Cooking While Traveling

Food is expensive, especially in the countries I’ve been to thus far: New Zealand and Australia, and it’s not much different than food from the U.S. So to save on expenses I’ve cooked about 90% of my meals, only buying food on travel days. I’ve whipped together some pretty decent meals and I feel like my cooking has improved drastically already (out of necessity so I’m not eating instant noodles for over a month), but I’ve also created some pretty ‘interesting dishes’ when I was strapped for ingredients or did want to spend too much on groceries.

So from normal to weird, here are some of the meals I’ve cooked on the road so far:


Egg and Spam Fried Rice
Cheap and easy, and seems pretty nutritious with some random chopped veggies. Had this while staying in Tongariro National Park in NZ.

Baked Chicken and Potatoes
Chicken thighs can be pretty cheap especially in larger towns and this meal is easy proteins, which is the hardest macronutrient to eat enough of when traveling and eating on a budget. Extra good if the hostel has free spices to use! Made this a lot in Queenstown, NZ.

Old Reliable Meal Prep
I used to meal prep a lot which saved me tons of money and it's about the same on the road. This works great when I'm staying in the same city for a couple days: rice chicken, spam and broccoli. I prepped this during my stay in Sydney, Australia.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Can't always be healthy. I was nursing an injured leg in Wanaka, New Zealand for a couple days and couldn't do anything so I baked these bad boys and shared them with my hostel mates. Hostel already had sugar and I already had eggs and canola oil (which I used instead of butter, still turned out great). I just had to buy flour and chocolate chips, both very cheap.

Savory Chicken/Cucumber/Onion Crepes
I had a lot of downtime in Wanaka, NZ due to my injured leg. I wanted something that reminded me of home and my parents used to make savory crepes with green onion/black bean sauce inside. Improvised a bit with what I had by frying some chicken and chopping some cucumber/onions and came up with these.


Sometimes I didn’t have salt, seasoning, or oil, or I was somewhere too remote that anything fresh was extremely expensive. So I had to get a bit creative.

Tongariro Mash
Fairly good for what it is. Threw together what I had before leaving Tongariro National Park in NZ.

  1. Microwave 2 potatoes for 2-3 mins, flip over, 2-3 more mins. Then mash.
  2. Chop up spam into little cubes for some flavor.
  3. Throw in salted peanuts and some onions for more flavor.
  • This requires no salt, no oil, nothing but a microwave.

Outback Breakfast
There's a strangely good harmony of contrasting flavors in this unbalanced breakfast. Fresh food was pretty expensive near Uluru in middle of the Australian outback.

  1. Make PB&J
  2. Make instant noodles
  3. Break cucumber in half.
  4. Water.
  • Only requires the ability to boil water. No salt or oil needed.
  • The salty noodles balance out the sometimes too sweet taste of the PB&J in place of milk.
  • Vice versa, the sweet and buttery sandwich serves as a great juxtaposition to the one dimensional cheap instant noodle flavors.
  • Cucumber for vegetable, water to wash it all down, both good hydration for a day in the desert.

Raglan Ramen Stew
Very filling and hearty, perfect on cold and rainy days. Which were most of my days in Raglan, NZ.

  1. Boil water and add instant noodle flavoring package (best with Shin Ramyun Spicy Korean Instant Noodles!)
  2. Chop and throw in potatoes, onions, tomatoes
  3. Add noodles
  4. Crack 1-2 eggs in and mix slightly
  5. When almost done, chop and throw in broccoli stalk
  • Only requires the ability to boil water. No salt or oil needed.
  • The instant noodle flavors the potatoes and everything else well.
  • Super hearty noodle soup, great for after a cold, windy, winter surf session.
  • Good way to soften and eat broccoli stalk.

I now understand why salt used to be so valuable that some people used it as currency, and also why spices were so sought after.