What do you do about cooking whilst traveling?

This is something I’ve not really seen addressed anywhere much but, when you are staying somewhere medium term, say 1-6 months, what you do about cooking? I figure anything shorter than that and you can make do, while over 6 months you aren’t going to mind stocking a kitchen so much. But, for that medium term period, it feels like a waste to spend too much on pantry supplies and equipment but too long to get by on basics.

Anyway, I’d love to know what other people in regards to cooking. Do you eat out for all your meals, have a few ‘go to’ dishes that you can cook anywhere with minimal equipment (mine would be omelettes) or do you adjust to the local cuisine?

Admin edit: Fixed title for spelling & compliance with guidelines.

I eat out, every meal. I’m just not much of a cook and do not enjoy cooking anyway. I spend most of my time in big cities so there’s plenty of healthy choices.

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I have the few “go to” dishes (I refer to them as staple foods). My biggest one is stir fried noodles with vegetables and some sort of easy protein (tofu/shrimp are the most common – I find preparing “actual” meat to be too time consuming). It’s a fast, balanced meal and you can mix up the ingredients using whatever you find locally.

Tired of noodles? Take the same ingredients, chop them smaller, make fried rice. Tired of stir fry stuff? Take the same ingredients, put it in a soup, bam. Soup.

Wraps are another good one. Find some ingredients, shove in a wrap, eat. Easy. Barely any equipment required.

Keeping the number of ingredients down to a small set that you can use in a variety of meals is key.

What do you use for seasoning? Just fresh garlic, spices etc?

Yeah, I was thinking today that I have not bought meal to cook in months.

I worry about how healthy “healthy choices” are when I don’t prepare food myself. That’s one of the reasons I want to cook more. :slightly_smiling:

Garlic, onions, pepper, soy sauce, fresh herbs. I try not to get too fancy :slight_smile:

For sure I don’t know what goes into my plate. That being said, if you saw my cooking you’d probably agree that restaurant food is better :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

One way to improve your “chances” is to stick to simple food. It’s fairly obvious what’s inside a sushi, a plate of hainan-style chicken, a bowl of ramen (the Japanese dish, not the dry crap they sell at dollar stores), a sandwich etc.

Yeah I think I try to complicate things too much :slightly_smiling:

Ha, do you know how many calories are in a bowl of ramen? It’s all fat and carbs! Awfully delicious fat and carbs though.

If I have a kithen somewhere for +3days I cook most meals. Buy aromatics (onion, garlic, chillie, lemon grass, ginger) and meat/eggs/veg as you need it. Spices are more annoying as they are expensive so I stick to salt/pepper/one other dependent on cuisine of country I am in. Breakfast is always eggs with some form of green veg. Lunch and dinner are meat/veg stir fries or if you have an oven you can really make some nice stuff.

I do my best to get an airbnb with a kitchen. I don’t use anything that can’t spoil, besides some spices, so I don’t have ‘pantry supplies’ that would require a big investment. I’ve been traveling around asia for almost 3 months and I can’t even express how freaking sick of eating out I am. Absolutely over it. I can’t wait to get a kitchen again so I have control over my food and don’t have to eat expensive, junky restaurant food.

Great question. I move about every month and have this challenge, the key is planning. Unless in Asia or similarly cheap location I find accommodation with kitchen facilities. Then cook most of my meals by cooking big portions and reheating for a couple of days. I bring a couple of kitchen things like a thin cutting board, a knife, a container set, spices and some other things like rice, müsli, paper towel if I have left overs. Actually cook a great variety of excellent meals, just like before I starting traveling.

The biggest issue is not being allowed to bring liquid as carry-on on flights. I usually just bring a plastic bag with kitchen stuff on the plane. However not being able to bring liquid put some limitations on what I buy since I likely won’t use it up and thus don’t buy that, except if it’s fairly cheap like soy sauce. However I’ve found that I just need to plan my meals more, so if I buy something I won’t be able to bring I will make sure I make the dish twice in a big portion for it to make sense. This means a bit less variety, but more efficiency and still about 5-6 different dishes in a month and I just choose new ones the next month.

In a few days I’ll move and there’s only a few things I will throw out/leave behind, which I don’t really mind. It takes a while to optimize and sometimes it doesn’t go according to plan, but the consequences are pretty low. One example is planning a bit too much and ending up eating out more than anticipated in the end of a stay. I do safe a lot of money this way, have great meals all the time and it’s pretty efficient.

Some essentials like cooking oil are best if they are already available in the accommodation, since it’s rare to use a whole container in a month even if it’s the smallest size available.

I had to teach myself how to cook a bunch of stuff in Hong Kong since I only had a pan and a microwave, but to my own surprise I managed to cook a bunch of different of my regular meals.

In cheap countries I always find accommodation with a fridge to be able to keep fruit, yoghurt and water.

One difference from having my own kitchen is the amount of spices, while I do keep the essentials (about 10 different ones) I don’t have all those I need for all dishes. As a compromise I buy spice mixes/paste instead for a specific dish if I need it.

No doubt about it, your standard of eating is going to decrease somewhat. Moreso if you had family or friends at home who made your favorite dish. Not much solution to this I guess. Maybe get recipes over the phone, make simple stuff, or consider it a cost of travel :slightly_smiling:

Nice Post!
I’m also getting kinda sick of eating out every day - although I wouldn’t have said that 2 years ago. But I realized that cooking yourself is healthier and I also have more time so I don’t really have many excuses for being lazy.

The standard kitchen equipment that I’m usually looking for / getting is:

  • (wooden) cutting board
  • cooking knife
  • medium size pan with a lid
  • small to medium size pot
  • spatula
  • coffee mug (strong enough to use it for grinding pepper corns), plate, cutlery

Basics for cooking:
Fresh garlic, fresh chili, onions, black peppercorns, sea salt, coconut oil, olive oil

I’m still at the very beginning of becoming independent of restaurants, I simply don’t have enough recipes for “go to” dishes yet.

So, what I’m looking for are recipes for healthy dishes that are easy to make with only a few basics and can and give enough variety to not become too boring when eating them on a daily basis.
Also, I don’t want to use too many spices, the main ingredients (rice, potato, veggies, fish, meat) should take care of the taste.

I’m not sure if it’s ok to ask this question here or if I should start a new thread for this - but I would be very interested to read what you guys are cooking!

for easy, tasty, and healthy, soups are great. I make a great lentil veg soup and black bean and sweet potato. of course, i can’t eat either of those any more, but they’re still tasty. :slight_smile:

now I basically cook a shit ton of chicken and then I can just add some sauce and veg and I’m good to go. I also make giant egg casseroles that fit my macros, feed me for days, and are very easy. i can give you recipes for any if you’re interested @markh.

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Soups! Good idea :slight_smile:
I really like the thai rice soup for breakfast, but haven’t tried cooking it myself.

Lentil or black bean soup with veggies sounds tasty and easy enough - would be great to get your recipes @wanderingdev, please PM!

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+1 for eating out all the time. I spend enough time alone as it is. Cooking alone would make it real sad. At least at the restaurant, there’s chances to talk to people.

Have you thought about moving into a shared house? There’s plenty in countries like Japan, Korea and China (especially Taiwan). There’s also the digital nomad coliving spaces. I think @levelsio has a website that list those.

I LOVE cooking, so I do cook in a ton if I’m staying somewhere longer than a week or two. I find that 2 - 3 months actually works okay for buying and using kitchen staples as long as you commit to the same flavor profile. E.g. If you buy spices for Italian and Mexican meals, don’t also buy spices to cook Asian cuisine on that trip - just stick to those flavor profiles for that couple month stretch.

I’ve been here in Arizona for three months now and managed to use two bags of flour, two smaller bags of sugar, and several spices.

It also helps if you buy bulk spices at places like Whole Foods. You can buy a lot less than a jar-full and not feel wasteful. And if you do want to make something that uses an unusual ingredient, find a few recipes that use it so that you can try to use it up.

I actually just started a second blog on food around the world and plan on tackling this topic in depth because it’s something I wondered about before traveling.

I totally disagree! Your standard of eating can go up since you’ll be in areas where you have access to different ingredients and recipes and options. :slight_smile: