Easy Meals To Cook In Hostels

Easy Meals To Cook In Hostels Image | East Coast Tours Australia

Travelling can be expensive, particularly when you’re buying every single meal from a restaurant or cafe. One of the best ways to stick to your travel budget is to cook for yourself… surprise, surprise. Luckily, for those staying in hostels with a kitchen, you will be super pleased to know it is a cheap, easy and completely doable solution, even for those who don’t cook much back home.

However, whilst a simple solution to saving, there are a couple of tips for cooking in hostels that will have you feasting smoothly.

Hostel Cooking Tips

Firstly, don’t overbuy ingredients; you will just be left with random foods that will go mouldy in the bottom of a communal fridge. And similarly, try and avoid cooking for an army - you probably won’t have containers to store the leftovers. Thirdly, keep it simple yet delicious. And that’s where our handy recipes come in. 

With the perfect measurements, number of steps (not many) and amount of dishes to clean up afterwards (also not many), impress your newfound hostel mates and nourish your tired traveller body with these easy, cheap and minimal-ingredient meals! Whether you’re a vegetarian, vegan, carnivore, omnivore or gluten-freeby, each of these recipes can be easily altered to suit your preferences.

three young adults eating at a K'gari hostel with fairy lights

One-pot tomato spaghetti for a backpacker budget

Serves 4

Costs less than $2 per serve

Easy, incredibly cheap and warming, this one-pot wonder will leave you full without the hole in your wallet! 

Tomato pasta in a white bowl


  • 1 x packet of spaghetti
  • 1 x tinned diced tomatoes
  • 1 x tin of brown lentils OR minced beef
  • 1 x brown onion
  • 1 x carrot
  • 3 x garlic cloves
  • 2 x cube vegetable stock


  1. Heat oil in a deep pot on medium heat. When oil is hot, add diced onion and cook until translucent.
  2. Throw in your finely chopped garlic and choice of protein (mince or drained lentils). Cook until browned (allow longer for meat).
  3. Grate or chop your carrot then add to the pot.
  4. Throw in your tin of tomatoes, two cubes of stock and two cups of water. Stir until combined, before turning up the heat to high.
  5. Once bubbling, add the whole packet of pasta to the pot. Cover with a lid for 8 minutes, adding more water if needed.
  6. Once pasta is cooked through, your pasta is ready to be served. And, if you’re splurging, sprinkle a bit of parmesan cheese on top! 

Healthy 2-minute noodle soup for budget backpackers

Serves 2

Costs roughly $2 per serve 

Who said 2-minute noodles had to be unhealthy? One-up your next bowl of ramen with a couple of veggies… your body will absolutely thank you.

bowl of ramen with chilli, spring onions and an egg


  • 2 x packets of 2-minute noodles (rice noodles for gluten-free)
  • 1 x carrot
  • 3 x mushrooms
  • 1x clove of garlic
  • 1 x small knob of ginger
  • 1 x capsicum
  • Spinach leaves
  • 1 x vegetable stock cube

Optional: add a protein like tofu, chicken or egg


  1. Fry off your chopped garlic in ginger in a pot of hot oil.
  2. Add 4 cups of water to the pot and stir in the stock cube and all two-minute noodle sachet flavourings.
  3. Add sliced mushrooms, carrots and noodle cakes to the pot. Let boil for 30 seconds before turning off the heat and covering the pot for about a minute.
  4. Place sliced capsicum pieces and spinach leaves between two bowls evenly. Pour your noodle soup liquid over these veggies and divide the noodles between the bowls. 
  5. Add optional proteins like fried tofu, a boiled egg or cooked chicken if that’s your jam, and enjoy! 

Loaded Mexican salad for busy backpackers

Serves 2

Costs roughly $2 per serve

A great, cheap and nourishing option that you can easily pack on-the-go as a lunchtime snack, as well as enjoy on a hot summer’s night for dinner. And the best part; there’s no cooking required!

bowl of veggie mexican salad with black beans, tomato and cous cous


  • 1 x tin of black beans
  • 1 x tin of corn
  • 1/2 cup of dry cous cous
  • 1 x Mexican spice sachet
  • 1 x tomato
  • 1 x cucumber
  • 1 x red onion
  • Spinach leaves
  • 2 tablespoons of tahini
  • 1 x lime


  1. Boil the kettle and pour 1 cup of boiling water over ½ a cup of cous cous in a bowl. Mix together, cover the bowl and set aside.
  2. Dice your tomato, cucumber and red onion into small cubes. Roughly chop a generous handful of baby spinach leaves. Put all veggies into a bowl or container.
  3. Drain your tin of black beans and corn, rinsing a couple of times with water. Place the drained beans and corns into the same bowl as the veggies and gently toss.
  4. In a small cup, place two tablespoons of tahini, half a juiced lime and half of the Mexican spice mix. Stir well until combined, adding a small splash of water to reach desired consistency.
  5. Finally, add your cous cous into the bowl, toss and add your tahini dressing and eat up! 
  6. Pro-tip: chuck this salad in a wrap with some avo for a quick and easy Mexican wrap! 

For more clever ways to make your hostel a home away from home, check out our tried-and-tested Aussie hostel hacks

To complete your Australian travels, check out our itinerary builder and let the adventure of your dreams begin! 

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