When you travel on a budget, using the hostel kitchen is a must. When you’re a vegan budget traveler in a country where animal products reign supreme, it’s nothing short of a life-saver. But vegan recipes often require hard-to-find ingredients that can make it difficult to whip up something tasty in a collective kitchen that only has the bare minimum. All of the recipes listed below are easy to make and you won’t need any special equipment or ingredients. Get ready to save some money by cooking easy, healthy, cruelty-free food.

Note: all these dishes were tested in hostel kitchens. If I can do it, so can you!

1. Potato pasta


If you like starch, you’re in for a treat with this Hungarian dish.

  • Cook flat pasta such as tagliatelle. (If you don’t know how to cook pasta, you should stop reading right now.)
  • Peel and cut a potato into small pieces. Boil the pieces in water until soft and strain them. Mash the potato on a plate with a fork.
  • Heat up some oil in a frying pan and fry one diced onion. Once the onion is fried, add the mashed potato and season with salt, pepper, and red paprika. When the potato and onion are mixed, add the pasta and stir.
  • Remove from the heat when the dish is hot enough to your taste and add diced pickles.

2. Cabbage pasta

Same as above, but healthier for those who want to avoid eating carbs like there’s no tomorrow. Also, a good dish for vegan gluten-intolerant folks.

  • Cook flat pasta such as tagliatelle.
  • Grate cabbage or slice it very thin if you don’t have a grater handy.
  • Heat up some oil in a frying pan and fry one diced onion. Once the onion is fried, add the grated cabbage and season with salt and pepper. Cover the frying pan with a lid and add a tiny bit of water to the pan to steam the cabbage. When the cabbage is soft, add the pasta and stir.
  • Remove from the heat when the dish is hot enough and season to your taste. Note that, in Hungary, some people season this dish with sugar. Your call.

3. Green pea bulgur with lemon

  • Grate one onion. If you don’t have a grater, cut the onion into small and thin pieces.
  • Fry the onion in a well-oiled pan. When the onion is transparent, add 1 cup of green peas to the pan. Season with salt and pepper and cook until soft.
  • Mash half of the peas with a fork.
  • Add two cups of cold water and one cup of bulgur to the pan and cook until the grain is soft (about 15 min).
  • Stir the mixture and add some lemon juice.

4. Lecsó

  • Grate one onion. If you don’t have a grater, cut the onion into small and thin pieces.
  • Fry the onion in a well-oiled pan.
  • Dice 10 yellow peppers and 4 tomatoes and add them to the fried onion. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir regularly for 5 minutes and add a small amount water to the pan to steam the vegetables. Cover with a lid.
  • Once cooked, add nutritional yeast to the mix for creaminess.
  • Eat with bread.

5. Cauliflower rice with caramelized carrots

  • Grate cauliflower. If you don’t have a grater, cut the cauliflower florets into small pieces. If you’re dining alone, half a cauliflower is enough.
  • Add some oil to a frying pan and fry the cauliflower in the same way you would fry cooked rice.
  • In a separate pan, fry some carrot slices in oil until caramelized.
  • Add the carrots to the fried cauliflower rice and season with salt and pepper.

6. Vegetable ragout with quinoa

  • Grate one onion. If you don’t have a grater, cut the onion into small and thin pieces.
  • Dice two carrots, half a zucchini, one eggplant, one tomato, and some cauliflower and broccoli florets.
  • Fry the onion and the veggies in a large frying pan until soft.
  • Add tomato juice and some water (two cups of liquids in total) to the mix with one cup of quinoa. Cook for another 15 minutes with a lid on.

7. Chickpea omelet

  • Mix one cup of chickpea flour with one and a half cups of water and a dash of salt. Let it sit for 30 minutes and add herbs (my favorite ones are cilantro and basil) and pepper.
  • Heat up an oiled frying pan and pour in half a cup of the mixture. Fry it until the top is hard enough to flip it, then fry until the whole omelet is hard enough to your taste.
  • Add vegetable ragout or sour cream on top (optional but delicious).

8. Tomato lentils with parsley

  • Dice one onion and one clove of garlic. Fry them in an oiled pan.
  • Add 2 cups of canned lentils to the pan and stir. Check the label of the canned lentils before buying — it might be cooked in meat broth.
  • Pour tomato sauce over the mixture and cook all together.
  • Add some salt, pepper, and freshly-chopped parsley.

9. Butternut squash dip

  • Peel and cut a butternut squash into large pieces and bake them into the oven under foil with some unpeeled garlic cloves.
  • Once soft and caramelized (about 40 min), mash the squash with a fork in a bowl.
  • Remove the garlic from its shell and add it to the puréed squash.
  • Add two cups of mashed chickpeas.
  • Season with salt and pepper and add freshly-chopped cilantro.
  • Eat with bread or use it as a dip for veggies.

10. Chickpea “meatballs” with mashed potato and wilted cabbage

Chickpea meatballs:

  • Dice one onion and one clove of garlic. Fry them in an oiled pan.
  • In a bowl, mash two cups of chickpeas. (Buying canned chickpeas is much easier than having to soak them overnight)
  • Add the onion and garlic to the bowl. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cumin.
  • Using your hands, make small balls with the mixture and fry them in hot oil until brown and crispy on the outside.

Mashed potatoes:

  • In a large pot of hot water, boil potatoes until soft (test with a fork). Peel them and cut them into smaller pieces.
  • Fry an onion in an oiled pan than add it to the potatoes.
  • Season the mix with salt and pepper. Mix well.

Wilted cabbage:

  • Slice one onion and fry it in a well-oiled pan.
  • Slice half a cabbage and add it to the frying pan. Add some water to the pan and cover with a lid to steam. Serve when soft.
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