To get the best expedition experience make sure you think about your food carefully beforehand! You will always feel better if you have got nice food to eat later on, but there are a few guidelines which will help you along the way. You don’t want to end up carrying 10 kg of your favourite food but then be too tired carrying all that weight…

So what types of food are best on DofE gold expeditions? Think of these simple things:

  • Food should be tasty
  • Lightweight as far as possible
  • Nutrition is crucial – make sure you’re getting your protein, carbs and fat and the right minerals and vitamins

It’s easier to say what not to bring than what you should bring, so definitely mostly avoid:

  • Large amounts of canned food (it’s heavy) – if you do bring canned food it should be nutrient/calorie dense like meat, so that it’s worth the weight
  • Pot noodles! Nutritionally useless, if you try to subsist on these you’ll feel awful!
  • Fresh foods containing meat or dairy products as these will go off quickly

We often see people bringing food that just doesn’t work – it’s heavy, has poor nutritional value and they end up feeling awful – don’t do it!

The principles:

  • Eat more than usual! You’ll need at least 3000 calories, probably more. A ‘normal’ amount is about 2000, so plan to eat extra.
  • Have plenty of snacks to hand during the day in case you need a quick boost.
  • Water – it’s vital to keep hydrated. In the summer it’s easy to remember because we all know we’re going to need water, but in spring and autumn we often get dehydrated because we don’t think to take on water. TrekCo will always ensure that there’s water available for you to fill up at stops so make sure you have 2 good sized bottles, at least 1 litre each, and keep sipping all day.
  • Remember that some foods chosen (and some of those mentioned below) may not be considered ‘healthy’. However it’s also rather unhealthy to not have enough food and to faint on a mountain, or get cold because you can’t keep going. There is a compromise between all of our purest thoughts regarding healthy food and the weight, preservatives and so on that need to be considered. You could still have a really healthy, non – processed, vegan diet but it’ll take more preparation and thought before your expedition because of being able to keep the food for 4 days. Some will prioritise this, some will suspend or compromise for a few days. It’s your choice.

Good ideas:

  • Prepackaged camping meals, although these do contain a lot of chemicals
  • Rice and pasta, with sauces – all dried! So sauces should be in powder form or concentrated if possible – i.e. not a heavy jar of pasta sauce! 
  • Packets of instant oats are great but you’ll need 2 for breakfast as the portions are small for a walking day. You can also make your own, it’s easy – buy ReadyBrek and add nuts, dried fruit etc.
  • Muesli is also good for breakfast and lightweight for its nutritional value.
  • Frankfurters – these are renowned for their meat quality (maybe not) but taste great and are packed full of preservatives so will keep if in the packet. This may not sound ideal but they add a strong taste to bland meal bases.
  • Dried meat – jerky, biltong, dried sausages all pack nutritional punch. That’s why shepherds’ pockets all over the world have been full of them for centuries!
  • Cheese in tubes – squeezy tubes of cheese will also last ages too as they are designed to last longer. Many hard cheeses like cheddar will also last a lot longer than you think as long as the weather isn’t really hot. Not soft cheeses though! Cheese is packed with good stuff.
  • Bread – any type of pitta, naan and so on will keep much longer than other bread types and can be used with meals like soups and stews at any time.
  • Tinned fish – again, packed with nutrition for relatively little weight.
  • Desserts – Chocolate, biscuits, flapjacks, malt loaf, jelly – so many options! Probably the easiest one to plan…


Whilst water is the easiest option, sometimes we want some flavour, or maybe a hot drink in the morning or evening.

  • A small bottle of squash can flavour drinking water and is made in double-strength bottles which lasts longer.
  • Hot drink sachets like hot chocolate are easy to find.
  • Instant soup is great and very light.
  • If you like tea or coffee, put some tea bags or instant coffee in small plastic bags and put some powdered milk in another bag. This milk is actually really nice and of course is really light to carry.
  • Whatever you do, don’t bring cans of soft drink! They’re so heavy…

Food planning

  •  Simplicity Reigns: Opt for simplicity in meal selection, favouring dishes that are easy to whip up and don’t demand an extensive array of cooking gear.
  • Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance! Prepare your culinary adventure by mapping out meals in advance. Anticipate your needs and streamline your packing process using the DofE Meal Planner tool, designed to keep your expedition menu organised effortlessly.
  • Efficiency is key when you’re on the move. Opt for low-faff food. 
  • Travel Light: Keep the load manageable by choosing lightweight food options. Distribute the load among your group to ensure everyone carries a fair share.
  • Nutritional Balance: Fuel your expedition with balanced meals encompassing carbs, protein, and veggies to maintain optimal energy levels. Consider dietary variations to cater to everyone’s needs and preferences. 
  • Storage Wisdom: Safeguard your sustenance by storing it securely. Swap out glass containers for more portable and durable options like sachets, reusable plastics, or silicone bags to prevent spillage and maintain freshness throughout your expedition.
Cooking on your DofE expedition

Stoves and Cooking

You’ll need to cook hot meals during your DofE expedition and show you can use a cooking stove.

You will be fully briefed on using a stove; they are very simple to use and have no moving parts which can go wrong. we use meths as a fuel as we have found it to be the best and easiest to use fuel to use with Trangias.

We useTrangia stoves as they are safe, conduct heat quickly and are lightweight to carry. The DofE have their own guide to cooking stoves here; they recommend Trangias too.

Menu Ideas for Gold DofE

A great place to start is the DofE’s own ‘Eating on Your Expedition’ page, which has some meal ideas and pointers and can be found here.

Happy expedition eating!