How To Make Market Meals

In This Post: How to make meals and snacks with fresh fruits and vegetables from the local market in any country. Stay in budget AND stay healthy!

I’ve written about eating before, and if you’ve read my site at all you know I am perhaps more flexible and disinclined to eat out all the time than some other travelers. That being said, I think for anyone who is on the go for months or years, eating out gets old and sometimes, you just want to eat some vegetables. It’s also cheaper to make some snacks or meals on your own.

Personally I’m pretty thrilled to not cook for months, but struggle with the fact that meals like “vegetable fried rice” aren’t always so…vegetabley. More often than not, I simply want to supplement my meals with some healthy items and/or attempt to avoid malnutrition.

Whatever your goal, making meals from the market can be confusing (or so I’ve been told), especially if you don’t have a kitchen or place to cook. But it’s actually extremely easy. Below I share a few of my go-to market meals for health, value, and delicious eating. Some of them look questionable, but I assure you they taste good.


Market Meals: How To Know What To Buy

It’s easy! Whatever you want. I got some questions on how I know where the market is (ask or look at the map), how I know the price of the vegetables (ask the vendor, read the sign, or watch someone else pay before you), or how to know what to do inside (umm…buy food?). While seasoned travelers don’t ask me this, if you’re entering a super-busy wet market for the first time I get it – it can be very overwhelming.

All I can say is it’s not as scary as it looks. Yes, stacks of fruits thousands of fruits on the filthy ground can be intimidating. Yes people speaking no English and jockeying for position among mountains of carrots can be intimidating. No, it shouldn’t stop you. Buying at the market is the easiest and cheapest way to get what you need. Just be sure to get to the local market or wet market – the tourist-focused stalls in the main tourist areas will be several times more expensive for the same exact food. It still seems cheap to you, but I assure you it’s a rip off. 

Market Meals: Photo Gallery

All meals were about $.50 – $1 US – very very cheap.

Fresh Fruits

As easy as it sounds! Fresh fruits are a great addition to any meal, or will suffice as a meal on their own. They add some nutrition and are easy to eat on the go. Bananas especially are good for those concerned about fruits you have to wash.

Local Fruits Paired With Pastry

Many places have rice, bread, donuts, other local not-so-healthy sweets or dough-based items in the AM. Sometimes hostels offer up bread and nothing much else. I try to pair these with fruits when possible to make it a meal. Or just make it slightly more “balanced.”

Vegetables & Rice

One of my favorite meal combos is fresh veggies and local rice. Rice is cheap and available, but lacks the nutrition necessary. From Indonesia to the Philippines to South America, I buy some veggies, buy a sleeve of rice, then make my own little meal. Even grab rice with egg if you are feeling creative. The total price will definitely be less than a dollar.

Veggies Straight

You’re not supposed to eat raw vegetables in some countries, nor wash them, say the travel guides. I disregard this and eat raw vegetables daily, no matter my location. I have not died yet. If you’re worried you can always throw it into the microwave or on the stove for a second to kill any germs. I also like to add salt or oatmeal pieces to spruce the veggies up. My “go to” is sliced cucumbers & tomatoes.

Unknown Local Items

I’ll often buy random unknown items in the morning. If i don’t like it, it’s generally no more than 25 cents, maybe 50, so no big loss here. This applies to random rice treats, pastries, candies, hot foods being fried on carts, strange fruits I’ve never seen. These are often available in markets.