By Alicia Fae (@dancingfae.official)
So you’re planning for a festival, and you’ve thought of nearly everything! Your squad is set to go, you all have the perfect outfits planned, and you’re thinking “How could I plan for my weekend any better?”
Often times people forget to pack real food for these 2-3 day festivals. I’ve heard of people surviving off of jerky, fruit snacks, chips, and hot dogs all weekend with the occasional meal from a vendor or two.
But let me tell you, having a well-packed cooler, some easy to make meals that have been prepped ahead of time, and a few friends to share it all with, makes coming back to camp after the party even better!
1. I suggest using dry ice. You’ll waste way less money on refilling your cooler. Yes, you’ll still have to top off your cooler and get extra ice for drinking (if that’s your style), but you’ll be buying much less ice in the end. Get a pound block of dry ice and have them wrap it in a paper bag. Please be safe and look up safe handling for dry ice before using! Place the dry ice wrapped in paper at the bottom of your cooler, and cover it with 5-6 inches of ice. Put your freezable food (burritos, pizza, noodles, apple sauce, cheese, etc. ) in with the ice, as well as some drinks to keep them cool if you like.
2. Buy pizza ahead of time. Delivery, pre-cooked, or bake at home (you’ll have to cook it beforehand), let it cool, cut it up, and put it in 1-gallon freezer bags. I can fit 1 whole medium pizza in a gallon freezer bag by stacking the pizza, topping sides together, and once I’ve placed all the topping sides together, you can then stack them crust to crust. Kiddy-corner the stacked slices and place in the freezer. Remember to duct tape the gallon bags closed to keep out any moisture from the cooler. Once at the festival you can eat the pizza straight out of the cooler cold (like I do) or you can wrap them in aluminum foil, place right on your grill for a few minutes (don’t forget to flip it a few times), and I like to put them in an empty pot with a lid right after taking them off the grill, aluminum foil still on for a minute or so. Helps the center get hot and melty without burning the crust. Don’t forget some metal tongs so you’re not touching the hot food right off the grill!
3. Make breakfast burritos ahead of time. Seriously this has become a tradition for my festival squad. It’s something we all look forward to in the morning, that not only preps your body for the day ahead but helps soak up some of last nights party. I like to use sausage, eggs, cheese, hash browns, onions, peppers, and flour tortillas. Wrap them individually in aluminum foil, and seal them in gallon freezer bags. (This also works for regular beef, bean, cheese, and onion burritos too!) Use the same method as cooking the pizza. Grill the wrapped burritos making sure to flip every minute or so, and place in a pot with a lid to get the center hot.
4. Bring a french press, coffee & real coffee mugs! After much trial and error, we’ve found that the French Press is the easiest and cheapest way to get a good cup a coffee. Most vendors will charge you anywhere from $3-7 for a regular cup of coffee. Get a french press on Amazon for $20 and it will last for years. We brought a family-sized jug of coffee creamer and kept it in a cooler with some ice (it has sugar in it too, so there’s no need to bring sugar unless you really want to). Also, the extra coffee can be kept in the french press during the day, and used for Ice Coffee drinks once it’s cooled down a bit or tossed in some ice if you just can’t wait! Don’t forget to bring real coffee mugs and a couple of real spoons for mixing since it will basically be boiling hot. I don’t know about you, but having a nice cup of coffee in the morning makes all the difference in my world.
5. Canned & jarred food. You don’t have to keep most canned and jarred food cold, which makes it a great festival food hack. Make some noodles ahead of time, and lightly toss them in some olive/vegetable/canola oil before storing in a gallon freezer bag and duct-taping shut. You can bring a jar of spaghetti sauce, ground beef (precooked and kept cold) and have spaghetti. Or you could bring a can of chili, some onions, and cheese and have chili-mac as we did for Paradiso 2019! We were all eating dinner within minutes of returning to camp. It was a huge hit, and I’ll definitely be bringing it back for Bass Canyon this year (don’t forget a can opener)!
I also bring some healthier snacks like apple sauce packs, fruit cups, Uncrustable peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, as well a few other personal favorites.
Hopefully, this article gave you a few new ideas on how to streamline your festival cooking experience, while keeping it budget-friendly!