A silly topic but worth discussing.
Cooking your own food is undoubtedly one of the cheapest ways to eat while traveling. Unfortunately the types of substantial food you can buy are limited if you don’t have a refrigerator at your disposal, or if you’re traveling long distances every day. The obvious choice is to buy pastries for breakfast and cook pasta for dinner. (Lunch can usually be purchased on the go, again cheapest at a market.)
Warning: An all-carbs diet will NOT be pretty. To my horror, I came home noticeably chunkier than when I’d left Barcelona, and that was only 5 weeks of all-carbs. The extra weight didn’t appear until 3 weeks in, but even the 10 hours of walking each day couldn’t counteract the effect.
Back to the topic of this post, here are my pros and cons for buying ramen vs. pasta:
- Pro: Each is individually packaged – no disagreements about portions.
- Con: The packs take up more space in your bag.
- Pro: It’s cheap and quick to cook, excellent if you’re lazy or short on time (college kids can attest to this).
- Con: For the same amount of meals, individual ramen packs can end up costing more than a single bag of dried spaghetti.
- Pro: You can buy different flavors.
- Con: May not be available in all countries.
- Con: Might not be that healthy to eat all the time (if MSG is used).
- Pro: Sauce and flavoring are included so you don’t have to worry about finding or buying some.
- Pro: You can change up the type of noodle you want (spaghetti, linguini, penne…).
- Con: It takes longer to cook.
- Pro: It’s cheaper. One pack of spaghetti (roughly same size as in US, for “8 servings”) probably costs 1-2 euros whereas one pack of ramen may cost 0.6-1 euros.
- Con: It’s hard to have variety once you have made your purchase. ESPECIALLY with sauces. You can’t buy a jar of sauce if you can’t refrigerate it, so what are you left with? Our solution: a bottle of virgin olive oil and a spice for flavor (we chose pepperocini). Neither needs to be refrigerated. Trust me, you WILL need olive oil at the very least! I ate plain pasta for two days and it was a struggle because it was so bland.
- Pro: One pack of dried pasta will take up less space than the equivalent servings of ramen.
- Con: Extra weight in your suitcase from carrying sauce or spice. Make sure to cap the olive oil (etc.) tightly and wrap it in a plastic bag in case it spills while in transit.
- Pro: Every market sells dried pasta.
Winner: pasta. We could increase or decrease portions depending on how hungry we were, and we didn’t have to go to the market as often.
Look forward to: How to Eat on a Budget