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Cooking Traveler: 6 Ways to Cook Food and Save Money While Traveling

One of the best ways to save money on the road is to cook for yourself.

Cooking while traveling

Going into 2021, I’m almost quite certain that you’ve been itching to travel and cross your area’s borders.

While it’s possible in this age of corona, nothing’s more reassuring than traveling without the baggage of possibly getting and transmitting the virus. But with the development of vaccines and restrictions gradually easing, that might be sooner than you think.

You’d surely want every penny well spent on your first out-of-town in a long while. So while you mark your maps and work on some plans, I’m here to give you some tips on how you can potentially save money.

Food and delicacies, especially in known tourist spots, often have marked up prices. So it’s wise to plan even your gastric journey down to the dot. If you plan to splurge for a day or two, a way to go by on other meals is cooking and prepping your own. It might sound like a lot more work, but I assure you it’s going to save you a good portion of your budget.

So here are 6 ways to cook food and save money while traveling:


Who says you can’t go fancy while running on a budget? If you have access to a grill (or have your own portable one!), you can have a steak fix that feels like home. All you’ll need for this barbecue are flank steak, chopped half small red onion, cilantro, half a cup of lime juice, and olive oil, chili, salt, and pepper.

First, put all ingredients sans the meat in a large zip lock bag. After thoroughly mixing, add the steak to the marinade. Make sure it coats the meat throughout and let it sit for a while. For a more flavorful experience, let it sit in the fridge overnight before traveling. When the grill is hot enough, cook one side of the steak for two minutes and the other side for another one and a half minutes. Check this to see more ideas for barbecue.


Beans are usually the go-to if you want a filling yet cheap meal. Aside from being a good source of nutrients, they are a versatile ingredient too. One quick fix would be a burrito bowl. Just mix in rice, pepper, tomatoes, and your beans in a bowl. Top it with cheese for extra saltiness and heat your meal.

If you prefer a soup meal, toss in carrots, onions, and a protein of your choice. Then, mix in a pinch of thyme. You can then add a pound of dried lentils plus 4 cups of broth. Bring your soup to a boil, turn down the heat and let it simmer for roughly an hour. Voila – lentil soup.


Another easy prep meal is pasta. Its beauty is you can serve the same noodles and switch up your sauces or flavor. You can even get creative and use different seasonings in convenient jars such as those from Spice World Inc. When you have your pasta noodles boiled, the only thing left to do is season them.

For a quick meal, season chopped veggies with oil, salt, and pepper and sauté them until the edges brown. Toss in your noodles and you’re good to go. You can also turn this to classic tuna pasta – use tomatoes for veggies, then add 3 to 4 tablespoons of pesto, canned tuna, and garlic. If you got extra time and you’re feeling a little fancy, you can grill lobster tails and toss them in with your pasta. Garnish with parsley and mint for that fine dining feel.


If you have no access to a stovetop or an oven, a convenient meal would be a salad. You can throw in any ingredients you prefer. But here are some ideas you’d perhaps like to try.

For a fresh salad, combine berries and leafy veggies of your choice, avocado, and cheese. You can also add nuts, olive oil, any meat, and pepper for an extra kick.

If you’re in for a tangy treat, go for a vinaigrette dressing. In a jar, put a cup of oil and half a cup of either vinegar or lemon juice and shake to mix well. Chime in salt and pepper, a generous amount of garlic cloves. You can also try other combinations such as mustard and honey, or cheese and parsley.


Another no-cook-just-assembly option is a sandwich. What’s great about sandwiches is that you can pack them before traveling, and the right ingredients can last without spoiling. You can also play around with different fillings you prefer.

An easy recipe is the cheese and pickle sandwich. Just as the name implies, lay your pickles and cheddar cheese on bread, and your sandwich is all done. If you prefer protein in your sandwich, toss in ham, avocado, and cheese for a refreshing meal. However, if you’re worried about your bread getting soggy, go for a tortilla wrap filled with cheese, berries, greens, and turkey for protein.


If you have a sweet tooth, you can still satisfy your sugary cravings while running on a budget. A quick treat is mascarpone cups paired with fruits. For the cream filling, beat heavy cream, yogurt, milk, and mascarpone cheese together in a bowl until it’s smooth. Put this on a cup and top it with a berry of your choice.

If you’re feeling a little extra, make syrup from your fruit by boiling a cup of them in ¾ cup sugar and 1/3 cup water. Mash the fruits and simmer until the mixture has thickened. Once done, sieve it with a strainer and let it cool. Add this syrup to the bottom of your cup before putting the cream filling.

Just a few final tips: apart from planning your meals, it’d be convenient to pick an accommodation with a kitchenette or equipment for cooking. Also go for ingredients that can be used for everything, so that you’ll pack light and waste less. You can try out local ingredients because they can be cheaper and give you a new flavor profile to work with. And if you really want to save a hefty amount of time and money, only cook one dish that will last the entire day. Time for prepping your meals could be used for other things. Now, all that’s left to do is enjoy both your food and experience!


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