What to eat (and not to eat) on a D of E Bronze expedition

My younger son has recently done his D of E Bronze practice expedition. After much discussion with him, his friends, his friends’ parents, checking of the website etc etc, we worked out what he should take to eat.

Some of it was right, some of it was wrong.

The key things to remember are:

  • They need a hot evening meal
  • They need lots of calories
  • While they need a certain amount of balance, a bit less fruit/ veg and meat is not going to kill them
  • They’re only away for about 30 hours
  • They need to carry it all, including water
  • Lunch is best eaten on the move – grazing rather than a sit down picnic

Here’s some of the things that are good to eat…


They’re higher in calories than normal bread, they don’t get as stale and they don’t crush as easily. What’s not to love? We spread the first couple with peanut butter for extra calories and protein and my son, who likes to eat dry bread at home anyway, was happy to eat the others dry the following day.

Supernoodles (or similar)

Dehydrated foods might be pretty devoid of nutritional benefit, but they’re easy to prepare, pretty high in calories and also hot. They fulfil the requirements of a cooked evening meal and they can help cold kids warm up.


Another food which doesn’t have a lot of nutritional benefit and you wouldn’t generally eat at home, but they’re tasty among all the bland carbs and don’t need to be refrigerated.


Good for protein and calories, but a definite no-no (along with the peanut butter bagels) if anyone in the group has a nut allergy. Also salty, which makes kids thirsty – not ideal when they’re trying not to drink too much as they have to carry it.

Cereal bars

My son loves Nature Valley bars. They’re pretty high in sugar, as a lot of cereal bars are, but they’ve got a good calorie count and they’re tasty. Nature Valley also does a protein range, which I think we will try in future.

Mini boxes of cereals

There isn’t time to cook breakfast on D of E. My son is happy to eat cereals without milk, so mini boxes of cereals were perfect for him. Again, they’re a bit high in sugar, but it’s only one weekend – and one where they’re burning lots of energy anyway.

Mars Bars

Just because. It’s D of E and that’s what you eat. It was good enough for me in the 80s and it’s good enough for my son now. Although they might melt if the weather is hot.

Dried fruit

My kids wouldn’t touch it with a bargepole, but dried fruit is lower in sugar than things like cereal bars and flapjacks and provides slow release energy. As well as being actual fruit, of course!

D of E, D of E Bronze, D of E expedition, What to eat (and not to eat) on a D of E Bronze expedition

And here’s some which aren’t so good to eat…


It will get crushed and bruised, making it unpleasant to eat and potentially messing up the contents of your rucksack.

Pasta and rice

Nutritionally, they’re good, but they’re heavy and take up lots of space. They’re also pretty slow to cook on a trangia.


They’re too salty and just make kids thirsty when water is limited. Plus they get crushed easily.

Tinned foods

They might be quick to prepare, stay fresh and not get damaged, but they’re very, very heavy.


A word about water… My son was advised to take two litres of water with him. There were refills at checkpoints and at the campsite. It was pretty hot and sunny when he went. At the campsite, the refill water provided by leaders was used for cooking and washing up and my son was unable to refill his drinking bottle. He spent an unpleasant evening without water and was unable to drink again until his first checkpoint the next morning. Despite the extra weight, he will probably take extra water with him next time.


Has your son or daughter done a D of E expedition? What foods worked well for them?


Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. Ha, this brought back memories … of vesta dehydrated chicken curry, baguettes and jam (oddly) and mars bars of course!

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    • I liked those Vesta meals, especially the chow mein! I bet they were better than the Supernoodles my son had. I remember one group had about 32 Mars bars each because they thought they needed their entire calorie requirement for the weekend in Mars bars.

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  2. I did this when I was 17 and it was one of the best experience of my teenage life. I wouldn’t do it again though!
    The best thing for me was porridge as its lightweight and can be cooked with water.

    Kay xx

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    • Some of the boys in my son’s group had porridge and he was horrified! I can’t say I like it either. I did my Bronze and Silver when I was 14 and 15 and my main memory is of arguing with the other girls in the group! Although one of them still likes me enough to read and comment on my blog!

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      • Haha, I don’t remember arguing at all! But we did get lost a lot …

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        • It’s funny how we remember different things. We argued about getting lost and we argued when some people wanted a break and others wanted to carry on. It was usually me and you against the rest of them!

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  3. Things have moved on a bit since my day. I can remember bean feast with pasta. I wonder if quick cook pasta might be worth looking at as I find that takes about half the time. I think it’s the same just smaller (bigger surface area to get heated I think that’s why it’s quicker). We made sandwiches for our D of E and were still eating them at lunch on the 3rd day (it wasn’t as bad as you might have thought). Bagels are probably a better option though. Can’t remember what we had for breakfast.

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    • Quick cook pasta does sound good. I remember making peanut butter sandwiches on baguettes and there being utterly rank by the second day, which isn’t surprising as baguettes get stale really quickly anyway!

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  4. Gosh that’s terrible about the water, I would be quite cross about that if it was my child. The leaders had a responsibility to make sure they had enough to drink. Great ideas on the food though, I hope my two do D of E when they’re older, I always enjoyed it.

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    • It was very poor about the water, it was a hot day and they’d clearly miscalculated how much they needed. Knowing my boy, he wouldn’t have complained either. Luckily he didn’t suffer any ill effects from it. I enjoyed D of E too, although we argued a lot! X

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  5. That is really interesting. None of mine has ever shown an interest in DofE and I would have loved them too as it is such a great experience. That is so awful about the water, especially with the warmer weather, they should really prioritise the kids having water to drink

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    • It’s a really great experience, although the other elements (physical, skills and volunteering) seem less appealing to a lot of kids. I don’t know what was going on with the water! Thankfully it was fine when they did their actual expedition.

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    • Good question! That’s what we ate when I did mine. I loved the Chow Mein!

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  6. Some great foods i should have thought about when i did it. Such a shame about the water though 🙁 #mixitup

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    • The water situation was ridiculous! Thankfully they’d got it sorted by the time they did their real expedition.

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  7. When I was younger I did dofe and found the meals that were like in a foil package from places like go outdoors and also energy bars really helpful X #mixitup

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    • Those meals do look good – and they’re nice and light! Would definitely need to cut the weight of the rucksack down a bit for silver and gold (if he does them) as they are longer.

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  8. Bit of a nightmare with the lack of water. I’d struggle with that, but it is so heavy. I never did DofE but my best friend did and we went camping after uni together. We ate a lot of rice krispie square things for energy when out walking #mixitup

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    • The lack of water was very annoying! Luckily they’d sorted it in time for the real expedition, but he also decided to carry a bit more in case. I think D of E put me off camping for life!

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