this thing's incredible

From Leeds Festival to Glastonbury, These Sous-vide Meal Bags Have Kept Me Well-Fed

Photo: Image courtesy of Wayfayrer.

Like every other 16-year-old at Leeds Festival, I showed up woefully underprepared. I’d spent the entire post-GCSE summer saving money to afford a ticket and a pair of Hunter wellies, but I hadn’t prepared myself (or my wallet) for the food-vendor prices. It being my first festival, I’d only thought to pack a few breakfast bars, so I ended up surviving off a diet of Nutri-Grains and some cheap soup from the Salvation Army.

The next year, at T in the Park, I decided to pack my own noodles and invest in a portable stove to prepare them from the comfort of my own campsite. But a few days into the festival, I realised that man is not meant to survive on a diet of noodles alone. With another trip to Leeds Festival later that summer, I knew I had to come up with a tastier — but still cost-effective — plan.

While buying tent pegs at Go Outdoors, a row of lime-green foil pouches caught my eye. I instantly recognised the products as the camping-friendly boil-in-bag meals by Wayfayrer. A few years back on my Duke of Edinburgh trek, a well-prepared friend had brought some along and graciously offered me a couple spoonfuls so I could eat something other than the measly rice pots I had packed. Like the name suggests, these are full meals that come in a bag and get cooked like sous-vide meat: Each pouch gets submerged in a pot of boiling water for seven to eight minutes, and then it’s ready to eat. When my friend let me sample the chicken-tikka pouch, I was pleasantly surprised at how good it tasted: maybe not to restaurant standard, but definitely that of a ready-meal from a posh supermarket.

A closer read of the pouch revealed a little more about both the food and the brand: Wayfayrer is owned by industry giant Malton Foods, a 50-year-old company known for supermarket products such as hotdogs and burgers. I also noticed that the brand had an ongoing partnership with the D of E Award and had been named the official food for the annual trek. The nutritional information of each pouch was pretty consistent, containing around 20 grams of protein — precisely the fuel I’d need for four days of dancing and wading through the Leeds mud. At five pounds each, the boil-in-bags were also incredibly cost-effective, meaning I could have two or three of them for less than the price of one burger from a food van. While admittedly more expensive than my failed noodle experiment, the variety and nutritional content justified the increase in expense. I decided to add a few different meals — Tikka Masala, All Day Breakfast, Chilli Con Carne, and Spicy Sausage Pasta — to my basket.

As the bags are quite tough and didn’t need to be kept cool (they each contain a foil inner), packing them meant simply throwing them in my backpack with my clothes and sleeping bag. When we unpacked at Leeds, a couple of my first-time-festival friends raised their eyebrows as I began boiling my dinner, assuming I’d been too overzealous with my packing. By day three, their looks had turned from skeptical to envious as I tucked into my piping hot All Day Breakfast of beans, sausage, and some omelet chunks. (Of all the meals, I think the breakfast pouch would have to be my favourite.)

I’ve now been heading to festivals like T in the Park and Glastonbury for years, and I never neglect to pack a basketful of Wayfayrer pouches in my rucksack. Sampling the mind-boggling variety of food at each festival (and supporting local vendors) is part of the fun of festival camping, but if your budget doesn’t quite stretch to a £15 burger — or you want the option to eat from the comfort of your own tent — you can’t go wrong with a foolproof boil-in-bag supper.

And a Strategist-approved camping stove

This portable stove is the one that I rely on to cook my pouches. It’s also favoured by Rosie Percy, the Strategist’s associate director of audience development.

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These Sous-vide Meal Bags Are My Festival Meal Hack