Eating Healthy on a Long Trip

Many moons ago, a former boss returned from a family vacation with tales of kids who craved salads for dinner and inhaled celery sticks and sugar snap peas by the gallon at snacktime. They had spent an entire week indulging themselves with meals out to the point that they wanted something fresh, healthy, and homemade. Consider that one of those “Everything I need to know, I learned in kindergarten” moments.

If a six-year-old can crave green things after just a week, I probably will too.

So I need to have a rough game plan for how I’ll feed myself on my RTW trip. I’d like to strike about a 50-50 balance of eating in versus dining out, which will be easier than you think since I’m staying primarily in hostels and short-term rentals, granting me access to a kitchen.

When I check into a new hostel or rental, I’ll first check the kitchen and see what equipment they have available, and if there are any leftover ingredients donated by departed travelers.

Then I’ll make way to a market and buy whatever I need to get me through the upcoming week, or until the end of my stay, whichever is shorter. For long stays, like my month in Barcelona, I’ll make Friday my errand day. (I’m already using Fridays for money management, so I might as well consolidate my errand running.)

Charlottesville Kitchen

I’ll be sorry to say goodbye to my current kitchen with all its counter and storage space.

Knowing what to cook will be more challenging. For now, I’m imagining the following criteria for a good hostel meal:

  1. It’s quick – Since I’ll be sharing space with lots of other travelers, I’ll want to make sure I’m not monopolizing the kitchen. Meals that take 30 minutes or less will be ideal.
  2. It’s low maintenance – I don’t know what kitchen equipment or cookware I’ll find when I arrive, so recipes that only require a pan and a stovetop, or no cooking at all, are best. It also shouldn’t require a laundry list of ingredients that I’ll have to abandon when I leave.
  3. It’s versatile – In the U.S., we tend to take for granted our ability to walk into a store on any given day and find whatever product we have a hankering for. This certainly won’t be the case in many of the countries I visit, so I’ll need to get better at using what’s available to me, instead of walking in with a specific recipe I’m shopping for. The best recipes will be ones that I can easily adapt as I go.

Bonus points to anything that’s vegetarian and doesn’t make more than a few servings. Keeping those guidelines in mind, these 12 recipes, or some variation thereupon, may all find their way onto my plate in the next year.

Veggie Chow Mein
Curried Chickpea Cakes
Creamy Carrot Pasta
Mushroom Egg White Omelet
Thai Vegetable Soup
Goat Cheese & Roasted Red Pepper Sandwiches
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
Spring Rolls
Quick Pad Thai
Zucchini Pancakes with Mushrooms
Bean & Corn Chili
Meze Bowls

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