The first time I went to a festival (Blissfields back in 2011) I think I half filled the car with food and cooking equipment. I seriously overpacked and had no clue on how to do it the easy way. Since then I have been to quite a few festivals and have upped my festival food game each time. Now it is important to remember that festivals these days have incredible food on offer so if cooking by the side of your tent doesn’t appeal well there are lots and lots of options, both healthy and indulgent so you will do just fine. I, however quite like being able to cook meals outdoors and enjoy them tent side whilst also having the occasional meal or snack from a stall and financially it helps me keep to a reasonable budget too.
I have put together a selection of tips and ideas, both from myself and fellow food bloggers to help you plan your festival food for the season ahead. Some will seem obvious but hopefully you will get one or two new ideas along the way.
Freeze everything. Butter, Bacon, Sausages and Milk as well as juices and any bottled drinks freeze well and will keep your cool bag cool without having to add extra bulk with cool packs. I should add that cocktail pouches are especially handy and squish in those little gaps.
Prepare and cook two filling meals before you go, one ready for your first night after setting up camp and one frozen for later in your trip. Bolognese, stews and curries are the best options for this.
Pre grate your cheese, dice your veggies and portion them up. It is so much easier to make a meal without all of your kitchen equipment when you have everything chopped or diced and ready to cook.
Tin foil is your friend. Washing up facilities on festival sites aren’t always close to hand so sometimes I will line my pans with foil when cooking greasy food like bacon and sausages, yes this isn’t especially environmentally friendly but it’s not something I do at home and foil can be recycled so I don’t feel too bad about it.
Dried fruit and nuts make more sense than a huge basket of fruit. Over ripe fruit in a tent can be a little grim, apples are fairly hardy but bananas will stink up quite quickly.
Take a good, sturdy water bottle for each person, every festival has multiple filling up spots. No need to buy bottled water on site.
Take a bag of tortilla chips, a tub of salsa and some grated cheese and make campfire nachos. So simple but delicious!
For a few days eat cereal bars instead of actual cereal, less milk needed and a lot less mess. Or just opt for bacon!
Make a traybake such as brownies or lemon drizzle cake before you go and cut into squares ready for when you need that sugary energy burst. Those types of cakes tend to stay moist for longer.
Take tea, coffee and hot chocolate. Hot drinks taste better sat outside a tent on a bright, warm morning. It is a fact. Also you kids will be up as soon as the sun rises so ..be prepared with ALL the caffeine.
In terms of equipment you need at the very minimum:
- bbq or camping stove
- 1 small saucepan
- 1 frying pan
- tongs/spatula for turning
- cups, bowls and plates ( 1 per person )
- cutlery including 1 sharp knife and a tin opener
- 2 tea towels
- washing up liquid
Take time to read the festivals rules and guidelines, some will have dedicated cooking areas, which makes sense when lots of festival camping sites look like this:
Helen from Fuss Free Flavours says:
Make sure every member of the family has a mini packet of wet wipes and some cheap unscented nappy bags in their pocket – so useful for small amounts of messy trash, or for wrapping half eaten food in for later.
Jane from The Hedgecombers says:
Festival food is renowned for being expensive, so if you’re on a tight budget aim to eat out just once a day.
If you have some way of cooking food in your tent there are all kinds of easy one pot camping meals you can make, otherwise just aim to get the calories in with easy no-cook foods. Protein bars, pre made pasta salads and sandwiches. It’s also worth popping some just-add-water foods too (think pot noodles, cup a soup, hot choc sachets) in your kit too. Stall holders will happily fill them up with hot water for a little donation and a big smile.