How to Survive Cooking in a Hostel Kitchen
If you're travelling on a budget, you'll need to master the art of cooking in a hostel kitchen.
It doesn't matter how well organized you are when you travel if you are having problems cooking and storing the food you’re preparing.
Facilities can vary so widely and you may be in a rental cottage with a deluxe kitchen one week, the next you may be stuck in a cheap motel with a tiny fridge. And cooking in a hostel kitchen? Sometimes they're the most challenging of all! But with a bit of planning, you can make incredible meals in hostel kitchens - you just need a few tips and tricks to make the most of your meager supplies.
1.) Remember: the pots and pans in hostels, rental cottages, and even hotel suites have been used hard. Their non-stick qualities will be long gone, so grease them well. (And while I'm sure it goes without saying.... Always scrub out your dishes when you're done and leave the kitchen clean for the next person.)
2.) Don’t despair and be creative if you can’t find the right size pan – rolls of cookie dough can be patted down flat on a pizza pan. Small cake mixes can be cooked in bread pans. And instant cookies and cakes make excellent treats on the road – you can get a dozen servings for the cost of one or two cafe cupcakes, keep the kids happy, get a taste of home, get to indulge your creativity, and even contribute to local bake sales. Make cookies when you’re away from home – you’ll be the happier for it!
3.) Takeout Tips: Pizza and take away Chinese food sounds great and there are deals to be had in every city. But leftover pizza won’t last a second in a hostel fridge and the large boxes and awkward containers will never fit in your motel room fridge. Don’t order more than you can eat in the moment- chances are high the leftovers will never hit your mouth. Better yet - share your dinner and make some new friends.
4.) Label all food with your name and date when you are at a hostel. If you are going to staying and cooking exclusively in hostels, consider investing in a roll of foil or a cloth lunch bag to place over your groceries or leftovers. It’s no guarantee, but chances are thieves will go for the easier picks -like the unlabeled, easy to see yogurt or muffins.
5.) Gear: Medium sized, high quality Ziploc style bags are a must – so versatile for food and all your travel needs. Throw in a travel spork and a water bottle/cup/thermos and you’ll manage okay with the basics of transporting and eating on the run. Feeling fancy? Add an immersion coil heater to boil water anywhere – I always travel with mine.
6.) Freebies: Just about every hostel has a freebie shelf. Boy, do I know these shelves well. They saved me time and time again in my earliest days of backpacking. The kitchen freebie shelf was one of the very first things I'd check out after I got settled in my bunk. I'd make note of the ingredients to plan my supper and, more often than not, I'd find some kind of oil, pasta, half a bulb of garlic, and some sad veggies. Of course, if you have leftover ingredients you can't take with you. If your ingredients have been partially used or opened, leave a note giving more information and helpful hints, such as “free to use: olive oil opened on May 15″ or “coffee: French press style. Opened April 10 – careful, it’s very strong."
Bon Voyage – and Bon Appetite!
Enjoy the rest of 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 4: Five Delectable, Easy Meals for Travelers.
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