Tips for Cooking, Eating & Drinking at Festivals
When heading to a music festival, there are plenty of things to consider - what bands you want to see, which campsite you’re going to pitch up in, whether you can cope without showering for a few days - but one of the most important is what you’re going to eat.
Read more: Your Essential Festival Camping Checklist
There is never any shortage of food at festivals, and pretty much all tastes are catered for, but it’s known for being quite expensive. Our advice would be to take your own food and cook for yourself, particularly in the mornings before the music starts.
Here’s our guide to cooking, eating and drinking at music festivals, and the equipment you need to eat well have a great time.
If you’re going to cook for yourself then you’ll need to pack a portable camping stove. However, it’s essential that you know the festival’s policy on stoves, as not all of them are keen on you taking them, or they require you to take a specific type of stove. All festivals should have their guidelines on their websites, so make sure you read them carefully before you go.
Many festivals say no to gas stoves, but there are others you can try, including:
- Solid fuel / hexi stoves
- Meth stoves
- Firelighter stoves
- Green Base camp cooker
- Heat based camp cooker
- Gel stoves
Some will also allow disposable BBQs onto the campsite. Again, double check with the festival as to which types of stoves they will and won’t allow.
Whichever stove you choose, always use responsibly and safely. Make sure you use it a safe distance away from tents, other camping equipment and people. Don’t leave your stove behind when you go home - either take it with you, or some festivals may have a recycling scheme you can give it to.
Once you have your stove, you’ll also need some camping cookware. Here are some items you’ll probably need over the course of the weekend…
- Frying pan
- Kettle - if you don’t want to boil water in a pan and you can’t live without a cup of tea of coffee
- Plates, cups & bowls
- Cutlery - or a spork!
- Bottle opener & tin opener
- Cloth - to clean cookware with after use
The Outwell Collaps range is excellent as bowls pack flat, while Sea To Summit produce similarly handy products. We’d also recommend taking some plastic bags in which to put rubbish so it doesn’t litter the campsite.
What food to take to a festival
So if you’re going to try and avoid buying too much food when you’re there, what should you take with you? Dried or tinned foods are ideal as they won’t go off if they’re not refrigerated, and they pack relatively small. Be careful
Here is a list of some festival-friendly foods that you can cook with or just pop in your bag to snack on during the day…
- Cereal bars
- Chocolate bars - try and keep cool if possible so they don’t melt
- Cous cous
- Bread - Just take what you think you’ll need or it could go stale and will squash in your pack.
- Travel-size condiments
- Dried meats
- Nuts & seeds
- Tea bags
- Instant coffee
We stock dehydrated foods from brands Wayfayrer and Adventure Food, which are great tasting, relatively healthy and won’t take up much room.
Be wary of taking fruit or vegetables that could bruise easily or get squashed in your bag - if you can keep them safe, bananas are a good slow-release carbohydrate that will keep you going. Likewise, if you want to take meat or dairy products, make sure you use them within the first day or so or they could spoil, particularly if the weather is warm. Avoid reheating foods, particularly meats and rice, as it could give you food poisoning.
You can keep items cool in a cooler box if you have the space for one.
When it comes to what to drink, take a sensible amount with you for the campsite, and try and balance the alcohol with water, particularly if it’s baking hot or you’ll quickly become dehydrated, which could ruin your weekend.
Also, most festivals don’t allow glass, so check your food and drink packaging complies with their guidelines, or you may have it confiscated.
Some festivals will also have an on-site supermarket which will stock most of the essentials, although you may well pay over the odds. If you do buy food from stalls at the arena, double check that it’s well cooked, and if you don’t trust it, then don’t eat it.