Planning day hike lunch ideas shouldn’t be difficult. This list shares a variety of different flavors and food items for your next backpacking trip. These easy day hike lunch ideas are perfect for multi-day hikes and a quick hiking trip.
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- 1. Fresh Fruits
- 2. Fresh Veggies
- 3. Hard Cheeses
- 4. Dried Fruits
- 5. Nuts
- 6. Fruit Cups
- 7. Dehydrated Meals
- 8. Peanut Butter & Jelly
- 9. Muffins
- 10. Crackers
- 11. Popcorn
- 12. Instant Oatmeal
- 13. Bagels
- 14. Beef Jerky
- 15. Meal Bars
- 16. Candy Bars
- 17. Granola Bars
- 18. Trail Mixes
- 19. Ramen Noodles
- 20. Tuna
- 21. Instant Rice
- 22. Pretzels
- 23. Cereal
- 24. Potato Chips
- 25. Energy Drinks
- 26. Sports Drinks
- 27. BLTs
- 28. Wraps
- 29. Bruschetta
- 30. Hard-Boiled Eggs
- 31. Smoothies
- 32. Vegetable Salad
- 33. Tuna Salad
- 34. Chicken Salad
- 35. Pasta Salad
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1. Fresh Fruits
Fresh fruits such as bananas and apples are always good options on the go because they are healthy and easy. Plus, they can be kept at room temperature for long periods of time. They pair well with other items to keep things interesting such as peanut butter and whole-grain bread.
Make a couple of sandwiches for your day of hiking or just throw these fruits into your backpack and eat them as is at lunch time.
2. Fresh Veggies
Instead of filling up on junk food, pack some fresh vegetables to keep your energy level up. Pack carrots, cauliflower, bell peppers, and broccoli along with a dip for a delicious, healthy lunch option that is sure to keep you going during a long hike.
3. Hard Cheeses
While soft cheeses like feta cheese or cream cheese will not stay fresh very long away from the refrigerator, hard cheeses are a good choice. Select hard cheese varieties such as parmesan cheese and asiago for a great way to enjoy healthy snacks in a variety of different ways without having to worry about refrigeration.
Add to pita bread along with some fresh spinach for an easy way to enjoy a gourmet-worthy meal on a short hike.
4. Dried Fruits
Dried fruits are a great option for long hikes without access to a refrigerator on a hot day. This is the best option for easy access to a healthy meal containing complex carbs without having to worry about perishable food.
Dried fruits are great for adding to trail mixes and cereals while on the go.
Nuts are a great snack or meal idea because they are very filling and highly nutritious. They are a great source of fiber, protein, and healthy fats. Choose from varieties like cashews, pistachios, pecans, and almonds for a healthy snack that mixes well with dried fruits.
6. Fruit Cups
These easy-to-pack containers come in a variety of flavors and do not require refrigeration. Don’t forget to pack silverware with fruit cups when planning your day hike lunch ideas.
7. Dehydrated Meals
Freeze-dried meals are a great way to enjoy a full meal without having to prepare the whole spread yourself. From freeze-dried pulled pork to chicken and rice, these meals come with everything you need to enjoy a full meal when away from home.
There are many brands available but Mountain House is an easy-to-find brand that offers quite a bit of variety.
8. Peanut Butter & Jelly
This classic sandwich is an easy-to-make and easy-to-pack lunch idea for hiking. This sandwich does not require refrigeration which makes it a great choice for an on the go food, especially when you don’t want to pack a cooler.
Peanut butter is a great source of protein and contains lots of heart-healthy fats.
Muffins are an easy-to-pack option that comes in a variety of flavors. Make your own frosted apple cinnamon muffins for your day hike or pick up some pre-packaged muffins from your local grocery store before heading out. Choose whole-grain muffins and be sure to check the nutrition label for sugar content if this is a concern for you.
Crackers make a great snack all by themselves but they also pair well with a variety of foods that are perfect for hiking. Shelf-stable meats, peanut butter, and hard cheeses all go well with crackers. Plus, you can buy a variety of crackers that are already prepared with peanut butter, cheeses, and other fillings.
Whether you decide to pick up a package of already popped popcorn or want to pop your own, this crunchy snack is a great option for hikes. Diets rich in whole grains have been linked to a lower rate of heart disease and other common health problems.
This homemade no-bake caramel popcorn recipe is made without corn syrup and is so easy to whip up for a great day hike snack.
12. Instant Oatmeal
Oatmeal comes in a variety of flavors and is a good source of whole grains. This is the right food for those who enjoy a hot meal on the go because it will fuel your body with the energy it needs for the rest of your hike. Complex carbohydrates such as oatmeal help with digestion, which is one of the most important factors in keeping blood sugar in check.
Just be sure to pack enough water to prepare your meals if you won’t have a water source on the trail. It’s always a good idea to pack along an extra water bottle to go with your day hike lunches.
If you find yourself with leftover instant oatmeal packets and want to make oatmeal cookies, this post shows you how to make cookies from leftover oatmeal packages.
Bagels are one of my favorite day hike lunch ideas because there are delicious and simple to prepare.
Cream cheese is pretty much off-limits unless you pack a cooler to keep it fresh but butter may work in some conditions. According to the USDA, butter is safe at room temperature so if you plan on staying out in the heat for long periods of time you may want to pack your spread in a cooler.
14. Beef Jerky
Beef Jerky is one of the best foods to take on a hike because it is easy to pack and doesn’t take up much space. It fits nicely into a backpack and stays good for long periods of time. This is the best way to enjoy trail snacks that are packed with protein and low in carbs. It has been reported to boost the immune system and is a good source of vitamins and minerals.
15. Meal Bars
Whether you are looking for a burst of energy or just want a healthy snack, there are many options for trail bars to bring along on your next camping trip. They make a great meal because they offer a quick energy boost and can easily be found at your local grocery store.
Simple and healthy, this is one of the easiest day hike lunch ideas for your next outing.
16. Candy Bars
While you wouldn’t want to make a habit of eating candy bars for lunch, these can be the best day-hike lunch ideas because they are simple and delicious.
Make your own peanut butter cups with this easy recipe or pick up some pre-packaged candy bars from the store for an easy snack or quick lunch ideas for hikes.
Choose varieties with nuts or peanut butter to get some extra protein and healthy fats into your snack.
17. Granola Bars
Granola bars are a great way to have a quick meal within easy reach during your hike. Some flavors may include brown sugar and chocolate so it is best to store them in a cool place when possible.
If you are watching your sugar content, be sure to check the nutrition label before making your selection. Some granola bars contain high amounts of sugar and offer little nutritional benefit.
Choose brands that use whole ingredients and offer fiber, protein, and little added sugar.
18. Trail Mixes
The best part about trail mix is that you can buy this great snack already mixed with several tasty ingredients. It stays fresh for a long time and doesn’t require hot water to enjoy. Mix nuts with dried fruit for a delicious snack that packs lots of fiber, protein, and flavor to help you fuel up your day hike.
If your favorite trail mix includes chocolate chips or chunks of chocolate it may require a cooler in the hot sun. Be sure to pack accordingly depending on the temperature to avoid a melted, messy snack.
19. Ramen Noodles
If you are looking for a warm meal that doesn’t require too much water to make, ramen noodles are a great option. Noodles come packaged in plastic bags with your choice of flavor packets from chicken packets to beef, and everything in between.
Bring along some hot sauce for a little bit of extra flavor or add in crackers for an extra crunch.
Canned tuna packed in olive oil or water is an excellent choice for food on the go. This easy-to-enjoy food packs a lot of flavor and protein into a small, easy-to-pack container. This is a great option if you want a lot of protein without eating too much food on your hike.
Grab mayo packets for mixing into your tuna salad on the go without having to worry about refrigeration.
21. Instant Rice
When you are looking for a hearty meal on the go without a lot of preparation needed, instant rice is a good choice. As Mitch Hedberg said, “Rice is great if you’re really hungry and want to eat two thousand of something”.
You can add a variety of vegetables like sweet potatoes without a lot of extra cost to bring this meal to the next level. Pack some soy sauce packets for an extra burst of flavor on the go.
Pretzels are an easy snack for hiking and camping because they come in a sealed package that has a long shelf life. It doesn’t need refrigeration and is perfect for pairing with a sandwich or just dipping in mustard. Pretzels pair well with hard cheeses or nuts and mix well into trail mixes.
The flavor options of cereal seem endless and this quick meal can be eaten dry or with milk. Add in fresh or dried fruit for an extra burst of flavor. Bring along powdered milk or soy milk for an easy way to enjoy a bowl of cereal without having to worry about refrigeration.
24. Potato Chips
While this isn’t the healthiest of lunch options it is very convenient and tasty. Potato chips come in a large variety of flavors and are semi-perishable food that has a long shelf life. This snack is a great side dish option for a sandwich or enjoyed all by itself on a hike.
25. Energy Drinks
Energy drinks provide a quick burst of energy and are easy to transport. A good reason to pack these drinks for a hiking trip is if you want to get an energy boost from caffeine as these drinks are usually packed full of this stimulant.
Just be sure to check the nutrition information as they usually contain a lot of sugars and other sweeteners that could be a health concern for some.
26. Sports Drinks
Drinking Gatorade and Powerade is a great way to get electrolytes and other essential nutrients without having to eat a meal.
These are the perfect drinks to pack for a hike and consume in between or with a meal. Choose from a variety of flavors that pair best with your favorite day-hike lunch ideas.
Toasted bread with mayo, lettuce, tomato, and bacon comes together to create an easy-to-pack lunch that is full of flavor. Add your favorite cheeses or meats such as cheddar and turkey to bring this sandwich to the next level. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on top and serve this sandwich with a bag of your favorite chips for a full meal while on the go.
The possibilities for wraps seem endless, there is a big variety of delicious flavor combinations that can make a delicious lunch for your next hike. Wrap lunch meat with your choice of veggies in a tortilla for a filling and nutritious lunch that isn’t too heavy.
Just because you are on a hike, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat well. Make your own bruschetta with this simple recipe and pack it for your next hike. Prepare the bruschetta before leaving but be sure to wait until assembling this dish. Store the toasted bread separately and spoon the bruschetta on top when you are ready to eat to avoid a soggy lunch.
30. Hard-Boiled Eggs
Hard boiled eggs are a great day hike food that are also a good source of lean protein and healthy fats. The most important thing to keep in mind is that this food needs to be kept cold so packing this in a cooler is a great idea. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top for an extra burst of flavor.
Packed full of vitamins and nutrients, smoothies are a healthy option for your day hike. Make your own smoothie or pick up a premade container for easy prep on your next day hike. Be sure to check the nutrition label for added sugars if this is a health concern for you.
32. Vegetable Salad
Crisp lettuce with tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and croutons for a simple salad that packs a lot of flavors to enjoy on your hike. Bring your favorite dressing along to add to the salad when you are ready to enjoy this healthy day hike lunch idea.
33. Tuna Salad
Mix tuna with onions, celery, and mayo for a tuna salad that is great on bread or by itself. Add in raisins or nuts for an extra burst of flavor.
34. Chicken Salad
Mix chunks of chicken with mayo, celery, onion, mustard, and mayo for a delicious chicken salad that is great served by itself or on sliced bread for a delicious sandwich. Wrap in a low-carb tortilla for a low-carb day hike lunch idea that fits into a keto diet.
35. Pasta Salad
When exerting yourself with a lot of physical activity you may want to include foods that are high in calories and carbohydrates since they provide the body with glucose, which is converted to energy. Mix your favorite vegetables with pasta, fresh mozzarella, and dressing for a delicious pasta salad that is easy to consume on the go.
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