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Food preparations for Burning Man

I'm going to Burning Man again this year (can't wait!), but unlike last year my camp will not be providing meals for everyone. I don't even cook for myself at home, let alone have the equipment or know-how to cook for myself in the middle of the desert.

Does anyone have any suggestions for what I can do? I'll have access to a cooler and an unlimited quantity of ice, but I'll have no fire or grill on which I can prepare meals. I'd prefer to not eat protein bars all week :(

Thank you!

Edit: I will be bringing any trash I produce back out with me at the end of the week, so cans and packaging must be at a minimum (preferably eschewed altogether).

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  1. Take:

    1. lots of fruit, especially citrus
    2. granola & UHT packs of milk
    3. cooked stuff in containers: rice and beans; chili; sliced meats; shredded chicken (and sauces for the latter two) and more
    4. raisins, dried fruit, cured meats
    5. Since you don't cook a little CH heresy might be in order: selected canned goods like black beans, chili, ravioli, corn, ...

    Life would get simpler if you also take along a single-burner propane cannister stove, a pot, a knife, a small cutting board. Being able to make rice or pasta would be a plus. A pan for eggs and hash browns. Heating up food would be a plus.

    1. If you like Indian food those Tasty Bite meals are shelf stable, nutritious and very tasty. TJs also sells shelf stable cooked brown rice for a complete meal.
      Nuts, dried fruit, trail mix, jerky.
      Powdered soups and (eeeek!) instant pot noodles
      Lots of Emergen-C sachets
      Corn tortillas have a surprisingly long shelf life
      Cereal, crackers with hard cheese, cookies and other carby goodness
      Some canned stuff is alright - beans, tuna etc

      *edit Just noted that you'll have lots of ice! You can make/buy some prepared foods that keep well, such as couscous salad, quinoa pilaf, pasta/potato salad (no mayo so it keeps longer) and cooked beans, corn etc.

      1 Reply
      1. re: hrhboo

        Tasty Bites and cous cous were the bomb when I went to Burning Man. So easy (just boil in the bag) and clean up was a breeze. Great suggestion. Pull them out of the box when packing and you can fit a lot with little trash for when you do hit the Playa.

        Oops, just realized you'll have no heat. Seriously, get a little single burner stove. Well worth it. If you can handle it cold, Tasty Bites are fully cooked.

      2. Stuff you don't have to chill or heat at all: Trail mix, nuts, and dried fruits in ziplock bags. Beef or turkey jerky. Granola/energy bars. Hard salami sticks.

        You will want lots of water. Bring gallon jugs if possible.

        1. Hey PJ! We are heading to Buring Man for the 1st time this year! We will have an rv, cooler space and cooking surfaces. I see that folks are recommending fruits and cheeses - can they really last out there? I am assuming the Bread will have a shelf life of 20 minutes. In short - what have you eaten in the past??


          1. When I went I took a propane stove and I'd strongly suggest you do the same, even if it's just for warm drinks at night. Also, in addition to the suggestions other posters have made, I'd take a big watermelon, extra granola bars, etc. to share/trade. ;) If you can keep things in coolers and/or the shade, most everything (within reason) will keep just fine.

            1. oh, you are so not Baker Beach Burning Man.

              but that in mind, maybe you could barter shared food or sketches (or um, something) for cooking space ...

              like shiny beads, bottled water, an improvised shiatsu or fake tattoos.

              1. Just fill up the ice chest with Bird's Eye line of Voila skillet type frozen meals. About 1.5 bags per day and you'll be a happy camper.

                All you need is a non stick pan, a heating source and a silicone spatula or spoon. A non stick pan and silicone spoon is for easy clean up. A few of those small green or blue propane canister should be enough for the week. All you do is add a little water to the pan and dump the food in. In 8-10 mins, you'll have a hot meal. A cast iron pan will help with easy cleanup.

                Links for pan and portable burner. Burner stove is also good for boiling water for coffee.

                1. If you decide to get a little stove, maybe you could experiment in your backyard in the weeks beforehand so you are comfortable with it.

                  Or maybe just bring along a propane canister or two and figure that you will find someone there who will let you use theirs and show you how to do it?

                  1. Backpack style freezed dry food works well out there with a little propane stove and water. If you keep the empty bags flat rather than krumple them up, they will take less room to pack out when you leave.

                    1. sorry if I sounded snarky above, but if you truly have an unlimited supply of ice, you'll be the most popular campers in your sector and could easily trade it for fire.

                      or since you're going to be under blazing sun anyway...


                      go green!

                      1. Assuming you will have no cooking heat:

                        Peanut butter (eat it on crackers, cheese, celery, apples, bagels...)
                        Variety of Crackers
                        Hard salami
                        Bagels and cream cheese & preserves
                        Tuna - skip the mayo and squeeze a ton of lemon juice on it instead. You can eat it with crackers and/or a tomato or cuc or on top of greens salad.
                        Veggies cut up and ready to go
                        Apples,oranges...whatever fruit you think will survive nicely
                        or fruit in jars from the produce section. I buy the jars of grapefuit sections and citrus salad to eat with plain yogurt.
                        Cookies or brownies.
                        Prepped salad materials

                        Bring some prepared things from home for the first day or two like really great sub sandwiches or ham salad or egg salad or whatever so you can enjoy that, then you'll move in to the foods that need no prep.

                        With most of this stuff you can control the amount and type of packaging.

                        Hope you have a great time.

                          1. re: WCchopper

                            Between the rind and the seeds, watermelon creates an awful lot of trash. I find that it's never as good an idea as it seems.

                            1. re: escapist

                              but it does decompose (or pickle!)

                              1. re: escapist

                                I love watermelon. I remain a stalwart.

                                1. re: WCchopper

                                  WC: heck yeah (click on my profile icon)

                            2. http://www.burningman.com/preparation...

                              Plat-just in case you haven't read the outfitter for BMan see above.