An integral part of travel is food - everyone needs to eat. So! Here we’ve put together a helpful guide to hostel cooking, showing off a collection of affordable, easy meals while traveling that everyone is capable of creating.
Of course, we’ve taken into consideration budget. These hostel cooking recipes are your answer to cheap and easy meals.
Whether you’re cooking for one person or for a big group, this guide has you covered.
Further reading: 9 Top Tips for Cooking in Hostels
Not sure what things to eat in a hostel? Want some useful travel tips on how to cook while traveling? Keep scrolling!
What is cooking:
- Hostel Recipe Ideas
- 10 Top Tips for Hostel Cooking
- Hostels offering Cooking Classes
- Useful Hostel Guides
Hostel Recipe Ideas
Ok then, let’s jump in and discover 7 delicious, easy and cheap meals you can create whilst staying in hostels.
These are all tried and tested by us and never fail to fill the stomach without breaking the bank.
1. Simple Spaghetti (versatile)
Before you scroll past this one thinking “booooooring!”, let us change your mind about this old classic. It’s a great easy hostel meal to kick start with.
As long as you have spaghetti (super cheap, by the way), you can actually get really creative and add many different ingredients to this pasta dish. So with that in mind, just forget about a strict recipe for a second.
It’s as easy as:
- Bring water to the boil and add spaghetti
- Drain, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt & pepper
- ADD ANY INGREDIENT(S) YOU FANCY
Alongside the typical tomato and basil based sauce, you could also consider using smashed avocado as a sauce instead. Yum!
Topping ideas include: broccoli, tomatoes (sun-dried, fresh, cherry), meat/veggie balls, cheese, kidney beans, sweetcorn, olives, mushrooms… basically anything that you enjoy!
2. Peanut Butter Curry (ideal for leftovers)
If you’ve never experimented with peanut butter in your cooking, now is the time! This is one of those Indian recipes for hostel cooking with a twist.
Again, this recipe can be adapted depending on your tastebuds and preferred flavours. It’s quick, taking less than 15-minutes to prepare.
Ingredients needed for a 2-person meal
- 1 can of coconut milk
- 2 tbsp peanut butter (add more if you like)
- 1-2 (fresh) chopped tomato
- 1 can of chickpeas (substitute for meat of choice)
- 1/2 red onion (diced)
- Spices of your choosing (e.g paprika, chilli flakes, ground coriander)
- Spinach/kale (optional)
- 1 tsp/0.5 cube vegetable stock (optional)
- 1 large garlic clove (crushed)
- Add diced onion and garlic to a hot oily pan until softened
- Add all of the spices you’ve chosen - stir for a few minutes
- Add coconut milk, tomato, peanut butter, chickpeas & stock
- Cook on high heat until it starts to thicken
- Turn off the heat and add any greens to wilt before serving.
Important: Don’t forget the rice to make it a full curry meal!
3. Sweet Potato Soup (solo dinner idea)
Forget buying canned soup with all those nasty additives. You can actually save money by making it yourself, and it’s way more tasty! We just love sweet potato soup - it’s our top choice for solo dinner ideas.
For 1-2 people, you’ll need:
- 1 large sweet potato
- 1-2 carrots
- 1 leek (or white onion) diced
- 1 tbsp/cube vegetable stock
- Optional: add coconut milk for extra creaminess. Coriander/parsley for garnish.
- Cut potato, carrots & leek into chunks, add to pot and add enough water to cover
- Add stock
- Bring to boil and allow to simmer until soft
- Use a blender or masher to reach desired consistency (add more water if needed)
- Add coconut milk at the end and stir in
- Season with salt & pepper
Tip: visit the grocery store towards the end of the day in search of bread sales - a nice addition to dip in your soup.
4. Veggie Stir Fry (great for groups)
Now, when it comes to creating a super tasty stir fry over a dry, plain one, the secret ingredient is soy sauce!
Once again, this is one of those recipes that can be adapted depending on what vegetables you like.
This time, we offer you a recipe for 6 people. Stir fry is cheap and is a great option for group cooking. Why not invite your roommates to dinner? You can always split the cost.
Here’s our recommendation of what to include (6 servings):
- 1-2 bell peppers (red is the tastiest)
- 1 cup of sliced carrots
- 1 cup of sliced mushrooms
- 1 cup of snap peas
- 1 cup of baby corn (usually canned)
- 1 cup of broccoli pieces
- 1 cup of sliced red onion
- 1 cup of cashew nuts
- 3 minced garlic cloves
- 1/4 - 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 2 tsp sesame oil (or oil of choice)
- 1/2 cup stock
- Chuck in all of the veggies into a hot oily wok (or frying pan). Sauté for 2-4 mins until tender.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together soy sauce, garlic, oil, stock & a bit of sugar (add cornstarch if you wish to thicken)
- Pour over veggies and cook until thickened.
What goes well with veggie stir fry? Noodles, rice (white, brown, fried), ramen.
5. Eggs & Avo on Toast (perfect for any time of the day)
Who says eggs are only for breakfast? This wonderful combo can be enjoyed at any time of the day. It’s simple, quick and filling so you can spend more time exploring and socialising.
It doesn’t really require much explaining, either.
- Eggs: choose your favourite kind; scrambled, boiled or poached
- Slice or mash the avocado (extra: add lemon, salt & pepper)
- Toast the bread, add butter (extra: spread hummus or veggie mite for extra taste)
Extras: Add fresh tomatoes, beans & fried mushrooms on the side. Substitute eggs for scrambled tofu (use turmeric to add colour). Use tomato sauce as a dip.
6. Chilli & Nachos (social snack)
Perhaps you’re heading out for dinner with hostel friends and fancy enjoying a drink or two beforehand. Why not add nachos to the gathering and line your stomach!
In fact, this can be either be a snack or an easy dinner - you can just adjust the quantities depending on how hungry you are.
For 4-6 people you’ll need:
- 500g beef/plant-based mince
- 1 can of chilli beans (add another can if skipping mince)
- 1 can of Mexican style tomatoes
- Bag of nachos corn chips
- Grated cheese
- Sour cream
- Smashed avocado
- Cook up mince in a pan until cooked, drain fat
- Add tomatoes & beans. Simmer for around 10 minutes.
- Spoon chilli mixture over nachos
- Add desired sides accordingly and feast!
7. Oats-so-tastic brekky (for big days out)
Ok so we couldn’t end there without including an amazing breakfast option. Oats are full of fibre and release energy slowly - they’re perfect for a big day ahead of exploration!
And no, this is not a simple quick-oat-recipe. There is so much you can add to this versatile hostel food!
Firstly, get your hands on some wholemeal oats (whole, not the fine meal).
Secondly, add any number of these yummy ingredients and load up on healthy calories:
- Tbsp peanut butter
- Seeds (pumpkin, linseed, chia, sunflower)
- Cacao powder
Extra: make a chia pudding the night before. It’s simple - soak chia seeds in coconut milk and put in the fridge. Add a dollop on top of your oats. Et voilà!
10 Top Tips for Hostel Cooking
Let’s cut to the chase and offer you some quick hostel cooking hacks. They all have in mind the budget traveller that’s looking to save money and eat well, hassle free!
- Avoid peak cooking hours
- Bring your own spices (it’s easy food to carry while travelling)
- Use cheaper staple foods (rice, potatoes, pasta, bread)
- Make single-pan meals
- Always check the hostel kitchens free food shelf!
- Find out when/where to find local farmers markets & save money
- Cook more than you need = leftovers (make sure you label it)
- Check hostel cooking utensils BEFORE you plan your meals
- Eat vegetarian/vegan & save money, time, prep stress
- …make sure the hostel has a kitchen before you book!
We go into more detail in our guide to 9 Tips for Cooking in Hostels.
Hostels offering Cooking Classes
Ok so now you’re all set with some simple and seriously delicious recipes to WOW your hostel mates.
But what about those evenings you just can’t be bothered to cook? Or perhaps your cooking skills need improvement? And yes, sometimes takeaway is just too expensive.
Well, worry not. Hostels always have your back, and next up we showcase a collection of hostels that offer awesome cooking classes and activities.
Of course, there are MANY hostels around the world offering cooking classes. We’ve just picked a select few in parts of the world renowned for amazing food.
This is fun, stress-free hostel cooking you’re going to love!
1. Abraham Hostel in Jerusalem, Israel
When in Israel, eat hummus! Need we tell you twice?
Abraham Hostel in Jerusalem offers a hummus workshop four times a week, alongside many more fun activities. It’s your chance to learn how to prepare this famous Middle Eastern dish like a local, fill your belly and wash it down with a shot of Arak (local liquor)!
Find all hostels in Jerusalem here.
2. Queen Hostel in Milan, Italy
Every week Queen Hostel hosts a cooking class which focuses on a different recipe of Italian Cuisine. This is your chance to learn how to cook Italian food with a local!
This class is usually held on a Tuesday and costs from €15 per person. It takes place in the onsite hostel kitchen.
Discover all hostels in Milan - they're impressive!
3. Hom Hostel & Cooking Club in Bangkok, Thailand
At Hom Hostel & Cooking Club you’re in for a foody treat.
Every day there is a free Thai cooking demo, plus the option to join a cooking workshop or Chef’s table (booking to be made one day in advance).
And the food menu is impressive! Learn to cook a wide range of Thai food, from Pad Thai and Chicken Peanut Curry, to spicy Thai soup and rice noodles. Yum!
There are over 300 hostels in Bangkok to choose from.
4. Nomadas EcoHostel in Merida, Mexico
Fancy trying your hand at rustling up some spicy, smoky Mexican cuisine? Nomadas EcoHostel has an awesome set up for cooking classes - prepare food outside amongst the tropical scenery. Oh Yes.
Also, breakfast is free here!
Check out more great hostels in Mexico.
5. ArtVelez Hostel in Salento, Colombia
At ArtVelez Hostel there is an opportunity to join a cooking class every day. The class typically lasts for 4 hours, cooking alongside a professional chef.
When you're not cooking, enjoy horseback riding, coffee tours at local plantations and mountain biking in the area.
6. Equity Point Marrakech, Morocco
Equity Point is the best hostel Marrakech has to offer for a Moroccan cooking class.
Learn how to cook a variety of Tajin in the traditional way using a charcoal fire. The class runs twice daily for around 1.5 hours and requires a minimum of 3 people per session.
A class includes:
- Introduction to Moroccan cuisine
- All ingredients (+ spices)
- Cooking the recipe & then eating it!
There are plenty of beautiful hostels in Marrakech worth staying in.
Useful Hostel Guides
To help you prepare for all aspects of hostel life, here are some more useful guides with your name on them:
- Packing list for Backpackers - list of things to take to a hostel
- Are Hostels Safe? 11 Safety Tips
- 17 Tips for Sleeping & Staying in Hostels
- When to Book Hostels?
- How to Make Friends in Hostels (9 simple tips)
What kind of food can be cooked in a hostel if stove is not allowed?
If the hostel doesn’t have a stove, it’s unlikely that it will have an oven either. Make sure you check if the hostel has a kitchen before you book! Otherwise, the hostel may have an onsite cafe-restaurant or be close to a foodie neighbourhood.
Note: "Kitchenette" is not the same as a fully-fitted kitchen. It usually only has a kettle and microwave and is not set up for hostel cooking.
Which are the food items I can keep in my hostel room as midnight or evening snacks?
You should always check with the hostel staff if you’re allowed to take food into your room. Usually they discourage eating hot food in rooms (to avoid lingering smells, mess), but you may get away with things like biscuits, chocolate & crisps.
How do I maintain a physique eating hostel food?
You might think this is tricky when you’re travelling long-term on a budget, but don't be fooled - healthy food is affordable! Swap public transport for a bicycle/walk and join hostel activities such as yoga classes. Use those extra coins saved on transport for healthy meal ingredients & fruit.
What kind of healthy food should be consumed when you stay in a hostel?
Fruit, nuts, beans/lentils, vegetables… all the kinds of daily dietary habits you should try and keep up wherever you go, really!
How to cook chicken in a hostel?
Well, if you can’t live without chicken we suggest you make sure your chosen hostel has a good kitchen set up, preferably with an oven. Otherwise, consider buying pre-cooked chicken to use in sandwiches etc.
What do hostels provide? What to bring to a hostel for cooking?
Youth hostel cooking is getting easier because the hostel cooking appliances are always improving. Most hostels these days offer a fully-fitted kitchen for all guests to use. Some even include spices, oil and basics such as rice and pasta. That means in most cases, your list of things to take to a hostel in regards to cooking is simply…food!
However, this is not a given and we encourage you to do your research beforehand!