23+ Expedition DofE Food Ideas

by | Last modified on Jan 19, 2024 | Advice, Camping & Outdoors

This guide is for anyone looking for inspiration for food ideas and meal plans for camping, hiking and expeditions. Whether you’re off to a festival or planning a long-distance hiking Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) expedition, your approach to food will be the same. You’ll need food ideas that don’t need a fridge and are lightweight and durable.

I’ve covered all meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner – and ideas for dietary requirements such as vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free.

These camping and expedition food ideas will help you put together meal plans. Where possible, I’ve added links to show you examples of the sorts of foods you can buy easily from the supermarket or from outdoor stores.

You should never underestimate the importance of food on your expedition or hike. Eating well will keep your reserves up and will give you the energy needed to get through long days on the move.

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A bit about me…..I’m Bex Band – a full-time UK adventurer and founder of the women’s adventure community, Love Her Wild. I’m on a mission to make the outdoors and adventures as easy as possible!

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Expedition food Dofe

I also put together a short film with expedition food ideas which you may find helpful. I’ve included lots of examples of foods and pouches you can find in supermarkets to make your exped food planning as simple as possible:

Important tips when choosing your food

When deciding what camping, hiking or expedition food to take on your adventure, keep in mind the following….

  • You want to try and pack as much energy into your food with the least amount of weight. Heavy foods will give your bag unnecessary weight so liquid foods and cans are not good.
  • Foods that are high in sugars, carbohydrates and fats are good. Aim for foods that are balanced and give you fuel.
  • You will want foods that will last well without being in a fridge, even in hot weather – like dried, cured or vegetarian food.
  • It’s so important that you pack foods that you actually like to eat. It’s all very well having the perfect high-energy meal in your pack, but if you don’t enjoy it, you won’t eat it, and it will just make you feel miserable. If there’s a snack you love and will give you a boost during a low point – then pack it!
  • Any hot meals need to be simple to cook on a single camping stove or trangia. Or if you don’t plan to take a stove, then you’ll need to focus on just cold meals.
  • You can reduce weight by removing food from packaging or cooking meals as a team. This is especially helpful if you plan to wild camp or are doing a bigger expedition.
  • Store your food in your pack so it is waterproofed and won’t get damaged or (too) squashed if you knock on your bag. I usually store my food in a dry sack but might separate softer foods to put in the top pocket of my bag where they will get less damaged.
  • Have a meal plan, and only bring the exact amount of food you need. Make sure you don’t eat all your snacks on day 1, or you’ll go hungry.
  • The meals you eat before your expedition or trip are also important as this will ensure you start with your energy levels on full!

Planning an expedition or long-distance hike? As a rough estimate, you should be aiming to consume around 3,000 – 5,000 a day. That’s considerably higher than the average 2,000 calories! Reaching this target isn’t so important for day hikes or weekend camping adventures. But if you are doing something big, like your dofe gold expedition, you’ll want to be stacking in as many calories as you can.

Food that you will want to avoid include:

  • Anything in glass
  • Tinned foods
  • foods that require refrigeration (like fresh meats, milk or cheese)
  • Eggs that are easily broken
  • Pot noodles in a plastic pot as these take up a lot of space for little energy
  • Crisps break easily – if you want to take crisps then Hula Hoops are your best bet as they harder to break
  • Fizzy or sugary drinks that will dehydrate you
  • Lots of chocolate that will easily melt in the heat

Here’s a good example of the sort of food I’ll take. This was for 2 people (and a baby…ignore the baby food pouches!!) for a 5-day hiking and wild camping expedition in the UK:

Expedition Food meal plan

Expedition food ideas: breakfast

Breakfast is an important meal of the day and will give you the kick start you need to get going on a slow morning after wild camping or getting going with hiking if, for example, you are on a dofe expedition. However, don’t feel obliged to cook something big and complicated. I personally like to pack up and getting moving quickly in the morning so tend to eat something dry and on the go.

Here are a few food ideas for breakfast!

TOP TIP: If you are used to having a tea or coffee each morning, take these supplies with you for the expedition or camping. It’ll make starting each morning a lot easier!

#1 Porridge

*Cooking required*

A solid favourite and for good reason – it’s light and quick to cook and can fill you up with a solid warm meal. Make your own porridge mix in advance with oats, nuts, and fruits that you like. You can also add milk powder. Then you just need to add water on the expedition, and you’ve got a creamy porridge.

I’ve even heard of some mixing coffee granules into their porridge to make the ultimate all-in-one!

Some sachets already come with flavourings like this one.

#2 Muesli or Granola

*No cooking*

A lazy breakfast option that doesn’t involve any cooking. Increase the energy and calories of your meal by adding dried fruit and nuts. You can also add in milk powder, so all you need to do is add water for a milky cereal breakfast. Alternatively, use hot water to create a warming meal (for some reason, I find warm water and cereal easier to stomach than cold water and cereal!). These are absolutely fantastic – vegan and sugar-free Granola.

#3 pitta bread

*No cooking*

Pitta is a good alternative to bread as it lasts longer and doesn’t break so easily. Wholemeal being the healthiest option. You could cook up some vegetarian sausages to put in your pitta for a filling breakfast. You could also boil an egg in advance and have that instead of the vegetarian sausages. These will only last for one overnight and not on a really hot day. Remember that you shouldn’t ever risk using meat sausages!!

Alternatively, you could take beans (Heinz beans now do a pouch of beans which is perfect!) or have peanut butter, Nutella or marmite.

Top tip: pick up some ketchup and brown sauce sachets from your nearest fast-food chain or cafe so you can add condiments to your meals without adding much weight.

#4 Make a granola bar

*No cooking*

Before your expedition or camping trip, you can make granola bars (like this recipe). Make sure you add lots of nuts and seeds so you have some good protein. These can easily be chopped into bars and eaten on the go as a quick expedition breakfast option.

Expedition food ideas: Lunch

For lunch, you won’t want to take a long break so make sure your meals don’t require much preparation. It’s also best not to have anything too large or heavy that might make you sluggish in the afternoons.

Here are some camping, hiking and expedition DofE food suggestions for lunch:

#5 Sandwiches and wraps

*No cooking*

An easy cold meal suggestion for camping or adventuring. Choose pitta or wraps instead of regular bread (both these have gluten free options). For fillings, you could use nut butter, Nutella, marmite, avocado or non-refrigeration cheeses and meats like baby bells, cheese strings or cheese squares with sliced pepperoni sausage. There are also vegetarian substitutes for pepperoni (like these ones)…check out the meat-free options in your supermarket.

#6 Ready-to-eat meals with crackers 

*Cooking required*

Head to the pot noodle section in the supermarket to find a selection of ready-to-eay meals like couscous or pasta. Some of them are ready to eat but most require a bit of hot water. You can bulk out the meal by breaking up crackers and mixing them into the meal.

Top tip: If you have a mixed pouch of something like a chilli con carne or similar that only needs heating up, rather than cook it directly in your pot and cause a lot of mess and washing up, you can simply boil water and then place the whole pouch upright (open it slightly by a couple of cm’s) and let it heat up over 5 minutes. You can then eat it directly from the pouch. If it needs more heating, simply re-boil the water and repeat.

Here are some examples of ready-to-eat meals:

Jamie Oliver has brought out a great range of pouches which are perfect for any expedition. These is all your dofe expedition food sorted for a week!:

Easy camping food ideas

#7 Cold Pizza

*No cooking*

A good choice for the first day on an expedition…it won’t last more than a day without refrigeration but is a lazy and tasty go to.

Duke of Edinburgh Expedition Award food ideas: Dinner

The end of your day is your chance to rest and stock up with food and energy so make sure you plan a big dinner with lots of calories. It’s also important to use the evening as an opportunity to drink lots of water as you will likely be dehydrated from a long day hiking.

Try some of these dinner ideas for your Duke of Edinburgh expedition.

#8 Pasta or Couscous a Sauce

*Cooking required*

Pasta and couscous is super easy to cook on a camping stove or trangia, as all it needs is boiling water. It’s a go-to meal, whether you are looking for festival camping food or planning a bigger adventure.

Couscous is the easiest to make, and you can get packets that already have flavourings. If you need to add flavourings, you can get sachets of sauces (like this) or simply use a stock cube. Personally, I love a simple pasta meal with a dash of oil, garlic and salt…..easy!

You can even get ready-cooked pasta that you just need to heat up, like this one.

Bulk out the meal by adding sliced pepperoni, vegetarian sausages, or dried fruits. For vegans and vegetarians, you can sometimes find ‘vegan billton‘ style snacks like this one (just check the plant-based section in supermarkets). They’re great to have as snacks or to bulk up any meal!

If you need a gluten-free option or prefer something a bit healthier, these lentil and chickpea pasta’s are brilliant!!

Top Tip: To save burning lots of fuel heating your couscous or pasta, simply bring the water to a boil, turn it off, add the couscous or pasta and put the lid on. It will be slower but will eventually cook them through. If needed, turn the stove back on and bring it back to the boil to repeat.

#9 Curry

*Cooking required*

It’s possible to buy curry in packets to be heated up in a pan when you are ready to eat. Add some nan bread (you can toast them in your stove or on an open fire) and you’ve got a great substantial meal.

#10 Rice

*Cooking required*

A lazy but filling expedition food option! Don’t ever bring normal rice to cook as it takes a long time and will eat up your fuel – rice in a packet is always more efficient (Uncle Ben always has lots of options). Try to get rice with added veg or protein so the meal feels substantial.

#11 Dehydrated expedition packs

*Cooking required*

When thinking of camping or Duke of Edinburgh food ideas, expedition packs (sometimes called dehydrated camping food or ration packs) are probably what most people think of…and for good reason!

If you are doing a multi-day expedition or adventure, I would really recommend bringing some expedition packs for your meals if you can afford them. They are easy to cook and provide a high-calorie meal at very little weight. They can be a little pricey, so mention in the outdoor store if you are doing your DofE award or a charity challenge and you may get a discount.

Another option is to buy a dehydration machine and make up your own expedition food in advance! This might seem extreme but it actually could be the most affordable option if you are doing a number of expeditions….plus you have full control, so can make your favourite expedition meals.

Check out these brands that offer expedition food packs:

#12 Veggie sausages and instant Mash

*Cooking required*

Instant mash is really easy to cook up. You can have it with curry (see above) or veggie sausages. Another good option is taking a tin of beans and sausages. Although you want to avoid tins, taking 1 won’t cause a lot of hassle.

dofe dinner ideas

#13 Risotto

*Cooking required*

Bring some sachets of risotto (like this one). These usually just need to add water and then sit for a few minutes before being ready to eat. You can bulk the meal out by breaking in crackers or having a pitta bread with it.

#14 Chilli or Smokey Bean stew

*Cooking required*

This is always my go-to for any easy camping meal. It’s vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free….but also very yummy! All you need is a couple of tins of beans – ie black beans and kidney beans – a tin of chopped tomatoes and a sprinkle of paprika. Cook for 5-10 minutes.

Another one of my favourite camping recipes is ‘posh baked beans’: add a tin of butter beans, a tin of chopped tomatoes and a jar of sun-dried tomatoes together in a pan with some paprika. Cook for 5-10 minutes for a wholesome and tasty meal.

You can eat these meals on their own or with pitta bread or tortilla chips (if they get crushed in the journey, just sprinkle the small pieces into the dish to add some crunch!)

There’s no way to avoid bringing tins so this isn’t a good choice if you are having to carry your meals far.

#15 Desert

*No cooking*

Pack yourself a dessert to enjoy after your evening meal. Expedition foods often have puddings in a bag for an easy option (although, honestly, most of the ones I’ve tried have tasted disgusting!).

You could bring flapjack (homemade or shop-bought) and add some powdered custard. Save your favourite snack for a post-meal dessert. Or, if camping and you have a fire, you can’t skip the classic…..toasted marshmallows on the fire!

Food on the Jordan Trail

Snack ideas

In between meals, you want to be snacking regularly. Ideally, these will be high-energy snacks that you can keep in your pocket and eat quickly as you go, as you may not always have time to sit down and prepare food.

Here are some ideas for adventure and DofE snacks:

#16 Sports sweets and gels

These are an excellent option for refuelling and ensuring you have enough electrolytes – essential on a hot day. Cliff Bars products are great. SIS do great Isotonic Energy Gels.

#17 Energy balls

Make yourself some energy balls – these really are one of the best food ideas for snacking in the great outdoors. Tasty and easy to eat on the go. This is a good recipe. Short on time? Order protein balls online.

#18 Flapjacks

Make flapjacks at home or buy them ready from the shops. They work as a great snack as they don’t break easily and can withstand being squashed in a bag.

#19 Cereal bars

There are lots of cereal bars on the market so choose the flavours that you will enjoy the most.

#20 Dried fruit and nuts

A really fantastic healthy snack choice for any expedition.

#21 Mint cake

A classic expedition snack…I hate the stuff but a lot of people love it. Kendal Mint Cake is a classic choice for adventurers!

#22 Sweets

Not very nutritious but great for a morale boost for you and your team!

#23 Nut Butter

You can buy individual sachets of nut butter, which make a great hiking snack on the move. These are really expensive, so instead, I tend to just take a jar of nut butter with me (opting for plastic if weight is an issue) and eat it by the spoonful on my breaks.

How to store your food when camping or on an expedition?

If weight is not an issue – i.e. you don’t have to carry all your equipment and food a long way – then using airtight Tupperware boxes is a great way to store them.

Otherwise, compostable sandwich bags (sometimes called food and eco-freezer bags) will be your best friend! Separate your meals by day and put them in a sandwich bag. I like to use a permanent marker to write the day on the pack so they are easy to grab. I also do the same for snacks – creating a sandwich bag of mixed snacks for each day of my adventure or expedition.

I then put all the food into a big waterproof dry bag so they are contained and won’t get damaged, even if my bag or tent gets wet. At the start of each day, you then just need to grab the meal and snacks for that day and store them easy to hand.

Feeling more confident about your food plan?

Hopefully, these camping, hiking and DofE food ideas have given you an indication of what you should be including in your expedition meal plan. Whatever you have planned in the great outdoors – good luck! I give all my advice out for free on my website. If you want to say thanks, you can buy me a coffee!

Have you got any questions or ideas you want to share? Then use the comment box below and I’ll be happy to answer them.

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14 Comments

  1. Moutaz

    perfect for IA, although at IA we get an unlimmeted amount of water

    Reply
  2. Oliver Rees

    How long does pasta take to boil on a trangia

    Reply
    • Bex Band

      Most pasta takes 8-10 minutes to boil on a trangia. If you are trying to save fuel that’s a lot so here are some tips to help you save:

      – always keep the lid on
      – stop boiling a couple of minutes early and let the pasta sit in the hot water with the lid on. It will keep cooking
      – don’t add anymore water than you need
      – just buy quick-cook pasta which takes less time, like these ones: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/search/ref=as_li_qf_sp_sr_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=oa28-21&keywords=quick cook pasta&index=aps&camp=1634&creative=6738&linkCode=xm2&linkId=c91a3ab5928fff18c519b4f177149765

      Reply
  3. Broski

    it takes like 20 minutes to boil water alone when i test ran it

    Reply
    • Bex Band

      It can take time on boiling water on a Trangia! Make sure you have the lid on at all times, are in a sheltered place and only boil exactly the right amount of water to make it as efficient as possible.

      Reply
  4. Ella

    where can i find packeted currys?

    Reply
    • Bex Band

      Most supermarkets will sell it 🙂

      Reply
  5. Spango Mudfingerr

    Some of these food give me a reaction in my personal area. Is it permissible to eat radishes? And papaya?

    Reply
    • Josh

      if your willing to carry it you can eat it is what my DofE leader says, but they advise 1 cooked meal a day

      Reply
  6. J2 tr4ppy

    U man can find bare pot noodle at spar- no curry sauce cuz that joint is mingin

    Reply
  7. hi

    what is your advice on lunches for later in the DofE week (5 days), we would need lunch for Friday, made on Monday- what foods would last this long?

    Reply
    • Bex Band

      Wraps have a long use by date – eaten with something like peanut butter or nutella

      Reply
  8. anonymossee

    Hi any tips on how to tell my DofE group I don’t want to eat what they are making as it is bland and kind of not my style my best friend also in this group doesn’t want to eat 🙁

    Reply
    • Bex Band

      Definitely don’t be afraid to speak up but try bring a solution to the table – ie, I’ve already found some alternative suggestions or would like to propose cooking separate meals.

      Reply

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