We’re all familiar with the standard amenities of a typical hotel room: TV, mini-fridge, microwave, coffee maker, and so on. Very convenient for heating up cold leftovers from last night’s take-out moo shu pork or brewing a quick cup of coffee on your way out the door.

    But for travel nurses at the end of a long day, sometimes leftovers just don’t cut it and the thought of going out for even a quick meal is just too much effort. But did you know your generic hotel accommodation may actually have all the equipment you need to prepare a delicious hot meal from scratch right there in your room?

    Yes! That simple coffee maker awaits your ingenuity. It can become your magic wand for whipping up succulent poached salmon with tender steamed veggies, soups, pilafs, even chocolate fondue. Thanks to one of our own travel nurses — a seasoned traveler and creative on-the-road chef — we’ve learned about the art of coffee-pot cuisine and want to pass on some ideas to inspire your own creativity.

    The concept of coffee-pot cooking isn’t new, it seems — as long ago as 2013 the idea caught the attention of NPR’s cooking show The Salt, which reported that the concept may have originated with soldiers deployed in Afghanistan. Over the years the idea has taken hold, and many tips and recipes are offered online. Here are a few we liked.

    The Krazy Coupon Lady offers 17 tips and recipes that cover the gamut from hard-boiling eggs to chicken breasts with rice, and even has tips for cooking sausage and pancakes on the heating plate. (With any meat or fish, she cautions checking the internal temperature of the food to be sure it’s safe to eat.)

    Not to be outdone, MyRecipes ups the ante with spaghetti and meatballs, corn on the cob, and decadent hot chocolate made with heavy cream and chocolate chips. For a lighter dinner, just toast a yummy grilled cheese on the burner plate. (For recipes using the heating plate, covering the surface with aluminum foil is highly recommended to facilitate cleanup and avoid damaging hotel property.)

    One Crazy House gives a recipe for delicious fruit chutney made with apples, carrots, vinegar, sugar, honey, lemon juice, and spices. That might go well alongside a serving of their Nutella pancakes! For an elegant dessert after a meal of poached chicken or salmon, a dessert of fresh strawberries dipped in chocolate fondue sounds just the ticket.

    Of course, with every home-cooked meal certain utensils are required. If you’re thinking of trying your hand at hotel-room food prep, you should pack some basic cooking tools in your checked luggage. Be careful with what you put in your carry-on, though — knives and other sharp items are prohibited; check TSA regulations before packing. You’ll also need sturdy paper plates and plastic knives and forks. And don’t forget about cleanup: here’s a helpful article on cleaning an automatic coffee maker.

    If all this seems a little over the top — and far too much work — you can still use the coffee machine to prepare simple foods like ramen, soup cups, oatmeal, or other heat-and-eat foods. And of course coffee and hot cocoa packets are always at the ready for maximum convenience.

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