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Ideas for meal preparation in apartments while traveling

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We will be traveling to Italy May 2014 and have been thinking about staying in apartments so that we could prepare some meals on our own. But as I think about that more, I'm not sure what we would cook! I know we could do eggs, cereal, yogurt, pastries, etc. for breakfast; make sandwiches; and buy some fresh fish or other meat and cook it in the oven (assuming there is one) or on top of the stove, and cook some pasta or potatoes and veggies and have fresh fruit. Since we would only be staying 3-5 days in a given location, we wouldn't want to buy more olive oil, herbs, spices or whatever else we needed than we could use during that time (we will be traveling by train and use only a carry-on suitcase and a small backpack, so we couldn't take things from place to place). We would want to make things that are simple and quick, to save both time and money. Ideally, it would be nice to stay in a B&B with a small refrigerator and microwave so we could buy prepared foods and keep them in the frig and then warm them up (which I know, of course, we could also do in an apartment).

We simply can't eat dinner at 9-10 pm and go to bed full, and we would rather not live on pizza or whatever else we could pick up at the "American" dinner time we are used to (between 5-7 pm). We may get a larger mid-day meal and "eat light" for dinner.

Also, given the cost of food at markets and supermarket in Europe (which nearly makes me faint!), would we be likely to save money by cooking food ourselves or buying prepared foods??

Suggestions from those of you who have done meal preparation in apartments while traveling would be very helpful (and help us decide whether to rent apartments or just stick with hotels or B&B's). Thanks in advance!

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