Smurf cooking

Three easy recipes for travel

It’s important to eat well while you’re on the road — drink a couple of litres of water, have five serves of fruit and veg, not over-do the alcohol. However, it can be a challenge — the hostel kitchen might not be very well-equipped, or the supermarket might not have the ingredients you need. Eating out can get expensive and often isn’t particularly nutritious either.

It’s a good idea to have a couple of tried-and-true recipes up your sleeve, that can be adapted for locally-obtainable ingredients. The following mince recipe is one of my staples — it can be used with nacho chips for nachos, or with tortillas and salad for burritos. It can be used for tacos or lasagne, can go in small pastries for an interesting finger-food option, and it can be frozen. Plus, if mince isn’t available, you can chop steak into thin strips and it works almost as well.

Versatile mince mix

500g mince
One large onion
Two cans of chopped tomatoes (or about 10 fresh tomatoes, chopped finely and heated in a saucepan with a little water until soft)
One or two cans of mixed beans (or use soaked beans)
Three (or more) tablespoons of tomato paste
Oil for frying
Salt, pepper, chilli powder

Brown the mince in a frying pan or wok and drain to remove fat. Remove from frying pan. Chop the onions finely and fry until clear. Add other vegetables if you want, such as capsicum and mushrooms. Put the mince back in the pan and add tomatoes, tomato paste, beans and seasonings — I always add sweet Thai chilli sauce when available. Heat until bubbling then lower the heat and simmer for at least half an hour, until a lot of the liquid has steamed off and you’re left with a thick reddish mince mix.

Chopping onions

Chop those onions

It’s pretty healthy, since it contains a lot of vegetables, and you can make it healthier still by serving it with a salad of locally-grown produce (carefully washed, of course). If avocados are available, a logical accompaniment is guacamole:

Linda’s guacamole




One ripe avocado
One medium-sized tomato
Half an onion
Half a teaspoon of salt
A squeeze of lemon juice
One tablespoon of sour cream

Dice the onion into tiny pieces. Sprinkle the salt over the top of the chopped onion and squeeze in. Set aside. Chop the tomato into small (3mm cubed) pieces. Mash the avocado and stir in the lemon juice and sour cream. Add the tomato and onion and stir until mixed in. Easy.

If sour cream isn’t available, thickened cream also works, or just leave it out for a less-creamy flavour.

Serve with burritos or nachos, or alone — crackers or bread are a good accompaniment, or chop carrots or red peppers for a tasty, healthy alternative.

If you need something filling and don’t have much time, fritters are a good option. The batter can be adapted to be sweet or savoury, and they can be a good finger-food option or form a part of a larger meal, accompanied by salad.

Travel fritters

3/4 cup of flour
One teaspoon of baking powder (or one cup of self-rising flour instead of plain flour and baking powder)
One egg
Salt and pepper to taste
One cup of “something” (banana, cream-style corn, canned tuna and tomato: be creative)
Oil for frying

Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper together. Add the egg and “something” and mix until combined. Heat about a tablespoon of oil in frypan and add tablespoons of batter (use a teaspoon if you want to make cute finger food). Cook until golden then flip.

Corn fritters

You can add almost anything to a fritter. These ones have corn.

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11 Responses to “Three easy recipes for travel”

  1. Kathryn April 18, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

    Thanks for the guacamole recipe, sounds so yummy that tomorrow I am going to go and buy the ingredients to make it! :)

  2. Prime April 18, 2012 at 11:18 pm #

    Love this. Will have to save this. Now I don’t have to subsist on cheese and bread every single day when funds are low while traveling

  3. Cara Waterfall April 19, 2012 at 3:49 am #

    Great for people on the road – I’ve been eating quite poorly on the road in Accra and Kumasi; maybe it’s time to make more of an effort! Thanks, Linda…

  4. Spencer April 19, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

    For those of us who don’t speak Kiwi, what is mince ( I know capsicum are peppers).

    • Angela April 19, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

      Do you perhaps call it “ground beef”?
      Good question, Spencer :)

      • Angela April 26, 2012 at 8:44 pm #

        I checked with my American flatmate, and indeed, mince=ground beef.

  5. Charlie April 24, 2012 at 2:31 pm #

    Those fritters look tasty. How well would the recipe adapt to a no-wheat diet? Say using rice flour or mashed potatoes. Several of my friends are sensitive to wheat and its by-products.

  6. Travis Ehrenstrom April 30, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

    These are absolutely awesome! My girlfriend and I are about to embark on a low budget road trip, and I was searching the internet for great road trip recipes. These are great, and I think I can make most of them from the comfort of my little cook stove. Is there any way I can pre-make the mince seasoning and travel with it? How long does it keep if left in a cooler? Thanks for the great recipes!

  7. Linda Martin May 6, 2012 at 3:28 pm #

    Thanks everyone for your comments, I’m feeling inspired to write another recipe post… If only I had more recipes! If you have a fantastic recipe for travel, please post it in the forums.

    Charlie: I’ve never tried making the fritters with rice flour, but I tried mashed potatoes once and it worked okay — of course they were quite different, and tended to fall apart a bit, but they were very tasty.

    Travis: you can freeze the mince mix, so that would be the easiest way to take it travelling. When I can, I make a huge potful and divide it into meal-sized portions, which I put into plastic bags or containers and freeze. If you do the same and take it in a cooler, it should be good for a couple of days.

    Oddly, mince is quite expensive here in Spain so I’m experimenting with using lentils, capsicum and chorizo as a substitute (with good results), it’s easy to adapt for vegetarians too. And the guacamole is definitely making an appearance.

  8. Tanya May 21, 2012 at 3:55 am #

    Love the Fritters recipe.. yum :)

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