Buying your own Food
Everyone will probably admit that you can end up eating a lot of junk food if you don’t plan your meals and manage your food budget. You could easily end up eating something cheap, quick and nasty. I’ll never forget being in a London hostel and finding that a fellow traveller brought in half a suitcase of 2 minute noodles because the exchange rate was so bad between Australia and the U.K. at that time and he was worried he wouldn’t be able to afford the food there. I told him about the local supermarkets and their tasty ready-made meals that were very reasonably priced. He could have kicked himself. The point is, there is food everywhere. You just have to have an idea of what to expect and ensure your tastes, budget and needs are catered for.
I carry a small cooler bag with a frozen bottle of water to keep things chilled. I freeze the bottle each night at my accommodation when I can. In that cooler bag, I carry a little bit of cheese, fruit, salad and some crackers. This way, I’ll never starve or need to buy junk food. I carry a little pencil case with a couple of forks and knives and a can opener. I have a small plastic plate that fits into the bag as well. I get to have picnics in the most wonderful places and I save lots of money avoiding fast foods.
In my book, Backpacker’s Practical and Spiritual Guide to the Universe, I give two three day shopping lists, a menu to match each of these and in the back, the matching recipes for quick, easy and healthy meals. You will use up most of the ingredients in the shopping lists by following the menu. Of course adjust it to suit personal tastes and needs.
Eating local vegetables that are in season is the best way to look after your health and your budget. Staying in hostels where you have a kitchen is ideal for maintaining a good eating regime.
Occasionally you get great tips on restaurants but the best way to find a great place to eat is to ask the locals. I will usually visit a local establishment and then ask the chef about any unusual vegetables and find out how to cook them. Then I visit the markets and ask some of the vendors how to cook their items as well, if I’m unfamiliar with them. Pretty soon, I’m cooking like a local – but without the meat.