Blog 03.06.2019

Cooking on a DofE expedition

Making a meal together is one of the best team building activities of the Expedition section and helps develop important life skills by:

  • Choosing and agreeing on ingredients
  • Managing a budget
  • Preparing and packaging food
  • Cooking from scratch
  • sharing meals

The expedition aim: participants must plan an appropriate expedition menu, including cooking and eating a substantial hot meal each day. This is optional on the final day.

It’s a great opportunity to be creative. Expedition food doesn’t have to be dull.

Key principles of expedition food

When designing your expedition menu, you should consider:

  • As the length of your expedition increases, so does your need for a balanced diet designed for physical activity in the outdoors.
  • Try to pack as much energy (or calories) into the least weight and volume possible. We recommend between 3,000 and
  • 5,000 calories per day, depending on your expedition.
  • Choose the foods high in fats, carbohydrates and sugars.
  • Keep weight and litter down by removing packaging.
  • Dried, cured, smoked or vegetarian foods usually last well.
  • Choose food you like and enjoy, that is quick and simple to cook.
  • Take food that doesn’t need to be kept in the fridge and will last in warm temperatures.
  • Pack each meal in a waterproof container or
  • bag and store each day together so they are easy to find in your rucksack.

Download the expedition meal planner to help you plan breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for every day of your expedition.

Key kit for cooking

You’ll need to cook a hot meal during your expedition and show you can use a camping stove effectively. Your stove will normally use gas or methylated spirits as fuel.

Get into good habits with your cooking stove and camp craft to maintain your kit and to stay safe when cooking outdoors.

  • Halve your cooking time by placing a lid on your pan.
  • Always use a purpose-built bottle to carry fuel.
  • Keep your burner in a strong plastic bag to prevent fuel leaking.
  • Avoid keeping lighters/matches and fuel in the same bag/pocket.

Time to cook

The DofE recommended Trangia stove is compact, lightweight, easy to clean and cheap to run. If looked after well, they can last for many years. Stoves are usually provided by your DofE Leader, but make sure to check.

Take some time when picking your cooking location. A firm level surface at ground level where the stove will not be knocked over is ideal. It also must be at least two metres away from flammable items e.g. tents.

Fuel up

Fuel must be carried in bottles specifically designed, with a screw top and safety valve. They must be easily distinguished and kept separate from water bottles.

Trangia fuel bottles with safety valves are good to use.

When refuelling, make sure the stove is completely extinguished and the stove/burner has cooled before removing the burner to refill it.

For more stove safety and fuel instructions, download our stove safety guide.

What to eat with?

Specially designed camping utensils can really cut down on weight and space. It’s more robust than regular cookware, which is especially helpful on longer Gold Award expeditions.

The Lifeventure Ellipse range is made from lightweight, durable plastic and is easy to clean. The range includes everything you need for your expedition, including mugs, plates, bowls and cutlery.

Stick to one colour for your cookware so you can recognise what’s yours in your group.

Clearing up

Once you’ve finished cooking and eating your meals, you need to do a few things before packing up.

  •  Check any excess fuel is safely stored or disposed of in an eco-friendly way.
  • Wait until your stove is cool to clean it, but make sure you do it before you go to bed so leftover food doesn’t attract any animals in the night.
  • Make sure you clean your pots and pans. Dried on food is much harder to clean and can make you feel unwell.
  • Collect any rubbish you have at the camp site. We recommend you store the rubbish in a plastic bag attached to your rucksack, to avoid your clothes from smelling.

Download our free poster for more tips on eating on a DofE expedition.

Save 10% or more on all your cooking equipment and campcraft at our recommended retailers.

Always show your DofE Card or Voucher. You’ll get the best savings and help support young people to do their DofE.