An old classic of the Vagabond Cookbook and spin off of vag style chicken noodle soup is this simple and nutritious meal that can be made dirty cheap virtually anywhere in the world: Traveler Pasta. The Vagabond Journey family nearly lives off this meal, and can be found eating it in some form or other [...]
An old classic of the Vagabond Cookbook and spin off of vag style chicken noodle soup is this simple and nutritious meal that can be made dirty cheap virtually anywhere in the world: Traveler Pasta. The Vagabond Journey family nearly lives off this meal, and can be found eating it in some form or other three times a week from South America to East Asia. Good meals do not come cheaper than pasta, meat, and veggies, nor are many easier and quicker to make.
Equipment needed for Traveler Pasta
As this is just an ordinary noodle dish, the only equipment needed to make it are a pot, a stove, fuel, a fire source, a dish or a bowl, and a spoon or fork to stir it. Traveler pasta can easily be made in a camp in the woods, in a hostel, or in the kitchen of a five star resort — it can be made virtually anywhere. It is also a good single pot meal, but is better done as a two potter.
To make traveler pasta, all you need is some meat (chicken, hamburger, or a protein alternative like tofu or TVP), some vegetables, noodles, sauce, and spices.
I don’t mean to make this seem any more complex than what it is, but I will lay out how I make traveler pasta anyway — as there is a certain timing involved in single pot cooking. If you have access to two pots and two burners (a true culinary luxury) you can double up and do some of the following tasks at once.
Put water in a pot and place on a stove. Cook on high.
Wash and chop vegetables while waiting for the water to boil.
Once it is boiling, add the noodles. 40 – 70 grams of dry noodles per adult is usually sufficient.
Wash and cut meat.
After the pasta has been boiling for around ten minutes, add the vegetables, reduce heat to medium. Don’t over cook the vegetables, keep them in the boiling water for only a few minutes.
If you only have one pot and a single stove or burner, remove the pasta and vegetables from the pot once finished, rise it out, and then add oil.
Place the pot back on the burner, turn it down to low. Once sizzling, add garlic and/ or onions (if available and you prefer). Saute.
Add the meat. Cook until done.
If you have two pots and multiple burners, the noodles and meat can be cooked at the same time.
Add meat to the pasta and veggies then add sauce or spices.
The cost of traveler pasta is under US$2 for my family of three ($1.25 if solo) in the south of Mexico. In the USA or Europe, I would estimate that it could be made for under $5 for a small family or $2.50 if alone.
Using ingredients for multiple meals
Many of the recipes of the Vagabond Cookbook are designed to have interchangeable ingredients, meaning that the same stock of food can be used for multiple different meals. Often it is cheaper or necessary to buy food in larger quantities than you wish to eat in one sitting. By making different meals from the same stock of ingredients you can optimize your food usage while adding variety to you diet.
Typically, we make soup one day, then pasta the next, then a rice dish, then a tortilla/ bread based meal all using the same or slightly altered supply of meats and veggies. Then, after going through once cycle, we usually change up our ingredient stock a little and go through a similar routine again.
Though, of course, if we don’t have access to refrigeration then we use our fresh meat the day it is purchased.
Traveler pasta is a staple of the open road. Noodles can be had the world over for super cheap, and the same also often goes for meat, vegetables, and spices. If sauce proves to be locally expensive, we will often make a puree of tomatoes, spices, and salt for ourselves. The fresh ingredients in this recipe can also often be had cheaper at local butchers or in farmer’s markets than supermarkets — where applicable, confirm local prices to avoid being ripped off. In general, vagabond cooking is no more difficult or expensive than the pasta dish outlined above, and with all the nutritional, money saving, and health benefits of cooking for yourself we find doing so to be well worth it as we travel the world.
The Vagabond Cookbook aims to share nutritious recipes that a traveler can utilize in restrictive cooking conditions (camp/ hostel/ hotel room) all over the world. Though we change up our ingredients a little to suit local or seasonal availability, the basic idea of many of these recipes stay they same across the globe.
About the Author: VBJ
I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. VBJ has written 3657 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.
VBJ is currently in: Astoria, New York