When the cash in your wallet has been stretched thin for a few days, one way to save money is to cook your own meals while traveling. While not the most relaxing activity for most people, it is a way to reduce your budget. Of course, the requirement to cooking at a hostel is that your hostel must have a kitchen. The kitchen also must have some sort of basic amenities: stove, basic condiments, knives, kitchen tools. These are some of the fast, easy meals that I found to be fulfilling.
Deli Meat Sandwich
- Kaiser roll (or acceptable sandwich bread alternative)
- Deli meat
- Additional vegetables (cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes)
This is my standard quick meal while in Europe. There are many bakeries and butchers all over Europe and most of them sell cheap ingredients for a sandwich. I’m sure this can be replicated in other places around the world. Simply layer bread. meat, vegetables, and bread. The spare vegetables is made into a simple salad. Sometimes, I pair the sandwich with some pickles. I don’t use mayonnaise or butter since most of it sold is too big and a lot of kitchens provide them. In case there is no mayo or butter, I have yet to find a kitchen without olive oil.
Deli Meat Salad
- Deli meat
- Additional vegetables (tomatoes, cucumbers)
- Garbanzo beans (or any prepared beans)
- Boiled eggs
- Olive oil and balsamic vinegar (or salad dressing alternative)
Much like the deli meat sandwich, this is also a simple meal. Mix all the ingredients with olive oil and a vinegar. Add some canned fruit for some extra sweetness. Season with salt and pepper for an extra kick. Of course, you can mix and match any of the ingredients, even forgoing the lettuce.
- 2 potatoes
- 1 egg
A little more complicated than a sandwich or salad, but not by much. You can choose to peel or not peel the potatoes. Use a grater to shave the potatoes into small pieces. If there is no mandolin or grater available, julienne the potatoes into small pieces. Salt the potatoes first and wait a few minutes. It helps to draw out the liquids in the potatoes. It’s really important to squeeze out as much of the liquid out of the potatoes as possible. The drier the potatoes are, the more crisp it will come out. Otherwise, they might come out as a gooey mess. Mix the dried potatoes, egg, and pepper. Over high heat, fry spoonfuls of the mixture with three minutes on each side. You can also serve with sour cream and applesauce.
- 3-4 eggs (depending on how big you want your omelette)
- Deli meat
- Additional Vegetables (bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms)
Mix everything in a bowl besides the cheese. Heat an oiled pan to medium heat and pour the mixture in. Spread the mixture in the pan and cook until the top of the mixture is no longer runny. The egg mixture should still be wet. Spread the cheese on the top, fold the mixture in half, and serve.
- 1 piece of boneless meat (beef, pork chop, or chicken breast)
Liberally season the meat with salt, pepper, and any other herbs you can find. Rosemary, parsley, and paprika are good seasonings to use. The most important thing to cooking meat that I found is to make sure the meat is not too thick (15-20cm) so you can pan fry it all the way through and that you cook on very high heat. The high heat will on the pan will form a crispy crust that will hold in the juices better. Fry each side for about 2-3 minutes.
Pasta with sauce
- Cup of Pasta (I favor Fusilli)
- Pasta sauce (Pesto, Marinara)
- Sausage (Hot dog but preferably better)
- Additional Vegetables (Tomatoes, Zucchini, Squash, Bell Peppers, Corn or Mushrooms)
Cook the pasta in boiling water. Stir fry the sausage and diced vegetables. Mix the sauce in to the stir fried mixture. Once the pasta is finished cooking (test a piece to check), put the pasta into the sauce mixture. I’m partial to corn in my sauce as it really brings a sweetness to the sauce.