I’m not beating about the bush – we don’t eat as varied as at home. It’s difficult to buy various foods when we don’t stay at a place more than a week the most and we don’t want to carry millions of containers and extra weight in our backpack. Also, since we are on a budget, eating as cheap as possible is also a very important factor. In this post we give some tips on eating healthy while travelling.

Healthy eating while travelling

Here’s our advice to every traveller in South America on a shoestring on how to keep a cheap and healthy diet:

  1. Try to keep the same number of meals per day as at home to avoid having stomach aches because of overeating. It’s not always possible and one has to be flexible on a trip. We eat at least 3 times a day.
  2. Cook as much as possible to lower costs. For us cooking is also a good way of keeping our vegetarian diet easily.
  3. Shop right outside of markets. Those street sellers around the market hall sell the cheapest, since they are not renting any stall. Vendors at the market are still cheaper, than the supermarket.
  4. Get a food container, fork + knife and take your cooked/prepared food with you for the day, and eat whenever you get hungry. If you travel in South America outside of winter, the weather allows you to picnic outside.
  5. When you arrive to a new city, stop by at a supermarket to buy the ingredients that you’ll cook/prepare at home (aka your Couchsurfer’s home or hostel) during your stay. So you have enough time to eat the food you buy.
  6. Buy that kind of “bigger” food items (that you’ll use more times, like rice or pasta) that doesn’t need to be refrigerated, so it can travel with you to the next place you go.
Lunch box with a view in Aconcagua Argentina
Healthy lunch in the mountains: Aconcagua Provincial Park base camp

Shopping list for a healthy eating while traveling

These food items are on our shopping list for eating healthy while travelling.

    • Salad (eg. iceberg or ruccola)
    • Chickpeas or lentils
    • Tomatoes
    • Cucumber
    • Eggs
    • Bread
    • Cheese or cream spread for the bread
    • A big bag of drinking yoghurt or juice
    • Some other vegetables to cook, eg. zucchini, squash, bell pepper
    • Pasta (integral) or rice (integral or with spinach)
  • Fruits: banana, apple or pear, mango or pineapple in Brazil (it’s very cheap there), sometimes nuts

Healthy eating while travelling: meal plan

We plan our meals something like this:

Breakfast: We start our morning with a hearty breakfast that is our best meal of the day. It always contains a salad and often eggs (poached, fried or scrambled) with bread. After the savoury part comes another piece of bread with marmalade and a glass of yoghurt or juice.

Lunch: We always take food with us for the day that we cooked the night before. It usually consists of pasta or rice with fried vegetables. Oil and spices luckily are always available at couchsurfing hosts and in hostels.

Dinner: And now comes the fatty part! For this smaller meal we always buy some cake or bakery goods (bolo, factura) or empanadas. They are cheap, widely available and fill that little gap 🙂

Snack: For snack we eat fruit, nuts or ice cream!

We are always up for trying local specialities, let it be ready food or ingredients. Check out our posts about our favourite South American food items that we discovered during our trip.

Square with benches Cordoba Argentina
Our favourite picnic place: a square with a nice view. This one is Plaza San Martin in Córdoba, Argentina.

Do you have any other tip on how to stay healthy on a long trip? Share your experience with us in the comments section!

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Who am I?

Anna is a world citizen, an avid traveller, a passionate environmentalist and a digital nomad. Writing about her year backpacking through South America, she tries to encourage everyone to discover this beautiful continent as a traveller or a digital nomad and pass on her love for responsible travel.

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  1. Ces 2 paires de lunettes vertes qui vous suivent et accompagnent vos articles, certaines photos…. he bien figurez-vous qu`on s´y attache…..un joli lien !!

    1. We love sharing practices and ideas with fellow travelers, it was great to read about your choices! Thanks for your comment, April and happy healthy eating traveling 🙂

  2. Excellent tips! It’s so hard to eat healthy on the go. You don’t know what type of food you find, if it’s to your standards your system is up-side down from the jet lag… Making your own food, especially if one has any diet restrictions, is always a good idea after trying the local delicacies on a longer trip.

    1. Let’s add that if you manage to meet locals during your travel (eg. through Couchsurfing or volunteering), you can cook all together, maybe a local speciality. Isn’t that the best immersion? Thanks for your visit, Slavka!

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