Backpacking used to mean living on whatever is cheapest and convenient but what if you could still be healthy without spending a fortune? Camping means you don’t have a place to put cold or frozen foods and hostels mean you don’t have space. So, how do you stay away from fast food and ramen noodles? Here are a few tips and tricks to help you stay healthy but they involve the extra effort.
1. Buy in small batches or bake bulk
The first is buying food in small bunches. Buying bulk snacks and ramen may be the easiest. Moreover, buying what you need for only a couple of days will help you to pick the choices you want. This also helps if you have limited space for your food. If you feel you don’t have the time or a grocery store or food market is too far away to go to every couple of days then make a bulk meal and put it into containers to save for during the week. Later I will explain how to make easy, cheap bulk meals and spice them so you don’t get bored. Tip: if you are staying in hostels many of them have a spice rack. Moreover, they have a place where backpackers leave their spices behind when they start travelling again. This saves you buying simple things like salt and pepper and many times even oil!
2. Buy what is featured that week/frozen or canned
Next, coordinate your meals around what is on sale during the time. When you walk into the grocery store there usually are fruits and veggies that are oversupplied or in the season so you can get them relatively cheap. Build your meal around these. If you have a market near you that is even better. The fruits and vegetables will always be cheaper at a Saturday market. If everything is expensive then when in doubt, buy frozen or canned. Frozen vegetable stir-fry is such a saver. All you have to do is throw it in the skillet for a couple of minutes and you have a side of mixed veggies for your meal. If you don’t have access to a freezer to store your frozen vegetables then buy canned. Buy the vegetables in spring water. However, if this is not available then pour the canned vegetables into a strainer and rinse with water to get off the extra salt and preservatives.
3. Make meals for the whole week
Next, the easiest way to make a bulk batch of food or even save on making several different meals is by finding a base food you love. Such as rice, pasta, couscous, beans, noodles or quinoa. Buying these base foods in bulk is a cheap option. Now that you have your base, you can add in a meat or meat alternative and lastly stir fry some veggies and put it together. If you want to mix up the meal for the week buy the single packets of sauce or spices. You can add them in the mix to flavour to what you are feeling that day. Then, separate the large batch into several separate plastic containers (or even zip lock bags if that is all you have access to) and refrigerate.
4. Snacking on the go
For snacks, there are so many healthy and cheap ones out there, you just have to find what your favourite is. Here are a few that usually come in bulk, you can switch up and are easy to take on the go. No matter where you are in the world these snacks or similar ones you can find nearly everywhere.
- Pretzels are incredible but if you feel they are a little boring, buy a bag of dark chocolate. Moreover, you can buy dried fruit and mix it in the bag to give a little sweet to your salt.
- Natural peanut butter is a godsend; it is made with just peanuts and can be good on bread, crackers or rice cakes!
- Along the lines of a spread, hummus is incredibly healthy and delicious. There is bound to be a flavour you like, they even have flavours that make hummus not seem like hummus at all. This can be great with raw vegetables, crackers and more.
- Buy mixed nuts in a bag, many times if you get the nuts mixed with dried fruit. It is much cheaper and has more variety anyways.
- My go-to breakfast is oatmeal. This is easy and cheap and you can flavour it however you like. You can add fruit, nuts, cinnamon or whatever flavour you like or extra snack you have around.
- Lastly, when you’re craving sugar or something sweet, my favourite go to is chocolate. Many times you can find a chocolate mix that is dark chocolate flavoured and better for you. You can also mix it in with some milk or milk alternative to give you a nice chocolaty, filling snack. This now makes me want some chocolate milk!
5. Staying on track
To remind myself to pick up the snacks I want rather than the ones I previously craved. This helps me to write down a list of what I want before I head to the store. Also, when I run out of something I will write it down so I know next time I head to the store what to pick up. It also helps me to plan my meals ahead based on what ingredients I have around and what would be easiest but healthiest.
It’s all about the little changes at first. However, I guarantee if you eat less fast foods or quick foods and fuel your body with what it needs to keep adventuring you will feel so much better. These are just a couple of options, there are hundreds out there. Being healthy seems difficult but if you make conscious decisions then it will become the habit and be the norm!