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Simple food ideas for the budget but health-conscious traveller

Lalitha Mahaadevan

Couple of years ago, even before Pixie and I decided to spread Wanderlust through Happiness Factory, she asked me a question. “What do you eat while travelling Earth?”

What’s travel without good food! Your travel experiences inevitably improve when you take better care of yourself, right? Though it all sounds great, I have to admit that there have been times when I have not fed myself properly, and had to learn healthy food habits the hard way! Since I’ve gone anti-plastic, I refrain from buying any packed food during my 15+ hour long bus journeys. Which leaves me with only two options:

1) Packing food in the snacks box that I carry along

2) Waiting until the driver stops at a decent dabba/ local restaurant

In most cases you will be able to judge the quality of food served in restaurants as soon as you spot them! The cleanliness of the place, the person who cooks it and the smile with which they serve are all you need to look out for. ;) in case any of this is missing, simply bless the place, the server and the food before eating it. Trust me, food knows when you love it!

Since I have mostly travelled around remote regions in India, I am always happy to eat at the tiny local restaurants. If you are someone who wants to save money, stay healthy or simply experiment, these ideas are for you!

Eat what the locals eat!

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? The locals eat food that is grown locally and cooked in a way that is suitable for the local weather and ecological conditions. By opting to eat local, you are automatically tuning in to the local way of life and helping your body adapt better. If you’ve been to Ladakh, you know that most Ladakhis drink ‘Butter tea’. It helps them keep their skin moisturised in the otherwise dry atmosphere. Most tourists and backpackers I met didn’t enjoy it, but its perks are visible especially when you stay longer. Even when in a city, look for locally run cafes/ restaurants. They usually serve the tastiest and healthiest meals. The better option of course, is to stay at a homestay and ensure you eat only from there. You could even ask them to pack food for when you go sightseeing.

The age-old recipe

Buy a packet of multigrain bread from the local store or fresh bread from the bakery. Chop in some veggies from the market and maybe add some cheese/yoghurt. Your sandwich is ready! You could also have it with fresh fruit preserves, especially ones made from locally grown fruit. Otherwise there’s always Peanut butter!

Coffee/ tea

Hot water is easily available everywhere. I wouldn’t recommend carrying plastic, so opt for tea bags and coffee bags available in eco-friendly packaging. And if you’re okay with black tea/ coffee you’re good to go. If you’re travelling along forested areas, there’s a good chance you could find some fresh honey – a great replacement for refined sugar.


I’ve lost count of the number of apricots I have eaten while in Leh, the greenish red apples I used to eat in Himachal, the sweet pineapples in Guwahati, the delicious mangoes in Varkala… the list goes on! Find out what seasonal fruits are available locally and go get them. They’re usually priced less and super delicious. When I run short on money, I usually buy a few bananas to accompany my light breakfast to give me the energy I need for physical activities. The other way is to make yourself a huge bowl of different cut fruits for lunch! ;)

If you want to take it a notch healthier, you could buy some oats from the local store along with some dry fruits and nuts, and mix it with the fruits. In case you don’t have a fire source, simply pour hot water in the oats before adding the fruits.

Packed health mix

A few months ago I discovered the awesome Mannah Health Mix completely made with Indian lentils, seeds and nuts. Almost available in all supermarkets across Chennai, all you gotta do is boil the mixture with hot water/ milk and sugar/ honey/ jaggery. It has all the nutrients required and tastes delicious! I’m sure you could find options similar to this mixture across India and it’s a great way to stay healthy!

Make your own meal!

Whether it is an Airbnb or a backpacker hostel, look for places with a kitchen open to guests. When I stay months together on the road and crave for my own food, I look for places like this. I still remember this one time in Leh when I craved for South Indian food. All I had to do was look for some wheat flour for the batter and locally available tomatoes and onions for the chutney. Of course it didn’t taste like it was made in Tamilnadu, but it was delicious in its own way! Feeding myself my very own food is one of my favourite ways to practice self-love! :) oh and also, if you manage to find a group of other travellers who would want to prepare their own food, you could totally have a full-course meal of cuisines from over the world!

Tip: Keep experimenting! You never know which delicious recipe you will end up discovering!


Author: Lalitha Mahaadevan

A curious soul who quit her job to travel, Lalitha has spent the past 
two years exploring different parts of the world outside along with her own inner world. Apart from running her own travel blog 'Happy Shoes', Lalitha is keenly involved in conversations about Self-Love, Nature and Environment. And is on a quest to spread Good Vibes wherever she goes. You can follow her Journey through Earth on her Instagram and Facebook handles.

For any queries and special travel tips, shoot her a mail at

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