When you’re traveling on a budget, some things have to go…like your standards. This is especially true in terms of food. When I’m not wwoofing, I suddenly have to face the cold hard truth that it’s my own responsibility to make sure I get food in my stomach. Food, like many other things in this country, is not cheap. While eating out over here isn’t too much more expensive than eating out back home, it adds up quickly. So I try to avoid it. Unless I really REALLY want a cappuccino…or ice cream…or a brownie…Okay I have a bit of a sweet tooth, so sue me!
The great thing about hostel hopping is that there is always a kitchen. Sticking to groceries instead of restaurants saves me a lot of money. Still, cooking on the road isn’t as easy or as pleasant as cooking in your own kitchen. Sometimes you have to share the kitchen space with up to a dozen other people, depending on how good you are at avoiding peak dinner time. There’s also a fine line between having enough groceries to keep your belly happy and not ending up with too many extras that you feel obligated to drag around the country. I’ve been traveling with the same quarter of a bag of oatmeal for over a month now! But hey, that’s one less breakfast I have to buy! Still, it can get frustrating to drag groceries around when you don’t have a car to conveniently dump your non-perishables in.
While everyone has their own habits for eating at the hostel, I’ve developed my own go to’s: Oatmeal, rice, lentils, and PEANUT BUTTER. The first three are basic necessities that help me get some good carbs and protein in my body. They’re also relatively easy to lug around if you don’t finish them off. And then there’s peanut butter. I do apologize to those you reading this that have a nut allergy…Perhaps you feel the same about sunflower butter?
Something that I’ve discovered during my time over here is that Americans are known for their love of peanut butter. And I am about to prove that stereotype right! Peanut butter is the best! And seriously guys, Marmite??? The kiwis were spot on with the meat pie thing, but yeast extract as a spread? Really?! Who looks at yeast extract and thinks, “Hmm, that would go great on bread!” Sorry, rant over.
I travel almost everywhere with a jar of peanut butter because it is the best culinary staple ever. It’s got your protein, your good fats, your vitamin B and it is yummy. Best of all, it’s filling. While I was in grad school, sometimes I would come home and be too exhausted to actually cook dinner. On those days, I had the habit of eating a few large scoops of peanut butter and calling it a day. I’m sure some of you are cringing right about now, but hey, it’s cheap and easy. Here in New Zealand, I have still on occasion made peanut butter a meal. Would a nutritionist approve of this habit? No, probably not. Is it relatively cheap and reliable? Sure is!
I guess my point is that eating on the road is not always super glamorous. Sometimes you end up eating the same meal of lentils and rice for four days in a row. Sometimes you have to throw your budget out the window and cave for a decent meat pie. As they say, everything in moderation, including moderation. It isn’t perfect, it isn’t always healthy, but I’ve managed to keep myself fed this long! Have your own travel tips for eating on a budget? Leave a comment below!