We've talked to ILP volunteers and gotten their recommendations!
No matter where you are in the world, you'll probably end up wanting something from home after a while. Of course you'll find the things you love about the local dishes, but there's something about eating your favorites after a couple of months of unfamiliar dishes. (Plus it can help you save money — bringing your own snacks means you won't have to pay high prices to eat at American chains).
Thinking about going abroad?
Here's how to pay less for your semester abroad.
Especially when you'll be abroad for a whole semester, you'll want quite a few treats from home stashed away in your suitcases. And to make sure they don't take up too much space (or weight) here are our favorite light-weight comfort foods to pack up:
Instant oatmeal is a great thing to bring. It's light but fills you up, meaning you can grab a packet for breakfast, lunch or dinner (or dessert ... if you add some fruit). Remember, all ILP volunteers will have 3 meals a day taken care of, but there will be time when you'll want to skip out on tacos, curry, stir fry, or soup and have something from home, like oatmeal. The individual packets make them really easy to fit into any suitcase, even if you're packing everything in a carry on.
Another something most volunteers suggest you bring from home — items like Goldfish Crackers or Cheese Its are something you'll crave (and typically can't find in-country).
Instant Mac And Cheese
It really doesn't get more like home than this; these little cups of cheese-y goodness will help you get through the hard days of culture shock. One ILP volunteer bought a huge pack of just the cheese powder (you can get a pound of it on Amazon) and then shopped for the rest of the ingredients in-country. This particular powder is a "just add water" mix, so you just need to find pasta (which can be found in some form, pretty much anywhere). That way, you have a pretty unlimited supply. Genius.
Oh, as a heads up, that's an affiliate link for your convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link, we earn a small commission). Just know that we only share products that we ourselves have used and loved, that other volunteers have recommended, or that we think just look like they'd be pretty useful! Like we said, having an unlimited supply of Mac and Cheese sounds pretty useful if you're going to be traveling abroad for an entire semester.
Mix Ins For Your Water
Almost every ILP volunteer mentions bringing flavored mix-ins for your water. Things like Crystal Light packets and other are a must— you'll want to be drinking lots of water to stay hydrated, and these mixes taste like home and mix up the flavor of the water you're drinking. It's a win-win.
Maybe you'll fall in love with the chocolate in Europe but still crave something more familiar for dessert. These instant pudding packets couldn't be easier to make Just add milk and chill, and you're set. They're easy to make no matter where you're volunteering.
Not into pudding? Take some Jell-O. This sweet treat is even easier to make up, because all you need is water. Another huge perk of this comfort food? It's not a dessert found in many cultures so it could be a fun treat to share with some of your local friends.
Instant Mashed Potatoes
Maybe you're a mashed potato purist and would never eat the instant kind ... but believe me, they taste 100 times better when you're living abroad. Another one that's really easy to whip up, is filling, and taste just like home.
Your Favorite Seasonings
Other countries season their food differently ... sometimes it might feel like there are zero seasonings at all. If you think you'd love a bit of a kick, pack up your favorite seasonings, like cumin, red chili flakes, garlic salt, seasoning salt, etc.
Breakfast might be a bowl of porridge; maybe barley if you'll be one of the volunteers living in Eastern Europe or a bowl of rice porridge if you'll be living in Asia for a semester. A little sprinkle of cinnamon can really make a difference.
Hot Chocolate Mix
A lifesaver for cold evenings no matter where you're volunteering. Even in the hot and humid countries there will be some rainy nights where it'll feel cooler than you're used to, and you may have quite the craving for hot chocolate.
Just Add Water Mixes
At the store, you can find just add water mixes for everything — pancakes, cupcakes, cookies, muffins, cakes ... you name it. These are lightweight and easy to pack (and delicious). You'll want to double check that you have access to an oven, toaster oven, or even a microwave so you have somewhere to cook these up.
Thinking about traveling abroad?
A whole semester of new food, new friends, new cities and new adventures ... Sounds pretty rad, right? Come teach English abroad with International Language Programs. We have programs in countries all over the world and you don't need any teaching experience to volunteer with us.
Get more info by chatting with an ILP rep!