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Expedition food

You should design an expedition menu that takes into consideration the following:

  • Try to pack as much energy (or calories) into the least weight and volume possible. Depending on your activity, you may need between 3,000 and 5,000 calories each day.
  • Choose foods that are high in sugars, carbohydrates and fats.
  • Take the food you like and enjoy and everyone in your team can eat, which are quick and simple to cook and will keep for the duration of your expedition, even in hot weather.
  • Dried, cured, smoked or vegetarian foods will usually last well.
  • Think about keeping weight and litter down by removing packaging and cooking as a team.
  • Make sure all food is packed and waterproofed so that it will stand up to being squashed in your rucksack, being dropped or even sat on.


It is good practice to start the day with a substantial breakfast. This can include cereals, muesli, porridge or even a full English with tea, coffee or hot chocolate. You could even make up your own porridge before you go with oats, nuts, fruit, and muesli, then add milk powder. Once you’re on your expedition, simply add hot water to make quick porridge.


Lunch is usually eaten while you’re on the go, so picnic or ‘packed lunch’ style foods that don’t need to be heated or kept chilled are ideal.

A packed lunch is ideal for the first day but for the second, third and (if you’re doing gold) fourth-day soggy sandwiches lose their appeal! There are multiple other options to take for lunch. Firstly think about your type of bread, normal loaf bread will get squashed very easily so choose something that won’t get squashed for example wraps and pittas. In supermarkets, you can get small packs of cheese or soft cheese as well as cured meats or tubs of sandwich fillers and pots of tuna. (Note* don’t take anything that needs refrigeration!) 

Try to combine things that you’ll use for your evening meals too, so for example, if you are having cheese in your lunches you could buy a pack of pre-grated cheese and have it with your dinner too. 

High energy foods like flapjacks, cereal bars, nuts, dried fruit, biscuits, sweets, jelly, mint cake etc are great to go with your sandwiches.



Making a meal together is one of the best team-building activities of the Expedition section. Getting your group to plan your meals, cook from scratch, manage a team budget, choose and agree on a menu and share food are all excellent for developing life skills.

Don’t think of expedition food as dull! This is a great opportunity for you to be creative and show off your skills.

You’ll need to cook a hot meal during your DofE expedition and show you can use a cooking stove or ‘camp craft’ effectively in the outdoors.

Here is a list of food we recommend eating in the evenings AND a list of foods that are not suitable. 

Hearty soups, curry’s, stews, pasta and stir-fry are ideal meals that will give you enough calories to keep you going and are great expedition meals, these can be followed up with a hot or cold pudding, such as chocolate pudding or crumble and custard. 

This is a list of items we don’t recommend and why:

Glass items – Glass is heavy to carry and can break in your rucksack. 

Tinned Food – (Unless you’re canoeing) Tinned items are heavy, bulky and often need a tin opener.

Food that requires refrigeration e.g. cheese, fresh meat, fresh milk, butter – These will go off and some may melt.

Eggs These can crack and go off.

Crisps – Crisps take up a lot of room in your bag as they are in bulky packaging and can get crushed easily.

Chocolate – Chocolate can melt in your bag.

Pot Noodles – Pot noodles take up a lot of room in your bag as they have very bulky packaging, they can also get split easily but most importantly they don’t contain enough calories for an evening meal.