When you go to a festival, you will probably have an amazing selection of food trucks and stands to choose from and plenty of variety to keep each meal interesting. You could easily skip cooking for the weekend (which does sound kind of wonderful) but what if you want to save some of that cash for some handmade art or other local goods? Cooking/packing your own food for a festival is much easier than you'd think and will save you tons of money. If you pack some extra to share, you might even make some new friends!
You’re going to be burning a lot more calories than you usually do since you'll be walking around all day, sitting out in the sun, maybe setting up a campsite, dancing, and (although not calorie burning) probably having a few beers if you're of age. It’s a lot of work to have all that fun!
That’s why you'll need need to pack tasty, healthy, and calorie-rich foods that will keep you going strong. It's easy to think that you can survive on granola bars and dried fruit. You might be able to enjoy that convenience for a little while, but at some point your body is going to want some substantial and satisfying food. Don't get hungry and grumpy, just plan ahead! Here are some meal ideas we've tested and had good success with:
To avoid having to pack a bunch of spices and cooking utensils, just pre-cook your meals a day or two before you go to the festival! Think of some favorite foods that would store well without too much mess in a plastic bag or tupperware that you can seal up, freeze, re-heat, and toss into a bowl. Here are some examples:
- Fried rice (with your protein of choice)
- Foil-wrapped burritos (just throw them on a fire or in a pan!)
- Ready to go grilled cheese, just don't forget to bring butter for the pan
- Sauteed veggies with protein of choice
- Bacon! (you will have the most wonderful smelling campsite ever)
2. Packaged snacks
Jerky, chips, granola bars - these things are still good to have but don't rely on them exclusively. Bring stuff that is small and energy dense, preferably with a lot of protein to keep you going. If you don't eat meat (or even if you do!), reach for some soy based jerky, protein bars, nuts, dried fruit, veggie chips, string cheese, and chunky granola.
3. Fruits and veggies
Sometimes you really need an apple or an orange after an intense afternoon in the sun or a late-night dance party. Your immune system will be glad and will help keep you from getting sick (which is a concern when you aren't sleeping a lot and probably don't have access to regular hand washing. Be sure to use hand sanitizer before you eat!). Snacks we love are avocados, peaches, clementines, grapes, lettuce, baby carrots, and mini sweet peppers.
Throw some bread, cheese, lettuce, and deli meats in the cooler and you have plenty of fast meals ready to go. Great for when you don't feel like cooking but still want something substantial. Sandwiches are also great for feeding new friends at your campsite. Make sure to double-bag everything so it doesn't get soggy in the cooler! If you're up for it, grilling sandwiches in a pan is always a good decision.
Easy eats at home, easy eats at the fest. Bring just the bag (i.e, not the big, space-stealing box) of your favorite cereal and a small carton of milk in the cooler. Delicious and quick breakfasts every morning!
Bringing a few cans of soup can make for an easy, hot meal when you really need it. We always pack a few blocks of ramen noodles too.
Based on our experience and based on some generally accepted festival guidelines, we recommend that each person at your campsite brings at least a gallon and a half of water for each day spent at the festival. Some sources say two is a safer bet, especially if you will be in harsher climates. You need to pay special attention to yourself if you are drinking alcoholic beverages since you may feel hydrated but are really not. Be sure to check in with yourself and your camp-mates every few hours to make sure you're all properly hydrated. You don't want to have to leave the fest early because you didn't properly care for yourself.
Even on hot days water can get a little bit boring, so adding coconut water to your cooler is a great thing since it has all natural electrolytes and much less sugar than sports drinks. Almond/soy/rice milk in shelf-stable packaging is also great! Just remember to avoid all drinks packaged in glass containers, since they are most likely not allowed in the festival.
8. Meal planning!
It's easy to go through the store and say "oooh, I like those" like a little kid as you throw every tasty treat into the cart. Festivals are the perfect time to treat yourself, but if you don't plan for how many meals you'll actually be eating, you'll most likely over- or under-pack your food. And no one likes to lug tons of extra food out on the last day, or worse - go hungry and be at the mercy of overpriced vendors.
We hope this post gives you some ideas and makes the task of food-packing a little easier on you. What are your go-to festival snacks?