6 Hostel Kitchen Rules To Follow

Written by: Chris Richardson

Cooking in a hostel kitchen is what some might call a bit of an experience. You never know how well set up the kitchen will be or how much room there is. Nor do you know the state it’s been left in by others staying in the hostel. And perhaps worst of all, can anybody even cook in the first place?

To help you navigate the joys of hostel cooking, I’ve put together these six hostel kitchen rules to follow next time you find yourself planning to use the kitchen. Look at them as good etiquette to follow.

1. Always Clean Up After Yourself

As a courtesy to everyone else looking to use the kitchen. Once you’ve prepared and eaten your meal, clean up straight after. Where possible, before eating, move your dirty pots and pans out of the way and rinse them if you can.

And by clean up, that means washing and drying the dishes and wiping down any surfaces you use. Not everyone is as clean as you should be. So it can’t hurt to wash some of the items before you use them if you aren’t sure how clean they are.

It’s not always the case, but I found the hostel kitchen can get rather busy around meal time. The longer you travel or if your budget is short on funds, the more often you cook in the hostel kitchen. Not forgetting that cooking is a great way to make friends in a hostel.

The less in the way you are to others, the better the flow is in the usually small kitchens. Most kitchens also don’t have a lot of cooking pans etc. So another great idea, if you plan to cook multiple days in a row, get together with someone else to cook meals.

It’s cheaper that way, and you end up making less mess, and with two or more to clean up, it’s done faster too.

Making a mess in a hostel kitchen

2. Label Your Food

If something is going to get stolen from a hostel, it’s almost always going to be food first. People come home late from being out and are hungry. So they’ll raid whatever they can find and not care one bit.

You can reduce that issue by labelling your food items in the fridge. It won’t stop it, but for those with a conscious, it might deter them.

Another extra tip is to put all your food in a bag first and then in the fridge. When your food can’t be easily seen and has to be taken out of a bag, it’s also an extra step for people to steal your food. It reinforces that the food is somebody else’s as it’s in something and not just sitting on the shelf.

When you put your food in the fridge or cupboard for later, don’t take up all the space. You won’t be the only one cooking or needing storage.

3. Don’t Eat Other People’s Food

If you didn’t buy the food, don’t eat it. Unless the hostel provides a free bowl of fruit or food, it’s not to be eaten.

Some of the really good hostels have bread, fruit and a few other small things for you to take at any time. It’s not a meal, but it can be a great snack to get you through between meals.

And again, if you didn’t buy the food, if it has someone’s name on it or even looks like somebody else put it there, it’s not yours. So don’t eat it.

4. Be Aware Of What You Cook

You might love to cook fish or some other smelly meal, but not everyone in the hostel will want to smell it. When picking a meal to cook, aim for simple and mild smells.

Think pasta, noodles, sandwiches, and frozen pizzas you can heat up. Anything that’s going to taste good but not going to leave a smell that lingers right through the whole hostel.

If you plan to cook up a bigger meal, see if you can involve others, so it becomes more of a group event. This can lessen the offence to big smells.

Another good hostel kitchen rule is to be mindful of anybody that might have allergies or food aversions. I don’t expect you to check with everyone before you cook. But be aware of common allergens like nuts and those who prefer not to eat meats.

5. Only Cook Around Meal Times

Sleeping in a hostel can be difficult at the best of times for some. So nobody needs you cooking up a midnight snack after a night out or just because. If you know you’ll be hungry when you get home, grab something on the way or have a dry snack labelled in the kitchen you can just open and eat.

The smells, the noise, and the likely mess you’ll forget to clean up from cooking in the kitchen so late (that the staff will have to deal with in the morning) won’t be worth it.

Cooking in a hostel kitchen

6. Free Food

If at the end of your stay in the hostel, you may find you have leftover food. Label it as free or put it in a free food box. Most hostels group together leftover food for others to use. If you aren’t sure, ask the staff, so it’s put in the right place and not left in the fridge to go bad and stink it out.

Anything you can do to avoid food waste and help another guest of the hostel that might be low on funds is a great gesture.

You can also ask the people in your dorm room first if they need it as well.

Keeping the kitchen clean and tidy saves staff extra work, can save you money, opens you up to making friends and is just a nice break from always getting something while you are out and about.

Remember to clean your area when done, don’t leave food to go bad and never steal food from others.

If the kitchen is left dirty, you may end up with a stomach bug, and there’s nothing worse than being ill in a hostel and having to run to the toilet, let me tell you.

These might seem like obvious kitchen rules to follow, but you never know, so always be mindful and enjoy your hostel stay.