It’s easy to save money by preparing your own tasty meals whilst travelling and staying in hostels. The hardest part is thinking of what to prepare, and anyone who eats a vegetarian diet may find the options are pretty limited! Read on for some top tips on cooking in hostels, and delicious, easy to prepare dishes that are nutritious, satisfying and ready in minutes.

General Tips

Take with you, or pick up from a dollar store, a cutlery set and a medium sized tupperware box with a locking lid. This will make it super easy to store leftovers for a second meal, and to take food out and about with you when you need to. Having your own cutlery set means you’re not limited to foods that are easy to eat with your hands, like bread and wraps for lunch. Take a few or pick up a roll of plastic sandwich bags for the same purpose. These are particularly handy for keeping things like tofu and cheese fresh. It’s handy to have a zip up fridge bag for storing your perishables in hostel fridges, and a cloth tote or bag for life that you can store your dry food in.

Food Essentials

Buy 2 sauces that can have multiple uses. For me that's a chipotle sauce and a honey mustard dressing. I like spice so add the chipotle to rice and inside wraps. I buy plain cheap hummus and add a dollop of chipotle sauce to it. The salad dressing I use to add flavour to salads, adding flavour to lentils, and occasionally add to veggie wraps.

Buy the microwaveable rice packs, supermarket own brand if it’s the cheapest, if you’re moving around a lot. Not as cheap as buying regular rice, but it is convenient.

Cans will become your new best friend. Cheap, ready to eat and full of fibre, beans and lentils are a true staple of vegetarian cooking, and they’re invaluable when you’re travelling.

Keep it Easy When Cooking Backpacking Meals in a Hostel Kitchen

Kitchen at Base Queenstown

5 Easy, Cheap Vegetarian Meals

Burrito Bowl

You will need:

  1. One tin of black beans
  2. One packet of microwaveable plain rice
  3. Chilli sauce
  4. Handful shredded lettuce
  5. Handful grated cheddar cheese


Drain and rinse the beans, set aside. Place the rice on to microwave according to the packet instructions. Serve all ingredients on a large plate, and enjoy.

- Pick up some wraps and have the leftovers as a burrito the next day.
- Also pick up an avocado and have leftover cheese, lettuce, chilli sauce and a wrap for another meal.

Feta and Lentil Salad

You will need:

  1. One can of puy lentils
  2. Two handfuls of spinach
  3. Half a packet of feta
  4. A portion of sweet cherry tomatoes cut in half
  5. Your favourite salad dressing such as honey mustard


Dress the lentils in the dressing, then spoon over a bed of spinach, top with the tomatoes and crumble over the feta.

Chickpea and Spinach Curry with Rice

You will need:

  1. Bag of baby spinach
  2. Curry sauce
  3. Tin of chickpeas
  4. Basmati Rice


This isn’t a recipe, but rather a cheats meal for the days when you’re short on energy and time. Grab your favourite curry sauce, mine is butter chicken (minus the chicken, obviously), warm it through on the stove, then add 1 can of drained chickpeas, and a bag of baby spinach. Serve with basmati rice.

Lentils, Chickpeas and Beans are classic ingredients for vegetarian meals


Simple Tomato Pasta

You will need:

  1. Two handfuls of cherry tomatoes cut in half
  2. Two handfuls of spinach
  3. Half a packet of feta
  4. Your favourite pasta


Put your pasta on to cook whilst you make the sauce. In a saucepan over a medium heat, drizzle a little olive oil, and cook the tomatoes until they start to breakdown (around five minutes). Season with salt and pepper. Once your pasta is ready but al dente, drain it, then add it back into the pan with the tomatoes, and stir through the spinach and almost all of the feta. Serve immediately and top with crumbled feta.

Butter Bean Tomato Stew

You will need:

  1. One can butter beans
  2. Tbsp olive oil
  3. Half an onion diced
  4. One clove garlic
  5. One red bell pepper sliced
  6. 400ml tomato passata
  7. 1 packet falafel


In a wide shallow pan, over a medium-low heat, add a drizzle of olive oil. Add the onions, and saute until translucent. Then add the garlic and peppers, stirring for one minute, before adding the passata. Turn the heat up slightly, and continue to cook until bubbling (around ten minutes). Stir in the drained can of butterbeans and the falafel, carefully spooning over the sauce to heat them through. Season and serve on it’s own or with warm crusty bread, and enjoy the leftovers the next day.

Can't be bothered to cook at all even when your meal is very easy to make? Check out these "cheap eats":

Author: Gabriella is a freelance Digital Marketer by day. She travels, shops and eats as much as she can, and writes about it all on Gabriella Manchester. Follow her on instagram.

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