What’s on the menu?

A cheapskate’s guide to bringing food to the playa

You’re getting ready to head to the playa. You bought your ticket, your camping gear, water and even some fly go-go boots to kick some dust with. You only have a minimal amount of money left in your pocket. What will you buy to eat for a week in the Black Rock Desert?

Remember, you are only in Black Rock City for a short amount of time. Think about how much time you want to spend cooking and preparing meals.

“You burn all your fuel having a good time and need to replenish yourself with wholesome foods,” said Josh Mazzochi, a Burning Man attendee since 2004.

“Having a way to cook pre-made meals, like a barbecue, makes it cheap and easy.”

For Burners on the go, who don’t want to spend time cooking, little snacks like granola bars, nuts, trail mix and bananas are ideal. But don’t throw your trash on the playa, this is a Leave No Trace event.

Robin Jesse, a third-year Burner and an employee at the Melting Pot Emporium, says he likes frozen smoothies and “super food” drinks that are blends of fruits and vegetables.

“You freeze them [smoothies] and let them thaw out over a few days, and they are perfect to drink,” said Jesse. “I try to keep them vegan or vegetarian because they last longer without milk.”

It is sound advice to avoid milk and most dairy products while in the heat of the Black Rock Desert—it takes ice and effort to keep dairy foods from going bad.

Another Melting Pot employee, Eric Lindesmith says he lives on Top Ramen noodles.

“All you got to do is heat it up, or you can even eat it dry.”

Lindesmith said he is also a fan of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

“They stay good in the heat and bread does, too, if you keep it sealed.”

Fifth-year Burner Shelly George says to avoid bread and use tortillas instead.

“I gave up bread; it goes moldy too quickly,” said George. “You just make a wrap with whatever you want in it. There is no refrigeration necessary, and it can feed up to three people.”

George also suggested making a three-bean salad using canned garbanzo, kidney and black beans with canned corn and light seasoning.

“It’s easy to make and gives you plenty of protein,” said George. Don’t forget your can opener.

Lindesmith recommended strategically packing your cooler.

“I pack one cooler for the first half of the week with dry ice because it lasts longer, then I refill it with ice again during the next half,” he said.

Dry ice will keep most foods frozen throughout the week and can be found cheaply at most industrial gas suppliers.

Mazzochi, on the other hand, suggests using pre-frozen foods or frozen five-gallon water jugs to keep your cooler colder for longer.

If you are not willing to put in the energy to constantly ice your food, canned foods or dehydrated meals are good options. These foods require little to no preparation, and make quick and satisfying meals.

Feeding yourself during Burning Man does not have to cost a fortune. Plan ahead and keep yourself well nourished so you can truly enjoy the festival, you cheapskate!