Cooking in your hostel, cottage, or campground? You'll love these recipes!
In my last posts (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3), I focused on how you can make your travel food delicious and simple. Whether it’s bringing along homemade spice mixes, always having key ingredients in your pack, or knowing what to have on hand when you fly, you can stretch your budget, make your meals more versatile, and escape from cheap, greasy fast food joints.
Now it’s time to look beyond instant oatmeal and start making real, hearty, satisfying, delicious food. While travelling, you may be staying in one place for a few days, weeks, or months. You may be faced with limited kitchen supplies, unfamiliar ingredients, or time restrictions. Even if you are a bad cook – you can do this. Here are some simple, delicious, friend-making, soul-soothing dishes to make in your home away from home.
Cheap, easy, filling, healthy, versatile. Chopped tomatoes, herbs (fresh basil if you can!), garlic, some olive oil, maybe some Parmesan or chives. Scoop up with sliced baguette - preferably toasted, but not necessarily. The free shelf or basket in the hostel should have an oil of some kind – maybe even spices or garlic cloves. Dig in – it’s free! The main ingredients are easy to get at a local farmer’s market. You can find a small quantity of cheese cheaply at a deli counter. French shop owners used to look at me like I was crazy when I would ask for 25 or 50 grams of cheese! Leftover bruschetta is great in an omelette, in a wrap, on top of flat-bread to make a pizza, thrown on top of nachos or a baked potato. Perfect to make new friends at a hostel!
2.) Sweet & Sour Chicken
This is based of my mom’s “Chicken in a hurry” recipe. Basically, I make this up as I go – kinda like she did. The original recipe was based on ketchup, onion soup mix, BBQ sauce, and a few more mystery ingredient. The finest recipe of 1970's women's magazines! You will need equal parts sweet (brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, pineapple juice, apple butter, plum sauce, grape jelly) and sour/ tangy (BBQ sauce, ketchup, salsa, onion soup mix, soy sauce, lime or lemon juice, hoisin sauce, teriyaki sauce, balsamic vinegar, chili sauce.) Mix together until chicken is well coated. Marinating time is a bonus. Cook somehow – bake in the oven, simmer on the stove top, stew in the crock pot. Serve over rice from good ol’ Uncle Ben’s boil in a bag.
Trashy and old-fashioned? Yes. Comfort food? Absolutely. Great in a hostel. Pour in a Ziploc bag and bring camping. And, done with quality ingredients as opposed to scavenged grub, would make a very nice thank you dinner for a host family or couch surfee, accompanied by salad, fresh bread, and good wine. Leftovers make a great BBQ chicken pizza while sauce components enhance chili or chickpea stew.
3.) Cream cheese pasta
Saute onion, garlic, (check the free shelf!), mushroom, broccoli, or veggies of your choice with some oil until they are soft. Left over bacon, ham, or chicken – toss them in. Stir in a nice hunk of cream cheese until it melts – dilute down with a bit of milk, cream, broth, or pasta water so it’s a saucy consistency. Makes a delicious, comforting, savory pasta – so easy, yet feels so decadent! And such a nice treat after so many meals with cheap tomato sauce. And if there’s leftover cream cheese – smear on breakfast bagels or stir into scrambled eggs. Mix with equal parts peanut butter for a heavenly bagel spread! Great to have at a rental house or cottage for a romantic night in and a great breakfast in bed.
Perfect for using up random meat, veggies, and cheese, or even cubed bread. Perfect on its own, wrapped up in a tortilla, or baked in a pie shell for quiche. They are great for any meal, and the leftovers can be used for – well, more omelettes! Or egg salad sandwiches, or Cobb salad, or hash. Best of all – they can be made in your basic mid-range, chain hotel that offers an in-room microwave. “Glad” brand microwave steam bags make great omelette with zero clean up. I've had so many successful steaming experiments, including veggies and fish; I’m going to start tucking some into my suitcase, they are so versatile.
5.) Rocky Road Desert
Good old chocolate pudding – there’s so much space age technology in pudding mix these days, you just need a Ziploc bag, a single portion of milk, and a few minutes of stirring to make the pudding set. No need for beaters or cooling in a fridge overnight! Add in mini marshmallows, almonds, maybe some mini Oreos, and scoop out with graham crackers or teddy grahams. Leftovers ingredients are great in hot chocolate, on top of pancakes, french toast, or ice cream, mixed in to make sweet & salty popcorn or trail mix, or made into s’mores. This is perfect for a lazy, quiet night in at a high quality hotel when you want sweet, creamy comfort food and room service charges a fortune. The ingredients cost less than $5 at any grocery store and will feed 2 or more. Incidentally, you can also make this in a big Ziploc bag using powdered milk and let it set in the lake or stream on a camping or canoe trip. It works!
The moral of the story – anyone can make great meals in any environment. And don’t leave home without Ziploc bags!
Enjoy more in this series!
Part 1: Five Simple Travel Spice Mixes
Part 2: Five Quick & Easy Travel Snacks.
Part 3: Five Easy To Make Travel Nibbles.
Part 5: Five Tips to Survive Travel Kitchens.