Hiking is an enjoyable recreational activity, but it can be challenging for your body if you’re not adequately nourished and hydrated. Having the proper lunch packed in your backpack can differ between getting to your destination and not getting there until after sundown.
Here are nutritious and easy-to-make day hike lunch ideas perfect for keeping your body fueled while you’re on the trail for hours at a time!
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How to Store Food for a Day Hike?
Before heading out on a hike, getting all of your supplies ready is essential.
Storing your food properly can help ensure it stays fresh for as long as possible. Here are some hiking essentials I recommend for storing food for both short hikes and long hikes.
Purchase a backpack that is durable and has multiple compartments so you can easily organize your food, snacks, and other items you’re bringing with you.
I really like my TETON Sports Oasis, but keep in mind that you’ll want to have proper storage for food. This backpack is amazing for day hikes, but sandwiches can easily get smushed.
2) Glass Meal Prep Containers
These meal prep containers are an excellent option for keeping food secure in your daypack. They have a separator so you can pack a sandwich, a salad, or some snacks all in one container.
3) Ice Pack
Be prepared for hot weather and put plenty of ice packs in your backpack. This will help keep your fresh food cool for hours. Be sure to put them in between layers of food so that they don’t crush any of your other supplies.
4) Cooler Backpack
If you have a cooler backpack, use it! These backpacks are insulated, keeping your food cool for a long time. I would suggest using this for a multi-day hike and overnight camping. Be sure to test it out beforehand and make sure you can carry the weight of the food without hurting your back.
What Should I Pack For Lunch On A Day Hike?
Many factors should be considered when packing your lunch for a day hike. If you want to eat well while enjoying stunning views, ensure that your lunch is filled with plenty of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, lean protein, and carbohydrates.
Here are some day hike lunch ideas that will fuel your body while enjoying Mother Nature at her finest:
1) Healthy Snacks
The first thing you should pack is a hiking snack. This will help tide you over until lunchtime. They’re portable, easy to eat on the go, and will give you some much-needed energy while you’re out hiking. Some good snack options include:
- Peanut butter or other nut butters: A great source of protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. Just make sure you pack a spoon!
- Trail mix: A perfect blend of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. You can make your own mix or buy a pre-made one. Just watch the sugar content if you’re purchasing a store-bought mix.
- Beef jerky: This is such a great snack because it’s a great source of protein and easy to eat on the go. Look for a low sodium brand that doesn’t have any added preservatives.
- Granola bars: There are many different kinds of granola bars on the market. Make sure you choose one with lots of protein and low in sugar. Granola bars will give you a quick burst of energy that will last for a while.
- Fresh fruits like apples: Fresh fruits have vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can help fuel you up throughout the day. They’re also easy to eat on the go. You can pack them whole or in slices, depending on your personal preference.
- Dried fruit: In addition, you can also pack dehydrated fruits like bananas and apple slices.
2) Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich
This sandwich is a classic for a reason; it’s filling, easy to make, and packed with nutrients. Peanut butter is an amazing source of protein, healthy fats, and vitamins, while bananas are good carbohydrates and potassium. If you want to add variety, you can use almond butter or cashew butter instead of peanut butter.
3) Chicken Salad with Crackers
This is a great lunch option because it’s both filling and nutritious. Chicken is a good source of protein, and the salad greens are packed with vitamins and minerals. The crackers will give you some much-needed carbohydrates. You can make your own chicken salad or buy a pre-made one at your local grocery store.
4) Hummus, Pita Bread, and Veggies
Hummus is an excellent source of protein and healthy fats, while pita bread for a nice light lunch won’t weigh you down too much. This lunch option is perfect if you’re looking for something that is both filling and nutritious.
5) Turkey or Chicken Sandwich
This is a classic sandwich that is easy to make and packed with nutrients. Turkey or chicken is a good source of protein, while bread provides carbohydrates and helps fill you up. You can add some veggies to your sandwich to boost vitamins and minerals. You can buy these at your local grocery store. I personally love Boar’s Head from Publix!
6) Dehydrated Meals
Freeze-dried foods are a great option because they’re light, easy to carry, and require no refrigeration. They can be a little more expensive than regular food, but you get what you pay for! The dehydrated meals are a good option for a backpacking trip or a challenging hike in the mountains. Keep in mind that these meals need hot water to make the food edible.
7) Tuna Salad Sandwich
Add several grams of protein to your lunch with a tuna salad sandwich. This is an excellent sandwich if you’re looking for something nutritious and filling. Tuna is a good source of protein, while salad greens add vitamins and minerals. The bread provides carbohydrates and fiber. You can make your own tuna salad or buy a pre-made one.
8) Egg Salad Sandwich
Eggs are a good source of protein, while salad greens add vitamins and minerals. This is one of my favorites because it’s so simple. Boil up a few eggs, mash them with a fork, add salt and pepper to taste, mix in some mayo or mustard (optional), then slap it between two slices of bread. Before your hike, you can also add veggies like celery or onions for added flavor if you have extra time.
9) Pepperoni, Cheese, and Crackers
This is a classic snack that is easy to pack and perfect for when you’re craving pizza. Cheese is a good source of protein and calcium, while crackers provide carbohydrates.
10) BLT Sandwich
Another tasty option is a BLT (bacon, lettuce, tomato) sandwich. Bacon has plenty of protein and fat to keep you full until dinner. The bread will give you some much-needed carbohydrates. If you want to add more nutritional value, you can add avocado or use whole wheat bread.
11) Pasta Salad
This is an excellent option if you’re looking for something that is both filling and nutritious. Pasta is a good source of carbohydrates, while olive oil and tomatoes add healthy fats and vitamins. You can also add some protein to your pasta by adding chicken, tuna, or beans.
12) Quinoa Salad
This is a filling and nutritious option that is perfect for when you’re going. Quinoa has a fair amount of protein and fiber, while black beans and corn add healthy carbs and vitamins. Avocado provides healthy fats and vitamins. You can also add some chicken or fish to this dish for added protein.
13) Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is a reliable source of protein and calcium. It’s also packed with probiotics which are suitable for your gut health. Add some blueberries for sweetness and antioxidants. Honey and granola add some extra flavor and texture.
14) Fruit Salad
This is an excellent option if you’re looking for something sweet and refreshing. Fruit salad is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Mixed berries are a good source of vitamins, while grapes and bananas add healthy carbs. You can also add some Greek yogurt or cottage cheese for added protein.
15) Taco Bowl
Taco bowls are a great option if you’re looking for something that is both filling and tasty. Black beans provide protein and fiber, while lettuce and tomatoes add a crunchy texture and flavor. Shredded cheese adds some calcium and healthy fats. You can also add some chicken or ground beef to this dish for extra protein.
16) Hard Boiled Eggs
A classic among backpackers, hard-boiled eggs are easy to make and contain tons of protein. Just cook them up ahead of time and throw them into your bag when you leave. You can eat the eggs by themselves or add them to a salad or sandwich.
17) Roasted Chickpeas
Roasted chickpeas are a great source of protein and fiber. They’re also tasty and easy to make snacks. Just cook them up ahead of time and add them to your lunch when you’re ready to eat. You can also add them to a salad or sandwich for extra flavor.
18) Overnight Oats
Overnight oats are great because they don’t require any cooking at all. Mix together the rolled oats, milk, chia seeds, and cinnamon. You add additional toppings you want to include (nuts, raisins, etc.). Then stick it in your fridge overnight. In the morning, you’ll have a nutritious breakfast ready to go!
You could also consider instant oatmeal, but the overnight oats are fun to make and you can make them however you like.
19) Banana Muffins
Banana muffins are really versatile snacks that you can bake at home and make for on-the-go activities such as hiking. I love to bake muffins that have ripe bananas, protein powder, whole wheat flour, walnuts, maple syrup, and dark chocolate chips. They’re a good idea if you want to make sure you’re eating healthy whole grains.
20) Peanut Butter and Jelly
PB&J sandwiches are a classic for a good reason; they’re delicious and easy to make. Make sure you pack enough peanut butter, though, as things might get boring without it! Just fill some bread and your favorite peanut butter and jelly, then you’re good to go!
Tips for Packing Your Day Lunch
- If you’re packing perishable items like fruits or sandwiches, pack them in a cooler bag with ice packs.
- Avoid packing things that will make a mess, like soups or sauces.
- Pack foods high in protein and fiber, as they will help keep you full throughout the day.
- Make sure to drink enough water throughout the day; purchase a water bottle that will keep your water cool and secure.
- Pack any trash or wrappers in a bag to dispose of them properly when you finish your hike.
- Hiking can be strenuous, so pack foods that give you energy throughout the day.
Hiking is a great way to get exercise and enjoy the outdoors. However, it’s essential to pack a nutritious lunch to fuel your body for the hike. The last thing you want is to feel hungry or dehydrated while out on the trails!
There are many different hiking lunch options available, so there’s sure to be something that everyone will enjoy. Just pack enough for everyone in your group and any snacks you might need. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water!
We’ve put together 20 easy and nutritious day hike lunch ideas that will help you fuel up for your next outdoor adventure. From sandwiches to salads to snacks, you should be able to pick the right food to fuel your own body.
What’s your favorite day hike lunch? Let us know in the comments below!