Campfire Food: What To Eat At Festivals When You Don't Want To Spend £10 On A Burger

05 August 2014 by

Cordon Bleu trained Tess Ward, from blog The Yes Chef, is a Grazia Daily writer and festi-regular, who has spent far too many years eating bad burgers at festivals and regretting it. This summer she's taken matters into her own hands, and created the ultimate campfire recipe to enjoy on the field.

In the last however many years I have been intermittently festival go-ing, I have almost never been prepared enough to take anything more than my weight in alcohol and a couple of tins of tuna. Generally any foresight, or pre-festival planning is a no-go area. Like a true last minute merchant getting packed only ever happens on the day and thinking about food, only happens on the way to the festival, when the odd banana, box of crackers or packet of crisps gets bought with the best of intentions, crammed into my rucksack and forgotten about for the remainder of the weekend. After too many squashed, uneaten bananas and a rinsing of my bank account the whole of last summer, I decided to opt for a different tact this year on my festival circuit and get thrifty. If, like me you are one of those people continually finding yourself forking out on average food, then this is for you. I am certainly bored of spending £6 on a mound of pasta that could fit in a crisp packet. My mentality this year is, ‘I’d rather pre-plan, eat good food and enjoy splashing out on yummy festival food when I fancy it’ rather than the standard ‘what can I get that won’t rinse me dry, I am having to buy three meals a day, or eat a tin of tuna with a tent peg’.

So to start on my path to becoming a DIY festival foodie, I wrote a list, the key to any organisational success story. On that list I put all the dons of camping foods. Fresh foods for the first day, slow ripening food for the second day and tinned food for the third (and maybe fourth). Since I was heading to Farr Festival, which is only two-days, there was no need to stock up too heavily.


Farr is a small 5,000 person boutique festival, in Hertfordshire. Literally a mere hop skip and a jump from London town. Beautifully located in a lovely country valley, with views like none other, it is one of those festivals that feels a little more like and extended party, that has got a little out of hand, then a festival per say. It is also filled with beautiful young people. I mean it, there was an Adonis at every turn, unfortunately not many of them over 25 and all drenched in public school swagger, but a joy for the eyes all the same. Because if its petitness, food choice at the festival was limited. There was the great British Sausage Company, Goodness Gratious Me Health Foods, Bangwok, and a few others I did not frequent. For once I could take my pick and choose only the one that really took my fancy for my dining out Saturday supper. Let's face it, being a DIY festival foodie can only happen in moderation for it to be enjoyable, there has to be a bit of splurging and a gourmet hot dog, covered in beetroot relish was certainly appealing after a couple of ciders. Unfortunately my veggie friend, Tilly’s, tofu burger and goddess salad was a lot tastier. Bad choice on my part.


When writing out the list of appropriate food to take, the thing that struck me most was breakfast, no one wants to spend £6 on a bowl of cereal, or a bacon bap. The queues are almost always as long as the loo queue and the morning fuzzy mouth generally means you can barely taste what is going in it, let alone enjoy chewing it. However tinned sweetcorn or squashed sandwich, (the options I am usually faced with at a festival) is equally unappealing and a delicate little festival body needs fuel, so which is it. Well, this year it was neither. What I took was avocadoes and oatcakes (yes I was as ever trying to keep it a bit healthy, it is needed at a festival) I bought 3 avocadoes (one for each day and a spare) all in different stages of ripeness, plus two packets of oatcakes. Voila, breakfast, and a filling one at that, for two days… So filling in fact I offered out a spare avocado squished oatcake to friends… I’m practically Mother Theresa, I know. The only thing lacking was salt and pepper, (and possibly a bit of lemon, if I’m being fussy) which I managed to get from the begrudging bacon bap money swipers.


With my breakfast fodder sorted, all I had to think about was one lunch and a dinner. Since barbeques are a no go at festivals, unless you pitch one up beside the car, everything had to be cooked. In the end I went with a pack of frankfurters, a sachet of pre-cooked quinoa, a pot of pesto for one meal and a large pre-baked sweet potato, pot of houmous and some nuts for the other. A pot of M&S salad was on hand for any I’m-so-battered-on-bloody-marys-and-have-no-torch, so-I-might-mistake-my-converse-for-a-sweet potato moments. Snacks were mixed seeds, pre-made Date and Banana Quinoa Flapjacks (recipe on and carrot sticks for dunking in the pesto and houmous. The whole combination of which took up little more than one carrier bag. I was certainly pretty pleased with my efforts.

I would like to tell you that all went to plan and each meal was enjoyed as much as I hoped it would be, but alas unforeseen festival mayhem saw half my frankfurters get turned into mini missiles, one avocado get stolen and most of the nuts and seeds ended up in the bottom of my sleeping bag. How they got there I will never know… I did however managed to salvage two frankfurters, which meant that both meals actually took place in the end. The M&S salad was not needed, I’m sure you will be thrilled to know.


So here it is, my ultimate DIY festival foodie recipe: Baked sweet potato with houmous, avocado and nuts, a healthy tasty and filling festival meal. My advice to make it all the better, it to steal yourself some salt and pepper sachets from a near by service station and nab a pump of mustard from the gourmet hotdog guys. Viola a serious gourmet festival dinner!

  • 1 large baked sweet potato
  • ½ pot houmous
  • ½ avocado
  • a handful of almonds, I chopped them with my teeth.
  • Salt and pepper
  • A dollop of mustard (if you can get it
  1. To bake the sweet potato: Heat oven to 180 degrees, Prick the potatoes in several places, wrap in foil and bake for 45 mins, or until soft.
  2. To make: Spilt open the sweet potato, slater over the houmous, fan over the avocado and top with the nuts.
  3. To eat: With a knife and fork, not a tent peg.

 Farr Festival will be back in 2015, check out the website here for updates.

Catch Tess's blog The Yes Chef and here on Grazia Daily with her column DateNightDinners; @Tessward


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