Conventions generally last from 2-5 days… and believe me, that’s gonna be a lot of snacks. Skipping meals to buy anime wall scrolls is a thing of the past with our 7 tips for cheap convention snacking. Brush up before you chow down on your way to weeb heaven.
1) Don’t Skip the Snacking!
But I can save so much money if I just eat regular meals! Okay, but hear me out. Conventions are a whirlwind of activity. You’re likely to spend hours on your feet and walk a fair distance. Even if your hotel is nearby, traversing the convention space is likely to cover a small area many, many times. Let’s not even mention how often you’re going to circle the dealer’s room and artist alley. You’re going to get hungry, and postponing food moves till everyone is ready to sit down and meal will leave you cranky and starving. You’ll then be likely to overorder and overeat- spending money that could have been saved with a little smart snacking.
2) Check the Hardware
Your snack selection will depend on a few factors, so it’s important to take stock ahead of time. Do you have a mini fridge in the room? Be sure that it is indeed a mini fridge and not an electric cooler, which tends to have shelves designed for bottle and can drinks only. Electric coolers also may not keep food at safe temperatures since they don’t generally use as much electricity. The holy grail of a hotel room is a microwave, which paves the way for instant ramen, Chef Boyardee, and a bevy of other low-cost warm-up snacks. If your room does not have these items, don’t despair! Contact the hotel front desk to ask if there is one on site. Often the hotel will provide one in the lobby or pool area to accompany the microwavable snacks available at the hotel store.
3) Rock it like a Hurricane
What kinds of snacks would you prepare for a hurricane or other inclement weather? Anything that doesn’t require long prep, warmth, or refrigeration is going to be a safe bet. Did you know that strawberry Pop-Tarts are one of the most purchased foods before inclement weather? Nonperishable items are going to fare the best in your limited space and budget. Chex mix, Cheetos, beef jerky and other familiar snacks are always solid choices. Don’t pick con weekend to go outside your comfort zone- you’ll be almost certain to break your budget and book it to the nearest Mickey D’s.
4) The Nerd Food Groups
Don’t just eat junk! You are what you eat, and in this case nutritionally deficient foods will leave you hella deficient yourself. Many fruits are fine at room temperature- I suggest a pack of Cuties tangerines as a go-to myself, as the peels keep the fruit from easily bruising. Apples are also a good snack, though maybe wrap the bag in a t-shirt in your duffle to keep them shiny and new. Make sure you’re getting protein- hard boiled eggs keep well in a mini-fridge. If your heart is set on eating themed snacks, be wise. You can purchase many relatively healthy snacks like gummies or seaweed snacks in bulk at a local Asian market and avoid con mark-up prices.
5) Gotta go FAST!
Be real, you’ve got plans. Whether you have to catch a panel, jump in a photoshoot or head over to the rave, the con scene can be constant GO GO GO. That means your snacks need to be portable too. While some convention spaces might limit outside food and bev, you’re likely to be scarfing down foodstuffs while standing in line regardless. Plan to have snacks that can fit in a little con backpack or messenger bag to keep your energy up. Be traditional! Fruit snacks like Gushers can provide a much needed small sugar rush before a proper meal- plus they can take a bit of a squishing if your Switch accidentally ends up in the same pocket.
6) Will Work for Food
Maybe you’re low on funds or you just don’t have space to bring a bunch of foodstuffs on your convention circuit. Fret not! Volunteering can be a good way to gain access to snacks that someone else purchased without being a total mooch. In many cases, volunteering a set amount of hours will get you snacks on shift. Working more hours might even qualify you for other perks like t-shirts, free or discounted badges, and possibly even hotel space. Check your local cons to see what qualifies!
7) After hours
If you’re going to be up late partying, make double sure that you have snacks prepped. Nothing worse than trying to track down a sober person to carpool to Waffle House- or waking up a $30 Lyft later. Be honest with yourself- what will you want to eat? Spicy almonds, Hostess cupcakes, Ritz peanut butter crackers… come prepared and save!
Self-care should be a way of life, especially for geeks! Make your fun convention experiences even more enjoyable by keeping yourself happy and fed. And don’t forget to check out our other Convention Resource Guides including our guide for introverts!
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Gamer, cat lady, nerd of all trades. Probably can beat you at trivia.