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Alternatives to Cafeteria Food

Category Meal Planning
When you must be away from home at meal time at a convention or a hospital for someone who needs to stay there, food can get expensive. This page is about alternatives to cafeteria food.


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By 0 found this helpful
March 15, 2006

My frugal tip is that I often bring part of my breakfast and lunch to work and buy the remainder from the cafeteria. This way, I can still socialize with my coworkers and also feel good about saving money at the same time. It's a simple idea, but one that many people do not seem to think about.

By Clair from Teaneck, NJ

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By 0 found this helpful
July 31, 2008

My mother is in a hospital 2 hours from her home, my father is with her. Eating in the cafeteria twice a day gets very expensive, any tips for this situation?



July 31, 20080 found this helpful

There are a few churches that offer food for people in hospital - especially for family members that the patients will be in the hospital for a long term illness. Check out the local churches or food banks or food kitchens.


I know our church provides food for the people that have patients in the icu areas of hospitals. That is a need that should be addressed to the local communities because hospital stays for families can be expensive (parking, food, time off from work, etc.).

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July 31, 20080 found this helpful

Maybe each time a family member or friend visits the hospital, they could bring one or two homemade dishes that are easily reheatable. The nurses would probably let your Father refrigerate them and use their microwave to re-heat when he is hungry.

If they don't allow this, they should at least incorporate something similar to accommodate others in your Father's situation.

Healing thoughts to your Mother, Debbie, and blessings to you and your family.

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By DEBRADJ. (Guest Post)
July 31, 20080 found this helpful

There should be no reason your dad can't brown bag it. 9 times out of 10 there is a microwave at the nurses station. My guess is if they are a nice staff they would be more than happy to heat up one of the take along dinners that are on the market for him.


Most cafe's have microwaves in the cafe itself so he can take his meal down there and nuke it there.

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By Betty (Guest Post)
July 31, 20080 found this helpful

If you father eats and orders from a menu, order more than he can eat and eat what he doesn't. Years ago my daughter was in the hospital and that's what I did. I never had to buy a meal and she was in there about a week.

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July 31, 20080 found this helpful

Pack a bag with granola bars, fruit, peanut butter with crackers, bottled water, etc. Or throw a small cooler in the back of the car for perishables.

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By tami (Guest Post)
July 31, 20080 found this helpful

Some facilities will let you order a guest tray, can't hurt to ask.

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July 31, 20080 found this helpful

In 2006 when DH was in and out of the hospital most of the year I found myself in the same situation. He was on different floors for different problems. In one area the nurses saved trays for me when patients checked out. My sons and one dtr in law brought meals to me and this same dtr in law went online and did a site search at the hospital where DH was and found a discount card which offered discounts on parking and cafeteria food.


This is not an advertised card. Someone in your family needs to inquire about it. Maybe something like that is available at your hospital. I agree with the other folks that you should check with the nurses, hospital social workers and local churches. There is help out there somewhere.

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July 31, 20080 found this helpful

Maybe you could talk to the nurses or the hospital social worker to make arrangements for food for your dad. There are often extra trays sent up to the floor that go uneaten, because the patient has been discharged.

As said in another reply, there may be a charitable organization willing to help, as well. But I bet if the floor nurses were aware of your dad's need, they might be more than happy to make sure he is fed!

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