How to Prepare Food for Burning Man

What to Eat and How to Keep in the Heat

Burning Man
Jon Collier

In a desert-based arts festival with nothing but ice, water, and caffeinated beverages for sale, how is one to survive the week of revelry?  Besides bringing the obvious, which is lots and lots of water, what else should be brought along to stave the hunger and play another day in the giant sandbox that is Burning Man? The following tips will help you plan out what food to prepare for your meals for Burning Man: 

Remove excess packaging

Burning man is all about being radically self-reliant, which means no waste bins are provided, anywhere!  All accumulated waste, also known as MOOP (matter out of place) all has to be packed back out with you.  This means, if you can cut down on your waste generation, be sure to do so.

Step one is removing all of the excess packaging from your food items. Did you buy cereal? Ditch the cardboard box. Is there thin plastic wrap around your boxed items that can be discarded? Anything that isn’t completely essential to keeping the food fresh and protected might as well be disposed of before you arrive in Black Rock City. Check out the Preparation Guide on the Burning Man website for more ways to reduce rubbish generation.

Cook ahead of time and microwave or stovetop reheat

The best way to eat well on the Playa is to cook and then vacuum seal or prepackage meals ahead of time. Foods like Indian curries, meals heavy with veggies like peas and carrots that hold up well frozen, and even frozen soups can be a great diet staple. 

Avoid using up precious water by cooking things like pasta when in BRC. Cook ahead of time, place into Ziploc bags, then microwave or stovetop reheat. The last thing you’ll feel like doing when at Burning Man is cooking for hours.  Do it ahead of time at home then reheat with ease.

Leave the perishables at home

Things like fresh fruits and veggies are awesome, but they will spoil quickly in the dry heat. Apples will hold up the longest, while things like oranges and peaches perish quickly. Prioritize by eating perishables before they go bad.  Remember, you can’t throw anything away, so anything that goes bad will be sticking with you in your tent or RV!

Items like raw meat are also generally difficult to bring along. Barbecues can be plenty of fun on the playa, but are best organized and carried out by thawing out frozen meats. It’s hot enough out there to thaw them out pretty quickly!  Pre-cooked hot dogs and burgers that can be quickly reheated on the grill are also great choices

Eat bread in the first few days

Since BRC is so dry, bread tends to go stale fairly quickly. Flat breads like naan or pitas will hold up a little bit better, as will heavy breads full of nuts and grains. Sandwiches are great and easy to make on the playa, but be sure to consume the things that will go dry first. Nobody likes a stale peanut butter and jelly sandwich!

Bring soy or almond milk rather than cow’s milk

One of the worst smells is spoiled milk, so if you’re thinking of having cereal in the mornings, bring a dairy substitute that will last longer and stay fresher throughout the duration of your burn. Almond milk tastes pretty good and serves as a great substitute for cow’s milk in cereal, coffee, and tea.