Quick and easy meals to cook in hostels during your travels


Discover these simple and fast recipes to whip up whilst abroad

Yes, you there! The little backpacker who travels from country to country, from hostel to hostel... we're sure you've already wondered how to eat well for less when you're on the move. We're also sure that you've had more than your fair share of pasta, rice and beans in order to save some pennies! However, we're here to tell you that cooking good, tasty meals in hostels really isn't as hard as you might think! Luckily for you, we have put together a small list of cheap and hassle free meals to cook in hostels.

First things first, it's important to know that not only will you save your money by cooking in the hostel, you'll also be able to meet new people and socialise with like-minded travellers at the same time! As after all, everyone knows that the hostel action goes down in the kitchen and surrounding common areas. If you're cooking a meal, it's very easy to chat to and get to know other backpackers around you.

You could even go a step further and cook together with a group of people.. this way you can all share the costs. Oh, and it goes without saying that cooking is a great way to impress that certain someone who caught your eye upon arrival! However, if cooking isn't your strong suit, there are also many hostels that offer pretty decent cuisine options, for example No Limit Hostel Lisbon. One thing is for sure, you won't ever go hungry when staying at a hostel!

Group Dinners


In order to cook a cheap and easy meal in a hostel, some preparation is needed beforehand. First of all, have a look in all of the kitchen cupboards and drawers. You might find things of use that have been left behind by other travellers or are supplied by the hostel for joint use. These might include:

- Salt & Pepper

- Oil

- Herbs & Spices

- Butter

- Milk

- Rice & Pasta

- Flour & Sugar

Secondly, you should make sure to buy basic, low-cost foods that can be reused for several different recipes. Also, double check that these foods are available worldwide, and require relatively little effort to cook them such as:

- Bread (or equivalent)

- Rice & Pasta

- Eggs

- Sauces

- Vegetables

The recipes that we have thought up for you are mainly plant-based in order to reduce costs, however as you read on you'll see that it's very easy to add meat or fish. In fact, in many countries buying these two foods at the local market is not so expensive.


Starting the day off right!

Let's start with breakfast, the most important meal of the day! This is usually the only time you can mix sweet and savoury all together in a relatively easy manner. Here are three quick and simple breakfast ideas:

"Pain Perdu" or French Toast with fruit (serves 1)

This French recipe, originally made with stale bread, tastes even better if you make it with brioche! The recipe is really adaptable and works well anytime, anywhere.

Preparation time: 5 mins

Cooking time: 5 mins



- 2 slices of brioche (or more according to your preference)

- 200 ml of milk

- 1 egg (or more if more brioche slices)

- 20 g sugar

- 1 tbsp butter

- Fruits (your choice)


- Whisk the sugar, eggs and milk into a bowl

- Place the butter on the pan and switch to high heat

- Dip the slices of brioche one by one into the bowl and let them soak for a few seconds on each side

- Put the brioche slices into the pan when the butter has melted

- Cook them for about 3 minutes on each side until they have a nice golden colour

- Add fruits of your choice on top and enjoy!

Pain Perdu


Cereal and Yogurt (serves 1)

Preparation time: 5 mins



- 1 yogurt

- Cereal and / or dried fruit


This one we doubt needs much explanation... it's a super simple recipe which is great for someone who doesn't consider themselves a morning person! Or perhaps you're still tired from all your incredible cooking the night before. Either way, this meal will satisfy your stomach as well as giving you your daily dose of vitamin C. We suggest buying a big pot of yogurt which can then serve as a nice dessert later on in the day.



Eggs & Avocado on toast with fruit (serves 1)

You must have seen this one all over your Instagram feed and drooled over the thousands of brunch pictures popping up on your home page! Avocado toast really has taken the world by storm, and it's a healthy and low-cost breakfast option to easily put together in a hostel kitchen. Eggs and fruit can be added for extra nutrients.

Preparation time: 5 mins

Cooking time: 5 mins



- 1 avocado

- 2 slices of bread

- 2 eggs (1 per slice of bread)

- Salt & Pepper

- Fruits


- Slightly toast the bread just enough so it's solid

- Crush the avocado in a bowl until its smashed to your desired consistency

- Divide this over the two slices of toast

- Cook the eggs however you'd like them (hard-boiled, poached, scrambled or fried) and add them on top of the toast

- Now add some fruit!

The best part about such quick and easy meals like these is that you can easily adapt them according to where you are in the world... swap brioche for bagels, or even tortillas!

Brunch foods


It's time for lunch!

We suggest preparing two easy, cheap meals that you can either share with others or enjoy them all to yourself over the course of a few days. The ingredients are virtually the same and can be reused and adapted for several other recipes.

Vegetable omelette (serves 1)

Preparation time: 10 mins

Cooking time: 20 mins



- 2 eggs

- 1 courgette

- 3 tomatoes

- 1/2 red pepper

- 1 onion

- Salt & Pepper

- Olive oil

- Herbs (according to your preference)


- Wash and cut the courgette into strips and cook them in a pan for about 3 minutes, adding a little bit of water

- Wash and cut the pepper into strips, peel and slice the onion and add these to the pan when the courgette is ready, together with some olive oil. Let them all cook for about 10 minutes

- Wash and cut the tomatoes into small pieces

- In a large bowl, break the eggs and whisk them with a fork, adding salt and pepper

- Add the egg mixture to the pan and cook everything together, stirring frequently for about 4 minutes

- Sprinkle with herbs and serve

vegetable omelette


Wok fried noodles with vegetables and mushrooms (serves 4)

As stated previously we're working on a vegetarian basis, but feel free to add meat if you'd like! Similarly, if you want to switch up your noodles for spaghetti then go for it!

Preparation time: 10 mins

Cooking time: 15 mins



- 250g chinese noodles

- 12 fresh mushrooms

- 3 eggs

- 2 courgettes

- 1 carrot

- 4 tbsp soy sauce (if desired)

- 3 tbsp water

- 1 tbsp sugared coffee

- Oil

- Salt & Pepper


- Cut the courgette, carrot and mushrooms all into thin slices

- In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, water and sugar together

- Boil a pan of water and take it off the heat, adding the noodles and covering it for 4 minutes

- Separate the noodles with a fork, taste to check they're cooked and then let them drain

- Drizzle a tablespoon of oil into a wok on medium heat

- Add the carrots to the pan and sauté for a minute

- Next, add the courgette and leave for another minute, and add the mushrooms and leave for another minute

- Add the noodles and stir well for 30 seconds

- Finally, pour the contents of the small bowl and the eggs into the wok and mix everything together for a minute

- Eat whilst still hot!

Cooking together

For the evening meal

At the hostel, you'll spend a lovely evening socialising with other travellers which will probably end up with a lot of drinking and partying! So, better to be safe than sorry and make sure to line your stomach ready for the night ahead! Here are two cheap and easy meals to cook before the drinking starts...

Mushroom risotto (serves 4)

A dish that seems extremely difficult, but in fact is quite easy. Rice is a great idea before embarking on a big night out!

Preparation time: 5 mins

Cooking time: 25 mins



- 1 stock cube

- 250g rice

- 200g mushrooms

- 1 onion

- 100 ml white wine (we won't tell you what to do with the rest of the bottle, you're grown up enough to figure out a solution on your own!)

- 30 ml of cream

- 20g parmesan

- Herbs (if desired)

- Salt & Pepper

- Oil


- Boil some water in a saucepan and slowly add the stock

- Peel and thinly slice the onion and cook in a large pan with a little olive oil

- Add the rice and leave it for a few minutes

- Pour the white wine in gradually, cooking on a medium heat until the liquid is fully absorbed

- Add the mushrooms and herbs

- Continue cooking, adding more stock or wine depending on your desired tastes

- Stir often, and when the rice is cooked, add the parmesan cheese and cream

- Serve hot



Sweet potato and vegetables (serves 2)

This simple, fast meal idea is also gluten-free, and can also be adapted to the country you're in as any type of potato can also be used. The accompanying vegetables can be cooked or raw, depending on how you prefer them.

Preparation time: 15 mins

Cooking time: 15 mins



- Sweet potato (2 pieces)

- Salt & Pepper

- 26.5g butter (if desired)

- 50 ml semi-skimmed milk or crème fraiche (if desired)

- Carrots

- Tomatoes

- Avocadoes


- Wash and peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into small cubes

- Put the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with cold water, then add salt and bring to the boil

- Once cooked, crush the sweet potato with a fork and season with salt and pepper

- Achieve your desired flavour and consistency by adding butter and /or milk

- Put the sweet potato in a bowl, cut the tomatoes, carrots and avocadoes and put them on top

Healthy meals


For a midday takeaway snack

We doubt that you'll always want to eat at the hostel, so here are two ideas that you can prepare beforehand and take with you on your travels. Again these snacks are vegetable-based, including some of the ingredients already mentioned above so as to avoid spending too much money. If you're interested in knowing more about this, why not read our article about eco-tourism where we share good advice for eating without waste.

Hummus and vegetable wrap (serves 2)

Switching up the trusted sandwich for something different, here's a tortilla-based alternative! You can of course vary the type of hummus you use as it can now be found in all different flavours... you could even be extra fancy and make your own by blending chickpeas and olive oil together in a food processor. Or, if you wanted to add fish, we recommend making a salad wrap as they really are delicious!

Preparation time: 5 mins



- 2 tortillas

- 1 cucumber

- 2 tomatoes

- Goats cheese (or whatever you prefer)

- Hummus

- Salt & Pepper


- Take the tortilla and spread the hummus on

- Cut the cucumber, tomatoes and cheese into slices and add on top

- Season with salt and pepper

- Wrap the tortilla the way you want it and enjoy!

Vegetable wrap


Lettuce Sushi Makis with rice and vegetables (serves 2)

How do you spice up the average salad whilst also using up the leftover rice from that 1 kilo bag you bought? Well, the answer is with this recipe below!

Preparation time: 10 mins

Cooking time: 10 mins



- 4 beautiful lettuce leaves

- 150g cooked rice (ideally sushi rice & cooked the day before so it has had some time to cool)

- 4 radishes

- 1 carrot

- Spreadable cheese (like boursin)

- 1 bunch of chives

- Salt


- Wash the lettuce leaves and spread some cheese on them

- Put a little bit of rice on them and flatten it out

- Cut the carrot into sticks, slice the radishes and place these on top

- Add salt and roll the maki, tightening it well

- Tie it together with a string of chives and dig in!

Lettuce Makis


So now you have all the information you need in order to make cheap and easy meals in hostels. These recipes above are also very balanced and healthy, so if perhaps you wanted to go further with this healthy lifestyle whilst on the road, why not have a read of our article about the 9 best fitness hostels in Europe and how to stay fit whilst travelling !?

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