Foods to Pack for BurningMan

Burning Man is based on the idea of radical self-sufficiency and is a commerce-free event. So it’s not a big surprise that there are only two things sold during the event: coffee and ice. That means you gotta bring EVERYTHING else. Food, water (1.5 gallons per person per day), shelter, any and all things needed for survival. If you’re not sufficiently prepared you will be asked to turn around at the entry gate. Burning Man maintains a Leave No Trace policy to minimize the impact of the event on the desert and surrounding areas. There are no trash sites at Burning Man and the closest you’ll come to being able to dispose of anything is the Recycle Camp where aluminum cans are the only thing accepted. Check out this article if you may want to compost food leftovers at the event. You will be responsible for all the trash you produce so when you bring your own food you have to think ahead on how much trash you’re going to produce in the process of feeding yourself.

Keep in mind Burning Mans informal survey of playa-goers who have said that they experienced a loss of appetite around 35-50%. Use the general rule of thumb to only bring ⅔ the amount of food you would usually eat during a week. Whatever you don’t eat becomes trash, and you’re gonna have to keep that trash with you until you go home and find a place to dispose of it properly.

Whether you’re going in a group or solo, plan all meals and snacks ahead of time and the amount of water you will be using to prep your food (this should not include the water you will be drinking during the week). Bring your own reusable dishes, cups, silverware, cloth napkins, cutting board, pots, pans, strainers, measuring cups, cooking utensils, cleaning supplies, dish rack, washing basin, grapefruit seed extract to clean your food, trash cans, and heavy duty trash bags. Blankets and pillows work just as well as fold up chairs and tables for a place to eat. Store your foods in large reusable plastic containers, baskets, burlap bags, and don’t forget ziplock bags and aluminum foil. When preparing foods consider taking a backpacking stove for small groups or a two burner stove for large groups along with their respective propane tanks and starters. Lean on the safe side by taking a portable fire extinguisher. Campfires are not allowed at the event keeping in step with the Leave No Trace spirit. Use whatever you think would work best as a food “prep” table and that can double as a wash station post meal. Long-time Burner and veteran of the event Eden Somberg recommends bringing your food in milk crates, once you arrive at your site for the event these milk crates can double as an impromptu pantry. He also suggests bringing 2.5 gallons of water per person per day for cooking, cleaning, and washing.

When buying food remember you are going to be in the middle of the desert and foods that are high in minerals and salt are your best friends this week. These kinds of foods will help you prevent dehydration, restore minerals, and replenish electrolytes.

Here’s a suggested basic shopping list to get you started and that allows for a lot of meal flexibility:

Fruits and Veggies:

Potatoes, carrots, beets, onions, squash, cabbage, garlic, kale, zucchini, cucumbers, bell peppers, celery, coconuts, bananas, watermelon, oranges, grapefruit, lemon, limes, melons, apples, pineapples, avocados, jicama, tomato
*When you’re buying fruit, try to get unripe ones so that they can last the week.*


whatever you usually cook with, don’t forget simple salt and pepper, bouillon cubes
Condiments: Soy sauce, Tamari, Rice Vinegar, Balsamic Vinegar, Honey, Syrup, Pesto, Pasta Sauces, Chutneys, Tahini

Dried Goods:

Beans, Rice, Quinoa, Lentils, Oats, Tea, Flat Bread (tortillas, pita, naan), granola bars, protein bars, nuts, seeds (chia), Pasta, nutritional yeast, pancake mix, dried fruit, sprouts, chips

Other Bits:

Cooking Oils, Butter, Ghee, hardboiled eggs, soy milk, nut mylk, peanut butter, almond butter, hummus, olives, pickles, salsa, popcorn, seaweed, Emergen-c, Falafel mix, soups, snacks you love, beer, wine, alcohol, juice

Once you’ve finished up your food shopping, try to remove as much packaging as possible and store in your reusable containers. You don’t want to bring a giant bag of smelly trash with you on your ride back home. I’m sure no one wants to smell it either. A good saying at Burning Man to remember as you shop and store your food is “pack it in pack it out”. Enjoy your experience at Burning Man while doing your part in creating a sustainable environment in the Nevada desert.