Bare Minimum Cooking

Yes, an iron.

Cook in a hotel?

Inspired by 10 Awesome Geeky Cooking Hacks, this second installment in the “Bare Minimum” series (Bare Minimum Packing was last Friday) is about cooking. Here I’ll summarize some of the best “hacks,” share my fanciest hostel/camping/road trip dinner recipe and give you a cookbook created specifically for backpackers.

Cook in Your Hotel

We have a lot of appliances in our lives. Appliances that are purportedly for one purpose but can be used for others. Appliances that are in our hotel rooms and create heat. Use these creatively and you’ll have a cheap and (sometimes) healthy meal.

Cooking with an Iron

Bacon and Eggs: The video shows how to make bacon and eggs using tin foil and an iron. Essentially, you wrap the bacon very well in the tin foil to avoid any grease escaping and iron the bacon. Then make a mini pot out of the tin foil. Turn the iron so that the flat part is up and place the tin foil pot on it. Add a bit of water and poach your egg in the pot. Serve on a plate made of tin foil and you have bacon and eggs.

Grilled Sandwiches: Simply make the sandwich and iron. As a courtesy, I would place it between two pieces of tin foil first.

Coffee Maker Magic

Porridge / Oatmeal: No matter what you call it or what you put in it, I don’t like it. But many do so I offer you this simple prep method. Pour a package of instant porridge into the coffee pot. Add dried fruit and maybe an herbal tea bag if you want. Add the requisite amount of water to the coffee maker and let it do its think. Once the hot water is in the pot, stir well. Add nuts or seeds for protein.

Chicken Pesto – Put a piece of tin foil on the base of the coffee maker and grill the chicken until the center is no longer pink. Boil the pasta in the coffee maker. (I can only image that this would take some time as coffee doesn’t really boil.) Chop basil, garlic and nuts of  your choice. Add a bit of oil and Parmesan. Add the pesto and chicken to the pasta. (As a courtesy to the next traveler, clean the pot out well.)

Recipe for the Road

My son taught me how to cook risotto but I’m the one that made it my go-to recipe for the road. It takes time to cook so it’s not an everyday dish. But, because it takes time it lends itself to social cooking. The first time I did this was in a VW Pop-up camper – glass of wine in hand, entertaining guests.

You need one medium sized pot.


  •  1 cup Arborio rice
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 quart/litre good quality chicken stock
  • 750 ml white wine (a bottle)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup chopped smoked sausage
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley (this is important as it cuts this rich dish with freshness)


  1. Pour a couple of tablespoons of oil into the pot and heat on medium high.
  2. Add rice and sausage and stir for three minutes.
  3. Add a half cup of stock and stir until it is absorbed by the rice.
  4. Add a half cup of wine and stir until it’s absorbed by the rice.
  5. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until the rice is tender (don’t let it go mushy).
  6. Stir in Parmesan, butter and parsley.
  7. Serve (yum!)

hostel cookbookBackpacker’s Recipes

Developed by, this little cookbook offers 10 tried and true recipes with less than 5 ingredients and less than 5 steps.

Simple and delicious, these recipes are particularly good for hostels.

Click on the link below to download it free.

Backpacker Recipe Guide



And now, the video that inspired it all.

  • Steven

    Thanks for the clear and concise instructions!

    If i may add a suggestion for pasta: I have made quite a bit of pasta on the run with a thermos water and electric kettle, and it comes out well enough.

    You need to boil plenty of water, then rinse the thermos with the hot water (or let it sit for a few minutes) to avoid cooling the cooking water.

    Then put the past in (u might need to break it in half in some thermos), add salt and whatever spices u like. Then fill the thermos up with boiling water, seal tight and let it rest on its side for ~10 minutes.

    You might want to shake it once in a while since the pasta can get stuck together.

    Then pour out the water thru the nozzle, open and eat!!!

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  • Anonymous

    I just saw this video!  Love it!  I will have to try your risotto recipe.

  • Matthew Russell Oates

    Some great tips, I’d have never thought about cooking bacon using an iron! :)