Day hikes are a great way to get outside and enjoy nature, but coming up with healthy hiking lunch ideas can be difficult. If you’re going to be out for several hours, a good hiking lunch can make or break your energy level, stamina, and enjoyment.
One of the most important considerations when selecting hiking lunches and snacks is that these foods will serve as fuel for your journey. You don’t have to eat junk food or spend hours cooking and cleaning when you could be relaxing and exploring. A delicious and easy hiking lunch can make all the difference.
Below, we’ve listed some fantastic make-ahead, just add water, and no-cook lunch ideas that you can enjoy on your hikes.
Just Add Water Hiking Lunch Ideas
Boiling water isn’t always the most convenient option, but it can result in some delicious on-the-go meals. We’ve compiled a list of some great warm meals for your hiking lunches below. The majority of these recipes require only the addition of hot water.
Oatmeal is filling, delicious, and high in fiber. As a result, it makes an excellent meal while hiking. While many hikers consider this to be an excellent breakfast option, there’s no reason why you couldn’t have some for lunch if it sounds appealing.
There are several methods for preparing and transporting oatmeal on your journey. Some hikers may prefer to prepare their own oatmeal ahead of time. If you really want to get creative, you can try some interesting overnight oat recipes, in which you simply combine the ingredients in a jar and leave them overnight.
2. Freeze-Dried Meals
If convenience is important to you while hiking, you might want to bring some freeze-dried meals instead of cooking or preparing your own.
Because they are lightweight and compact, freeze-dried meals are ideal for backpacking. In most cases, all you need to do is add water and you’re ready to eat. If you’ve never tried freeze-dried meals before, it’s a good idea to sample a few flavors before your trip. That way, you won’t end up bringing meals that you won’t eat.
Hikers looking for a quick and cheap route can pack a few packets of ramen. It may not be the most elegant option, but it is simple to transport, cook, and consume. Ramen packets are light and don’t take up much space in your pack.
When lunchtime arrives, all you have to do is add some hot water to get things going. On the other hand, dry ramen can also be just as tasty if you don’t mind the crunch.
4. Hard-Boiled Eggs
Boiled eggs can be a quick and easy protein source. If you’re only going for a day hike, boil them ahead of time and they should keep for a few hours. Just try to keep them as cool as possible before embarking on your hike.
5. Simple Pasta
Pasta can be a very easy food to bring along while hiking if you keep it simple. Pasta is light, and it doesn’t take much to make it tasty. As a result, it’s convenient to bring along on backpacking trips.
Pasta with olive oil, salt, pepper, or butter is a super easy meal that many people frequently eat for lunch at home.
Make-Ahead Day Hiking Food Ideas
Bringing prepared meals rather than meals that require cooking can significantly reduce your workload. After all, carrying too much weight can be a serious issue when you’re on the go. This is especially important when going on a multi-day backpacking trip.
1. Burritos or Wraps
Sandwiches are a popular option, but bread can easily become soggy or flattened. Tortillas, on the other hand, are much more durable and portable. They’re also better suited to multi-day hiking meals. A pack of tortillas takes up far less space than a loaf of bread.
You can make burritos to eat on the go with your tortillas. If you make them ahead of time, they may become cold by the time lunch arrives, so plan accordingly. If you don’t want to eat cold burritos, make a wrap instead. Wraps, like sandwiches, provide a lot of variety, which can help keep things interesting while hiking.
Sandwiches are frequently mentioned as quick and easy foods to prepare for a hike. There are so many different types of sandwiches you can make, including different bread and protein options to keep things from getting too boring.
To avoid soggy bread, keep your bread separate from any liquids until you’re ready to eat it.
3. Apples & Peanut Butter
Apples and peanut butter go well together. The combination provides a dose of sugar as well as plenty of healthy fats to keep your energy levels high. It’s also simple to assemble. Simply slice an apple or two and place some peanut butter in a container or sandwich bag. This pairing is ideal when you want to stop for lunch or a snack.
4. Energy Balls
Hikers can benefit greatly from eating energy balls. They’re high in calories and good fats. Furthermore, they are delicious! You don’t have to cook them or worry about keeping them cold because they’re made with ingredients that can live on the shelf.
5. Trail Mix
Although trail mix can be purchased ready-made, you can also make your own. You can add more nuts or dried fruits if you want more variety. You can even experiment with different ingredients, such as seeds, candy or chocolate, popcorn, pretzels, or whatever else appeals to you.
No-cook Hiking Lunch Ideas
Some people prefer not to cook or even prepare lunch for a hike. Maybe you just want something simple to unwrap, eat, and enjoy. Although you may end up paying for convenience in some cases, there are plenty of alternatives available. Hikers frequently eat meal bars, jerky, and hard cheeses, but these aren’t the only options.
In this section, we’ll look at foods that don’t require cooking or even cutting up before eating.
While they may not be as popular as some other foods, bagels can be very useful to bring on a hiking trip. They work well as a snack or as a meal if you bring some toppings with you. If you want, you can even use them as sandwich bread.
Toppings for bagels can include cream cheese, salami, cheese, peanut butter, and even avocado. Because bagels are so versatile, you can easily bring a package and a few of your favorite toppings with you on a multi-day trip. Just keep in mind that some toppings may need to be kept cold, so plan accordingly.
2. Dried Fruits
Although dried fruit can be prepared ahead of time for a hike, it can also be purchased at most grocery stores. Raisins, prunes, apricots, apples, and other fruits and vegetables are available in both dried and dehydrated forms.
Dried fruits are not only a great source of vitamins and minerals, but they also take up much less space than fresh fruit. You can bring several bags of dried fruit and have as much variety as you want without having a pack that is far too heavy to hike with.
When it comes to protein, beef jerky is an excellent choice for hiking. It’s light, tasty, and packed with all the protein you’ll need to keep going. There are also numerous protein types to choose from.
4. Hard Cheeses
Cheese is an excellent food to bring on a hiking trip. You can easily slice it up and serve it with crackers and/or summer sausage for a filling lunch or as a snack with some fruit. It’s portable and packed with enough calories and fat to keep you going.
When packing cheese for a hike, the most important thing to remember is that hard cheeses are best. They keep better and are more likely to be edible when you’re ready to eat. Many hikers enjoy bringing a hard cheddar cheese wrapped in cheesecloth with them. Others appreciate the convenience of individually-sized Babybel cheese.
5. Energy Bars
You may not think an energy bar can fill you up, but you’d be surprised! Some larger protein bars can be an easy, quick and convenient meal choice for hikers on the go. Alternatively, you can eat a granola bar as a snack or side alongside a bigger lunch.
Luckily, most stores carry a variety of snack bars that’ll meet your activity needs and personal tastes.
6. Professionally Prepared Meals
The ultimate convenient no-cook option, prepared, ready-to-eat meals can be an excellent choice for busy hikers. For example, Protein Chefs, located in the GTA, can prepare a variety of meals tailored exactly to your needs. Whether you eat vegan, halal, or have other dietary restrictions, Protein Chefs can prepare the perfect hiking meal for you that’s jam-packed with protein, essential fats, and vital nutrients.
Take a look at what your community has to offer for prepared meals and get easy lunches delivered right to your doorstep before a big hike.
We hope these hiking lunch ideas have inspired you. It’s easier than you think to prepare delicious hiking snacks that will keep you fueled for your adventures.
If you’re looking for ready-to-eat hiking meals in a great home-style format, Protein Chefs’ has all of the delicious and easy recipes you need to make your next hiking experience convenient and fun.