Traveling without indulging in the local cuisine is akin to going to the beach without getting in the water. Sure, you get to experience some of the beauty, but it’s nearly impossible to get the full experience. That said, few travelers actually immerse themselves in local fare for every meal of their excursion. And you’d be hard-pressed to find a traveler who doesn’t have at least one war story of a culinary defeat during their adventures.
In my experience, it wasn’t the spicy soup I was handed from a plastic bucket in Laos, nor was it the street vendors whipping out carne asada street tacos in Mexico. The experiences that leave the worst taste in my mouth always involve tourist traps—with their bible-like menus, mundane flavors and exorbitant prices.
At an early stage in my jaunting career, I realised that having kitchen facilities wasn’t just a perk, but a definite necessity. As someone who equally fantasies about food and saving money, trust me when I say that preparing meals at your hostel can be enjoyable and delicious…if you take the time to prepare.
If you’re ready to “just say no!” to over-hyped eateries, check out this list of easy meals you can cook in your hostel kitchen—comfort, flavor and easy accessibility included.
Not only is a vegetable stir-fry one of the easiest things you can make with limited resources, it’s also a flexible meal that can be mixed and matched to fit the preferences of your mood or your new travel buddies at the hostel. Guaranteed to fill you without leaving you feeling heavy or bloated, vegetable stir-fry is the perfect meal for lunch or dinner!
-¼ Cup Olive Oil
-½ Cup Soy Sauce
-2 Tbsp. Chili Flakes
-3 Whole Garlic Cloves Minced
-1 Whole Red Bell Pepper Chopped
-½ Large Red Onion Chopped
-1 head Broccoli Cut Into Florets
-2 Zucchinis, Cut Into Medium Wedges
-Cooked Rice for Serving
- Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat.
- Once the oil is hot, add soy sauce, chili flakes, chopped onion, pepper and zucchinis to skillet. Stir and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute, stirring continuously.
- Add the broccoli and cook for a couple of minutes while stirring continuously.
- When the zucchini has softened and the broccoli has become vibrant, the vegetables are ready to go.
- Serve over rice.
- Optional- sprinkle sesame seeds or chopped peanuts/cashews on top.
It was the critically acclaimed chef, Danny Bowien, who raised the question, why do we always take our instant ramen at face value? Sure, these noodle bricks can be found for about 25 cents at the store, but who says you can’t take them to the next level? By sauteing fresh vegetables over those infamous packets, you take a “junk” meal to the next level.
-1 Pack Instant Ramen
-½ Stalk of Broccoli Chopped
-⅛ Cup Carrot Chopped
-⅛ Cup Raw Red Cabbage or Edamame
-1 Cup Diced Eggplant
-½ Cup Chopped Asparagus
-1 Red Bell Pepper Chopped
-2 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
-2 Tbsp. Garlic Powder
- Heat vegetable oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Fry eggplant and carrot for 5-6 minutes, and add garlic powder.
- Add broccoli, asparagus and bell pepper.
- In a separate pot, cook instant noodles according to directions on the packet.
- Add vegetables on top of finished ramen.
- Optional: garnish with red cabbage or edamame.
No matter where you are in the world, you should be able to find eggs at a nearby grocery store, farmers market or bodega. And as far as simple recipes go, you can’t get easier than an omelet. Throw everything in one bowl and you’re ready to indulge in a delectable brunch without the hassle of taking off your pajamas.
-2 Large Eggs
-¼ Cup Mushrooms
-¼ Cup Bell Peppers
-⅛ Cup Red Onion
-½ Cup Cherry Tomatoes
-½ Cup Fresh Spinach
-Salt and Pepper to Taste
-2 Tbsp. Chopped Parsley or Raw Onions
- Prepare and chop all vegetables. Mix together and set aside.
- Gently mix eggs together until well blended; add chopped vegetables and continue mixing.
- Over medium-high heat, warm a medium-size skillet, and pour egg and vegetable mixture into pan.
- Cook until the edges are brown, approximately 2-3 minutes.
- Flip omelet over and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
- Sprinkle salt and pepper over top.
- Optional- sprinkle fresh parsley or raw onions on top.
Fruity Chia Seed Pudding
Especially healthy and quite easy to make, chia seed pudding is the ultimate food for the lazy traveler in all of us. Simply prep the night before, wake up and dig in. You can customize this recipe with as much fruit as you desire, making it the ideal meal for those busy mornings at the hostel.
1 Cup Chia Seeds
3 ⅓ Cup Coconut Milk
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
Your choice of chopped fruit, nuts or granola
Optional: ½ Vanilla Bean
- In a large bowl, mix chia seeds, coconut milk and vanilla extract.
- If using a vanilla bean, scrape out the seeds and add into the mix.
- Stir, cover and let sit in the refrigerator for 25-30 minutes.
- Gently stir to ensure all ingredients are well mixed, making sure there is no excess coconut milk at the top.
- Refrigerate overnight.
- Add chopped fruits, nuts or granola and enjoy.
Pasta Salad With Avocado
The idea of cold pasta salad could bring back memories of cafeteria slop from your elementary school days. However, with premium ingredients such as avocado, this easy, healthy meal can be the ideal lunch back at the hostel or on the go.
-16 oz Box of Rigatoni Pasta
-¼ Cup Olive Oil
-½ Cup Cherry Tomatoes
-½ Red Onion
-½ Can of Garbanzo Beans/Chickpeas
-3 Cups Raw Spinach
-Salt & Pepper to Taste
-Optional: Chopped walnuts/pine nuts/almonds
- Cook pasta as directed (al dente is best).
- Chop cucumber, tomatoes, onion and avocado, set aside.
- Thoroughly rinse spinach and garbanzo beans, pat dry.
- In a small bowl, squeeze the lemon into the olive oil, adding salt & pepper to taste.
- Add all ingredients to a large bowl with the pasta, gently mix.
- Toss salad with olive oil dressing.
- Add chopped walnuts/pine nuts/almonds as garnish.
Beef & Broccoli Rice Bowl
There’s nothing quite like a cozy night of “Netflix & chill” with those signature take-out boxes from the local Chinese restaurant. And to recreate this classic meal in the hostel kitchen, all it takes is a little prep time and lots of garlic!
-3 Tbsp. Cornstarch or Flour
-1 Pound of Flank Steak
-½ Cup Soy Sauce
-2 Tbsp. Sugar
-½ Tbsp. Minced Garlic
-3 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
-2 Stalks of Broccoli
-½ Cup White Onions
-1 Tsp. Grated Ginger
-⅛ Cup Chopped Peanuts
- Cut beef into 1-inch pieces.
- Whisk together 2 tablespoons of cornstarch/flour and 3 tablespoons of water in large bowl. Add beef, toss and combine.
- Create a marinade by whisking the remaining 1 tablespoon cornstarch with the soy sauce, garlic, sugar and ginger. Combine thoroughly and set aside.
- Using a large pan, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium-high heat.
- Once the oil is hot, add beef, stirring constantly until beef is almost fully cooked through.
- Adding the last tablespoon of vegetable oil, add broccoli and onions to pan. Stir frequently until onions become translucent and broccoli becomes vibrant.
- Return beef to pan with broccoli and add the prepared sauce.
- Stir for 2-3 minutes, or until beef is cooked to your preference.
- Add chopped peanuts and serve dish alone, or on a bed of rice or noodles.
Sweet Potato Veggie Bowl
Traveling and sticking to a healthy lifestyle can be nearly impossible, especially when you’re in a place where speciality ingredients such as gluten-free pasta are hard to find. With this sweet potato veggie bowl, you get to abandon the gluten, while still enjoying a savory and healthy meal.
-1 Large Sweet Potato
-2 Cups Spinach
-½ Cup Chopped Mushrooms
-½ Cup Broccoli Florets
-¼ Cup Squash Chopped
-1 Tbsp. Minced Garlic
-½ Cup Chopped Carrots
-⅛ Cup Soy Sauce
-2 Tbsp. Dry Chili Flakes
-1 Slab Butter
-2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
- Fill a medium-size pot with water, bring to a boil.
- Scrub sweet potato and dice into even pieces.
- Add sweet potato to boiling water.
- In a large pan, heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Add chili flakes, carrots and mushroom, mix constantly.
- After 3-4 minutes, add broccoli, spinach, squash, soy sauce and garlic.
- Once potatoes pass the fork test, drain and place back into the pot.
- Using a masher, or a fork, mash sweet potatoes until smooth. Add a slab of butter.
- Serve in a bowl with sweet potato mash on the bottom and vegetables on top.
Loaded Oatmeal Bowl
Ditch the sugary cereal for breakfast, and fill up with loads of fiber—guaranteed to keep you full until lunchtime rolls around. Want to know the best part of noshing on a loaded oatmeal bowl? You get to meticulously place the fruit to make that stunning Instagram post that we all know and love. Plus, we won’t tell how long that perfect shot took you if you don’t!
-1 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
-1 Cup Water
-1 Tbsp. Cinnamon
-1 Pinch of Salt
-1 Cup Almond Milk/Cashew Milk/Whole Milk
-⅛ Cup Blueberries
-¼ Cup Walnuts
-¼ Cup Dried Coconut Flakes
-½ Banana Sliced
-2 Tbsp. Peanut Butter
-Optional: Chia Seeds, Goji Berries, Flax Seeds
- Place oats, water, salt, milk (or milk alternative) and cinnamon in a pot on low heat.
- Constantly stir until all liquids are absorbed.
- Place all toppings, serve and enjoy.
Garlic Parmesan Pasta
Delicious comfort food comes in many different forms, but nothing can quite top the feeling of swirling your fork into a big bowl of pasta. Not only is this one-pot dish delicious, it’s a meal that reheats beautifully if you can’t finish it in one sitting.
-4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
-1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
-2 Cups Vegetable Broth
-1 Cup Milk (or Milk Alternative)
-2 Tbsp. Butter
-1 Box Uncooked Fettuccine
-Salt and Pepper To Taste
-¼ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
-1 ½ Tbsp. Chopped Parsley
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat, and add garlic. Stir frequently for 1-2 minutes.
- Stir in milk, butter and fettuccine.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer.
- Stir occasionally until pasta is fully cooked.
- Gently stir in parmesan.
- Garnish with parsley.
When you’re busy on the road, there’s nothing better than throwing ingredients in a pot, coming back 30 minutes later and… voila, dinner is served. Usually, it’s easier to create meatless dishes in hostel kitchens because they require less prep time and materials, that’s why meatless chili is finishing off this list. Hearty and packed full of flavor, it’s sure to be a hit for lunch or dinner.
-2 Cans Kidney Beans
-2 Cans Tomato Sauce
-4 Tbsp. Chili Flakes
-½ Medium Chili Pepper Diced
-1 Cup Mushrooms Chopped
-1 Small Tomato
-4 Garlic Cloves Minced
-⅛ Cup Cilantro Chopped
-Salt to taste
- Rinse kidney beans thoroughly and set aside.
- In a large pot add tomato sauce, chili flakes, chili pepper and garlic, simmer on medium heat.
- Once sauce blend is simmering, add chopped tomato, mushroom, kidney beans and salt to taste.
- Cover and allow to simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.
- Serve and garnish with cilantro.
- Enjoy with avocado and tortilla chips!
Still hungry for more?🍴