Chocolate cream pie? Deviled eggs? Caramel lattes? Trifle? You probably won’t find these items at your free hotel breakfast bar, but you can make these — and others — with some ingenuity. Many hotels offer a free breakfast buffet. Some are little more than coffee and pastries, but others offer hot dishes like eggs, sausage, and waffles, along with fruit salad and other healthy options.

Our family loves camping, but for some trips, it makes more sense to stay in a hotel. When we do, we usually prefer hotels that offer a free breakfast so we don’t have to stop somewhere else and can quickly get going with our day. I often mix things up from what’s offered, using breakfast items from one area and adding it to another to make something new.

Here are some ideas to get creative with the offerings at hotel breakfast bars and DIY your breakfast at the buffet.

Free hotel breakfast bar tip #1: Hard-boiled eggs

How to use it: Hard-boiled eggs are fine on their own as a protein heavy-hitter. But you can also:
1. Make your own deviled eggs by cutting the egg in half, scooping out the yolk (yellow part) and mixing it with a little mayonnaise, cream cheese, or butter in a small container. Then put the mixture back into the hollow parts of the eggs. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
2. Cut the egg up in a bowl with a little mayonnaise, cream cheese, or butter, salt and pepper. Then put on toast for an egg salad sandwich.

Free hotel breakfast bar tip #2: Maple syrup / caramel sauce

How to use it: Putting caramel sauce and maple syrup on your pancakes and waffles is great. But don’t stop there.
1. Add it to your coffee for a maple or caramel latte. Bonus points if you stir in cocoa mix and a sprinkle of salt for a salted caramel mocha latte.
2. Put it in your yogurt for a special swirl.
3. Mix a tiny bit of syrup or sauce with granola and dried fruit for breakfast on the go; save it in a bag.
4. Put some into your oatmeal.
5. Take a banana from the fruit area, slice it, and drizzle caramel or syrup on top for a pseudo bananas foster. Add yogurt or whipped cream if you like.
6. Mix syrup or caramel with cream cheese for a flavored topping for your toast or bagel.

Free hotel breakfast bar tip #3: Chex cereal / other cereal

How to use it: Sure, you can add milk and have cereal just like everyone else. Or you could:
1. Make your own “Chex mix” with dried fruit, nuts, and granola. Bonus points if your hotel offers cinnamon and cocoa mix to sprinkle in. Or, go savory and sprinkle in some pepper.
2. Take the Chex mix idea a step further by mixing with peanut butter, then rolling into energy balls.
3. Make a pie. Start by making a “pie crust” by crushing the cereal with the back of a spoon, and mixing with a little butter. Press into the bottom of a bowl. In a separate bowl, stir together some yogurt with honey, orange juice, hot cocoa powder, or fruit — you’re limited only by your breakfast bar options and your imagination. Then spoon the yogurt mixture on top of your crust for a creamy breakfast pie. Chocolate cream pie for breakfast, anyone?

Free hotel breakfast bar tip #4: Pancakes

Where to find it: In the hot section, or in a pancake-making machine.
How to use it: To me, pancakes are special items for weekends and not typical weekday breakfast fare. Yet they are so simple. Whether you like them the usual way with butter and syrup or have your own method of eating pancakes, here are some ideas:
1. Roll a pancake around a sausage link for a “pig in a blanket.”
2. Stir jelly and cream cheese together, then spread it on your pancake.
3. Top with yogurt and fruit.
4. Make a breakfast burrito out of a pancake and scrambled eggs.

Free hotel breakfast bar tip #5: Biscuit, bagel, or croissant

Where to find it: In the bread/pastry section
How to use it: These are the go-to breakfast choices of carboholics, who may choose to eat them alone with maybe some butter, cream cheese, or jelly. But you can also:
1. Make a breakfast sandwich with scrambled eggs, sliced hard-boiled eggs, sausage patties, bacon — or banana slices.

Free hotel breakfast bar tip #6: Donut or muffin

Where to find it: In the bread/pastry section
How to use it: A breakfast treat on their own, donuts and muffins can also make a delicious dessert.
1. Cut or tear the donut or muffin into pieces, layered in a bowl with fruit, yogurt, jelly, and/or whipped cream to make a trifle.

These ideas are just the start of a DIY hotel breakfast masterpiece. Once you start switching things up in the morning on your trips, you will likely find more ways to make something new at the breakfast bar. Feel free to share your creations on The Pack’s Facebook page.