The Cooking Essentials for Traveling

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Because I am not food snob, I promise. Besides, the doctor told me to lighten up on the steak au poivre.
This post originally appeared on Map Happy.

Cooking is one of the biggies that can make a difference when it comes to budget traveling, ignoring the fact it's probably one of those things you probably should keep up anyways for health reasons. Retaining diet control is one of the hardest things about traveling. But there are often creative ways to obtain the basics... by raiding the fast-food joint nearest you.

Now, there's a whole wide world of travel cooking gear and how-tos out there but it's pretty useless if you can't get your mittens on some salt, pepper and oil, so we're gonna start with finding the basics. Besides, I got to get my veggies.

Facilities

There's a reason I prefer booking vacation rentals and hostels over hotels: kitchen access. But how long I spend in the kitchen depends on the amount of time I have on the trip. Clearly, extended stays are the best for cooking but even 4- or 5-day trips are worth it.

Perhaps the easiest meal to self-cater is breakfast, which can be a few pieces of fruit or yogurt. If I'm staying past three days, I'll opt looking into fresh eggs in half-dozen packs (or a dozen if I'm staying for a while) for breakfast and maybe some small pieces of bread from the local bakery.

Condiments

Certain condiments are harder to obtain than others. Salt and pepper are pretty much de facto in any kitchen--though if nothing less than the finest sea salt will do, that's your responsibility--but it's also possible to stalk some salt and pepper packets from... somewhere. There are also several DIY methods available but it's a bit overkill.

Most burger joints will have ketchup, mustard and possibly mayonnaise packets available (I'm not sure whether I should be glad McDonald's has invaded the globe). Depending on the fast food joint, like Taco Bell, for instance, there might be even hot sauce available.

Sugar, by far, is the easiest to swipe. Caffeine addiction is pretty much universal and all it takes is a quick minute inside a coffee shop to stock up on some for a morning coffee at home. Starbucks is finally good for something.

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