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Our Secret To Great Hostel Cooking


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Ermengarde Mark



Traveling is an exciting and enriching experience, but it often comes with the challenge of finding affordable and convenient dining options. Hostel cooking is a great solution for food-savvy travelers who want to save money and have the opportunity to explore local flavors. By making use of hostel kitchens, you can create delicious and satisfying meals while immersing yourself in the local culture.


In this article, we will reveal our secret to great hostel cooking. We will provide you with tips on finding the right hostel kitchen, planning and preparing meals, essential cooking equipment to bring, budget-friendly grocery shopping tips, quick and easy recipes, vegan and vegetarian options, storing and labeling leftovers, and how to maximize the social aspects of cooking and eating with other hostel guests.


Hostels are an excellent choice for budget-conscious travelers, as they offer communal kitchens where guests can prepare their meals. These kitchens are equipped with basic cooking facilities, such as stoves, microwaves, refrigerators, and utensils. However, the quality and availability of these facilities can vary from hostel to hostel, so it’s essential to do your research beforehand and find a hostel with a well-equipped kitchen.


Once you have found the perfect hostel kitchen, the next step is to plan your meals. Creating a meal plan in advance will not only save you time and money but also ensure that you have a variety of nutritious and delicious meals throughout your stay. Consider your preferences, dietary restrictions, and the local cuisine, and make a list of ingredients you will need.


When it comes to cooking in hostels, it’s best to keep things simple. You may not have access to fancy kitchen gadgets or a wide range of ingredients, so focusing on recipes that require minimal ingredients and prep time is key. One-pot meals, stir-fries, and pasta dishes are excellent options that are easy to make and can be customized according to your taste.


For those following a vegan or vegetarian diet, hostels can still provide plenty of options. Fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, legumes, and plant-based proteins like tofu and tempeh are often available in local markets and grocery stores. Experiment with different flavors and spices to create flavorful and satisfying plant-based meals.


Leftovers are quite common when cooking in hostels, and it’s important to know how to store and label them properly to avoid food waste. Bringing some airtight containers or zip-top bags will come in handy for storing leftovers in the hostel’s refrigerator. Remember to label them with the date and content to easily identify them later.


Lastly, cooking and eating in a hostel kitchen provide a fantastic opportunity to connect with fellow travelers and make new friends. Offer to share your meal or join a group cooking session to exchange recipes and tips. This social aspect of hostel cooking adds a unique and enjoyable dimension to your travel experience.


Now that you’re equipped with our secret to great hostel cooking, you can save money, try local flavors, and enjoy the social aspect of cooking while on your next travel adventure. So pack your apron and get ready to create delightful dishes in hostel kitchens around the world!


Finding the Right Hostel Kitchen

When it comes to hostel cooking, finding the right hostel kitchen is crucial. Not all hostels have well-equipped kitchens, so it’s important to do some research and choose a hostel that meets your cooking needs. Here are some tips to help you find the perfect hostel kitchen:

  1. Read Reviews: Before booking a hostel, read online reviews from fellow travelers. Look for feedback specifically related to the kitchen facilities. Positive reviews mentioning a well-stocked kitchen with clean utensils and appliances are a good sign.
  2. Look for Photos: Many hostel booking websites provide photos of the hostel’s kitchen area. Take a close look to see if the kitchen looks spacious and well-maintained. You can also spot any essential cooking equipment you might need.
  3. Contact the Hostel: If you have specific requirements or questions about the kitchen facilities, don’t hesitate to reach out to the hostel directly. They will be able to provide you with more detailed information about the kitchen’s amenities.
  4. Check for Additional Fees: Some hostels charge an additional fee to use the kitchen facilities. Make sure to check if there are any extra charges so that you can factor them into your budget.
  5. Consider Location: Hostels located near local markets or grocery stores will make it easier for you to stock up on fresh ingredients. Look for hostels in convenient locations that offer easy access to food shopping options.

Remember, finding the right hostel kitchen is essential for a smooth cooking experience during your travels. Taking the time to research and choose a hostel with a well-equipped kitchen will ensure that you have the necessary tools and resources to whip up delicious meals during your stay.


Planning and Preparing Meals

Planning and preparing meals in advance is key to successful hostel cooking. By having a meal plan, you can save time, money, and reduce food waste. Here are some tips to help you plan and prepare meals during your stay:

  1. Create a Meal Plan: Before arriving at the hostel, take some time to create a meal plan for your stay. Consider the number of days you will be cooking, your dietary preferences, and any local specialties you want to try. Make a list of ingredients you will need for each meal.
  2. Shop Local: Experience the local food culture by shopping at nearby markets and grocery stores. Not only will you find fresh and affordable ingredients, but you’ll also have the opportunity to discover new flavors and ingredients unique to the region.
  3. Keep it Simple: When cooking in a hostel, it’s best to keep your recipes simple. Look for recipes that require minimal ingredients and preparation time. One-pot meals, stir-fries, and pasta dishes are excellent choices that can be easily customized and cooked in limited kitchen space.
  4. Pre-cook Ingredients: To save time during meal preparation, consider pre-cooking some ingredients. For example, you can pre-cook rice or pasta and store them in the refrigerator for quick and easy meal assembly later.
  5. Batch Cooking: Prepare large batches of meals that can be used for multiple meals. For example, cook a big pot of soup or stew that can be portioned out and enjoyed over a few days.
  6. Plan for Leftovers: While planning your meals, consider dishes that can be repurposed or used as leftovers. This will help reduce food waste and also provide you with ready-to-eat options for future meals.

By having a well-thought-out meal plan and preparing in advance, you’ll be able to enjoy delicious and nutritious meals during your hostel stay. Not only will this save you money, but it will also allow you to make the most of your travel experience by immersing yourself in the local cuisine.


Essential Cooking Equipment for Hostels

When it comes to hostel cooking, it’s important to be prepared with the right cooking equipment. While hostels provide some basic utensils and appliances, having a few essential items of your own can make the cooking process much easier. Here are some essential cooking equipment to consider packing for your hostel cooking adventures:

  1. Cooking Utensils: Pack a versatile set of cooking utensils, such as a spatula, a wooden spoon, a whisk, and a pair of tongs. These utensils will be handy for stirring, flipping, and serving your meals.
  2. Sharp Knife: A good-quality, sharp knife is a must-have for any cooking endeavor. Choose a knife that is compact and comes with a protective sheath for safety and ease of transport.
  3. Cutting Board: Bringing a portable cutting board will allow you to easily chop and prepare ingredients without damaging the hostel’s countertops or using unsanitary surfaces.
  4. Pots and Pans: While hostels usually provide basic pots and pans, it’s worth considering bringing a small, versatile saucepan and a frying pan. These will come in handy for various cooking techniques.
  5. Portable Stove: If you’re planning on doing more extensive cooking, especially if the hostel kitchen has limited stovetop space, a portable stove can be a great addition. Look for compact, lightweight, and fuel-efficient options.
  6. Reusable Food Containers: Having a set of reusable food containers will allow you to store leftovers or pack meals for a day trip. Choose containers that are durable, leak-proof, and microwave-safe.
  7. Collapsible Utensils: To save space in your luggage, opt for collapsible utensils like a collapsible bowl, measuring cups, and measuring spoons. These can easily fit into your bag and expand when needed.
  8. Spices and Seasonings: Pack your favorite spices and seasonings to add flavor to your meals. Small containers or travel-sized spice kits are convenient for carrying a variety of flavors.

It’s worth noting that while some hostels may provide some of these items, the quality and availability can vary. Bringing your own essential cooking equipment ensures that you have the tools you need for successful hostel cooking. Just be sure to check the hostel’s policy regarding bringing your own cooking equipment beforehand.


By having these essential cooking equipment in your backpack, you’ll be well-prepared to create delicious and satisfying meals during your hostel stay.


Budget-Friendly Grocery Shopping Tips

Grocery shopping is an essential part of hostel cooking, and doing it on a budget can help you save money and stretch your travel funds. Here are some budget-friendly grocery shopping tips to keep in mind:

  1. Plan Your Meals in Advance: Before heading to the grocery store, create a meal plan for your stay. This will help you determine exactly what ingredients you need and prevent impulse purchases.
  2. Shop Local: Explore local markets and grocery stores to find affordable and fresh produce. These options are often cheaper than tourist-focused supermarkets and may offer a wider variety of local ingredients.
  3. Stick to Seasonal Produce: Seasonal fruits and vegetables tend to be more affordable and have better flavor. Embrace the local produce and incorporate them into your meals. This not only saves money but also allows you to experience the flavors of the region.
  4. Compare Prices: Compare prices and brands to find the best deals. Look for store brands or generic products, as they are often cheaper than name brands but offer similar quality.
  5. Avoid Pre-Packaged Foods: Pre-packaged or convenience foods tend to be more expensive. Opt for fresh ingredients and cook from scratch as much as possible. This not only saves money but also allows you to have control over the ingredients used in your meals.
  6. Buy in Bulk: If you’re staying in a hostel for an extended period or traveling with a group, consider buying staple ingredients in bulk. This is often cheaper and can save you money in the long run.
  7. Use Loyalty Cards and Discounts: Take advantage of loyalty cards or discounts offered by grocery stores. These can provide additional savings or special offers on selected items.
  8. Choose Non-Perishable Foods: When shopping for foods to take with you on day trips or long travel days, opt for non-perishable options like canned goods, dried fruits, nuts, and granola bars. These items are easy to carry and won’t spoil quickly.
  9. Don’t Shop Hungry: Shopping on an empty stomach can lead to impulse buys and overspending. Have a light snack before hitting the grocery store to stay focused on your shopping list.

By implementing these budget-friendly grocery shopping tips, you’ll be able to eat well while sticking to your travel budget. Remember, the goal is to save money without sacrificing flavor and nutrition. Happy shopping!


Quick and Easy Recipes for Hostel Cooking

When it comes to hostel cooking, quick and easy recipes are the way to go. These recipes require minimal ingredients and preparation time, making them perfect for travelers on the go. Here are some delicious and straightforward recipes that you can whip up in a hostel kitchen:

  1. Pasta with Tomato Sauce: Cook pasta according to package instructions. In a separate pan, heat olive oil and sauté minced garlic until fragrant. Add canned diced tomatoes, dried herbs like oregano and basil, salt, and pepper. Simmer for a few minutes, then combine the cooked pasta with the sauce. Serve with grated cheese if desired.
  2. Stir-Fried Noodles: Cook instant noodles according to package instructions. Drain and set aside. In a hot pan, add oil and sauté your choice of vegetables, such as bell peppers, carrots, and mushrooms. Add the cooked noodles and a sauce made from soy sauce, sesame oil, and a dash of sugar. Stir-fry for a few minutes until everything is well combined.
  3. Veggie Quesadillas: Spread refried beans on a tortilla. Top with grated cheese, sliced bell peppers, onions, and any other desired veggies. Place another tortilla on top. Heat a pan over medium heat and cook the quesadilla until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is crispy. Cut into wedges and serve with salsa or guacamole.
  4. One-Pot Vegetable Curry: In a large pot, sauté diced onions and minced garlic in oil until translucent. Add your choice of vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, and peas. Stir in curry powder, turmeric, cumin, and chili powder for flavor. Pour in coconut milk and simmer until the vegetables are tender. Serve with rice or naan bread.
  5. Caprese Salad: Slice fresh tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. Arrange them on a plate and top with basil leaves. Drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. This simple and refreshing salad is perfect for a quick and light meal.

These recipes are just a starting point, and you can easily customize them to suit your taste preferences and the ingredients available. Don’t be afraid to get creative and try new combinations of flavors and ingredients.


Remember to make use of the communal spices and seasonings available in the hostel kitchen. This will add an extra kick to your creations without the need to buy additional ingredients.


With these quick and easy recipes, you’ll be able to enjoy delicious and satisfying meals during your hostel stay without spending hours in the kitchen. Happy cooking!


Vegan and Vegetarian Options

Hostel cooking can be a great opportunity for vegans and vegetarians to explore and enjoy plant-based meals. With a little creativity and the right ingredients, you can create delicious and satisfying dishes. Here are some vegan and vegetarian options for hostel cooking:

  1. Vegan Buddha Bowl: Start with a base of cooked quinoa or brown rice. Add roasted or sautéed vegetables like sweet potatoes, broccoli, and bell peppers. Top with chickpeas or tofu for protein. Drizzle with tahini or your favorite dressing for added flavor.
  2. Veggie Stir-Fry: Sauté a mix of colorful vegetables like carrots, snap peas, bell peppers, and mushrooms in a pan. For extra flavor, add garlic, ginger, and soy sauce. Serve over cooked rice or noodles for a filling and nutritious meal.
  3. Vegan Tacos: Fill tortillas with seasoned black beans, grilled vegetables, and avocado slices. Top with salsa, fresh cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice for a burst of flavors.
  4. Vegetarian Curry: Sauté onions, garlic, and ginger in a pot with oil. Add your choice of vegetables like potatoes, cauliflower, and peas. Stir in curry paste or powder, coconut milk, and vegetable broth. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, and serve with rice or naan bread.
  5. Vegan Pasta Primavera: Cook your choice of pasta according to package instructions. In a separate pan, sauté seasonal vegetables like zucchini, carrots, and cherry tomatoes. Toss the cooked pasta with the sautéed vegetables and a drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, and herbs like basil or parsley.

These are just a few examples of the countless vegan and vegetarian options available for hostel cooking. Don’t hesitate to explore local markets and grocery stores for fresh produce that can inspire new and exciting dishes.


Additionally, you can experiment with different herbs, spices, and condiments to add flavor to your meals. Common ingredients like nutritional yeast, soy sauce, hot sauce, and tahini are versatile additions that can enhance the taste of your dishes.


Remember, as a vegan or vegetarian traveler, hostel cooking provides you with the flexibility to create meals that align with your dietary preferences while also experiencing the local cuisine. Enjoy the process of cooking and savor each plant-based bite!


Storing and Labeling Leftovers

Leftovers are a common occurrence when cooking in hostels, and knowing how to properly store and label them is essential for minimizing food waste and ensuring food safety. Here are some tips for storing and labeling leftovers:

  1. Use Airtight Containers: Invest in a few airtight containers or zip-top bags that can securely store your leftovers. These containers help prevent air and moisture from entering, keeping your food fresh for longer.
  2. Cool the Food: Allow the cooked food to cool down to room temperature before storing it in the refrigerator. Putting hot leftovers directly into the fridge can increase the temperature inside, potentially spoiling other perishable items.
  3. Portion Control: Divide large amounts of leftovers into smaller portions that you can consume in one sitting. This makes it easier to reheat only what you need, reducing waste and ensuring that the rest of the leftovers stay fresh.
  4. Date and Label: Label each container with the date it was cooked and the contents. This helps you keep track of how long the leftovers have been stored and makes it easier to identify what’s inside without opening the container.
  5. Store Properly: Store the labeled containers in the refrigerator, making sure they are placed away from raw meats or seafood to prevent cross-contamination. Utilize the designated shelves or drawers specifically designed for storing leftovers.
  6. Reheat Safely: When reheating leftovers, make sure to heat them thoroughly to kill any potential bacteria. Use a microwave or stovetop, and stir occasionally to ensure even heating. Avoid reheating already reheated leftovers multiple times.
  7. Follow Recommended Storage Times: Different types of leftovers have varying safe storage times, so it’s important to follow general guidelines. Consume cooked meats within 3-4 days, cooked vegetables within 3-5 days, and cooked grains and pastas within 4-7 days.
  8. Trust Your Senses: Always inspect leftovers before consuming. If they have an off smell, unusual texture, or show signs of mold growth, it’s best to discard them to avoid foodborne illnesses.

By properly storing and labeling leftovers, you not only reduce food waste but also ensure that your hostel-cooked meals remain safe and enjoyable. Just remember to be mindful of storage times and food safety guidelines to maintain the quality of your leftovers.


Now, you can confidently store your delicious hostel creations, knowing that you can enjoy them for another meal and minimize your impact on the environment!


Sharing and Socializing with Other Hostel Guests

One of the great benefits of cooking in a hostel kitchen is the opportunity to connect and socialize with fellow travelers. Here are some ways to engage with other hostel guests and enhance your hostel cooking experience:

  1. Offer to Share: If you’re cooking a larger meal or have extra portions of a delicious dish, consider offering to share with other guests. This gesture not only fosters a sense of community but also allows you to try different cuisines and taste new flavors.
  2. Join Group Cooking Sessions: Keep an eye out for any organized cooking sessions or communal meals happening in the hostel kitchen. Participating in these events is a fantastic way to learn from other travelers, exchange recipes, and create memorable shared experiences.
  3. Ask for Recommendations: Don’t be shy to ask other guests for their favorite local recipes or dining recommendations. You’ll likely discover hidden food gems and insider tips that you might have otherwise missed out on.
  4. Organize Potluck Dinners: Coordinate a potluck dinner with other guests, where each person contributes a dish from their home country or a local specialty. This not only allows you to try an array of different foods but also sparks conversations about various cultures and traditions.
  5. Share Cooking Tips and Techniques: Take the opportunity to learn from and teach other travelers. Share your favorite cooking tips, techniques, and hacks. This can lead to fun and informative discussions about different culinary styles and practices.
  6. Create a Recipe Exchange: Start a recipe exchange where guests can share their favorite recipes. Leave a notepad or whiteboard in the hostel kitchen where people can write down their recipes for others to try.
  7. Plan a Food Tour: Round up a group of like-minded food enthusiasts and plan a food tour of the city or town together. Explore local markets, street food stalls, and restaurants to discover the authentic flavors of the destination.
  8. Document Your Culinary Adventures: Take photos of your creations and share them on social media or with other guests. Encourage others to do the same, creating a virtual cookbook of delicious memories within the hostel community.

By engaging with other hostel guests through food and cooking, you not only enhance your travel experience but also create lasting connections and friendships. Embrace the opportunity to share cultures, stories, and the joy of good food with fellow travelers from around the world. Happy cooking and socializing!



Hostel cooking offers travelers a unique and budget-friendly way to explore local flavors, save money, and connect with other like-minded individuals. By following the secrets we’ve shared in this article, you can make the most of your hostel cooking experience and create delicious and satisfying meals during your travels.


Finding the right hostel kitchen and planning your meals in advance are crucial steps in ensuring a successful cooking experience. Equipping yourself with essential cooking equipment and shopping smartly for groceries will help you stay organized and budget-conscious.


With quick and easy recipes, both omnivores and plant-based eaters can enjoy a variety of tasty meals. Whether it’s a pasta dish, stir-fry, or a veggie-packed salad, there are endless possibilities for creating tasty and nutritious meals in a hostel kitchen.


Remember to store and label your leftovers properly to minimize waste and maintain food safety. Take advantage of the opportunity to connect and socialize with other hostel guests through food. Sharing meals, organizing potlucks, and exchanging recipes not only enriches the travel experience but also creates a sense of community and cultural exchange.


So, the next time you find yourself in a hostel kitchen, don’t hesitate to get creative and explore the local ingredients and flavors. Enjoy the excitement of cooking in a new environment, and savor the satisfaction of a well-prepared meal that reflects the spirit of your travels.


Happy hostel cooking and bon appétit!