Is it possible to whip up some easy healthy meals during your New Zealand working holiday? If you have not been cooking back at home and are embarking on a working holiday all by yourself, some of the questions you may have are:

“Can I survive my working holiday without cooking?”

“Is there some easy hacks to cook something apart from instant food?”

“What if New Zealand does not have the ingredients that I’m familiar with?”

“Would my accommodation have all the cooking appliances that I need?”

Fret not because I’ll be sharing some really simple yet healthy meals that I’ve been cooking throughout my time in New Zealand. You don’t have to worry about having limited cooking appliances where you are staying at. All you need would be a microwave, pan or an oven, for which most accommodations in New Zealand should have.

Also, the ideas or recipes that I’ll be sharing uses ingredients that are easily available there too. It’s also very manageable for beginners especially if you’re cooking for the first time!

14 Housemates and 1 Kitchen

One of the biggest problems I faced during my working holiday was waiting for my turn in the kitchen. I stay in a house with 14 housemates but we only had one kitchen. It was only considerate that we cook fast when it’s our turn so someone else can use it quickly! Hence, be rest assured that those options I’ll be sharing are not only delicious but also really quick recipes too!

Easy Food Ideas and Recipes:

These are some of my all-time favorite easy healthy meals in New Zealand. Although I’m not a picky or fancy eater, I like variety in my food. Having healthy options and also occassional indulgences is also a huge plus. Hopefully you’ll find that these options I’ve listed here are suitable for you too. Mix and match the options and that should give you enough permutations for a different menu for two weeks straight.

1. Breakfast options

What’s a better way to start your day than to have a great breakfast before embarking on your day-long hike in New Zealand or a physically demanding work day? These are some options that uses ingredients widely available in New Zealand for you to kickstart your day.

2. Filling Lunch Recipes

As I was working in the packhouse or in fields, lunch had to be really quick and well packed. We were fortunate to have a microwave while working in the packhouse to heat up our packed lunches. However, when you’re out in the middle of the fields, you can already be thankful if you’re eating your lunch without some dirt in it. There’s also no microwave oven or refrigerator in the middle of the field too, so make sure you select food options that are able to withstand at least 4 to 6 hours in the open and still taste good then.

Pro-tip: Use aluminium foil to wrap your food up if you want to keep it warm longer.

  • Stir-fried pasta – Bascially you can add in anything you want to in this recipe. You can replace the chicken breast with sliced beef or lamb and even ham or sausage. You can also use other vegetables apart from capsicums and broccoli. However, these are one of the main vegetables you’ll find in New Zealand supermarkets that has a longer than usual shelf span. So that can save you some time in grocery shopping.
  • Club sandwiches – This is another simple yet filling option for lunch anywhere. You can bring it up on a day hike too. Mix and match various types of bread or wrap, cheeses, meat cuts or even sausages. Add an egg, add mushrooms or even replace the mayonnaise with cream cheese etc. Go for a healthier option by going with chicken breasts and adding more lettuce and tomatoes to it!
  • Mashed potatoes – This is something that’s easy to cook and can be the carbohydrate you need for any meal. You can cook this in bulk for at least three meals, and it’s best for to-go meals since you don’t necessarily need to heat this up for it to taste good.

3. Healthy Dinner Meals

At the end of a long day, all you want may be just to rest your tired body and have a quick fix to your meal. Here are some of my top choices for simple and healthy meals suitable for dinner that you can easily make in New Zealand!

  • Greens – I like to stir-fry my vegetables (i.e. any leafy greens), or if you’re pressed for time, you can choose to microwave your Broccoli or roast some Capsicums in the oven. These are widely available in supermarkets in New Zealand.
  • Pan-fried meat (chicken, lamb, steak etc) – Simply just grill a piece of meat and boil some vegetables on the side to go with the mashed potatoes above under the Lunch section. There you get your full balanced meal in less than ten minutes!
  • Tomato stir-fried eggs – One of my daily favorites! This is a really quick recipe that is healthy too. It can be the main dish for the night if you don’t have the energy to cook, otherwise, just prepare a smaller portion and it can be a side of whatever main you’re having.
  • ABC Soup – My favorite Asian fix. I don’t know about you, but having soup at the end of a long day really makes me feel so relaxed and comfortable. This soup is one of the easiest to make and for which New Zealand has all the ingredients you need. It takes 30 to 45 minutes so I usually prepare it before a shower and it would be ready once I’m done!

4. Occassional Dessert indulgences

Time for that indulgence when you have some extra time in your day because of a rest day from work, or cancelled plans from bad weather. Dessert always seem to be difficult to make but these are simple enough with minimal ingredients needed. Try them out:

  • One Minute chocolate recipes: You can try out the Microwave Brownie or the Chocolate Chip Cookie. One of the easy few recipe for that occassional indulgence
  • Chinese Mochi with sweet peanut bits: We spent Chinese New Year in New Zealand and had a reunion dinner with our fellow Asian housemates. The Singaporeans in the house made this dessert then and it was surprisingly good despite it being our first time at it! Try making your version too and you’ll be surprised at your own undiscovered talent!
  • Steamed Eggs with Milk: I personally never had a chance to try this but if you’re keen to explore making something with the huge eggs in New Zealand, why not try this?

Must-haves to cook a proper meal

The thing about a good meal is always the condiments! So here you are at the supermarket with all your ingredients to try out the above recipes. However, what condiments do you need? Do you need everything you see on the shelves? It’s important to only buy what is necessary as you may not want to end up with too much that does not fit into your luggage as you are always on the move.

Here are some of the must-haves that I use nearly in every meal:

  • Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Asian Oyster sauce (This is more available at Asian supermarkets at a cheaper price. However if you don’t mind, you should be able to get them at major supermarkets too!)

With that, I hope you enjoyed what I’ve shared on preparing these easy and healthy meals during your New Zealand working holiday! Let me know which recipe is your favorite 🙂

Lastly, do check out my Summary of All You Need to Know about your Working Holiday in New Zealand if you’re preparing to embark on yours soon!

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