Ah the life of a backpacker, eh? On the road, every day’s a new adventure, flitting between hostels, living out of a suitcase… dealing with hostel kitchens. Sharing a kitchen with countless others can prove a bit problematic, what with juggling stoves, racing to grab the pans and dancing around each other during food prep… but it shouldn’t stop you from eating well! See these top 10 healthy hostel meals that not only need minimal herbs and spices, but are super quick to whip up.

How to eat healthy in hostels

The secret to getting culinary in hostels is to keep your cooking concise and quick. Get in, cook up a storm, and get out with a dish that will trump any instant packaged meal. Recipes with minimal ingredients are useful, and recipes that use few pans are certainly a win! Let’s face it, most hostel kitchens aren’t overflowing with plentiful utensils. But when traveling in countries where you simply cannot afford to eat out for every meal, like Australia and New Zealand, you need to be prepared with your very own bag of necessities to help you out in the hostel kitchen:

  • Salt & pepper
  • Garlic cloves
  • Chilli flakes or your favourite hot sauce (one infused with garlic will make any dish taste great!)
  • Soy sauce
  • Olive oil or coconut oil (solid coconut oil will be pretty leak-free)
  • One or two of your favourite herbs 
  • A small bag of rice (a small bit will go far)

Put all of the above into a tightly sealed lunchbox in a canvas shopper bag. Swap these bits n’ bobs into the shopper when at the hostel, and any leftovers can be stored safely in the lunchbox in the communal fridge.

Hostel life doesn’t have to be all instant noodles and chips! Get creative, eat well, live even better and embrace your inner chef.

10 Healthy Hostel Meals to Feast on

1. One Pan Pesto Chicken and Veggies

Stir-fries are an instant way to get in those veggies after being on the road for weeks. Keep the vegetables colourful and switch in tofu if you’re a vegetarian… or more vegetables if you’re in dire need of vitamins. See the recipe on Julia’s Album.

2. Baked Eggs with Mushrooms, Potatoes, Spinach and Gruyere

Only one pan and a heap of nutritious, filling eggs! Team this load of protein with delicious mushrooms and spinach, plus a sprinkle of potatoes… or maybe even some sweet potato? See the recipe on Delicious.

3. One Pan Mexican Quinoa

A one pan wonder – bung all the Mexican goodness onto heat and whip up a healthy dish in your hostel kitchen. Once you’ve had your fill, you’ll have a huge amount left to eat for lunch and dinner the next day – it’s the meal that keeps on giving. See the recipe on Damn Delicious.

4. Eggs in Purgatory

Another tasty egg dish which can be enjoyed at any time of the day! These soft poached eggs served up in a spicy tomato sauce only take 10 minutes to prepare – pop your feet up and wait for that oven to ping. See the recipe on Add A Pinch.

5. Baked Sweet Potatoes with Kale, Feta, Chilli and Onion

YUM! Jacket potatoes are simple and a hostel staple, but sweet potatoes are a delicious alternative. Pop any toppings into your steaming spud, but definitely try it with feta and kale. Use spinach if kale is hard to come by and be sure to load it with zingy chilli. See the recipe on Real Food Tesco.

6. Hummus Collard Wraps

Not only do these rainbow wraps look brilliant, they taste delicious too. Take a break from bread and wrap a selection of veggies in a collard leaf, and a big splodge of filling hummus. Light and packed full of goodness, plus you won’t even have to touch a pan! #RawEating. See the recipe on Eating Bird Food.

7. Chicken and Avocado Burritos

Mmmm… burritos are a real delicious dish to whip up with a bunch of new friends. Get everyone to bring an ingredient, then lay out the feast for people to get stuck into. Make some chicken-less burritos for a lunch on the go that can withstand being out of refrigeration. See the recipe on Closet Cooking.

8. Chicken Teriyaki Rice Bowl

A simple, yet wholesome, stir-fry dish to whip up. Use shop-bought teriyaki sauce, make your own, or just use some soy with hot Sriracha (my favourite sauce ever). Again, switch tofu into the dish if you’re a veggie! See the recipe on Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen.

9. Zucchini Pizza with Heirloom Tomatoes and Prosciutto

Who says that something delicious has to need a billion ingredients? Use this five ingredient homemade pizza recipe to whip up a healthy alternative to any shop-bought (or takeaway – gasp!) pizza. And when that molten mozzarella wafts from the oven, you’ll be batting hungry backpackers off from all directions. See the recipe on Apartment 34.

10. Healthy Chicken Ramen Bowl

Ah, the classic ramen. Instant noodles aren’t the most nutritious thing when served alone, but team it with a soft-boiled egg, fresh veggies and maybe some shredded chicken, and voila! You’ve got yourself an asian sensation of a meal. Switch out ramen noodles for rice or udon noodles if you want to jazz it up a touch. See the recipe on Simple Healthy Kitchen.

Cooking for yourself in hostels doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice nutrition or flavorsome dishes. Shop from local markets or grocery stores, and think outside the box when in the kitchen! Get stuck into healthy hostel meals and you’ll soon be known as the traveling chef.

Got any favorite hostel meal recipes to you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments!




Sophie Saint was one of the original travelettes, from 2009 – 2017. After fleeing the UK with ink barely dry on her graduation certificate, she traversed the world with a backpack and spent a few years living in Melbourne – one of her favourite cities in the world.

She finally returned to the UK after a few years where she now whiles time away zipping off for European escapes, crocheting and daydreaming of owning her own hostel somewhere hot to live out eternal summers. See what she’s up to over on her blog saintsonaplane.com and instagram: @saintsonaplane