Food was always one of the big challenges for me when I travelled. Space for food was usually limited and delicate foods often spoiled in my bag (or, worse, busted open and spoiled everything else in my bag). I found cooking on a camping stove to be frustrating. Then, after an unsatisfying meal, I'd have to find somewhere to wash everything up before it crusted on to the equipment. Honestly, most of the time I just paid extra for ready-made foods. The result was that I spent a lot of money, ate a lot of unhealthy food, and normally got sick by the end of the trip.
Then I went travelling with an Italian girl called Angela and suddenly found myself eating several filling, healthy, delicious meals every day. She used simple recipes and a minimum of equipment, and a handful of ideas are listed here to inspire you to create your own similar meals on the road. The meals here consist of foods that are very cheap when travelling Europe, so you may have to find different staple foods if you're travelling elsewhere.
Eating lunch as your main meal is highly recommended, as it can be difficult to cook when it's dark and you're tired in the evenings. Always try to have the ingredients for your next two meals in your backpack.
1x Camping stove with gas
1x Saucepan with lid (preferably one in which the lid doubles as a small frying pan)
1x Sharp knife
1x Bowl per person
1x Mug per person
1x Spoon/Spork per person
1x Thermal flask (to keep hot drinks warm)
The ideal breakfast is filling, requires little to no preparation time, and results in as little washing up as possible. If you're travelling somewhere cold, it's nice to have a hot drink to warm up with too. Our standard morning meal was Muesli with yoghurt (much more filling than milk), bananas, and instant coffee or tea.
Take lunch as your main meal. Cook rice or pasta on the stove and then add other ingredients: chick peas, thinly sliced carrots and tomatoes, and tuna are good with rice. Cheese, chorizo, and bell pepper are good with pasta.
Red lentil soup is also great. Take red lentils, aubergines, tomatoes or tomato sauce, onions, olive oil, curry powder, and salt. Chop up all the vegetables. Fry the onion in oil for a couple minutes, then add the aubergine and salt and cover until the aubergine is soft. Stir and add a mug of lentils for each person. Add water and eventually the tomatoes and curry powder. Delicious!
The evening meal usually consists of whatever food is left in your backpack that you don't want to eat for breakfast, or food that's not going to last much longer. Otherwise, bread with baked beans is nutritious, filling, quick, cheap, and easy. If it's safe to have a camp-fire, cook potatoes in tin foil and sausages on sticks.
Buy bread and make sandwiches to snack on during the day (or eat for dinner). Cheese, jam, tuna, or peanut butter are good choices. Cheese and tuna will fill you up, jam will keep bread from getting dry, and peanut butter is very high in calories. Another delicious snack you can make with ingredients you already have is Pane Pomodoro. Just slice tomatoes on to bread and cover with oil, herbs, and a pinch of salt.
Nuts, raisins, apples, and so on are great for travelling as they keep well and are unlikely to spoil or make a mess. It's a good idea to travel with a bar of chocolate or similar sugary snack to give you a little temporary boost when you feel your mood getting low or your energy levels crashing.
It's worthwhile to make the effort to eat well on long hitchhiking journeys; it's very difficult to maintain good morale when you're hungry and it's much easier to get sick if you fill your body with junk food. Planning ahead for meals will reduce the amount of money you spend trying to silence your growling stomach with petrol-station sandwiches. If you're cooking on a camping stove, carry a spare gas canister with you to avoid potentially frustrating cooking experiences when the first one runs out unexpectedly.