Make-Ahead Food for Conventions

So I’ve previously talked about the Dos and Don’ts of Drinks to Bring to Con and taken you through the Geek Convention Survival Guide. Justini has also given you some tips on physical and mental health at cons. This time, I’m going to go over some make-ahead snack and meal recipes, along with some ideas for having food in your hotel room.

Disclaimer: Many cons take place in hotels and conference centers, each with its own rules. Please make sure you read all of the rules for the convention space you’re attending before bringing in food or drink! Many cons also have a con suite, so please visit and support them with either tips or volunteering!


Breakfast is often referred to as the most important meal of the day, and these make-ahead muffins will make getting up in the morning a little easier. You don’t need to add anything to the finished product, which makes them great for con breakfasts.

Banana Bread PBC Muffins: Inspired by Better Homes and Gardens

First up are banana-bread muffins with peanut butter and chocolate chips. The recipe is based on one for banana bread in my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook—I added the peanut-butter chips and milk chocolate chips, which really make an awesome difference.

  • 1½ cup flour
  • 1½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup mashed banana (about 3 medium)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup cooking oil
  • ½ cup peanut butter chips
  • ½ cup chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a muffin tin or fill it with muffin liners (I used my mini cupcake maker).

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. In a large bowl, mix the egg, bananas, sugar, and oil. When the wet ingredients are well mixed, add the bowl of dry ingredients and mix again. When everything is well mixed, add the peanut butter and chocolate chips.

Spoon into the muffin tin and bake for about 20 minutes or until you can poke a muffin with a toothpick and it comes out clean. Makes about 12 regular sized muffins.

Those Despicable me guys would go crazy for these!

Those Despicable Me Minions would go crazy for these!

Pumpkin Chocolate-Chocolate-Chip Spice Muffins: Inspired by Picky Palate

This is an incredibly easy-to-make muffin that’s also very easy to make vegan—just double check your cake mix for any dairy ingredients.

  • 1 package chocolate cake mix with chocolate chips (or plain chocolate cake mix plus about ½ a cup chocolate chips)
  • 1  15-ounce can pumpkin purée
  • 1 or 2 dashes “pumpkin spice”—a mix of cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease or line your muffin tin. Mix the cake mix, pumpkin, and spices, then spoon into your muffin tin. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. That’s it! Makes about 18 muffins.

Picky Palate’s blog has lots of awesome recipes like these Itty Bitty Cinnamon Rolls that I will be trying very soon! Her great butter-cream recipe (in the link in the title) would really go well with these.

This is so good, nice and spicy!

This is so good, nice and spicy!

Aside from muffins, toaster pastries and breakfast bars are also easy to transport and good for any room. If you happen to have a small fridge, cereal with nice cold milk can hit the spot. If your con is during the colder months (and we know how many of those happen here in Minnesota), you can use your in-room coffee maker to heat water for instant oatmeal.


Warning: Check with the hotel before bringing any appliances into the room!

An easy lunch or dinner standby for a con is the peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich. If you want to bring a cooler or are able to use a mini fridge, lunch meat and cheese are also good for sandwiches. For something warm, bring out the crock pot—some pasta, sauce, and some cheese tossed in can cook while you’re exploring the con and be ready when you come back to the room. Just be sure to be safe by setting it on a hard, heat-resistant surface and keeping other items away from it.

Some other savory ideas for your room:


Can-of-Soda Cupcakes: Inspired by Betty Crocker

I had to go supergeek for this desert. Like the pumpkin muffins above, it’s a favorite of mine, it’s extremely simple, and it has endless possibilities.

  • 1 box cake mix, any flavor
  • 1 can of soda, any flavor, regular or diet!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease your muffin tin or line with cupcake liners. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix with the soda. This will fizz like mad, but it will mix really well. Spoon into your muffin tin and bake for about 20 minutes. Should make about 18 cupcakes.

I used a white cake mix and orange Mountain Dew Kickstart. I fully admit I did not measure this well, and it looked like it exploded in my mini cupcake maker.

Make sure you measure your ingredients correctly... not guess like I did.

Make sure you measure your ingredients correctly. . . not guess, like I did.

These are made with Mountain Dew Orange Kickstart

These are made with orange Mountain Dew Kickstart


Granola bars, breakfast bars, and other snacks are fun, but making your own can be a bit time consuming. Trail mix, on the other hand, is quick, easy, and fun to customize. Just take your favorite nuts, dried fruit, and baking chips, mix them in a large bowl or bag to combine the ingredients, and then separate them into snack size bags for portability.

Another good make-ahead snack for either your room or on the floor of the con is rice crispies. These are great for their customization—adding dry fruit, chips, and nuts adds new dimensions to this kid-friendly favorite. Wrap them in a bit of plastic wrap and take them with you.

Have a great convention season and eat well! If you have any make-ahead snacks that you always bring to con or that you’ve been meaning to try, share the love with your fellow con-goers in the comments.


  1. Anissa Gooch By Anissa Gooch


  2. Anissa Gooch By Anissa Gooch


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