Food? What kind of food does one bring?

What do you eat and drink on the playa? Share ideas, recipes and advice here.
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Food? What kind of food does one bring?

Post by artyguy » Mon Apr 05, 2004 8:44 pm

First timer and haven't a clue as to what to bring. Does anyone have any healthy diet to suggest out there on the playa? Not much of a camper so this is new also. But got my sleeping bag and tent... It's so hard to imagine how I'm going to get all my food and water out there. Is there a theme camp that I can join and have that all taken care of???? I'd volunteer and work in exchange for the security of food and water stuff. Then next year I can relax when I go... now I'm admittedly overwhelmed... :oops:
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Post by III » Mon Apr 05, 2004 8:58 pm

>> Is there a theme camp that I can join and have that all taken care of????

theme camps are run by people like you. they're no more capable of providing food than you are. joining with the expectation that they will provide you something they cannot will inevitably lead to friction.

so - how to be self sufficient:

you can get suitcases (2.5 gal) of water at any supermarket. planning for one of those per day is *more* than enough. (i use about 1/4 of that, but i'm an extreme case, and i've learned my usage over the years).

for food, i've found that having easy to prepare food is key - lots of beef jerky, pop tarts, trail mix, and canned fruit.

but there's also something good about cooked food. pasta and canned sauce, rice with chili, tasty bites instant indian food, ramen style pad thai (add extra peanut butter to get the flavor right) are all good. if you're willing to practice good cooler management (keep it re-iced, have everything seperatly sealed in ziplock bags, and keeping it closed except for brief moments when you quickly remove what you need for a particular meal) you can bring steaks and vegetables.

or you can do what i heard a couple of staff people did last year: hop onto your golf cart, and drive around officially inquiring what different camps kitchens are cooking, to invite yourself in for some when you find something good. if they can do it, so can you...

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Post by McSeed » Mon Apr 05, 2004 9:19 pm

Ya, III said it all with good cooler management.. Master that one skill first an the rest'll come eazy! If your cheese is waterloged and the chicken's blood is leakin' al over the raw bacon, yer gonna get sick and die. Then again the grains and past are good... Add fruit and veg's and basicly say good bye to the Carnivorus jones. You won't eat but a fraction of what you bring anyway... -McDope.l
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Post by crazycat » Mon Apr 05, 2004 9:42 pm

Your food choices will depend on your traveling companions' room for your stuff. They may allow you to through in with them...or not and allow you space for your own chest. Either way pack what you know you like to eat and what your level of prep will be. Last year we froze precooked chicken and thawed some out for fajita tacos, quesadillas, and nachos. We ate only 2 meals a day, breakfast & late lunch. We made some mean margaritas and shoved down chips & salsa. Like others have said, you do eat less than we thought, but we shared like crazy with our neighbors!

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Post by Lydia Love » Mon Apr 05, 2004 10:29 pm

There's a thread dedicated to this very topic -
It's all about the squirrels.

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Post by philosopher » Mon Apr 05, 2004 11:06 pm

I second what III says. A couple of things additional:

1) It's easy to bring a lot of sugary and greasy-salty snack food, but I think it's best to go easy on this stuff. Reasonably nutritious canned food (and everything else) gets plenty hot after a little while in the afternoon sun if you want hot food with minimum fuss. If I have my choice of dinners on the playa, however, it will always be a good soup.

2) Theme camp infrastructure can enable some real production. Last year, utilizing the Temple of Zola kitchen tent and some contributed water, I made four gourmet Chinese soups that fed most of a large camp and a few dozen folks who dropped by on the night of the burn. That took some planning and some $$$, but as a participation/gift experience, it was really fine.

Imagining ways of being self-sufficient in a harsh environment is certainly part of the fun. Imagining how we can contribute to experiences of delight and surprise (my definition of "participating") takes us beyond self-sufficiency to enjoyment.

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Post by _tears_ » Tue Apr 06, 2004 1:27 am

1) Water Water Water
2) 2 case of bottled Water
3) 2 cases of Sports Drink
4) LOTS of juice boxs
5) 2 cases of energy Drinks
6) Sodas

1) 2 cases of CLIF BARs
2) Bread (frozen)
3) Nutella
4) Cans Of Fruit
5) Sliced cheese
6) Peanuts(salted)
7) Crackers/Chips
8) Jelly
9) Trail mix
10) Powdered Energy Drink
11) Peanut Butter

This is all i am bringing this year. I didnt eat a whole lot while i was there. But then again the theme camp i go with perpares each night a huge dinner for us and the people who volenteered with us that night. The people in the village make plans to bring/cook the food ahead of time. Its the Lamp Lighters if you were wondering.
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Post by Silver » Tue Apr 06, 2004 3:38 am

If you are really concerned get a case of MRE's, stuff for breakfast, cereal, rolls, small boxes of ultra-pasturized or soy milk, some snacks and you are done.
The up sides of MRE's is that they provide a lot of food value in small package need zero prep and some of them are very tasty, the down side is that there is a lot of packaging, the military not being big on LNT.
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Post by stuart » Tue Apr 06, 2004 11:41 am

the day of your departure, order a bunch of fried rice from your favotirte take out. Cool it down in your fridge and then pop it in your cooler. Reheats easily on the playa and dumping soy sauce all over it provides the salty goodness your body will be craving.

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Post by Chai Guy » Tue Apr 06, 2004 12:08 pm

Every year I bring waaaayyy too much food. It never seems like too much when I'm in the store (even when my friends end up putting half of my supplies back). But here are some keys:

1. Beverages- I like a variety some of my favorite playa beverages include:

Hansens Fruit Smoothies
Hansens Fruit drinks
Pina-Colada drinks (with and without alcohol)
Fruit Juices (orange, pineapple, mango etc.)
Sparkling water
Beer (Sapporo!)
Fresh Sangria
Ensure (to replace all those vitamins and minearls you lost and to make up for not eating as well or as much).

2. Snacks-

You're often going to want to eat but have no desire to cook anything so snacks are good. Some of my favorite snacks include:

Kirkland (Costco) Rice Crackers Mix (huge bag for like $5.00)
Fresh Fruit (get stuff that not's quite ripe and keep it chilled, I'd stay away from banannas, unless you want to eat them right away).
Mixed Nuts
Pretzels (Honey Mustard!)
Dried Fruit

3. Easy to make stuff

Miso soup is incredibly easy to make and tastes great!

Tasty Bites are excellent (but try before you go, some people don't like them).

I love the heat and eat type stuff you get at Trader Joes in their freezer section, it makes meal planning easy and the food is pretty good too. Just throw it in a skillet and cook it up. I find that usually one package splits pretty nicely between two people. Remember to remove excess packaging before leaving.

4. Make a meal plan

I find that by planning my meals out, it helps me reduce waste and makes shopping easier. It also reminds me what side dishes I had planned for which meal and helps me determine what meals I should eat first (i.e. eating the food that is most likely to spoil, like fish and meats first).

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Re: Food? What kind of food does one bring?

Post by theCryptofishist » Tue Apr 06, 2004 12:19 pm

artyguy wrote: Is there a theme camp that I can join and have that all taken care of????
Ah yes, Suckling Piglet Camp. Be forwarned. I hear IrthMutha's teat is not comforting.

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Post by Tiara » Tue Apr 06, 2004 12:32 pm

I'm a big fan of Tasty Bites for playa food, because they're so quick and foolproof. But I like to have rice to eat them with. Easy solution: you can buy rice in single serving sized boil-in-a-bag pouches. Put the Tasty Bites foil pouch in the same water you use to cook the rice.

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Post by Dork » Tue Apr 06, 2004 1:15 pm

Here's something I sent to my camp list (lots of newbies in the group) last year:

In general.. canned or dried foods work well. Nuts, crackers, and M&Ms are good to snack on. Many fresh foods that are kept at room temperature (like breads, fruits, vegetables, hard boiled eggs, etc) turn to mush within a couple of days so leave them in a cooler or don't bring them. I suspect mellons would last a little while but I haven't tried my luck yet. Raw meats are a bad idea unless you keep them in a completely sealed container and are very careful about making sure the ice doesn't run out in the cooler. A chicken breast leaking into a cooler full of water that you forgot about for a day would be bad news.

Remove as much packaging as possible. If it comes from the store in a plastic bag inside a box, leave the box at home. Keep things in batches for one small meal each unless you plan to share. Ziplock bags are your friend. Stick to things that can be cooked in a single pan with a minimum of waste water.

Campbells Chunky soups are a favorite of mine, just leave them in the sun, open and eat. No dishes or fuss. Safeway often has them for $1.50 each.

Pre-cooked, frozen foods work well - hot and sour soup, pizza slices, potstickers, fried chicken, stir fry vegetables, etc.

Mostly.. don't bring too much fresh food. Canned stuff can go back home with you and be eaten later or dropped off at a food bank, but fresh stuff goes bad and leaves you with more smelly garbage to haul home. You will probably not eat as much as you normally do out there and people will be offering you stuff all the time. When in doubt, leave it at home and bring a couple extra ramen packets just in case.

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Post by III » Tue Apr 06, 2004 2:27 pm

oh yeah: don't bring watermelon.

just don't.

(and whatever you do, don't try to donate it to the dpw when you leave).

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Post by Dusza Beben » Tue Apr 06, 2004 7:29 pm

I have heard that comfort food is a really good idea as well as long as it isn't something like baked Alaska. When things get to be a little overwhelming it's nice to chill a bit with something comforting and grounding. For my wife it will most likely be cheese-its, I will have to bring peanut butter cups.

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Post by shitmouse » Tue Apr 06, 2004 7:54 pm

on Silver's ,note:

M.R.E.'s are *not* a bad way to go when it comes down to it at all.

back in the day, when we were attending BM with squat cash and provisions, i would get some class "a" MRE's from a friend -(or any good camp store) and get by prety good for the playa, particularily when the conditions on the playa were at's it's toughest.

--when it came down to it, squatting in a van during a dust storm made it possible to chow a half decent meal, when you were busted building shit all day or coping with the year's extreme weather and dust baths.

the *down* on them is they do provide a bit of trash to carry home.
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Post by Icepack » Tue Apr 06, 2004 8:17 pm

Is pasta a good idea or a bad idea? On the one hand, it's one pot cooking and easy to transport. On the other hand, does it use too much water (which then becomes gray water?)?

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Post by III » Tue Apr 06, 2004 8:27 pm

i like pasta. "too much" water is a question of taste, but it takes a lot less to cook pasta than it does to shower, and people do that all the time as well. for my weekend camping trips, i make up a big bag of pasta salad before hand. it keeps at least 3 days, which is a good chunk of the time you'll be there.

additional cooking advice - try making camping recipes at home, starting now. it's a lot easier to figure out how little water you need to make pasta, or how spam&tofu scramble works when you've got the option of ordering out pizza if it goes horribly wrong.

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Thank you! Thank you! All of your Food ideas are great!

Post by artyguy » Wed Apr 07, 2004 12:00 pm

I am so over whelmed by all of your generous ideas for my food diet! Really thank you all. Hey don't you think a Burning Man Food Diet Cookbook is in order!?!??! Your all the best!

And Thanks Philospher on your wisdom "Imagining ways of being self-sufficient in a harsh environment is certainly part of the fun. Imagining how we can contribute to experiences of delight and surprise (my definition of "participating") takes us beyond self-sufficiency to enjoyment."

xxxxx Kisses to you all![/url]
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Post by Bob » Wed Apr 07, 2004 5:21 pm

Check the sidebars in the various sections, esp. (last year's) Survival Guide, Heloise of the Playa, etc., as well as related websites linked here:

Don't skimp on tequila, canned beer, toaster pastries & crunchy granola bars.
Amazing desert structures & stuff:

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Post by retropsycho » Fri Apr 09, 2004 8:38 am

Desert foods:

Pita bread (keep it in your cooler, or it will get "fuzzy").
Great cause you can dip it, eliminating the need for utensils.
Pita is a good way to eat Tasty Bites, too.

Dips for pita: hummus, basil pesto & sundried tomato pesto.
Carrots. Cucumbers.

Cooked canned chicken is nice to add to sauces when you want more protein.
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Post by Savior69 » Fri Apr 09, 2004 9:54 am

One must bring beverage for me is V8. Something about the alkalizing playa that makes an ice cold V8 sooooo refreshing! Also, although it seems wasteful, the smaller cans work out better. It is hard to drink a full 12oz, and all you need is a few good sips. and the smaller cans get ice cold quickly. All the salt and minerals really rejuvinates quite nicely.

And you can add vodka for a Bloody Mary!

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Salted Protein & Bug Juice

Post by robbidobbs » Fri Apr 09, 2004 11:47 am

I swear by salted dry roasted peanuts, fish jerky and sugar-free canned fruit. A cup of Swiss Mocha in the morn is mighty fine too. Ease up on the sugar laden stuff, cause in the desert your body wants salt WAY more than it wants sugar. Gaterade is not as good for you as their marketing department says, so get the quality mineral replacement drink mixes. I forget the brand names, we just called it "bug juice." Pedia-lite (sp?) is one you can mix with kool-aid and it works out pretty well diluted. Should one become weak from dehydration, there is Emergenc-C. It's a quick emergency measure, NOT a replacement for bad water-drinking practices. Also refrain from relying on these kind of mineral replenishers exclusively, cause you still MUST drink water. Read the Survival Guide to be sure.
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Post by angelface » Fri Apr 09, 2004 3:22 pm

Everyone has great tips for food.. also, if you really are interested in joining a theme camp (and not just for the meals) look through the listings of camps on, if you see something that looks like your idea of a fantastic way to spend a week, drop them an e-mail. Only do this if you really want to participate in one though. If you go there expecting a free ride, your camp mates are going to be very hostile by the end of the week. Even if you do camp with a theme camp, you'll probably need to bring snacks, alcohol, (if you drink) and your own water. The 2.5 gallon containers mentioned earlier are the way to go. I go through those at a rate of about 2 every 3 days.. and I'm a girl, and take showers.

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juice boxes?

Post by kaossunshine » Sun Apr 11, 2004 1:13 pm

Will juice boxes, or soymilk boxes explode in the heat?

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Just a thought...

Post by Last Real Burner » Sun Apr 11, 2004 2:52 pm

You may want to bring some of those Nutra-drinks with all the nutritional supplements you need in one drink everyday "Ensure" is the name of one that I know of, I'm sure there are plenty out there of varying degrees of tastes and costs. You Might want to take handfull of Vitaimens at the start of every day, like a multi-vit, some C, etc etc etc......

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Post by nitro » Mon Apr 12, 2004 11:43 am

We bike at day and walk at night.....
Well...i like to travel light without giving up a culinary reward at the end of a long day and the begining of a longer night...
I shop at the Outdoors/camping outlets for my fave *mexican omelettes*-*chicken tamales*-*pasta Alferdo* and what more have you on the likes...They're tastesfull and quick to prepare..all you'll need is a light camping stove and water....Power type bars and some Trail nuts work great for snacks. Bags of Gatorade powder works great...i just add some of it to the camel pack(of water!) and off we go without any worries of dehydration concern....
Red Bull type of drinks do work great if you run both shifts as we do...
We rented a minivan and had the back seats taken out at the rental place, rented bikes that did fit inside the van for the trip + a small tent to keep in our belongings(we slept in the van with the back open, just super...).
My recommendation is to leave all fresh foods home unless you'll participate to a random act of kindness :-)
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Re: juice boxes?

Post by robbidobbs » Mon Apr 12, 2004 1:52 pm

kaossunshine wrote:Will juice boxes, or soymilk boxes explode in the heat?

I personally try my best to keep all unnecessary, superfluous and especially non-burnable food containers to a minimum. Juice boxes are a perfect example of over-packaging IMO. The bottled juices work just fine, and they make a handy water carrier for your bike basket while traveling round town.
Soy beverages in a box however are a good example of food packaging technology for the greater good. They burn, they don't explode and they don't require refrigeration.

Before you load up your cargo-hold with packaging that you don't want to take home with you, think about how to creatively use zip-loc baggies.

And of course, read the Survival Guide for more info.

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Post by Captain Goddammit » Mon Apr 19, 2004 10:28 pm

I'd like to emphasize easy-to-make and ready-to-eat as ideal playa food characteristics. I, like everyone else, bring way too much and rarely eat the stuff requiring much if any prep. And I have an RV with a full kitchen.
There's usually too much going on to waste time eating, or I'm too tired from too much going on to feel like cooking. I want instant gratification!
The meal I like to cook is breakfast. Bacon and eggs and orange juice are never so good as on the playa.
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Power Gel

Post by gilmore » Tue Apr 20, 2004 8:46 am

Powerbar's, Power Gel product is great to have when you start to "hit the wall". It came in handy when I walked 60+ miles over a 3-day weekend and "the Bride" swears by it when she hiked the Grand Canyon rim to rim in one day.

Light weight, easy to carry and no excessive packaging. Different flavors, some w/ caffeine, which is great for waking you up, but not so great for hydration since it’s a diuretic. It’s about a dollar a packet.

I’m hoping Power Gel and a can of Ensure nutrient drink each day will help combat the effects of what the playa inflicts on me and also whatever I wreak upon myself.

For more info:
Eat till you're tired, sleep till you're hungry

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