Supporting food vendors at festivals is important. Many are independent companies with hardworking staff looking to earn a living. Besides, the food is cracking, and the choice at a music festival is insane. Pizza, hot dogs, burgers, wraps, pancakes, waffles, fried rice, nachos, spring rolls, noodles, a big tray of chips - there’s pretty much everything you could ever want.
But surviving solely off food from the vendors can take a toll on your bank balance. And even if you do plan on eating food from the stalls, they don’t stay open forever, and you might be left starving with nothing to eat. And there’s nothing worse than hanging out your arse in the morning, stomach groaning, and having to wait hours until you can eat. This is why it’s essential to bring your own food.
But what do you bring exactly? Facilities are limited, and you need something quick and minimal effort. Here are some festival food ideas to consider.
Crisps are easily the best food to take to a festival. For one, crisps and booze? A match made in heaven. Crisps are also a zero effort snack that you can scran on the way to the arena, before bed to prevent that hangover or first thing in the morning to sort your hungover stomach out. And they don’t need cooking or keeping cool.
You could put crisps at the bottom of your bag, crush them all, and they’ll still taste great. We don’t recommend it if you can prevent it, but you get the point. Even better, there are dozens of flavours to keep your taste buds entertained.
Come on, we’re British. But it has to be Heinz. Other brands are for serial killers. But seriously, beans are a top choice because you can eat them cold or hot, making them one of the most popular festival foods. They’re also a great hangover cure thanks to the protein, sugar, salts, folic acid, zinc, and they release energy slowly to power you through to your next meal. And they taste fit.
You can’t beat carbs, can you? You can use a simple loaf to make dozens of different kinds of sandwiches. And if you bring a cooler bag for meat and cheese, the possibilities are endless. If you’re lucky enough to have some kind of camping stove, you can have toast for breakfast.
Bagels are a good shout too. You can put all sorts of toppings in it, such as peanut butter and/or Philadelphia spread. Both are filling and high in calories. “High in calories” might not sound appealing, but when you’re having so much fun, it can be easy to forget to eat. This bagel combo should stop your stomach from eating itself if you lose track of time.
Belvita breakfast bars
A popular choice for a festival snack, Belvita bars release their energy steadily over four hours, preventing crashes and keeping you lively. Keep one in your bum bag so you can snack whenever you need.
A bottle of Lucozade the size of your arm
Yeah, it’s not food, but it’s essential. We’ve already touched on preventing and curing hangovers with beans and crisps, but that effort goes to waste if you don’t rehydrate yourself. Lucozade is the final piece of the puzzle. It’s the sugar-infused kick up the arse you need to get back in the pit and make you feel somewhat human again. Gatorade, Powerade, and other “-ades” that contain sugar and electrolytes work too.
Now, it’s obviously not the most nutritional food out there, but it goes down well, it’s easy, cheap, and quick. And all you need is hot water and a spork. Both of which you could ask another camper for. Or, if you’re polite enough, someone working a food stall might be kind enough to give it to you. But we wouldn't rely entirely on that. They probably have someone asking them for something every 5 minutes.
Another top hangover food. One banana is one of your five a day and full of fibre, potassium, electrolytes, and it's easy on the stomach if you’re feeling fragile. They’re also naturally protected by the peel, and you don’t need to keep them in the fridge or wash them. Need we say anymore?
Energy bars/protein bars/cereal bars
Standing up all day is knackering. Moshing and dancing all day is knackering too. Now add alcohol, sleep deprivation and stretch it out over a whole weekend. You’re going to be shattered whether you know it or not.
Bars give you that little boost you need and can help you feel fuller for longer. But this doesn’t mean you should skip meals. No amount of bars will replace a proper, hot, nutritious meal. But if you need something to tide you over, a bar of some description should do nicely.
Here’s a bit of a veteran’s hack for you: order a pizza the day before you set off to the festival site, then put it straight into the fridge. In the morning, whack it in a cooler bag and bring it with you so you can have cold pizza for breakfast each morning. Start the day the right way - with a bucket load of calories and cheese.
You can put whatever you want in trail mix so you can tailor it to your tastes. It’s pretty healthy, and you can even put chocolate in it. It might melt, but it's chocolate. It’ll still taste good. Just whip out the spork. Nuts and seeds are perfect because they’re filling, full of healthy fats, protein, fibre, vitamins, and minerals. And it’s pretty hard to crush them.
We may all look like adults, but the inner child resurfaces when someone busts out a cheese string. It’s illegal to eat it any other way than peeling it off bit by bit. It’s a delightful experience, and they also contain calcium, vitamin C, protein, and fibre. Both protein and fibre help you feel full for longer.
Check before so you don’t get in any trouble, but some festivals allow disposable barbecues. If you have limited funds, this could really save you a lot of money. You can make all sorts with a barbecue, including halloumi, burgers, wraps, hot dogs, toasties, vegetables, honestly, the list goes on and on.
If you’re bringing a stove of some description
Congratulations, the world is your oyster! You can cook eggs, which are brilliant for you and help with hangovers, jacket potatoes with just about any topping, pasta dishes, fried rice, and soup (which you could also eat cold). Then there are bacon sandwiches, burgers, hotdogs, halloumi wraps (if you have a cooler bag for the meat and cheese), toast, even a cup of tea in the morning. If you use your imagination, there’s so much you can do.
But double-check the festival will allow you to bring the stove as some don’t, and some only allow specific types.
Festivals are a laugh. Nothing beats the carefree atmosphere, seeing your favourite artists live, and lightly bullying your mates for a whole weekend. But it’s easy to forget to eat or not eat enough, which could make you unwell or even pass out, resulting in you missing the set you’ve been most hyped for.
We joke a lot, but it’s important to look after your health so you can keep having the best time. And if you have a spare few quid, do check out the food vendors. The food is unreal, they appreciate the custom, a proper meal will do you some good, and it’s fantastic to support smaller businesses.
Check out our What's On Guide to discover even more rowdy raves and sweaty gigs taking place over the coming weeks and months. For festivals, lifestyle events and more, head on over to our Things To Do page or be inspired by the event selections on our Inspire Me page.