Kitchens vary from one hostel to the next, but the general rule is that you absolutely must check out the facilities before you make any grand plans to cook anything, because at some places, even assuming that there’s going to be a working tin opener can be a huge mistake.
Let’s start with the good! Some backpacker hostels have simply lovely kitchens, with separate kitchen work spaces each equipped with everything you could possibly need (think Great British Bake Off) so that lots of backpackers can cook harmoniously at the same time without getting in each others way.
At the other end of the scale, some hostels may only have one frying pan, which isn’t very helpful if the last person who used it has left burnt rice welded to the bottom of it, and left it in the sink filled with water that is now dirty and cold. Some of the kitchens and utensils look so old and dirty that you will never visit the kitchen again after the first inspection and instead spend the duration of your stay dining out at local restaurants and takeaways and picnicking on ham and tomatoes from the nearest supermarket.
Some hostels make you pay a $10 deposit for a plate, mug and some cutlery, and further dollars are required for pots, pans and stirring implements – that can be a lot of dollars if you’re planning on creating a huge roast dinner with all the trimmings.
Some hostels demand that you wash up everything you have used before you sit down to eat, which helps out the next person, but means your dinner might be a bit cold if you’ve used an excessive amount of pans.
There is usually a free shelf where you can help yourself to things that other backpackers have left behind, it is also a good place to leave all the aforementioned surprise gifts that other backpackers leave on your pillow.