I’m imagining this scenario. Let’s say you are bootstrapping a start-up business so funds are tight and you need to save money. You’ve chosen to make your base somewhere like Chang Mai, Thailand, because the lifestyle is great and your dollar/pound goes a long way there. It may well be cheaper to rent an hotel room rather than an apartment. Problem is most hotel rooms don’t have a kitchen or kitchenette. For less than US$120 you could fit out an hotel room with your own little ready made kitchen. You just need a table that you can use to prepare your food and enough electrical outlets to run a few appliances as well as your laptop etc.

In some parts of the world like Thailand, having a stove in the kitchen is not common. You could buy yourself a small portable gas stove but probably an electric fry pan would serve just as well for most purposes. Get one with a deeper pan if you can so you can use it for frying, stir-frying as well as meals with a higher liquid content. Microwaves are very useful for cooking things like rice and reheating things. You should be able to buy these appliances cheaply at department store (Robinson’s Department Store in Chang Mai).

You’ll need one or 2 microwave proof bowls for the microwave. Make sure they aren’t too big to fit in your microwave before you buy them. I’ve been caught by this before – duh!!! The bowls should have a wide base. Narrow containers are no good because things boil over too easily.

Don’t buy a full crockery set with things like small cups and saucers that you’ll never use. Buy individual plates and a few mugs that are also microwave proof. Buy individual eating utensils too. You’ll want at least one knife with a thin, sharp, serrated edge. There’s nothing worse than trying to cut a tomato or a loaf of bread with a blunt knife.

A lot of tinned food these days has pull-opening tabs so a tin-opener is often redundant. For tins with no tab you could use the tin-opener on you Victorinox knife or Leatherman set.

Cooking utensil wise you want both a firm and soft spatula. Make sure the firm one is heat resistant so it doesn’t melt when you turn things over in your hot fry pan. The soft spatula shouldn’t be to big. This is useful to scrape everything out of a jar or tin so you don’t waste anything.

You’ll want to buy 2 plastic chopping boards. Raw meat and vegetables should be kept separate and that is why it’s best to have one for each. An excellent alternate to chopping boards are those thick silicone sheets that are available these days. You don’t want to damage the hotel’s table when you’re preparing food so a chopping surface is essential.

For cleaning you’ll need one of you sponge/scouring combination jobs. They are a sponge on one side and a nylon scouring pad on the other. They are great for cleaning the bottom of the pan after a fry up but they aren’t any good for wiping down the table or chopping surfaces because of their lack of absorbency. Get a second cloth with good absorbency for this. You could use hand soap to wash your dishes if you’re desperate but I’d fork out for some proper dish washing liquid. Buy 3-4 tea towels and a dish rack. Without a dish rack your dishes and utensils will just sit in a pool of water and not dry properly. You can place one tea towel under the dish rack when you wash your dishes so it soaks up the excess liquid.