Food & Menu Planning


Fact 1: Energy and Balance Diet

  • Participants need to consume at least 3000 calories every day whilst on an expedition. This compares with 1500 - 2000 on a normal day.

  • Choose food that packs in as much energy (calories) into the least weight and volume as possible.

  • Ensure your menus are balanced, with an appropriate amount of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Don't overload on sugars which provide only a limited and short-term benefit.

Fact 2: Weight and packaging

  • Keep the weight and litter to a minimum.

  • Lightweight packaging - NO glass jars or bottles.

  • Focus on dehydrated food that you add water to, such as pasta, porridge oats, "Cup-a-Soup" packet soup etc.

Fact 3: Preservation

  • Food must be able to last for multiple days in a rucksack.

  • Avoid food items that need to be stored in a fridge or freezer.

  • NO fresh meat, dairy produce or eggs.

Fact 4: Sharing is caring

  • Each expedition team will be issued with 2-3 cooking stove sets (complete with burner and pans) and enough gas to last for the expedition.

  • Cook as a team. Plan your menus so that those cooking pasta cook together, those cooking rice cook together etc.

  • This saves on time and fuel, and helps to keep the weight of your food to a minimum. Using "quick-cook" food items will also save on time and fuel.

Fact 5: Taste

  • Participants MUST eat the food that you bring so make sure they like it!!!!

  • No matter how appropriate the food is, it provides no benefit if it is thrown away and not consumed.

  • If choosing to cook food that is not a normal part of the diet, try it at home first and follow the cooking instructions on the packet.


Breakfast is said to be the "most important meal of the day". It helps to kick-start your metabolism and prepare you for the day ahead. A good breakfast provides energy to help you carry your pack over hill and dale, and leads to improved concentration, making navigation and map reading easier. It therefore is also true that participants who have a poor breakfast or no breakfast at all tend to struggle with their rucksack and often make navigational errors.

On the day you arrive for your expedition, make sure you eat a good breakfast, such as porridge, a bacon sandwich, or even a "sausage and egg McMuffin!".

Some ideas for a good expedition breakfast include:

  • Porridge Oats - a 65g pot contains around 240 calories.

  • Scotch Pancakes - 65 calories per pancake

  • Pancakes - 65 calories per pancake

  • Chocolate-filled Crepe - 141 calories per crepe

  • Croissants - 150 calories per croissant

  • Pain au Chocolat - 184 calories per Pain au Chocolat

  • Nutella sachet (NOT jar) - 112 calories per 35g sachet

  • Jam / Marmalade (NOT jar) - 50 calories per 35g sachet

Lunches & Snacks

Lunches and snacks are to be eaten "on the go". Some tips to help you plan:

  • "Graze" throughout the journey, taking short breaks to top up your energy levels, keeping you body and mind fresh and active.

  • Avoid long lunch breaks or eating lots of food at a single stop. This will take longer for your body to digest, leaving you sluggish and tired.

  • No cooking or boiling water during the journey. This is to protect the environment from uncontrolled fire and to keep participants safe. It is now illegal to cook in a National Park area unless on a campsite.


  • Pitta Bread - 150 calories per pitta bread

  • Crisp Bread - 97 calories per slice

  • Tortilla Wraps - 174 calories per wrap

  • Sandwich Thin - 100 calories per sandwich thin

  • Nutella sachet (NOT jar) - 112 calories per 35g sachet

  • Jam / Marmalade (NOT jar) - 50 calories per 35g sachet

  • Tuna Topper - 134 calories per pack

  • Cheese slice - 78 calories per 25g slice

  • Malt Loaf Bars - 90 calories per bar

  • Granola Bar - 193 calories per bar

  • Choc Chip Cereal Bar - 144 calories per bar

  • Jelly Babies - 775 calories per 235g pack

  • Haribo - 55 calories per 16g pack

  • Kendal Mint Cake - 322 calories per 85g bar

  • Oaty Flapjack - 143 calories per flapjack

  • Eccles Cakes - 213 calories per Eccles Cake

TIP: Remember, these are intended to be snacks. Restrict the amount of snacks brought to a sensible amount. Over-indulging on sugary snacks will burn off the energy very quickly and will not help build up energy reserves!!

Evening Meal

One of the most critical of the 20 Expedition Conditions - "participants must cook and eat a substantial meal every day". The evening meal is regarded by Expedition Supervisors and Assessors as being fundamental to the success of any expedition. This is where your body gets to replenish energy reserves used during the day, and starts the process of preparing you for the next day's activity. It is also a great communal activity, helping to build teamwork and a time to share happy memories with friends - and your Assessor.

We recommend a "3 course meal" approach, with a soup or drink to start, consumed whilst you are preparing your main meal, and then following your main dish with a delicious pudding to finish! Here are a few ideas:


  • Tomato Cup-a-soup - 83 calories per 23g sachet

  • Minestrone Cup-a-Soup - 98 calories per 23g sachet

  • Roast Chicken Pasta MugShot - 219 calories per packet

  • Hot Chocolate 28g sachet - 116 calories per sachet

Main Meal

  • Quick-Cook Pasta - 184 calories per 125g with:

    • Dolmio Pasta Sauce (Carbonara) - 152 calories per 150g sachet

    • Dolmio Pasta Sauce (Tomato & Basil) - 92 calories per 150g sachet

    • Look What We Found Beef Bolognese (250g) - 255 calories

  • Boil-in-the-Bag Rice - 261 calories per 125g sachet with:

    • Look What We Found Chilli con Carne (250g) - 243 calories

    • Look What We Found Chicken Tikka (250g) - 338 calories

  • Dehydrated Mashed Potato - 104 calories per 30g portion with -

    • Look What We Found Chicken Casserole (250g) - 170 calories

  • Mediterranean Cous Cous - 202 calories per 110g packet

  • Super Noodles - 219 calories per 145g portion


  • Golden Syrup Cake - 800 calories per cake

  • Jamaica Ginger Cake - 800 calories per cake

  • Custard Packet (Just add water) - 270 calories per 70g packet

Vegetarian, Vegan & Gluten-Free

Some alternative ideas for vegetarian, vegan and Gluten-Free diets. Check out the "Free From" aisle in your local supermarket.

(VG = Vegan; VT = Vegetarian; GF=Gluten-Free)

Please check all food labels before consuming.


  • MOMA porridge oat sachets/pots (caramel/almond) - contains Almonds - 218 calories per pot VG/VT/GF

  • Tesco Free From Original porridge (237 calories) - Free from Milk, mild derivatives or milk based dairy ingredients, Wheat or wheat derivatives, cereals contains Gluten. VG/VT

  • Nakd Cocoa Orange Gluten Free Bar (Contains Cashews) - a variety of flavours - 145 calories VG/VT/GF

  • Tesco Free from Wholegrain Rice Cakes and Peanut butter/Jam

  • Trek Morning Berry protein flapjacks - 216 calories per bar - VG/VT/GF

  • Dried fruit

Lunches & Snacks

  • BFree pitta breads (Tesco "Free From" section) VG/VT/GF

  • BFree Sweet potato wraps (Tesco "Free From" section) VG/VT/GF

  • Pre cooked tofu - Cauldron tofu does pre cooked tofu already diced - or you can cook your own prior to expedition. Ideal for lunch on the first day. VG/VT/GF

  • GranoVita Vegetarian Pate Various flavours - Found in Holland and Barrett and large Tesco/Asda stores - VG/VT/GF

  • Jam

  • Vegan chocolate spread e.g. SO Free Organic Milk alternative Chocolate Spread. Found in Holland and Barrett/online. VG/VT/GF

  • Rice cakes and peanut butter as above.

  • Goody GOOD STUFF - variety of sweets including Koala Gummy Bears. VT/VG/GF

  • Dried Fruit

  • GF/vegan cereal bars found in the Free From Aisle. Trek and Nakd are two good makes, or some of Tesco own. VT/VG/GF

  • Hot Chocolate - VEGAN Sweet Freedom Choc Shot Liquid Chocolate - perfect for Hot choc! Use it ideally with hot vegan milk (almond/rice/soy etc) or pour it over cereal, fruit, spread on rice cakes or toast. Found in Holland and Barrett/online or Tesco. VG/VT/GF

  • Soreen Banana Malt loaf - VT

Evening Meal

  • Tesco Free from Fusilli pasta VG/VT/GF

  • Pasta sauce (home made or shop bought - Tesco own is good for basic sauce)

  • Merchant Gourmet Tomatoey French lentils (350kcal) - sachet ready to eat/heat. Other varieties available. VG/VT

  • Wayfayrer Vegetable Balti - 306kcal. VG/VT

  • Wayfayrer Vegetable Chilli - VG/VT

Branded Expedition Food

Branded Expedition Food (or "Ration Packs") are specifically designed for multi-day expeditions.


  • lightweight.

  • plenty of calories - range from 400 - 800 calories per packet.

  • easy to carry and long shelf-life.

  • ease of use - just add boiling water or place packet in pan of boiling water.

  • minimal/no washing-up - eat out of packet and then dispose of packet in rubbish bin when finished.

  • provides options for breakfast, evening meal and desserts.

  • range includes food suitable for vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diets.

  • However, they can be quite expensive, ranging from £4.00 - £7.00 per meal. The cost can mount up, especially for longer duration expeditions.

Types and Brands of Expedition Food

There are 2 types of Expedition Food:

  • Dehydrated - freeze-dried, ultra-lightweight, just add boiling water, stir and leave for 8-10 minutes then eat.

  • Boil-in-the-Bag - heavier, but tend to taste better, pre-cooked, place bag in boiling water to heat, then eat.

Brands include:

Where to Buy

  • Expedition retailers, including GO Outdoors, Cotswold, Millets, Blacks etc.

  • Online - Amazon or via online websites

TIP: If buying any branded Expedition Food, make sure you try it before the expedition so that you know you like the food. For a number of people, branded Expedition Food can be an "acquired" taste and may not be to everyone's liking!!!


Participants must keep themselves hydrated throughout the expedition. Water is the best liquid to drink during the journey. Leaders will meet teams at key locations during each day's journey and will be able to top-up water supplies, especially during hot weather.

An additional option is to add a little bit of fruit squash to improve taste.

Participants must avoid caffeine-based energy drinks as these do not improve expedition performance and may lead to health issues.

Cold Drinks

  • Water - bring 2 litres, either in a hydration pouch or split between multiple bottles that can be packed on either side of the rucksack to spread the load.

  • Robinsons Mini Squash

  • Lucozade Sport Isotonic (500 ml) - 150 calories

Hot Drinks

  • Hot Chocolate 28g sachet - 116 calories per sachet

  • Coffee and Milk 2-in-1 50g sachet - 46 calories per sachet

  • Tea (with powdered milk)

Emergency Rations

Every participant must have a small item declared as an "Emergency Ration". This is not to be consumed during the expedition unless it is an emergency. The purpose is to boost energy levels whilst managing a medical emergency until help arrives. Ideal location is to pack this with your personal first aid items.

  • Kendal Mint Cake - 1 small bar

  • Dextro Energy Tablets - 1 packet

Food & Menu Ideas Video