Top Tips when Cooking In Hostels

We were so looking forward to cooking in hostels when we got to New Zealand, after two months of eating out every single day. What we didn’t bargain for however is how much of a pain in the arse it is when you’re on the road nearly everyday! Within a week or so we have already worked out some useful rules when cooking and I thought I would share a few of them.


This is my number one simply because we are yet to get one, and we are carrying all of our food around in plastic bags while everyone else has these great cool bags. It’s so much easier, your stuff stays cold on the bus journeys and you always know where everything is. Winner.

2. Plan your meals carefully

Try to plan all of your meals ahead so that you are making the most of the ingredients you buy. For example if you buy a loaf of bread, you better believe that you’re having sandwiches for lunch and beans on toast for breakfast until that loaf has run out.

3. Keep it Simple

Yes I would love a good salad right now or a lush rice dish with meat, however the more complicated you make it the more ingredients you need. You don’t have room to be carrying around mayo, soy sauce, salt, pepper, garlic purée etc. So try to keep the recipes simple so that you don’t have to bulk your bag out with things you’ll only use once. There are also often left over condiments in hostels that you can use if you’re desperate.

4. Plan your cooking times

This is such an annoying one. Yes you want to cook at 7pm with everyone else, but the amount of times we have had to fight for a hob because the ratio of hob to people was pitiful. If you need a hob my advice would be to cook earlier or later than peak times, or simply plan a meal that only requires a microwave.


It seems that backpackers revert back into the uni phase when they get into a hostel kitchen. No one puts anything away and many don’t even bother washing their stuff up after themselves. Before using any cutlery or crockery give it at least a rinse if not a full blown wash. The amount of times I’ve found crusted food stuck to forks and plates doesn’t even bare thinking about!

Overall cooking in a hostel ends up being a lot cheaper and sometimes healthier than always eating out, and the communal kitchen is a great place to meet new people and chat over your spag bog. There are just a few simple things that will make your life ten times easier! No joke I watched two girls get on our bus this morning with no less than 6 plastic bags of food. Not entirely sure if they were planning to camp in the wilderness, especially as they later confided that they only had three days left of their trip.

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