I often spend 45+ nights a year at campouts and larger festivals. Pulling a magnificent meal out of a dusty hat (on-time and with little mess) is a magic trick. Here’s a few of my favorites:
Oats & Chia Pudding Breakfast
This is my favorite of all time because it requires no cooking! Plus it can stay out at room temperature for a while. If you can measure and pour into bowls, you can make this breakfast. The oats and chia pudding should be prepped the night before you serve them.
- Overnight Oats
- Chia Pudding (4 parts alternative milk to 1 part chia seeds, mix a few times as gelling, let sit overnight covered in a cold spot)
- Dried & fresh fruits (try to pick dried fruit without added sugar or preservatives)
- Nuts & seeds (my favs are almonds & hemp seeds)
- Sweeteners: Maple Syrup, Agave Syrup, Honey
Ayurvedic medicine and the Macrobiotic diet both work to balance the body. This is derivative formula I use to cook most lunches and dinners for myself at home or any size group. It has led to endless tasty easy meals that rarely take more than 40 minutes to prepare. You can pick one or many ingredients in each category to cook.
- Roasted root vegetables with olive oil: sweet potato, squash, broccoli, carrot, asparagus, cauliflower, parsnips, celery, etc.
- Pan-fried vegetables with garlic & onion: mushrooms, kale, bok choy, cabbage, root vegetables, etc.
- Grain: brown rice, jasmine rice, quinoa
- Beans and legumes: lentils (red lentils cook fastest), beans (easy out of the can with garlic & onion added or soak dried beans ahead)
- (Optional) Raw vegetable salad: lettuce, fresh herbs, seeds, dressing
- Something Pickled: Kimchi, pickles, seaweed treats
Take your camping setup into account when planning this meal. Half your dishes need to simmer…sometimes for over an hour in large quantities. You may not have enough burners or enough fuel to cook grains and lentils. Pick quicker cooking grains like red lentils and Basmati rice (unmilled but quicker cooking than brown rice).
I serve this for groups of all sizes because it provides a filling meal for almost every dietary restriction. Everyone can customize their plate so you don’t have to know what anyone’s food preferences are in advance.
- Flour & Corn Tortilla
- Vegan refried beans
- Cheese and Soy Cheese
- Sour Cream and Cashew Cream
- Salsas & Hot Sauces
- Protein Option
Sous-Vide Cowboy Omelettes
Give each person a ziploc bag with 2 raw eggs inside. Each person can customized their omelette by adding spoonfuls of the following items. Once everything is in the bag, you can cook many bags at once in a boiling pot of water. This no-mess cooking method gives everyone an individual omelette without cleaning egg off a single pan. Here’s some mix-ins you can provide:
- Shredded cheeses
- Chopped onion or green onion
- Chopped garlic
- Chopped herbs
- Bacon pieces
- Chopped vegetables
Festival Meal Prep Tips
- Place a hand wash station near the meal line.
- Everything takes twice as long to do on the event site as in your kitchen. Prep as much as possible before you bring it to site. Choose the simplest prep recipes possible. Reduce the number of dishes & utensils down to as few as possible.
- People tend to eat less at events that are hot, busy, and/or outdoors. People eat more at cold, slow and/or indoor events. Men typically eat more than women.
- Make sure anything containing these common allergens is clearly labeled: cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat (gluten), fish and shellfish. I tend to make the majority of what I’m serving vegan and gluten-free; then I make dairy and other proteins available to add to dishes.