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- Posted:Monday, April 18, 2016
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How to cook in hostels
Guest post by Ellen Curham
If you’re travelling on a budget, staying in hostels can be a lifeline. Not only do they offer beds for a fraction of the price of hotels, but they also provide tons of other amenities and are the perfect setting for meeting other travellers. Take advantage of hostels’ cooking facilities if you want to watch what you’re spending on a trip. Eating out every day can get pricey and can easily become unhealthy if you are making the wrong choices. Some might see cooking as a chore when you’re on vacation but it doesn’t have to be that way once you know what you’re doing. To help, we’ve put together a few tips for cooking up a storm in hostel kitchens!
SCOPE OUT THE KITCHEN BEFOREHAND
Don’t buy your food until you’ve had a look around the kitchen. First, you’ll want to check for general cleanliness. While most hostel kitchens are pretty decent, there are a few that aren’t up to standard. If it’s gross give cooking a miss this time and mention it to the hostel staff. Secondly, see what type of cooking appliances and equipment is available. It’s standard just to have stove tops so don’t buy anything that needs to be cooked in an oven if this is the case. Lots of hostels also have a certain amount of free food for guests. This is usually simple, non-perishable stuff like rice or spaghetti but could save you a few bucks as well as weight in your backpack. Generally there will be spices, oil and seasonings available, too. Another thing to look out for is food that previous guests have left behind that is free to take. This will be labelled clearly and you might find a few gems.
Try to shop at local markets if you can. Not only will you be contributing to the local economy but you’ll find fresh and interesting produce that you won’t get at chain supermarkets. Try out native fruits and vegetables if they’re available and don’t be afraid to ask about produce. If you’re in a country where food poisoning is a concern for tourists then it can be a good idea to stay away from meat. This will also reduce your spending as grains and vegetables are normally a lot cheaper. If you’re staying at a hostel for a few days, get enough food for that time—that way you won’t be tempted to eat out. However, don’t go overboard; there’s no point spending lots on food if you can’t eat it all during your stay there.
Most hostels have rules for their kitchens and it’s best to obey them if you want to enjoy your stay. Sometimes they are only open during certain hours because it’s shared with an on-site restaurant or there is a curfew. Remember that you are cooking in a shared space, so show the appropriate respect for the staff and other guests. Always wash up after yourself—don’t leave the kitchen in a state you wouldn’t want to find it. And don’t be the person who steals other people’s food. It’s likely they’re on a budget, too, so you should respect that.
Cooking a meal with or for other guests at the hostel is a great way to meet new people. Choose something simple, and preferably vegan or vegetarian, so nobody is excluded. Ideally everybody should contribute towards the cost and a couple of people do the cooking with the rest doing the cleaning. Communal cooking can be one of the most enjoyable parts of staying in a hostel, letting you socialise without killing your budget.