When thinking of hiking lunch ideas, less is more - don't overcomplicate things.
Think about the types of food that will easily survive the constant motion. Plus, a packed lunch must be easy to eat out on the trails.
As well as being able to survive the hike, your lunch to give proper fuel and nutrition can be as simple as fruit, a granola bar, some nuts, and grain salad.
HOwever there are a few things to consider in what to take and how to pack it.
Perishable food is perfect for a day-hike provided there is enough space in the backpack and it is possible to keep cool. Use an insulated box to store food like sandwiches.
Packing boxes of frozen juice of frozen fruit in the insulated container will help to keep other food cold and ready for use later in the day. Any food like mayonnaise, eggs, or meat should be packed with ice to make sure it is kept cold until lunchtime.
Other sandwich suggestions:
- Avocado and tuna
- Cheese, mustard, and greens
- Chicken and mayo
- Banana and peanut butter
- Strawberry fruit spread and almond butter
- Egg salad
Complex carbohydrates (fresh fruit and vegetables) and whole grains provide healthy and nutritious hiking lunch ideas.
Eat complex carbohydrates to benefit from the slow release of energy which takes place over several hours compared to the quick release of the less healthy simple carbs. Plus, a further benefit of slowly releasing the energy is the ability to feel full for longer.
Avoid packing foods for the trail that are high in sugar content. While sugar-rich food can give an initial boost of energy, this won't last long.
Pack fruits or vegetables that will hold up well in a backpack, such as broccoli, carrots, pears, oranges, and apples. A hard-shell lunch box is practical to protect soft produce like plums, grapes, cherry tomatoes, etc. Also, the sandwiches or crackers should be of the whole-grain variety.
Hiking lunch ideas include protein-rich shelf-staples like pouches of tuna. I like to use whole-grain crackers with cheese and tuna to create a simple snack rich in fiber and protein.
Plus, other add-ons for crackers include peanut butter (pack the plastic jar variety).
Basic picnic food can be packed such as roasted chicken (wrap in foil and place in an insulated box).
Fats are beneficial for the ability to slowly release energy. Preferred fats on a hike include nuts and cheese.
Heart-healthy nuts include almonds and walnuts, which can be easily eaten on the move and incorporated into trail-mix.
Meats that are easy to pack for an outside adventure include salami and pepperoni. But, these meats are high in salt, so make sure to eat sparingly.
Hard cheeses are more practical for eating on a hiking trip. The preferred choices include slices of provolone and cheddar.
My Typical Hiking Lunch
Hiking lunch ideas should use a combination of protein and complex carbohydrates to provide the desired energy and strength to complete the more strenuous trails.
Here are ten simple hiking lunch ideas to pack:
- Trail mix (home made or store bought)
- Crackers (ideal for tuna!)
- Dried fruit
- Energy bars
- Fresh fruit (apple, oranges, grapes)
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Jerky (Home-made or bought)
- Sandwiches (cooked chicken, peanut butter)
- Vegetables (eg baby carrots)
Plus, it is also essential to pack enough water (use hydration packs or water bottles) to last the duration of the hike.
So the aim is to take nutritionally dense food that is compact and light, while able to withstand the trials of the trail!
A good protective lunchbox will keep your food protected and cool, so makes a very good purchase.
And remember to take a hand sanitizer...!