Eating Like Royalty on a Shoe String Budget

I remember my first backpacking adventure, I was a late bloomer compared to many other globetrotters. My friends and I departed for New Zealand, which I would be only joining them for the first 2 months of their yearlong adventure. I was 23 years old and I still lived at home. Fortunately my parents were ok with me living at home, rent free, and I had a well paying job. With all the privileges I had, I didn’t know how to cook. So how did I start cooking?

Backpacker Food Tips for the Hostel Kitchen

Eating Like Royalty on a Shoe String Budget

I lived in a very traditional European household where the quality of food was superior; therefore, I never felt it was necessary to learn how to cook. Initially traveling abroad was challenging as I leveraged my buying power and ate out most meals. Eventually, eating out daily was burning a significant hole in my pocket, so my friends and I started cooking most of our meals.

Backpacking Thailand - Studentdestinations.caOne of my friends wanted to be conservative with his spending so he opted for a vegetarian diet. With all the options available within a vegetarian diet we ate well and we never got bored of our meals. Most travellers would opt for pasta as their nightly food staple. I love pasta; however, I couldn’t eat it everyday. There is a reason why some suffer from the Backpacker 15. For those who aren’t familiar with that term, it is when a traveller packs on 15 pounds over their adventures because of their poor eating habits (boozing up every night doesn’t help either).

Many hostels provide continental breakfasts and host group dinners. For those of you who are not interested in eating generic corn flakes every morning consider mastering your pallet without draining your wallet with the following recipes.

1)    Flourless Banana Pancakes

Easily the cheapest breakfast you will ever have and it is also healthy and filling. Although the pancakes below were made with flour, it’s even cheaper to do those Banana Pancakes without flour. If the hostel kitchen allows you to use flour, you can use it as well.

Banana Pancakes at Hostels - Budget Food for Backpackers Banana Pancakes at Hostels - Budget Food for Backpackers Banana Pancakes at Hostels - Budget Food for Backpackers

INGREDIENTS for Banana Pancakes without Flour:

  • 1 Banana
  • 2 Eggs

Serves one (equals to approximately 3 pancakes or 2 oddly shaped pancakes)

STEPS creating Banana Pancakes:

  • Crack two egg yolks into a bowl and slice the banana (peel the banana first) and also place it into the bowl
  • With a fork keep whisking the egg yolks and bananas until it starts frothing
  • Use cooking oil (i.e. coconut oil, vegetable oil, etc.) or butter (depends what you have) and drop it into the frying pan (spread the cooking oil or butter around the base of the pan)
  • When the frying pan is hot, pour 1/3 of the batter into the fry pan (aim for a circular shape)
  • Wait until the base of the pancake is browning before pouring the 2nd 1/3 and 3rd 1/3 of the batter into the pan
  • Flip the pancakes to cook evenly on both sides
  • Grab a plate and enjoy

For extra flavor, to neutralize the egg flavor, you can add vanilla extract to the batter and/or cinnamon. If there is maple syrup or jam available you will have a breakfast that will keep you full until lunchtime (no need to spend money on snacks).

2)    Healthy Lunch Wraps

Eating sandwiches everyday can be tiresome. Why not kick your taste buds butt with a wholesome wrap.

INGREDIENTS for Lunch Wraps (Depending where you are in the world)

  • Wrap; Tortilla; Pita; Naan; Roti
  • Canned Corn
  • Black Beans (Canned)
  • Lettuce
  • Avocado (If it is available)
  • Mustard
  • Cheese
  • Tomato
  • Peppers

Depending on your preference and whatever is available in the local market you can make a wrap out of anything. If you are a die-hard carnivore, purchase meat from the deli; however, if the meat is not prepped properly it may cause avoidable illnesses, it may be expensive, it may ruin the taste of the wrap (if it is overcooked), and it isn’t necessary to eat meat with every meal.

Cooking Wraps at Hostels - Budget Food for Backpackers

STEPS cooking Wraps:

  • Place wrap on a plate
  • Mash avocado slices on the wrap and spread it around and drizzle some mustard over the avocado
  • Mix corn and black beans on a straight line (North to South, East to West, WSW to ENE, etc.)
    • You could also heat up the corn and black beans in the microwave before placing on the wrap
    • Add cheese (i.e. shredded or sliced) with slices of tomato
    • Fry up some peppers
    • Finally add the lettuce on top
    • Fold the wrap at both ends of the ingredients
    • Then grab one side of the wrap to cover the ingredients, while making a pulling and rolling motion concurrently
    • Cut the wrap in half, if necessary, for ease of eating

Summary Eating on Budget when Traveling

Dinner is usually a social event. If the hostel does not provide a group dinner, ask other guests and travelers if they want to cook together. You may find travelers who are willing to teach you how to cook & you can enjoy an affordable meal/ feast while making new friends plus you may learn how to learn some more delicious meals as well!

Bon appétit – 좋은 식욕 – Хороший аппетит – よい食欲

What do you cook in Hostels when traveling?


Information about the Author

About Rafael Reis, StudentdestinationsRafael Reis from has been creating lifestyle and financial literature since 2009. As a Partner of Student Destinations, Rafael hopes to empower millennials to achieve their bucket list as early as possible. Through informative content and apps, Rafael believes he can help people reach their goals. Travel is Rafael’s passion and he plans to travel the world before 40.

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