Healthy eating while traveling…. it can be done. It’s not always easy for me personally to make the best choices because I don’t like anything that seems too fussy, but the options are still out there at those wonderful places called grocery stores. In the case you do want to eat a somewhat healthy meal in a hostel, even one with no kitchen, there are a few things I have collected over the weeks that help me to eat from the supermarket instead of out at a restaurant for every meal.
Things to pack (or collect along the way) that will help you when eating on the run.
- One fork and knife. This is all you really need to eat food. Spoons are okay, but not essential. You’re probably thinking you could go without the knife as well, but it really comes to the rescue when packages won’t open or when you want to spread hummus on a pita or peanut butter on bread.
- Ziplock bags. Freezer size and quart size. Whenever I look for options of things to eat while traveling, I always think most things would be hard to carry around or make a mess in my bag. This is where the “baggies” come in. With things like fruits, veggies, or greens all sealed up they are much easier to transport. They really need to make them in smaller quantities or a variety of sizes in one package. They aren’t expensive though and your roommates will love you for sharing the box. They are good for separating food within a larger grocery bag or backpack, especially when containers you buy don’t have re-sealable lids. They are also nice to have for separating non-food items, and can double a bowl or plate.
- Napkins. Again, these are kind of cumbersome to carry around, but if you don’t mind they have helped a lot, and at least they aren’t heavy. There are lots of times I use them as plates on my hostel bed or on the train. I also tend to spill and they are a lifesaver if you spill coffee or water on yourself or your belongings.
- Office clips. You know, the ones for clipping stacks of paper. They are easy to pack and work perfectly for sealing up small bags.
- Re-useable water bottle. This is just a reminder because drinking enough water on the go is not always top of mind. But it should be. Drink up!
With these items you can eat almost anything while traveling. And, for those of us that seek to eat a plant-based diet (i.e. vegetarian or vegan), this is actually where not having animal products to worry about works to our advantage. Food we consume typically won’t go bad in a few days without refrigeration so you can store them in your hostel locker, hotel room, or backpack without worry that they will spoil.
I’ve been missing eating salads while traveling and with all the really-bad-for-you-but-so-good foods I’ve been having lately it’s nice to throw a salad or two into the mix. Salads are easy because there is no cooking required, and most grocery stores even carry vegetables pre-cut if you are really limited on space.
I probably don’t need to outline what goes into the salad, but the kind I make are usually pretty basic because I don’t like carrying around too many ingredients. Here’s what I use.
- Vinegar and Oil. Not entire bottles, though. I’ve been saving a few single-serving vinegar and oils that restaurants have given me with my morning toast. If they sold these somewhere that would be AMAZING. Although, most hostels with kitchens will at least have olive oil for dressing.
- Greens. Bagged greens from the store will last a day or two without refrigeration. Or if you have a refrigerator, it will last longer, obviously!
- Nuts. I had almonds and a nut mix that I found that has pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and dried fruit. Yum. Mixes are good so you don’t have to buy as many of just one nut or dried fruit.
- Beans. You can use canned or jarred beans if you can manage with your ziplock bags! I didn’t have any in this salad, but beans are a must. I prefer garbanzo or navy beans in salads.
- Veggies! I don’t like messing with raw vegetables without a kitchen and my current hostel doesn’t have one, so the one I’ve been making doesn’t have vegetables besides greens. However, things like pre-cut mushrooms and cherry tomatoes would have been very easy since they don’t require cutting and stay really well in plastic bags.
I ate the olives on the side. After being in Spain and France I’m obsessed. with. olives. Italy I’m sure won’t help cure my obsession. Fruit would be good here as well, so if you are feeling up for it, definitely use strawberries, pomegranate seeds or other fruits that look good to you! Be creative and adventurous.
I will be forever prepared for a picnic at a moment’s notice. And maybe you will, too. Or better yet, let’s have a picnic together. 🙂