Budget Hostel Cooking

Gourmet meals on a budget?

It is so rewarding to see travellers coming together to share a meal. It is even more satisfying to see them assist each other in creating something special. A gourmet meal on a budget! Gone are the days of bowls of rice and noodles with tomato sauce (I kid you not!). The internet has opened up culinary possibilities to young and old, foodie or not! Anything is possible in the kitchen regardless of your background, experience or budget.

Cooking a great meal on a budget at your hostel is possible, yes indeed! Some hostels have an oven and some don’t. This won’t matter. All you need is a frypan, a medium sized saucepan and a kettle to get you started. The aromas that make their way through the air can draw you from just about anywhere. Whether you’re chilling out in a hammock, chatting with friends in the courtyard or just hanging in your room. I guarantee, you will be enticed to check out the communal kitchen.

Not surprisingly, we can’t all cook delightful meals on a budget. However, those who do can certainly draw a crowd, make friends and inspire ‘Jamie Oliver’ enthusiasts regardless of skill level or budget. Whether it’s a creative take on 2-minute noodles or a culinary mix of seasoned meat and vegetables, the options to cook a meal worthy of a weary traveller is accessible to anyone.

Themed Cooking Nights

You don’t have to go it alone

Cooking for yourself can seem daunting and pointless. However if you are cooking with others not only do you share the tasks, you share the cost and make new friends.

Before CovidSafe plans and restrictions, we hosted themed and group cooking nights on a weekly basis. This was a fun way for everyone to share what they know about cooking (or perhaps, how little they know) and learn from a few gourmet chefs along the way. I’m not kidding, we’ve had numerous chefs stay and work with us and they have enjoyed taking some trainees under their wings. Chefs are the best teachers when it comes to hostel cooking.

This is a great way to learn about food from around the world. And how easy it can be to turn a few simple ingredients into something that will ‘wow’ the crowd. If you are a traveller and have visited many hostels you will know that cooking at a hostel on a budget can be difficult. Finding new and interesting ways to cook up that pasta or do something different with that avocado can be testing. Especially if all you have is a bottle of sauce for flavour.

Can I recommend the free shelf? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxeH1fiZmb8&t=9s Most hostels have a free shelf of ‘re-usable’ ingredients that have been left behind. Therefore, it should be ‘in-date’ and most importantly, absolutely free. Now that’s budget friendly. There can be some real gems in this box of goodies. From gourmet pasta, jars of herbs and spices as well as some lovely dressings and sweets. However, be sure to only take what you need and leave some for other travellers. https://coolbananasbackpackers.com/gallery/

Some Creative Ideas to get you started

Handy Ingredients to always have in your kit

Not only do the below ingredients cost very little, they are easy to travel with (except eggs) and you can use them for a snack or any main meal. Not to mention, you can buy them just about anywhere! Get cooking in your hostel tonight!

  1. bananas – you can smash them on toast, turn them into pancakes or slice them up and place on top of ice-cream.
  2. pasta & rice – versatile, versatile, versatile and….. cheap, cheap, cheap. Moreover, it’s light to travel with and you can put anything with it.
  3. mixed herbs & spices – even with the simplest ingredients, you can jazz it up.
  4. eggs – boiled, scrambled, fried and poached. Additionally, great to use in your pasta and cakes.

It can be easy to become overwhelmed on this topic. Hence, the internet is a magical place full of wondrous ideas. This is the best place to learn from others’ mistakes and make good on their experiential knowledge. With this in mind, I read a lot of blogs and checked out a lot of websites. I like this couple in the following link.


We’d love to hear about some of your cooking successes and some of your disasters. Were you able to ‘hostel cook’ according to your budget? So, share these in the comments section. Happy hostel cooking adventurers!


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