What to Cook in Hostels

Eating while traveling is hard.  I’m not joking- multiple times when traveling I have gone without eating for a day or two- I don’t know why, I just am not motivated to find food? Which is insane, because I love food.  Seriously, I love it- I love cooking, and I love eating.

However, I don’t love cooking in Hostels. I’m too cheap to eat out all the time when traveling, so either I cook in hostels, or I don’t eat.

One of the worst things about backpacking is cooking in the little hostel kitchens. Sometimes you luck out, and your hostel with have an awesome kitchen, with lots of pots, pans, good fridge space, and good storage space. Other times, your kitchen will be a microwave and a kettle, and you have to get a bit creative.

For the last few months, I have been living and working in a small farming town in Western Australia, and my kitchen was the microwave and kettle version.  One of the perks of the job was that we got one free meal from the restaurant a day.  Eating the same five things for months on end got pretty tiring, after a while.

With only a microwave (and kettle) to cook with, you had to get creative.  I stuck to cold things for breakfast- yogurt, cereal, granola, – I haven’t had poached eggs in months, which is tragic all in itself.

Look, I know there are a lot of ‘mug’ things you can cook.  But have you actually ever had eggs cooked in a mug? Not worth it.  Also, mug cakes and cookies involve having the ingredients to make the mug cakes, which just aren’t worth it to buy when you are backpacking.  I myself love mug cakes, but it’s just not realistic, so I won’t include any of that stuff here.

So what can you cook in a microwave?

In short? Ramen.  I’m not going to lie, I ate a lot of Ramen (or two minute noodles, as they are called here).  I would add some frozen veggies to bulk it up a bit, and occasionally some chicken.

Okay, so that’s definitely not all I ate the last couple of months.  I made a lot of wraps, for a while- chicken, cheddar cheese, and mixed greens taste pretty good together.  I ate a lot of salads, adding mozzarella and prosciutto and pretending I was back in Italy.

I tried not to buy bread, because I could never eat it all before it goes bad, but sandwiches are always an option.  Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches are a classic lunch box special that I could never get tired of.

Most hostels actually have more than just a microwave, so hopefully that’s not all you have to cook with.  Pasta is always a great option- you can buy a bag for usually a dollar or less, and mix in some vegetables like carrots, broccoli, and spinach, and whatever sauce you like.

Taco salad is another favorite of mine- you can buy ground turkey, peppers, onions, corn, and cook it all up with some taco seasoning and put it on top of spinach with some fresh avocado (if you feel fancy).  It’s delicious, lasts a couple days in the fridge, and ridiculously easy.

I always try to stay in hostels that offer free breakfast- it’s usually just toast and cereal, but backpacker rule #1 Is never turn down free things.


I can’t wait until I have a real kitchen to cook (and more importantly, bake) in, but until then, I will keep living off whatever I can make in hostels.


Do you have any go-to travel meals?

Share below in the comments!

Leave a Reply

Wandering Within Worlds
Skip to toolbar