What Food Should You Bring to Burning Man

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Our Typical Burning Man Meal

Our Typical Burning Man Meal

burning man cupcakesI’ve been packing all day getting ready for a trip far into the Nevada desert… yep, I’m going to Burning Man.

If you’re not familiar with Burning Man, it’s an annual event held in the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada. The event is described by many as an experiment in community, radical self-expression, and radical self-reliance.

Self-reliance… So I’m going to have to make my own food? Every day? Yikes!

Burning Man is kind of like camping, only there’s no running water, shade or personal campfires. (Well you can have one, but we don’t trust ourselves with fire). There are also no trashcans so what goes in, must come out of the camp. Money cannot be exchanged so don’t expect to buy anything except coffee and ice once you’re on the property.

burning man cupcakes

One of the things you have to consider when buying food for a trip like this is the weather. It’s very dusty… So food that you plan to eat must survive living in a cooler for 5-7 days and be quickly stowed away in case of a total white out.

If you’re going to Burning Man, here’s a list of what I think are some basic essentials:

TIP… (if driving to Burning Man)try to buy your food, water, booze in RENO. Do not buy your home town and drive all that water there. Water is heavy and you will be burning a lot of gas transporting it up there.

  1. water.
  2. lots of water. Water to drink. Water to bath. Water to wash your hands. You’re going to need a lot of it.  TIP: When finishing up a bottle of water, stomp on it to flatten the bottle as much as you can so it takes up less room in your trash.
  3. weight loss protein canned drinks are a great way to get some calories.Yyou find them at places like Target and they are usually chocolate, vanilla or strawberry. While they don’t taste that great, after spending time in the dessert riding a bike all day, they are divine. TIP: those cans are usually hard so they take up a lot of room in your trash.
  4. chopped fruit in those tiny plastic containers (they stay fresh and you can easily smash the plastic so they won’t take up room in your trash bag). TIP: When you’re done with the containers, squash them with your show to flatten them as much as possible (like the water) so you don’t take up a lot of room in your trash. Get the hint?)
  5. pudding is good – will survive most weather elements
  6. canned chicken & crackers (as a vegetarian I substitute small veggie cans of peas and corn)
  7. peanut butter & jelly sandwiches (food for the Gods… seriously, these take up very little room and are a great snack)
  8. coconut water.  Coconut water is great for dehydration.
  9. fruit strips (nice snack that will fit in your bag)
  10. bottled yogurt
  11. beef jerky
  12. Sting cheese – this stuff lasts forever and tastes good cool or warm
  13. pre-made coffee.  If you’re like me (addicted to coffee and simply aren’t functional without a cup), buying a pre-made coffee like Starbucks is a great way to still get that caffeine fix. You can buy coffee in ‘the cafe,’ but it’s a pain to bring cash and the lines are way too long (which ruins the vibe).  If you use the starbucks brand then it already has sugar and cream – eliminating the need to buy those things (and add to your trash).
  14. trash bags.
  15. booze. Beer cans work well since they can be stomped on and they don’t take up much room in your trash.
  16. freezer bags. These come in handy for keeping your food clean and dry in your backpack or if you want to place them in your cooler.
  17. two or three coolers (one for food, one for booze/drinks).  We sometimes put our dry food in a giant bin with a top.
  18. ice. You should load your coolers at the grocery store in Reno. That way your drinks will be chilled by the time you get to the Playa which is still about a 2 hour drive from RENO even though on the map it’s close. Some places you will be driving 20 miles an hour.

Word of warning… you’ll be surprise how much trash one person can make. So before you head out to the Playa, discard any unnecessary packaging. When we go shopping in Reno, we discard all unnecessary packaging in the parking lot trash cans of the supermarket. Trust me… this will make sense when you’re out there.

You’ll be surprised how little you actually eat out on the Playa. It’s best to eat small meals throughout the day… think snacks! They are way easier to clean up after, etc.

Dumb first timer lesson: The first year we went to Burning Man, we brought frozen food, a cooler, a toaster oven and an inverter. Toaster oven 1500 watts, inverter 300. Lesson learned. Luckily Burning Man is all about sharing. With no food, we went for a bike ride and some strangers offered us some fresh baked pizza – I don’t think they realized how much they saved us. It was the best pizza I had ever tasted.


Hi! I’m Babette, the Founder of BakeSpace.com. You can also find me on BAKESPACE.COM and on Twitter @BAKESPACE.

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1 Comment

  1. Jim Desue

    December 3, 2010 at 3:16 am

    thanks 🙂