Saturday, 1 June 2013

the backpackers pantry

Cooking some meals while travelling can be a great way to save money and meet people. But saying ‘yes’ to that budget pasta with the tomato sauce that’s been in the hostel fridge for who knows how long and yet another slice of bread isn’t exactly good for your health either. 

When you’re a long-term traveller, you need to get your source of nutrition from somewhere (coz it’s certainly not from the cheap street food you’ve been living off for a week). So I try to make sure the meals I cook are somewhat healthy. To make things easier, I carry a few food items in my backpack so that I can cook nutritional meals and don't have to live on a diet of bread and two-minute-noodles. It’s also great for inspiration and less wasteful. Some say it's pedantic, others say its genius!

The backpackers pantry:

  • Miso soup: The health benefits of the stuff are endless. Miso soup (in sachets) is such a valuable addition to your backpack, especially on those late nights when you get off the train absolutely ravenous but you have to spend a good hour looking for a your hostel with your bags in the dark before you can even think about food. All you need is boiling water and you have a nice healthy late night snack. You can even make more hearty meals out of it by adding spinach, mushrooms, chicken or noodles.
  • Spices: anyone who loves cooking loves spices. My collection has grown over time, but staples include paprika, salt and pepper, chili flakes, Italian herbs, ground cumin and curry powder. Out of these you can make simple Turkish, Mexican, Italian, Indian, Hungarian meals, just to name a few. 
  • Stock cubes: another great staple for cooking things like curries and soups.
  • Muesli: great for those early mornings when you don’t have time to go out for breakfast (and way better for you than a restaurant meal anyway)
  • Vegemite: Yes, it’s the staple of any Aussie diet, but its bloody good for you with all that vitamin B! To reduce the weight and space I always have vegemite in a tube (which I believe you can only get in Australia). 

  • Corn thins /rivitas/vita wheats/wraps/or that awesome Swedish bread: these are great when you’re on the move, you can get yourself a fresh tomato from the local market and some sandwich meat and have a picnic! It’s better for you than bread plus it lasts longer
  • Muesli bars/granola bars: I carry one on me when we go out for the day. When you’re stuck in that afternoon walking tour, or you’re so busy seeing the sights that all of a sudden, hunger hits you and you can’t find anywhere cheap to get a little snack, muesli bar it up my friend!
  • Single serve sachets: If you are really poor (like we were at one stage), try swiping an extra serving of honey or jam at your hostel breakfast, or a sugar sachet at a café. You didn’t hear that from me!
  • Yoghurt: we didn’t exactly have this in our bags but sometimes if we knew we were at a hostel we’d buy some yoghurt for our muesli in the mornings, or we would get a single serve tub for the day.
  • Tuna/salmon tins: Ok, I admit I don’t exactly support eating unsustainable seafood but when you’re on a budget, canned tuna can be our only affordable source of protein!
  • Rice: we carried a small packet of rice with us, mainly because we couldn’t fathom buying it for one meal and throwing it away. Who does that?! Plus you can make so make meals with rice and it doesn’t crumble in your bag like pasta.
  • Cous cous: another great travel friend. The best thing is that it takes up so little room, but a little goes a long way! It’s a great source of energy and you can really get creative with it.
  • Cutlery: get yourself a reusable set of cutlery! It can seriously be your best travel friend; I carry mine around in my day bag and avoid getting plastic crap that’s not good for the environment. I also have a sharp pocket knife (coz the knives in hostels are always blunt!)
  • Shopping bag: another reusable item that is useful! Personally, I like the ones that scrunch up into nothing so I can carry it around with me all day. 
So there you have it. My backpacker pantry secrets are out there for you all to enjoy! Now all you have to do is experiment with cooking, or watch this space for recipes to come.

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