This article was originally posted on November 23, 2016. Our family was three months in to a ten month "round the world" trip.
Our food habits changed quite a bit from country to country. In Australia, we were mostly cooking on a camp stove or in the communal kitchens at the caravan parks as we were mostly traveling by camper van.
In New Zealand it was mostly hostels. We had our boxes of food that we stored in the communal kitchens, then packed up for the next place.
We met so many wonderful people and observed different cooking and eating habits. In many ways, cooking in hostels wasn't too different from cooking at home. If I had a plan and the food to prepare, a meal would happen!
The more you cook, the more you will cook.
We're travelling by car in New Zealand and staying in hostels most of the time.
As much as I've talked about being an introvert, I've preferred hostels to our Australian campervan experience.
I'd never stayed in hostels before, so its been quite fun doing it with our family of four. We are all having fun having other people to talk to. Our fellow travelers are interesting as are the people managing the hostels.
It really struck me the other day how much people were cooking. Not just throwing sauce on pasta, although that is a good option for a long travel day. They often cook good healthy meals from whatever country they are from. Hardly anyone is American, most often they are German, Dutch, French or from various Asian countries.
I was really impressed!
Individual travelers, pairs, and groups were making nice, healthy meals while far away from home.
A group of French trampers (hikers) made a big meal one night, then used the leftovers to make soup the next night. A small group of adult family members from Malaysia made typical fare from their country using heaps of cruciferous vegetables.
Improving your eating habits happens in stages.
Eating healthier can seem overwhelming.
Cooking food at home is much healthier than eating out and is a great first step.
Food cooked at home tends to have less salt and fat and portions are usually smaller. Even healthy restaurants have bigger portions and more salt.
Cooking once, eating twice is also a timesaver.
Make enough for two meals, or use part of the meal for your next. Cooked veggies can be used in an omelet or burrito the next day. Roasted meats can be used in a soup the next day.
Cooking at home is also a big money savers.
You can even buy higher quality and organic ingredients for less than you would spend in restaurants. While we were traveling, we were on a budget. No fancy resorts for us! We did, of course eat out, but so often cooking wherever we were was much more practical and inexpensive. I don't know about you, but I don't like paying more for meals out that I could just as easily make at home!
Once you get into the habit of eating at home, menu planning can save you even more time and money.
Some people have a weekly routine, cooking a certain type of food on a particular night of the week. An example would be bigger meal on a Sunday, maybe even doubling the recipe and freezing the extra meal, making a soup on Monday, mexican night on Tuesday, homemade pizza on Wednesday night, etc.
There are also some good meal planning services on the internet. I've used Real Meal Plans in the past. I like them because you can set the number of people you're feeding and your particular dietary requirements, vegetarian, gluten free, etc.
The most impressive was two young french trampers at a hut in the wilderness that had brought their very nice home cooked meal with them for dinner!
We were envious! Honestly, when we were backpacking we were mostly eating rehydrated meals, or tins of sardines with crackers. Their meal looked and smelled really good!
By the time we got back home to Santa Cruz, California, one of my kids had become vegetarian. His decision was in reaction to visiting some of the markets in South America, where meat would be hanging, looking like the animal it came from.
Between his being vegetarian and trying to cook while traveling, I had completely forgotten what it was like to cook at home. I renewed my subscription to Real Plans almost immediately. It was such a big help. I love to cook most of the time and can be creative, but it's really nice to have the decision taken out of my hands sometimes!
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How often do you cook? Do you have any tips to make cooking at home easier?
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