9 Easy Delicious & Nutritious Day Hike Lunch Ideas (With Snacks)

Yup, affiliate links may be sprinkled throughout the awesome article. We'll receive a commission when you purchase items from those links (they won't cost you anything extra). All the details are here in affiliate disclosure.

There is nothing better than spending a lovely, sunny Saturday out on the trails.

If you're planning to embark on your first hiking adventure, don't know what to expect, and don't know how to prepare, here's an idea: pack a delicious and nutritious day hike lunch!

By bringing along some of your favorite snacks and meals, you'll be able to stay energized and fueled throughout your hike.

This way, you can enjoy the great outdoors without being distracted by a growling stomach. But wait, not sure what to bring along?

No problem! We've put together a list of our favorite healthy day hike lunch ideas.

{tocify} $title={Table of Contents}

What to pack for a day hike lunch

First of all, you'll want to choose food items that won't spoil.

In general, if it's a hot day, the food will last a shorter time. While it can be fun to pack exotic or unusual foods for your hiking adventure, go with the basics at first – try keeping things simple and check out our list below (it starts with the longest-lasting items).

1. Sandwiches: Classic sandwiches are an excellent choice for day hike lunches because they're easy to pack and carry around, plus they contain lots of carbs (which you need for sustained energy). A peanut butter sandwich can be a great choice because it's high in protein, plus it's filling with a satisfying crunch.

Just make sure to choose whole-grain bread (especially if you plan to hike for more than a couple of hours) and load them up with healthy, high-fiber veggies.

2. Nuts: Nuts are one of the best options if you need an energy boost since they contain plenty of protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Stuff some nuts or seeds into a baggie to keep them fresh and crunchy, so they'll be perfect for snacking on throughout the duration of your hike.

3. Dried fruits: With high amounts of minerals and antioxidants, dried fruit is a great trail snack to add to your day hike lunch.

It's also incredibly lightweight and easy to pack since it takes up very little space in your backpack or cooler. Enjoy small amounts at a time, or save them before and after your hike.

4. Fresh fruits and veggies: Fresh fruit and vegetables are always a good idea for day hikes, especially if you plan to be out in the wilderness for an extended period of time.

You can bring along apples, bananas (or recipies of bananas), oranges (or other citrus fruits), carrots, and celery if you like – all of these snacks will provide you with enough energy to last all day!

5. Trail mix: Trail mixes are an excellent choice of trail snacks for hiking because they're easy to carry around and offer high amounts of protein, fiber, healthy fats, and carbs.

So, instead of munching on chips or candy bars, try mixing things up with some trail mix!

6. Cheese and crackers: Cheese and crackers may seem like an unusual trail snack, but they're an excellent choice for day hikes.

Both cheese and crackers are very filling, so you don't need to bring along too much – make sure to stick with low-sodium varieties.

Pack some crackers, maybe a few slices of low-fat cheese, and you'll have yourself a healthy, scrumptious day hike lunch!

7. Bowl of cereal: Cereal is another good option if you want to keep things light.

Just make sure to bring along your favorite plain variety, toss in some dried fruits if you'd like, and add in some milk (almond milk is another excellent choice since it's lower in calories, carbs, and fat).

8. Energy bars: Energy bars are an excellent option for day hikes because they're quick to prepare, tasty, nutritious, and easy to carry around.

Plus, there are countless options of energy bars these days, so you're bound to find some that are low in fat and calories yet high in protein.

However, many energy bars can be high in saturated fats, sodium, and sugar, so begin with small portions.

What not to pack for a day hike lunch

As opposed to bringing along lots of healthy food items, here are some foods you may want to avoid:

Fried food: While fried foods do contain lots of carbs, they can be very high in fat and calories.

Plus, sharing is caring – so if you plan on bringing along some fried chicken or potato wedges, make sure everyone gets an equal share! 😊

Candy bars: Candy, such as Snickers and Skittles, may seem like a good idea for day hikes, but most of them are candy bars that are high in sodium and saturated fats.

Most candy bars contain very little protein and fiber. So save the candy bars for after your hike – you can even eat them at home if you don't feel like sharing!

Chips: While tortilla chips are higher in fiber than most snack foods, this doesn't mean you should eat them on your day hike. Tortilla chips are high in fat and can be very crispy, making them easy to choke on. Plus, they may take up too much space in your cooler.

And while potato chips are higher in fiber than tortilla chips, they're also high in fat and calories. Plus, the large size of many chip bags makes them very difficult to pack into a backpack or cooler.

Day hike lunch ideas for beginners

A day hike is usually anywhere from 3 to 20 miles, depending on your fitness level.

So, it's essential that you pack items high in carbs and protein instead of packing mainly fat or sugar (e.g., peanut butter sandwiches).

On the other hand, you don't want to starve yourself either, so it's always a good idea to bring along some healthy snacks.

It's also important for your body to get enough specific vitamins and minerals, so aim to pack items that are rich in these nutrients as well (e.g., bananas, carrots, or apples).

And of course, don't forget to pack your favorite drinks to enjoy with your meal.

Here are nine healthy day hike lunch ideas for you:

1. Turkey sandwich

A turkey sandwich is an excellent choice if you're looking for something filling and delicious.

Here's what you'll need (per person):

  • 1 slice of whole-grain bread
  • 2 slices of lean mozzarella cheese
  • 4 slices of roasted turkey breast
  • lettuce leaves, tomato slices, cucumber slices, onion slices
  • mustard, mayonnaise

Spread the bread with mustard and mayo. On one slice of bread, arrange the lettuce, tomato, cheese, and turkey. Top with another slice of bread. Cut the sandwich in half on the diagonal. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then foil to keep it together until lunchtime.

2. Homemade trail mix

Trail mix is a great source of protein and carbs, plus it contains plenty of vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy on your hike.

Here's what you'll need (per person):

  • 1/2 cup of almonds
  • 1/2 cup of roasted peanuts
  • 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup of raisins

Mix all ingredients together in a resealable bag. Shake well to mix. Divide the mix into individual bags for everyone in your hiking party so no one has to share.

3. Quinoa and veggie salad

Quinoa is a healthy and nutritious whole grain making it the perfect ingredient for this lunch idea.

Here's what you'll need (per person):

  • 1/2 cup of quinoa
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook quinoa according to package instructions. Toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide cooked quinoa, onion, and bell pepper into individual resealable bags. Add dressing of your choice (e.g., Italian, balsamic vinaigrette). Shake well to mix. Take one bag for each person in your hiking party so that no one has to share their food.

4. Fruit salad in a jar

This is a great option if you want to avoid packing extra utensils and dishes.

Here's what you'll need for each serving:

  • 1 cup of fruit (e.g., strawberry, kiwi, orange, peach)
  • blueberries
  • watermelon slices
  • honeydew melon slices
  • grapes

Soak wooden skewers in water for several hours before packing for lunch. Pack each piece of fruit separately. At lunchtime, assemble fruit skewers and enjoy.

5. Curried chicken salad sandwich

Curry powder adds a flavorful kick to this lunch option. It's also great for increasing your metabolism and keeping you full longer.

Here's what you'll need (per sandwich):

  • 1 whole wheat thin hamburger bun
  • 3 oz chopped chicken breast
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 2 tbsp plain yogurt
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, then mix thoroughly. Split the mixture equally between 2 buns, then top with greens. Serve with fruit on the side if desired.

6. Grilled beef sandwich

This is another great lunch idea for anyone who loves grilled meats!

Here's what you'll need (per sandwich):

  • 3 oz grilled beef
  • 1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 whole wheat thin hamburger bun
  • 1/2 cup baby spinach leaves
  • 2 slices of tomato (halved)

Mix the beef with soy sauce and set aside. Split the bun in half. On the bottom half, layer baby spinach leaves, tomatoes, and beef mixture. Top with other bun half and serve immediately or wrap in foil to enjoy later while hiking.

7. Baked potato soup

This delicious option is perfect for anyone who loves hearty soups!

Here's what you'll need (per serving):

  • 1/2 cup potatoes, cubed
  • 1/4 cup green onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp fat-free cream cheese (cubed)

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan, then heat over low heat until potatoes are fork-tender. Remove from heat and pour the mixture into a resealable bag. At lunchtime, heat soup in a saucepan (or put it directly on the campfire if desired).

8. Tuna salad wrap

This is an excellent option for anyone who loves tuna! To make this sandwich even healthier, you can replace the mayo with mustard or low-fat yogurt.

Here's what you'll need (per sandwich):

  • 1 wholewheat wrap
  • 2 tbsp plain yogurt or 1 tsp low-fat mayonnaise
  • 3 oz water-packed tuna, drained
  • 1/4 cup celery, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, then mix thoroughly. Split the mixture equally between 2 wraps, then top with greens. Serve with fruit on the side if desired.

9. Spicy tuna salad

Spicy tuna is a nice change from the more traditional version. This lunch idea has lots of protein to keep you full longer and a spicy kick that will make your taste buds happy!

Here's what you'll need (per person):

  • 1/2 tsp lemongrass
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 2-3 chilies
  • 2 tsp chopped celery
  • 2 tsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp chopped red onion
  • 2 tsp olive oil

Mix together tuna with lemongrass, lemon juice, salt, chilies, and pepper. Add in the cilantro and red onion. Stir well to combine ingredients before adding the olive oil. Taste and adjust with more of anything you want to your liking before serving!

Tips for packing your food for a day hike

  • Keep your food in a small backpack with multiple pockets. This way, your food will be close to you and not get lost at the bottom of the pack!
  • Bring more than enough water for everyone as dehydration can set in quickly (especially on hot days).
  • Don't forget utensils like sporks or plastic knives to avoid having to use your hands.
  • Wipes or hand sanitizers can come in handy if you don't have access to clean water for washing.
  • Bring some wet wipes (or a special treat!) for after lunch! Hiking is hard work, and you deserve it! :)

Food safety tips while hiking

  • If you plan to keep your food cold, it doesn't hurt to include a freezer pack or two in your backpack. This way, if someone's water isn't staying cool enough in the heat, they can use the freezer pack without having to go all day with their water unrefrigerated!
  • Make sure everyone knows what items are for lunch and what items are not. For example, don't expect someone to share their granola bar with you if they've packed it as a snack that day!
  • Avoid keeping food in your car's trunk because the heat can make your food spoil quickly. Try keeping it in the front seat, if possible. If you park in the sun to hike, be sure to take it back out and keep it in the shade.
  • It's never a bad idea to bring some cash (in case someone wants treats).
  • Treats like chocolate aren't easy to come by in hiking stores, so make sure you pack enough for everyone! :)

Final words

With these tips, you'll be able to make easy-to-eat lunches for your day hikes. It's a big positive impact, and all of this can be had from just a few easy-to-eat meals!

What would you like to bring on your next day hike? We'd love to hear! Leave a comment below!

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post