fast, hot-meal of Indian food?! There are a lot of meals to choose from in this line and they cook in 1.5 minutes.

These meals can be paired with microwave rice such as Anne Chung's Rice Express for a full meal that you can share.

Other brands that make good non-perishable food that comes in gluten-free include Amy's Vegetarian Chili's and Soups (you'll need to bring a can-opener), Thai Kitchen, and A Taste of Thai.

Hell, if you bring a jar of pickled Japanese veggies it's even possible to make a passable and very cheap mountain of sushi to take back up to your hotel room with this kit. All you have to do is microwave the rice for the sushi.
Conventions, like any large gathering of people, tend to create a lot of waste. Be mindful of this. Ask about recycling at your hotel or at the convention center. If possible stash any plastic, cardboard, paper, or glass in your trunk to recycle when you get home. Bring your own water bottle and refill it and if you are microwaving food at your hotel consider bringing a small bowl from home and a knife/spoon or spork. You can wash it out in the hotel sink and re-use it each day instead of throwing away paper or plastic disposables.

As you consider the type of convention, the means of travel, and the amenities of your lodgings decide ahead of time how much food you can bring and what type. At the very least bring along snacks and re-usable water bottle.

Let me know any other easy food options that have worked for you in the past or ones that you plan on trying.


  1. this was a fantastic post! i loved it. this is awesome for traveling in general too :)

    i have to say, i do miss the normalcy of being able to eat at any slop-joint out there when on the road, but a little preparation goes a long way, and avoiding a flareup of health problems is worth a lot more than any normalcy at this point in my life.

    i totally second the lara/clif bar suggestion! (omg i can't get into those soyjoy bars, tho ive tried!) the variety is nice, too, since eating packaged food gets old FAST.

    more than once, i've gone to supermarkets and bought pre-cut fruits and veggies and had fresh raw stuff (fruit or veggie salads) in my hotel rooms with little fuss. most of those containers are totally recyclable too. a small bottle of dressing might last an entire weekend if you're up for it, too. (or might last the trip home at least!) or tiny cups of dip or peanut butter.

  2. Thank you Violet! I'm glad you liked it. I had fun writing this.

    Thanks for the suggestions! :)

  3. Hm, these are some good ideas. Especially for those of us who don't even like PB&J anyway. Thanks, Emma!

  4. Eeeek!!! Not the sushi wraps!!! Sorry, bad cooking memories came up...Other options, though, look quite yummy.

  5. Such a great post! I remember my first ever con. I was still in high school in an unfamiliar city and never realized that I had to factor food into the equation. I lived off of the con suite!

    Since then my friends and I got much better about planning for food, but we still often ended up just ordering pizza. These are some great suggestions, especially the water bottle! How have I never thought of that? Thanks for writing this post! I really enjoyed it.