Samuel Turner

There’s no way around it, it is not cheap to travel.

Flights, accommodation and insurance - before you even set foot on foreign soil! And then once you arrive you have to pay for tours, more travel expenses and souvenirs. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. My personal favourite expense – food. Whenever I travel I make sure to dive into local food head first, letting my tastebuds enjoy the cultural differences before the rest of me. But not everywhere in the world is cheap and even cheap food adds up if you’re out for every meal. Here’s how you can save big bucks and elongate your travels by using some delicious, simple and healthy meal options you can make in your hostel!

Travelling through South America for the last couple months has done wonderful things for me in the culinary sense. I’ve tried so much amazing food; everything from expensive restaurants to local eateries and scrumptious street food. It’s definitely something you have to experience, eating local Acai in Brazil, melt in your mouth ceviche in Peru or quality Asado in Argentina.

Backpacking food


But once you’ve quelled your curiosity and stomach, give these timeless classics a try – your tastebuds and your wallet won’t regret it!

Backpacker Soup - ~AUD$4.00/3 serves

Backpacker Soup


A staple of mine, I usually make this once every three or so days when travelling to get my dose of vegetables.

  • 2 x carrot
  • 1 x potato
  • 1 x sweet potato
  • 500g pumpkin
  • 2 x tomato
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 x brown onion
  • 2 x stock cubes
  • Handful of dried chilli sprinkle
  • Juice of a lemon

METHOD: Cut and peel all your vegetables and the dice them into small cubes. Brown the onion and garlic first with some oil and then add everything else, including one litre of water. Bring to the boil and then allow to simmer for 45 minutes, with the lid on, stirring every five minutes or so. Mash the vegetables into a thick pasty consistency when they have softened.

Voila! A super simple, filling and healthy meal for just over a dollar a serve. This is a must in the colder parts of South America too.

Blue Cheese and Mushroom Gnocci - ~$9.00/3 serves

A slightly more gourmet option, this is also really simple to make and a delicious break from monotonous travel food.

NOTE: the cheese I bought was quite cheap; depending on location it may not be viable. Perhaps try a cheaper alternative!

  • 200g mushrooms
  • 200ml cream
  • 100g blue cheese
  • 500g gnocci
  • 1 x onion
  • 3 x cloves garlic

METHOD: Dice your onion and garlic and brown in the pan. Add mushrooms and lower the heat. Lightly brown mushrooms and then add cream. Crumble cheese into the sauce and slowly stir, adding to taste. Turn off the heat and allow to cool, slowly mixing. Boil a saucepan of water for gnocci and once boiled, add gnocci for one minute. Once it has a melting in your mouth consistency, remove and strain. Conglomerate and enjoy!

One of my favourite meals when I’m travelling, a hearty and delicious option for when I’m looking for something filling but a little on the fancier side.

Quick Paella - ~$7.00/3 serves

Quick Paella


A sacrilegious variant of the original paella, this dish is a nutritious, tasty and healthy alternative for travelling with loads of protein, carbohydrates and vitamins.

  • 2 x cups of rice
  • 250g ground beef
  • 1 x brown onion
  • 2 x tomato
  • 3 x garlic cloves
  • 1 x sweet potato
  • 1 x capsicum
  • 2 x stock cubes
  • Ground chilli
  • Paprika
  • Juice of a lemon

OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS: Frozen vegetables are a quick and easy alternative if there is no cheap local produce.

NOTE: You may need to cook in two different batches, using a wide fry pan.

METHOD: Cut and peel all your vegetables and dice them into small cubes. Brown the onion and garlic first and then add your ground beef. Once the beef is cooked, add your vegetables and rice. Add your stock cubes to one litre of water of hot water and add until the mixture covers the ingredients. Add plenty of paprika. Stir and turn over slowly over the next 20-30 minutes, repeating the process of additional stock and paprika. Once the rice has reached a soft, edible consistency and all of the liquid has absorbed into the meal, squeeze a lemon across the mixture and serve.

There you are! An easy, tasty and nutritious meal that is perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

With these recipes you will soon learn it’s not difficult to cook for yourself and best of all it is delicious and affordable. Save your money for your travels and enjoy your own cooking in the process!


  • Buy at a local market/store and you can score meats, cheese and vegetables for usually half the price
  • Keep more expensive items such as garlic in a small Tupperware container with you, it will save you money and wasting them when you change hostels
  • Cook when you arrive - you will have meals for your time there without wastage
  • Enjoy the food! Don’t cook just to save money, mix it up, try something different and make your own creations


Samuel Turner is an Australian journalist with a passion for adventure, travel and food. Follow him on his adventures around the world on Instagram @turnernator and his blog ‪

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the PDS available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.