Food for the Marathon des Sables

We've had a lot of questions recently about our products and the Marathon des Sables.

Mainly people have been wondering "can you make your meals with cold water?" and also "how much longer do they take with cold water?".

The answer is, as usual, that it depends.

Some of the meals hydrate really well without hot water, and some don't. Specifically:

1. Moroccan main meal: Hydrates really well (20-30 mins).
2. Italian main meal: Hydrates really well (20-30 mins)
3. Almond jalfrezi main meal and Thai green curry main meal: Hydrate well (30 mins) but only because the Sahara is so hot! In 'normal' weather we would not recommend this meal without proper hot water.
4. Blueberry burst breakfast: Hydrates quite well (20-30 mins) - the oats stay a tad chewy though (kind of like in muesli). Hydrates really well if you leave it overnight for breakfast the next morning.
5. Subtly cinnamon breakfast Super seed and red berry breakfast, Cashew and goji berry breakfast, Sour cherry and chocolate breakfast: Same as Blueberry burst, except that the coconut milk powder stays a bit powdery rather than dissolving completely in the water (i.e. if you make it with hot water, you end up with a creamy porridge; if you make it with cold water the coconut milk powder stays a little more separate). Probably worth testing one before taking it with you.


To test this out, Luke and Hazel Robertson took a bunch of our meals with them on the MdS last year, making them up in lightweight plastic water bottles. We thought the feedback was pretty positive...

"Took this - and other meals - with us on this year's Marathon des Sables and made everyone very jealous. Cooked it in the sun while others mucked around with stoves. Healthy, tasty and calorie packed goodness that was filling and great for recovery..."

Food prep without a stove during the Marathon des Sables
Prepping TentMeals expedition meals in the sun, without a stove

Photo credit: Luke and Hazel Robertson 

We also stock a number of ingredients in the "make your own expedition meal" section of our website. Again, some of these hydrate very well with cold water, some less so:

1. Dried vegetables: Hydrate well in ~30 minutes
2. Freeze dried raspberries: Hydrate well in ~5 minutes
3. Freeze dried strawberries: Hydrate well in ~5 minutes
4. Dried blueberries: Do not need hydrating (great for munching on)
5. Dried pears: Do not need hydrating (great for munching on)
6. Dried mango: Do not need hydrating and can be munched on as they are, but are absolutely delicious if you do rehydrate them - they end up really very close to fresh mango!
7. Freeze dried rice: Does not rehydrate without hot water
8. Coconut milk powder: This comes in at a whopping 705 kcal per 100g so is amazing if you're looking for a calorie boost. It forms a slightly powdery liquid though when used with cold water. I've used it with granola + water on camping trips before and loved it, but then I'm not fussy about my coconut milk having a smooth, milky consistency. Probably best to test it before taking it with you if you're uncertain!


On a quick aside for anyone making our meals with cold water in cooler climates than the desert - the above information still applies, but you should add a bit of extra time. People have made the meals using cold water high up in snowy mountains before without any problems, except maybe needing a bit of extra patience ;-).

Nutrition Planning for the Marathon des Sables

The toll that a race like the MdS takes on your body is immense. Getting your nutrition right is both difficult and critical.

Expedition meals form a useful part of your nutrition plan, but your body will need more variety.

We found this video from Sarah Williams talking about her food choices for the MdS extremely useful:



I hope this article was helpful in letting you know which of our products may (or may not) be suitable for the Marathon des Sables, and for other trips you would prefer not to take a stove on!


Very best of luck to everybody running!!

Jess & TentMeals

1 comment

  • Having picked them up from a Runfurther event, now sponsored by Tent meals, I tried them out on a recent trip to Roumania trekking 18 days in the mountains. Two or three nights in huts but mainly camping with no shops for 3/4 of the trip. The tent meals were excellent, not only light, compact and nutritious but they filled you up as well which is often a problem with this type of meal. I am about to set off on a similar trip to Bulgaria with the same logistical problems and I am about to order more Tent Meals for that trip. Excellent product.

    Richard Scroop

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