If you’re looking for healthy and delicious hiking lunch ideas, you’ve come to the right place! I will share 23 of my favorite recipes perfect for a light meal on the trail.
These recipes are nutritious and easy to prepare, so you can focus on enjoying your hike instead of worrying about what to eat. If you have kids coming along, these meals are family-friendly and super tasty for everyone.
What Foods are Important to Pack on a Hike?
It’s essential to bring foods high in protein and carbohydrates but also low in fat (or high in healthy fats!). This will give you the energy to make it through your hike without feeling tired or sluggish.
If you are hiking in high altitudes, it’s essential to bring snacks and meals that are high in calories so that you will stay energized.
The most important thing to bring along is water, especially if you plan a longer hike. When hiking, you don’t necessarily require much food. A light meal with a few snacks will do. All these foods can be picked up from a local grocery store on your way to your hiking spot.
23 Hiking Lunch Ideas For Your Next Adventure
Now that we know what types of food to pack, here are some delicious and nutritious day hike lunch ideas:
1. Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwiches
This classic lunch is an excellent option for hikers who want something simple and easy to prepare. All you need is peanut butter, bananas, and your favorite type of bread! If you like more variety, try adding some honey or raisins for extra sweetness.
Remember to pack an extra banana as a snack later during your hike—bananas as fantastic for providing energy and eliminating leg cramps.
2. Hummus and Veggie Wraps
These delicious wraps are easy to make and can be customized with whatever veggies you like! Just choose your favorite type of wrap, then fill it up with hummus, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, and any other veggies you prefer.
You can also add some feta cheese or olives for extra flavor. Not only will this be delicious, but it’s also easy to prepare ahead of time so you can grab it and go when you hit the trail.
3. Egg Salad Sandwiches
For a protein-packed lunch option, try making egg salad sandwiches. All you need is boiled eggs, mayonnaise or vegan mayo if desired, diced celery and onions, and a touch of mustard for flavor.
Serve it on a toasted slice of whole wheat bread or in a wrap for a healthier meal. If you carry the egg salad sandwiches in your backpack, it’s a good idea to keep them in an insulated lunch bag to keep them fresh.
4. Quinoa Veggie Bowls
If you’re in the mood for something a bit heartier, make some quinoa veggie bowls!
Cook up some quinoa, then top it with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and other veggies you like. Add some feta cheese or black beans for extra protein if desired.
5. Trail Mix
This is an easy option to take as a snack or mix to make a trail mix lunch. All you need is your favorite nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and dark chocolate chips if desired. Just throw it all into a plastic baggie and enjoy!
6. Fruit Salad
Nothing beats a fresh fruit salad for a light and refreshing lunch. Cut up apples, oranges, pears, and other fruits you like into bite-sized pieces. Then mix the fresh fruits with some yogurt or granola for added crunch.
7. Tuna Salad Wraps
Tuna is an excellent source of protein and makes for a delicious wrap! This quick and easy lunch is perfect for hikers who want something light yet filling. All you need is canned tuna, mayonnaise (or vegan mayo), diced celery, onions, and whatever other veggies you prefer.
Serve it in your favorite type of wrap or on whole wheat toast for a tasty meal that will provide the energy boost you need to finish your hike!
8. Cheese Quesadillas
Quesadillas are another great option if you want something filling and tasty. Just grab some whole wheat tortillas, add your favorite type of cheese (Monterey Jack or cheddar; both work great!), and throw it in a skillet until the cheese is melted.
You can also add some diced tomatoes, onions, bell pepper, or any other veggies you like for a delicious lunch that won’t weigh you down. Wrap in aluminum foil to keep warm and fresh while hiking.
9. Greek Yogurt Parfaits
Greek yogurt makes for a great snack or light meal on the trail, especially when topped with fresh fruit and granola. All you need is plain non-fat Greek yogurt and your choice of fruits and granola. This tasty treat will give you all the energy—and protein—you need to get through the day.
10. Whole Grain Pasta Salad
If you’d like something a bit more substantial, try making a whole-grain pasta salad. All you need is some cooked whole-grain pasta (like brown rice or quinoa), diced tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, olives, and feta cheese. Drizzle it with olive oil and your favorite vinaigrette type for extra flavor. Not only will this be delicious and filling, but it’s also easy to make ahead of time so that all you have to do is grab it and go when you hit the trail!
11. Nut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches
A classic hiking lunch choice! Use almond, cashew, or mixed nut butters and jelly to make a nutritious sandwich you can easily eat on the trail. Spread it on whole wheat bread for added fiber. This will keep you full and energized throughout your hike!
12. Salami and Veggies
Create an easy wrap by filling a soft tortilla with slices of salami, your favorite veggies, and some mustard or mayonnaise. You can also use pita bread instead of a tortilla for more flavor.
13. Kale Salad
For those who want something light yet packed with nutrients, make yourself a kale salad on the go! Just chop up some kale leaves, add shredded carrots and other vegetables you have handy, and top with a simple dressing like olive oil, lemon juice, and salt.
14. Avocado Toast
This easy-to-make lunch is excellent when you need something more filling than the others on this list. Spread some mashed avocado onto two slices of whole wheat toast, sprinkle with black pepper and enjoy!
You can also slice some hard-boiled eggs and place them on top for added protein.
15. Chicken and Veggie Wraps
For those who need something a bit heartier, try making some chicken and veggie wraps. Start by cooking up some boneless, skinless chicken breast.
Then fill a wrap with the cooked chicken plus your favorite veggies like lettuce, tomato, cream cheese, onion, and bell pepper.
Drizzle with ranch dressing or your favorite sauce for added flavor. Wrap it up to keep it warm and fresh for the trail.
16. Oatmeal and Fruit
Oatmeal is an excellent choice for breakfast or lunch on the trail. Make it in advance or use instant oatmeal, then pour it into a thermos and add fresh fruit when ready to eat.
You can also top it with nuts or seeds for added protein and healthy fats.
17. Burrito Bowls
If you’re in the mood for Mexican food, try making a burrito bowl. Start by cooking up some black beans and brown rice.
Then add your favorite toppings like diced tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, salsa, and avocado. You can also add a dollop of Greek yogurt for added creaminess.
18. Charcuterie Plate
A charcuterie plate is a great way to get a variety of flavors. All you need is some salami, ham, dates, cheese, crackers, nuts, and fruits like grapes and berries. This is the perfect snack while taking in the views along your hike.
This is one of my favorites, as there is always something for everyone! Just toss them together in a large aluminum lunch box, and you have a meal fit for a king!
19. Protein Bars
Protein bars are a great choice if you’re short on time or want something quick and easy. Look for one with natural ingredients like nuts, seeds, and dried fruit.
This will give you the energy you need to power through your day in the great outdoors!
20. Apple, Brie Sandwich
Apples and brie make for a delicious combination! Slice an apple and put it in between two slices of whole wheat bread with some brie cheese. If desired, add a drizzle of honey for extra sweetness.
This sandwich will keep you full and provide plenty of vitamins and minerals to get you through your hike!
For something that will stick to your ribs, make a batch of chili before you head out and throw it into a container.
You can add meat or beans to make it more filling and top it with a handful of cheese, diced onions, and cilantro for added flavor.
This hearty meal is sure to fill you up on the trail and provide sustained energy throughout the day!
22. Pesto and Mozzarella Sandwiches
Pesto and mozzarella are consistently winning! Spread pesto onto two slices of whole wheat bread, then top with fresh mozzarella cheese slices.
Add any other favorite veggies you have handy, and this sandwich will be ready in no time. Add some cooked quinoa or a piece of ham for a heartier meal!
23. Teriyaki Salmon Rice Bowls
For something a bit more adventurous, try packing some teriyaki salmon rice bowls. Start by cooking up some brown rice in advance and then top with cooked teriyaki salmon.
Add your favorite mix of veggies like carrots, peas, bell peppers, and onions. Drizzle with soy sauce or your favorite teriyaki sauce for extra flavor, and you’re ready to hit the trail with a delicious meal!
With these 23 delicious and nutritious hiking lunch ideas, you’ll be sure to have enough energy to get through your next hike. So remember to pack up a hearty lunch before hitting the trail!
Understanding the need for protein, carbs, and fats
No matter what type of hiking lunch you decide on, it’s essential to ensure it’s packed with enough protein and complex carbohydrates to keep you energized for your hike.
With these delicious and nutritious options, you won’t have trouble finding something that will fuel your body and brain!
Protein and carbs are essential for maintaining energy and feeling full throughout the day. So make sure to include high-protein foods such as nuts, beans, eggs, or fish in your lunch to get the most out of your hike or backpacking trip.
- Whole grains wheat bread
- Fruit like bananas and apples
- Granola Bars
Lean Protein ideas:
- Nuts such as almonds, cashews, and walnuts
- Cheese like cheddar or mozzarella
- Dehydrated meals
- Greek yogurt
- Beef jerky
- Energy bars
- Hard cheeses
- Beans like chickpeas, black beans, or lentils
Remember the healthy fats as well. Healthy fats like olive oil, nut butter, and avocado are great for helping to keep your body fueled.
Hiking Food Tips
- Pack plenty of snacks to munch on throughout your hike to keep your blood sugar balanced
- Bring enough water (I always bring an extra water bottle just in case)
- Choose foods that will keep you full and energized for hours at a time
- Eat a balanced meal with protein, carbs, and healthy fats.
- Always practice safe food storage techniques so that your food doesn’t attract wildlife
- Choose food that is lightweight and easy to transport
- Make sure your lunch contains natural ingredients like nuts, seeds, and dried fruit.
Packaging your Hiking Lunch
I like to use heavy-duty insulated lunch boxes that keep my food cold and fresh throughout the day. If you bring perishable food, you will need to ensure it stays cool, so it doesn’t spoil.
A good option is to have a few small ice packs to keep everything fresh. These lunch boxes are great for carrying all your snacks and day-hike foods so you can refuel on the go!
If you are eating in a National Park or National Forest, following the Leave No Trace guidelines is crucial. This means you should pack out whatever you bring in and leave no food scraps behind. It’s a good reason to bring foods that use minimal packaging.
What Foods Not To Bring on a Hike
- Fried Foods: Fried foods are heavy and greasy, making them difficult to digest during a hike.
- Processed meats like bacon and sausage: These processed meats are also high in fat and sodium, so it’s best to avoid them for a healthier hiking lunch.
- High sugar snacks: Foods with lots of added sugar can give you an initial burst of energy, but it won’t last long and can cause an energy crash.
- Too much caffeine: While a cup of coffee in the morning can be great to start your day, avoiding too much caffeine throughout the hike will help keep you energized for longer.
- Juices and other sugary beverages: When hiking, it’s essential to stay hydrated! Water is the best option for hydrating your body.
- Stinky Foods: Any food items with a strong odor could attract wildlife.
Planning ahead and packing the right food ideas is key to an enjoyable and successful hike. That way, you’ll have the energy to explore, learn and admire all that nature offers!
It’s easy to get creative by mixing different ingredients to make your lunch ideas. So pack up some of your favorite snacks and meals for an enjoyable outdoor experience like no other! Happy hiking!