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ADV PreppingRoadside Cooking Hacks From The Motorcycle Overlanding Pros

Roadside Cooking Hacks From The Motorcycle Overlanding Pros

Useful tricks for overland motorcycle travelers cooking on the road.

Published on 07.21.2017

If you’re on a long overland journey by motorcycle, chances are you’re going to have to cook your own meals – a lot! Either to help your budget, to avoid dining on sheep testicles and iguana steaks in exotic lands, or to feed yourself in faraway places where no restaurants are available, cooking on the road will be inevitable.

But it’s not always easy: in very remote regions, food is often scarce (and seriously bland!). If you’re riding a bike, you don’t have a lot of space – and you probably aren’t carrying a mini-fridge, so food has to keep. Finally, nutrition on the road is as important as ever: you want to feel energized and focused when you’re riding.

With the help of Lisa Thomas, author of “Dirty Dining: an Adventurer’s Cook Book”, and Emma Fry, a traveling health coach, we compiled a list of useful roadside cooking hacks and tips to help you rough it resourcefully while you are having the adventure of your life.

Kitchen Duties

Cooking Hacks: Lisa Thomas prepares a meal on the road.
Cooking on the road has its challenges, but with a few simple tips, any rider can become a mobile kitchen virtuoso.


Fritos On Fire
Emma: Use corn chips as kindling to get your fire started! I was taught this by the ‘Policia’ years ago while riding up through Mexico: a handful of corn chips are perfect to use as a fire-starting kindling substitute.

Smack That Garlic
Lisa: Peeling garlic can be a sticky job, especially if you lack water with which to wash your hands and don’t carry one of those fancy silicone garlic peelers! I smack the garlic clove with the flat side of my larger cutting knife and the skin just peels off easily without you having to pick at it.

Wet Wipes To The Rescue
Lisa: Wet wipes are a great anti-bacterial way of cleaning knives, forks, bowls and plates when water is scarce and you don’t want to take the smell of food into your bike, which may attract animals.

Salt Scrub
Lisa: I don’t carry dishwashing soap with me (it’s almost impossible to rinse off properly without wasting valuable water): I use a salt scrub to remove stuck on food.

Intensify Flavors!

Cooking Hacks: Lisa Thomas curry recipe from her book 'Dirty Dining'
Lisa’s roadside cooking tips and tricks from her book ‘Dirty Dining’ are a must for long-distance traveling adventure riders: ingenious food preparation, storage and easy-to-cook recipes will save your budget and your palate on the road.

What Goes In First Matters
Lisa: If I am using ground spices in the meal (as I usually do!) then I cook them for a minute or two in a little olive oil before adding any liquid or meat into the pan. This intensifies their flavor. A prime example of this is my chicken curry recipe in “Dirty Dining”. My own favorite spices are smoked paprika, any kind of dried chillies (preferably whole) but if unavailable ground powdered chilli is ok. I do the same with ‘hardy herbs’ (rosemary, oregano, sage etc.), by adding them in early on in the cooking ¬process as it maximizes their flavor.

Emma: Focus on making one pot meals because all the flavors get a chance to infuse and sit together for a while which makes for a far tastier roadside meal than a couple of separate things pan fried or boiled.

Get That Extra Oomph!
Lisa: Turmeric is not usually in my ‘basic’ list of spices, however, if you can find it on your travels (easily found in many countries and becoming much more popular in the USA these days) it’s very versatile. I love adding this to plain rice or couscous or to vegetable dishes for that added ‘oomph.’ Turmeric makes boring items look that much more edible too!


Cooking Hacks: Staying organized on the road.
Pack smart. It can make cooking and disposal more convenient and can keep your food clear of contaminants such as motorcycle fumes.

Go Small
Lisa: Carry mini cans of vegetables, tomatoes, and so on: you don’t need the bulk of the larger cans and once opened they are not easily transported and end up just being wasted.

Seek Transparency
Emma: For packing food and cooking equipment, using clear plastic containers will save tons of time and hassle when trying to find supplies but before you even get started, think carefully about taste, nutrition and availability of water as the answer to those three things will influence what you need to pack.

Avoid Gas Sandwiches
Emma: I usually store food in a completely separate pack so not to risk any kind of leaks or spills as you don’t want to end up in the middle of the Atacama desert to find that three days’ worth of food has a vague but real taste of gas (yes, it happened to me!)

Bring A Flask
Emma: A stainless-steel flask is perfect for storing perishable items whilst on the road and is double purpose because if you have leftover coffee or milk after breakfast, you’ve got somewhere for it to go.

Avoid Food Poisoning!

Lisa Thomas motorcycle camp cooking hacks
While it’s probably impossible to protect yourself from food poisoning absolutely all the time, taking precaution is always a good idea, no matter where you are.

Lime Juice Is Your Friend
Emma: Lime juice is also known to kill bacteria so a quick squeeze of lime is always a good addition to any meal when you’re on the road.

Clean Prepping
Lisa: I am quite paranoid about keeping my hands and the utensils I use clean, so I use any kind of anti-bacterial wipes or hand gel when preparing my own food.

Where Are The Locals?
Lisa: If eating ‘out’…we usually eat where the locals are eating, and we look out for the busiest place. If it’s full of locals or truck drivers, this is the place to be!

Smart Moto Travel Foods

Cooking Hacks: Riding on the roads of Baja.
During motorcycle adventures, look for foods that not only travel well but that also provide your body the fuel it needs.

Nutritious And Tough
Lisa: Pineapples! Pineapples contain a digestive enzyme which helps your body breakdown protein faster and they are a good source of vitamin C and fiber. Once again easy to buy from food stalls and they are hardy and won’t bruise easily when you carry them on the back of your motorbike.

Mamma Mia
Lisa: Pasta such as spaghetti is easy to pack and not bulky, it’s high in carbs therefore provides you with more energy.

Go Nutty
Lisa: As a quick snack on the go, raw nuts and seeds such as cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds are easy to carry and nibble on during the day. These really help with keeping your energy levels up.

Spice It Up
Emma: Three great spices to always carry with you: cumin (great for digestion), turmeric (inflammatory and antioxidant) and cayenne pepper (great for gut health).

Cramp Busters
Lisa: I love bananas and they are full of good nutrients, carbs and fiber but more especially they are high in potassium. Potassium can help reduce muscle cramps and improves blood pressure levels. In most parts of the world bananas and plantains are available at the roadside. Keep in mind though, they are not the best to carry individually as they bruise quickly. They are much better to buy a whole bunch of them.

Remote Area? Go Back To Your Roots
Lisa: Root vegetables are good in these instances as they keep for longer and don’t bruise. Most root vegetables are very healthy and nutritious and easily made into a stew or side to fish, meat, poultry

Sweet Honey
Lisa: Honey, in my opinion, is definitely a healthier choice when compared to highly refined white sugar or sweeteners. It’s also able to last almost indefinitely without any kind or refrigeration and doesn’t deteriorate in heat. It will never ‘go bad’ (a definite plus when riding a motorcycle around the world!) but it can crystallize, although with a little warming, it easily de-crystallizes. There is no way I could travel without carrying honey. It can be added to anything, meat, fruit, drinks in order to sweeten or tenderize or just to make something bad taste a whole lot better!

Expert Bios

Lisa ThomasLisa Thomas, a former health and fitness professional, is the world’s foremost female adventurer rider, having ridden 450,000 miles through 78 countries and across six continents. Currently riding North America with her husband Simon, Lisa has recently published her cookbook, “Dirty Dining”.

Emma FryEmma Fry is a traveling health coach, storyteller on two wheels, host of the podcast ‘Some Day’ to ‘Nailed It’ and founder of the health and wellness company Her thirst for adventure always keeps her on the move. She is currently exploring Central America on two wheels.

Photos by Simon Thomas

Author: Egle Gerulaityte

Riding around the world extra slowly and not taking it too seriously, Egle is always on the lookout for interesting stories. Editor of the Women ADV Riders magazine, she focuses on ordinary people doing extraordinary things and hopes to bring travel inspiration to all two-wheeled maniacs out there.

Author: Egle Gerulaityte

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July 21, 2017 12:24 pm

Thank You for this story, a delightful tale of cookery.

Scott Wulforst
Scott Wulforst
July 23, 2017 9:11 am

Great read! Thanks for the tips.

July 28, 2017 6:39 am

This article is a great and so are the women that wrote it, thank you for sharing.

November 13, 2017 11:23 am

Nicely written. Solid information without a bunch of flowery prose.


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