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Last weekend I went (not too far) away on a writing retreat with a friend. We found an Airbnb less than a half hour from my home that had multiple bedrooms, bathrooms, and wide indoor and outdoor spaces where we could socially distance from each other.

bright bedroom

My bedroom in the Airbnb we rented for the weekend.

I’ve written about writing retreats before (how to organize your own retreat, take a writing business retreat, and country retreats, among others) and I figured this is a great opportunity to talk about my favorite foods and snacks to have on retreats.

Over the years it feels like retreat noshing falls into three categories: what you bring, what you find, and what you drink.

What you bring

I love doing a grocery run before a retreat to get snacks that I know I like, plus extra goodies that I treat myself to. The mainstays include chocolate-covered almonds, chips and guac, cheese and crackers, fruit, and yogurt. I find these snacks satisfying in different ways. Some are great for mindless eating while working on revisions to my writing website, others are good for taking a break between LinkedIn profile updates that require more thought and less active typing. Researching literary journal submissions is way more fun with chocolate! 😀 Personally, I like starting a retreat day with fruit or yogurt. I find it starts the day with a healthy step and keeps me satiated so that I’m not distracted too often with a growling stomach. It also doesn’t take time to prepare–and I don’t want to do any cooking during a retreat because it takes time away from focused work.

chocolate almonds in a cup

I found a pretty tea cup in the kitchen and used it for my chocolate-covered almonds. 🙂

My friend brought canned soups that we could use for quick meals without having to go anywhere. This really let us not lose momentum on our work.

As for the “retreat treats,” I treated myself to a semi-expensive salted caramel milk chocolate bar that I snacked on over two days. I also brought a leftover limoncello cake from takeout earlier in the week, and I had that with champagne one night. It’s the new milk and cookies. You can quote me on it.

What you find

I love supporting local restaurants and try to look for spots I haven’t tried before, or dishes I haven’t ordered before. On two nights we opted for dinner deliveries from a local restaurant I’ve been to before. I took the opportunity to order meals I hadn’t tried yet. I found some new favorites this way. We also went out to dinner on another local spot’s patio. I ordered the special to try something new AND have leftovers for the next day so that we wouldn’t need to go anywhere.

One of the best ways to support local restaurants on a writing retreat during a pandemic is to order takeout or delivery. If you don’t want to venture out where you’re staying you could order a bunch of meals to try from a restaurant near home that you like, then pack the meals with you to re-heat on your retreat.

takeout food and wine

Wrote right through dinner. Paired a red wine with eggplant parmigiana delivered from a local restaurant. (And a chocolate bar not far away.)

What you drink

It’s a little challenging to remember to stay hydrated when you’re immersed in work, but I keep a bottle of water next to me all day. My friend is avoiding caffeine, so I brought tea from my garden for her to try and we made a big pot on our first day. That was great to sip on day and night. (If you’re curious to grow and blend on your own, my homegrown retreat tea included lemongrass, lemon balm, chamomile, tea olive, spearmint, daisy fleabane, motherwort, and calendula. Satisfying on so many levels.)

I know coffee is a mainstay among many writers, but I only have it a few times per week. On our last day, after a morning walk along the river, I stopped at a local coffee shop and treated myself to a coffee. It really feels like a decadent treat this way! The sunny 60-degree December morning also added to the decadence.


River walk on the last morning of our retreat.

I mentioned the champagne earlier. 🙂 I also like to bring wine from a local shop or find some where I’m staying. I visited Vino Wine Shop, the local shop in my little town of Pittsboro, the day before leaving on the retreat. The shop associate helped me pick out a few different wines based on what I was looking for. We didn’t get through even half the bottles over the weekend, so I’ll have a few mini retreats at home soon.