How to Cook in a Hostel, Holiday Park or Campsite with Allergies
Backpacking and using hostels or camping and using shared kitchens in holiday parks is a sure-fire way to enjoy the freedom of exploring New Zealand on a budget, but travellers with food allergies will need to take extra precautions. Of course, many people with serious food allergies are worried about sharing a kitchen. But with a little bit of planning, cooking in a hostel with allergies is totally doable. Find out more with our list of tips for cooking in a shared kitchen with food allergies.
For more cooking tips, check out the 5 Meals Under $5 to Cook in a Hostel or Holiday Park.
1. Eat at Non-Peak Hours
As you’re about to discover from our following tips for cooking in a shared kitchen with food allergies, cooking in a shared kitchen will probably take you more time than others. So that you have more space and time to prepare your cooking area with less disturbance, not to mention the risk of cross-contamination with fellow cookers, choose non-peak times to cook your meals. Peak hours in hostel and holiday park kitchens tend to be 7am-9am, 11.30am-1.30pm and 5pm-8pm.
2. Pack Your Own Cooking Utensils
Play it safe by packing your own cooking utensils. The essentials for cooking with food allergies while travelling are a small cutting board, paring knife, cutlery and your preferred dishwashing detergent. Remember to repackage your dishwashing detergent so it takes less room in your backpack.
3. Re-Wash Any Utensils, Pots or Pans Before Using Them
Unfortunately, you can’t pack the whole kitchen in your backpack, so you will likely need to use some utensils, pots and pans from a shared kitchen. Be sure to re-wash everything you use thoroughly before using it.
4. Bag Chilled Food in a Disposable Bag or Container in the Fridge
Although it sucks to use disposable plastic bags, it’s necessary to protect yourself (or who you’re travelling with that has food allergies). Store chilled groceries in a plastic bag in the fridge tying a knot at the top (remember to label it with your name and check-out date). When checking out, transfer your food into a cloth bag or cool bag, disposing of the plastic bag in case it is contaminated. For a less wasteful alternative, store chilled items in a reusable container and thoroughly wash the container regularly.
5. Make Simple Meals
A tip for anyone cooking in a hostel, campsite or holiday park kitchen, cooking simple meals will make the process less painful. Anything that you can cook up on a stovetop using limited kitchenware is a good idea, such as basic rice and pasta dishes. Get some inspiration from our 10 Easy Meals to Cook in a Hostel in 10 Minutes.
6. Read Labels Carefully
Being in a new country, you’re unlikely to have access to your usual food brands that you know are safe to eat. For self-catering abroad, be sure to carefully read the labels of all of the food items you are buying. This will mean a lengthy first trip to the supermarket but you’ll find that all supermarkets in New Zealand stock the same brands making subsequent trips quicker.
7. Pack Staple Foods
It’s common for backpackers to have a small food bag with their staple food items. This helps save money, as well as keep an eye on your ingredients. Some backpacker staples include instant oats, brown sugar, salt/pepper, rice, pasta, couscous, olive oil and crackers.
8. Avoid Sharing Food
Finally, don’t accept food prepared by other travellers in the hostel or holiday park. Just kindly explain that you have food allergies then you’re unlikely to offend. This also applies to the shared food shelf that many hostels feature; the food here could have cross-contamination.