10 Food Prep Tips + Recipes for Burning Manfeatured

Today I bought three huge bags of neon fur and a pound of glitter to mod podge. Because that’s just the kind of stuff on your to-do list when you’re getting ready for Burning Man.

It’s my first burn and I am positively buzzing with anticipation. Outfits and magical fairy dust aside, there are practical survival things to think about too, like what are we going to eat?

Sunrise at The Temple, Burning Man 2009 (Photo Credit: Michael Holden)

Sunrise at The Temple, Burning Man 2009 (Photo Credit: Michael Holden)

We are going to be in the middle of the desert in hundred degree weather and no refrigeration, just coolers and a supply of ice. It’s going to be extreme camping cooking, but that doesn’t mean we can’t eat well! I’ve done my research and have picked up some great advice:

10 Tips & Tricks on Preparing Food for Burning Man

  1. Ziplocks are your best friend. Even better, a vacuum sealer is your bestest best friend, but Ziplocks will do fine. Playa dust will get on everything and the best way to minimize ingestion of it is to prepare and portion out meals ahead of time.
  2. Portion out your ice in Ziplocks. When it melts, your cooler won’t turn into a soupy mess, and you’ll have a baggie of ice-cold water to drink. Ahh, refreshing!
  3. Elevate your food in the cooler using Tupperware or layers of cardboard. If your bags of ice leak, this adds some protection for your goods so they’re not sitting on the bottom of your cooler in water.
  4. Label your coolers with contents. This will minimize unnecessary opening and closing. This especially holds true if you are the kind of person who stands in front of the fridge hemming and hawing over what you’re in the mood for.
  5. Your body will crave hydration, protein, and sodium. Plan accordingly. Some popular items: bacon, soups, chili, peanut butter.
  6. Opt for sturdy breads. Flat bread and naan will last longer than softer breads.
  7. Don’t forget your coffee/tea/French press. Mint tea can help settle stomachs.
  8. Bring Coconut Oil. You can cook with it, use it to soften hands and feet battered by the elements, and it doesn’t require refrigeration.
  9. Have an easy meal ready for Night 1. You are going to be excited and busy setting up camp. It may be late. You won’t want to cook a thing. Grab a burrito in Reno so you have something easy and ready to eat.
  10. Get some of your favorite take-out and freeze it. It will be a great later-in-the-week treat. Indian? Great choice. Sushi? Not so much.

Overall, my game plan is to prepare as much as possible in advance, portion out the meals, vacuum seal, and freeze them so that on-site prep will be fast, easy, and will produce minimal grey water (you are not allowed to dump waste water on the playa).

Ballonatic Ascent: Balloon Rides at Burning Man 2011 (Photo Credit: Michael Holden)

Ballonatic Ascent: Balloon Rides at Burning Man 2011
(Photo Credit: Michael Holden)

Burning Man Meal Plan

I’ve done the work so you don’t have to. Less time worrying about food, more time making sparkle shoes.



  • Gazpacho and Grilled Cheese
  • Mediterranean Tapas (Pita, Hummus, Cured Meat, Cheese, Red Peppers, Olives, Artichokes, Gigantes Beans in Tomato Sauce, Cornichons)
  • Instant Udon Soup Bowls



  • Rocky Road Rice Krispies Treats (i.e. amped up Rice Krispies Treats with add-ins of chocolate chips, peanuts, and marshmallows)
  • Slutty Brownies


Other helpful links to check out:

Groovik's Cube, Sunrise, Burning Man 2009 (Photo Credit: Michael Holden)

Groovik’s Cube, Sunrise, Burning Man 2009 (Photo Credit: Michael Holden)

I’m ready to get dusty and soak in all the beauty I can. Are you?

Any veteran burners out there with good tips and words of wisdom to share?

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