Are you gearing up for a day hike with the kiddos? Before you hit the trails, let’s talk about an essential aspect of your adventure: packing tasty and easy day hike lunch ideas. As a mom who has been on countless hiking expeditions with my little ones, I know the struggle of finding meals that are quick and enjoyable for everyone. That’s where this complete guide to easy hiking lunches comes in handy!
If you’re here and not a parent, welcome! Don’t worry. All these day hike food ideas work great for kid-free explorations as well.
I’ve got a treasure trove of simple and delicious make ahead hiking lunch options that will keep your little explorers energized, satisfied, and ready to conquer any trail they set foot on. And let me tell you, these ideas are tried and tested by me and my rambunctious crew, so you can trust they’ll be a hit with your family too.
We’ll cover everything from mouthwatering sandwiches and wraps to refreshing salads, protein-packed snacks, and even some ingenious fruit and veggie combos. The best part? No fancy ingredients or complicated cooking techniques are required. We’re keeping it easy-peasy!
I’ll also share some practical tips on packing your hiking lunches, choosing the right containers, and ensuring your meals stay fresh throughout the day. We moms are all about efficiency, right?
So, fellow adventure-seeking parents, get ready to make your next family hike a delicious and stress-free experience. Together, we’ll discover a world of the easiest lunch ideas and day hiking food ideas that will keep those tummies happy and your hiking crew fueled for excitement.
Let’s dive into this culinary adventure and ensure our little ones have the energy to conquer the trails with smiles on their faces. Ready? Let’s go!
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Guidelines for Packing Lunches on Day Hikes
Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of packing lunches for our day hikes. Trust me, I’ve learned a thing or two along the way, and I’m here to share some mom-to-mom tips on how to nail the lunch packing game for our outdoor adventures.
Selecting appropriate containers and packaging methods
When it comes to containers, think about convenience and durability. Opt for lightweight and leak-proof containers that won’t weigh us down or create a mess in our backpacks. I love using reusable silicone zip-top bags or eco-friendly stainless steel options. If you are interested in bringing warm meals on the trail, consider packing those meals in a Stanley container that will keep the food warm for hours as you hike.
If you’re looking for a more in-depth gear list for hiking with kids, check out this post!
Choosing non-perishable and lightweight ingredients
As much as we’d love to bring fresh goodies, it’s important to choose ingredients that won’t spoil quickly. Look for non-perishable options like dried fruits, trail mix, or jerky for snacks. Tuna or chicken packets are great protein sources. And let’s not forget about shelf-stable spreads like peanut butter. Peanut butter is such an easy way to get protein without worrying about the food going bad.
If you are interested in bringing something that needs to stay cool, consider bringing an insulated lunchbox and a small ice pack. You don’t need anything fancy. Just a lightweight lunchbox will do. Personally, I carry my daughter’s small Frozen lunchbox on the trail!
Packing sufficient calories and nutrients for sustained energy
Hiking is no joke, and our little adventurers need fuel to keep going. Think about packing nutrient-dense foods that provide sustained energy. Whole grain bread or wraps are great for sandwiches, providing complex carbs for lasting fuel. Add in some lean protein like turkey or tofu, and don’t skimp on the veggies for a dose of vitamins and minerals. And of course, don’t forget to pack some easy to grab snacks for quick energy boosts on the trail.
Special considerations for dietary restrictions or preferences
We all have unique dietary needs and preferences, so it’s essential to plan accordingly. If your child has dietary restrictions, such as gluten intolerance or allergies, make sure to choose ingredients and snacks that are suitable for them. Don’t worry, there are plenty of gluten-free bread and wrap options available. If you’re like me and have a child with a peanut allergy, be sure to choose a different nut butter for any peanut butter options. My son’s favorite is Sunbutter. Typically, I will make everyone’s meal out of Sunbutter to avoid any mixups on the trail.
20+ Simple and Delicious Sandwiches and Wraps for Day Hikes
Sandwiches are such a simple and classic option for hiking lunches. These sandwich ideas include some classics and some new twists on sandwich ideas. There are also plenty of lunch wraps for hiking on this list. One thing to consider when bringing sandwiches is what you should pack them in. I personally prefer reusable options instead of plastic bags. If you are looking for some reusable storage ideas, check out these bees wax wraps.
- Classic Peanut Butter and Jelly: Spread peanut butter on one slice of bread and jelly on the other. Press the slices together for a timeless and tasty treat.
- Turkey and Cheese: Layer thin slices of turkey and your child’s favorite cheese, such as cheddar or Swiss, between two slices of bread. Add lettuce or tomato if desired.
- Ham and Cheese Roll-Ups: Spread a thin layer of cream cheese on a tortilla. Place a slice of ham and a slice of cheese on top. Roll it tightly and cut into bite-sized pinwheels.
- Mini Bagel Delight: Spread cream cheese on a mini bagel, then top it with slices of cucumber, tomato, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
- Chicken Salad Sandwich: Mix cooked and shredded chicken with mayonnaise, diced celery, and a touch of mustard. Spread it on bread or stuff it into a pita pocket.
- BLT Wrap: Spread mayonnaise on a tortilla and layer crispy bacon, lettuce, and sliced tomatoes. Roll it up and slice into pinwheels.
- Veggie Cream Cheese Sandwich: Spread flavored cream cheese on bread and layer with sliced cucumbers, bell peppers, and shredded carrots. A refreshing and crunchy delight!
- Mini Meatball Sub: Place mini meatballs in a sub roll and top with marinara sauce and melted cheese. Wrap it tightly in foil for a mess-free experience.
- Egg Salad: Mix hard-boiled eggs with mayonnaise, mustard, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Spread it on bread or stuff it into a pita pocket.
- Turkey and Cranberry Wrap: Spread cream cheese on a wrap, add sliced turkey, a dollop of cranberry sauce, and some spinach leaves, then roll it up.
- BBQ Chicken Slider: Shred cooked chicken and toss it in barbecue sauce. Pile it onto slider buns and top with a slice of cheese, if desired.
- Tuna Melt: Mix canned tuna with mayo and diced pickles. Spread it on bread, top with a slice of cheese, and grill or toast until melty and golden.
- Veggie Hummus Wrap: Spread hummus on a wrap and fill it with sliced cucumbers, bell peppers, shredded carrots, and lettuce. Roll it up and enjoy the crunchy goodness.
- Caprese Sandwich: Layer slices of mozzarella cheese, tomato, and fresh basil leaves on bread. Drizzle with balsamic glaze or a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
- Roast Beef and Cream Cheese Roll-Ups: Spread cream cheese on a tortilla, add roast beef slices, and roll it up tightly. Slice into pinwheels for a protein-packed snack.
- Veggie Wrap: Spread a flavored cream cheese or hummus on a tortilla and fill it with a variety of sliced veggies such as cucumbers, bell peppers, shredded carrots, and lettuce. Roll it up tightly and wrap it in foil for easy handling.
- Apple and Cheddar Roll-Up: Spread a thin layer of almond butter or cream cheese on a tortilla. Place thin apple slices and cheddar cheese on top. Roll it up and slice into bite-sized pinwheels.
- Turkey Club Wrap: Spread mayonnaise or mustard on a tortilla and layer with slices of turkey, crispy bacon, lettuce, and tomato. Roll it up and wrap it in foil for a satisfying and flavorful meal.
- Strawberry Cream Cheese Sandwich: Spread cream cheese mixed with a hint of honey on bread. Top it with fresh strawberry slices and press another slice of bread on top. It’s a delightful blend of creamy and fruity flavors.
- Hummus and Veggie Pita Pocket: Cut a pita pocket in half and spread hummus on the inside. Fill it with sliced cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and shredded lettuce. It’s a refreshing and nutritious option.
- Sunbutter and Nutella Sandwich: Spread Sunbutter on one slice of bread and Nutella on another slice. It’s a simple and yummy sandwich that kids will love!
- Ham and Cheese Roll Ups: Place ham and cheese on a tortilla and roll it up. Slice it up for an easy lunch.
Salad and Protein Bowls for Easy and Delicious Day Hike Lunches
These salad and protein bowls are big hits for adventurous little eaters. Also, these are all mom-approved options, if you’re like me and just sick of eating sandwiches! Choose a container that can keep your food cool, like a small lunchbox and icepack.
- Chicken Caesar Salad: Combine grilled chicken slices, chopped romaine lettuce, croutons, and Caesar dressing in a container. Top it off with grated Parmesan cheese. When ready to eat, toss the salad to distribute the dressing and enjoy.
- Greek Quinoa Salad: Mix cooked quinoa, cherry tomatoes, diced cucumbers, Kalamata olives, crumbled feta cheese, and a Greek vinaigrette dressing. Pack it in a container, and it’s ready to go.
- Taco Salad: Layer shredded lettuce, cooked ground beef or beans, diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, salsa, and crushed tortilla chips in a container. Pack a small container of sour cream or guacamole on the side.
- Cobb Salad: Arrange chopped grilled chicken, hard-boiled eggs, crispy bacon bits, diced avocado, cherry tomatoes, and crumbled blue cheese on a bed of lettuce. Drizzle with your favorite dressing or pack it on the side.
- Caprese Pasta Salad: Toss cooked pasta with cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella balls, chopped basil leaves, and a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. It’s a flavorful and refreshing pasta salad option.
- Quinoa and Black Bean Bowl: Combine cooked quinoa, black beans, diced bell peppers, corn kernels, cherry tomatoes, and a lime-cilantro dressing. Pack it in a container and add a squeeze of lime before eating.
- Asian Noodle Salad: Mix cooked noodles (such as soba or rice noodles) with shredded carrots, sliced cucumbers, chopped scallions, and a sesame-ginger dressing. Optional additions include grilled chicken or tofu.
- Mediterranean Couscous Salad: Toss cooked couscous with diced cucumber, cherry tomatoes, olives, crumbled feta cheese, chopped parsley, and a lemon-herb dressing. It’s a light and flavorful option.
- Antipasto Salad: Combine sliced salami, provolone cheese, cherry tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts, olives, and roasted red peppers in a container. Drizzle with Italian dressing for an Italian-inspired salad.
- Southwest Chicken and Black Bean Salad: Mix shredded cooked chicken, black beans, corn kernels, diced bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and a cilantro-lime dressing. Sprinkle with crushed tortilla chips for added crunch.
- Strawberry Spinach Salad: Toss fresh baby spinach leaves with sliced strawberries, crumbled goat cheese, and candied pecans or sliced almonds. Pack a tangy vinaigrette dressing on the side.
- Mediterranean Quinoa Bowl: Combine cooked quinoa, diced cucumber, cherry tomatoes, chickpeas, diced red onion, kalamata olives, and crumbled feta cheese. Drizzle with a lemon-herb dressing or pack it on the side.
- Asian Chicken Salad: Mix shredded cooked chicken, shredded cabbage, grated carrots, sliced snow peas, and chopped cilantro. Toss with a soy-ginger dressing and top with toasted sesame seeds.
- Greek Chicken Bowl: Layer cooked and seasoned chicken, diced cucumber, cherry tomatoes, red onion, Kalamata olives, and crumbled feta cheese in a container. Serve with a Greek vinaigrette dressing.
- Fruit and Yogurt Parfait: Layer Greek yogurt, mixed berries, and granola in a container. Repeat the layers and top with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup for a sweet and nutritious option.
20+ Protein-Packed Hiking Snack Ideas for Kids
Choosing a snack that is packed with protein will help your kids get the energy they need to complete a hike – and to stay energized throughout the day. All these
- Energy Balls: Combine oats, nut butter (like peanut or almond butter), honey, and protein powder in a bowl. Roll the mixture into bite-sized balls and refrigerate until firm.
- Homemade Trail Mix: Mix together a combination of nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts), dried fruits (raisins, cranberries, apricots), and seeds (pumpkin, sunflower). Add some dark chocolate chips for a sweet touch.
- Greek Yogurt Cups: Pack individual cups of Greek yogurt and let your kids sprinkle their favorite toppings such as granola, berries, sliced almonds, or honey on top.
- Cheese and Crackers: Slice cheese into bite-sized cubes and pack with whole-grain crackers. You can also add some pepperoni or deli meat slices for added protein.
- Hard Boiled Eggs: Prepare hard boiled eggs in advance and pack them in a container. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper or add a dollop of mayo or mustard for extra flavor.
- Protein Bars: Make homemade protein bars with ingredients like oats, protein powder, nut butter, honey, and dried fruits. Cut them into bars or bite-sized squares for easy snacking.
- Turkey or Chicken Roll-Ups: Roll thin slices of turkey or chicken around a cheese stick or cucumber slices. Secure with toothpicks for a protein-rich finger food.
- Roasted Chickpeas: Toss drained and rinsed chickpeas with olive oil, salt, and your choice of seasonings (such as garlic powder, paprika, or cumin). Roast them in the oven until crispy and enjoy.
- Beef Jerky or Turkey Jerky: Pack individual servings of beef or turkey jerky for a convenient and protein-packed snack. Look for low-sodium options if possible.
- Mini Protein Pancakes: Whip up a batch of protein pancakes using your favorite recipe or mix. Cook mini-sized pancakes and pack them in a container for a delicious handheld snack.
- Peanut Butter Banana Bites: Slice a banana into bite-sized rounds and spread a little peanut butter on top. Sandwich them together to create protein-packed bites.
- Cottage Cheese Cups: Pack individual cups of cottage cheese and let your kids sprinkle their favorite toppings such as fresh fruit, nuts, or a drizzle of honey.
- Tuna Salad Lettuce Wraps: Mix canned tuna with mayonnaise, diced celery, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Spoon the mixture onto lettuce leaves and roll them up for a protein-packed handheld option.
- Mini Yogurt Parfaits: Layer Greek yogurt, granola, and fresh berries in small containers or jars. Pack a spoon or let your kids enjoy them with their fingers.
- Edamame: Steam or boil edamame pods and lightly salt them. Kids can easily pop them out of the pods and enjoy the protein-rich beans.
- Turkey or Ham Pinwheels: Spread a thin layer of cream cheese or mustard on a tortilla. Layer with turkey or ham slices, cheese, and lettuce. Roll tightly and slice into pinwheels.
- Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites: Spread peanut butter between two pretzel rounds to create bite-sized sandwiches. Pack them in a container for a satisfying and protein-rich snack.
- Yogurt Covered Berries: Dip fresh berries (such as strawberries or blueberries) into Greek yogurt and place them on a parchment-lined tray. Freeze until firm and pack them for a refreshing and protein-packed treat.
- Mini Hummus Cups: Pack individual cups of hummus and provide a variety of cut veggies
- Apple Slices, Peanut Butter, and Nutella: Give your kids a little dessert treat while also making sure they are getting plenty of protein to keep them hiking. My kids go crazy for Nutella, and a little bit can go a long way to giving them a sweet treat.
- Nuts and Dried Fruit: Choose your favorite nut and dried fruit for a perfect combination snack.
Fruit and Veggie Snacks for Day Hiking with Kids
Fruit and veggies are such a simple snack to pack on a hike. These options include plenty of dippers and ways to get picky eaters to enjoy their fruits and veggies.
- Apple Slices with Peanut Butter: Slice fresh apples and pack them in a container. Pair them with individual packets of peanut butter for dipping.
- Carrot Sticks with Hummus: Cut carrots into sticks and pack them in a container. Pack individual cups of hummus for dipping.
- Celery Sticks with Cream Cheese: Slice celery into sticks and spread cream cheese in the hollow part. It’s a crunchy and satisfying combo.
- Grape Tomatoes with Mozzarella Balls: Pack grape tomatoes and mozzarella balls in a container. Enjoy them together for a tasty burst of flavors.
- Cucumber Slices with Greek Yogurt: Slice cucumbers and pack them in a container. Pack individual cups of Greek yogurt for dipping.
- Berries with Whipped Cream: Pack a mix of fresh berries like strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. Top them with a dollop of whipped cream for a sweet and refreshing treat.
- Watermelon Cubes with Feta Cheese: Cut watermelon into cubes and pack them in a container. Add crumbled feta cheese for a delicious sweet and savory combination.
- Bell Pepper Strips with Guacamole: Slice bell peppers into strips and pack them in a container. Pack individual cups of guacamole for dipping.
- Pineapple Chunks with Coconut Flakes: Cut pineapple into chunks and pack them in a container. Sprinkle coconut flakes on top for a tropical flavor combo.
- Snap Peas with Ranch Dip: Pack snap peas in a container. Pack individual cups of ranch dressing for dipping.
- Grapes with Cheese Cubes: Pack a mix of seedless grapes and cubed cheese in a container. Alternate between bites for a balanced and tasty snack.
- Banana with Nut Butter: Pack a whole banana and individual packets of nut butter. Simply spread the nut butter on each bite for a satisfying and protein-rich treat.
- Mango Slices with Chili Powder: Cut mango into slices and pack them in a container. Sprinkle with a pinch of chili powder for a sweet and spicy snack.
- Kiwi Slices with Yogurt Dip: Slice kiwi and pack them in a container. Pack individual cups of flavored yogurt for dipping.
- Strawberries with Chocolate Chips: Pack fresh strawberries and a small bag of dark chocolate chips. Enjoy the strawberries and chocolate chips together for a delightful treat.
- Jicama Sticks with Lime Juice and Chili Powder: Peel jicama and cut it into sticks. Squeeze lime juice on top and sprinkle with a pinch of chili powder for a zesty and crunchy snack.
- Orange Segments with Pistachios: Peel and segment oranges. Pack them in a container along with shelled pistachios for a refreshing and nutritious combo.
- Pear Slices with Almond Butter: Slice fresh pears and pack them in a container. Pair them with individual packets of almond butter for a delicious and fiber-rich snack.
- Blueberries with Yogurt Covered Pretzels: Pack fresh blueberries and a small bag of yogurt-covered pretzels. Enjoy the contrasting textures and flavors together.
- Cherry Tomatoes with Basil Leaves: Pack cherry tomatoes and fresh basil leaves in a container. Pair them together for a burst of freshness and flavor.
- Pear and Cheese Slices: Give your kids a delicious snack with pears and slices of cheese. I prefer to use a white cheddar cheese.
Other Snack and Lunch Ideas for Day Hikes with Kids
Are you looking for something outside the box for day hike snack and lunch ideas? These snacks will be a fun surprise for any little hiker.
- Sushi Rolls: Prepare simple sushi rolls with ingredients like cucumber, avocado, and imitation crab. Slice them into bite-sized pieces for easy snacking.
- Mini Bagel Sandwiches: Spread cream cheese or your child’s favorite spread on mini bagels. Add slices of deli meat, cheese, and veggies for a satisfying handheld meal.
- Turkey or Ham Pinwheels: Roll slices of turkey or ham around cheese sticks or cucumber slices. Secure them with toothpicks for easy eating.
- Cheese Quesadillas: Make cheese quesadillas by melting shredded cheese between tortillas. Cut them into wedges and pack them for a cheesy and portable meal.
- Pizza Rolls: Roll out store-bought pizza dough and top it with sauce, cheese, and your kids’ favorite pizza toppings. Roll it up, slice into bite-sized pieces, and bake until golden.
- Veggie Spring Rolls: Wrap julienned veggies like carrots, cucumbers, and bell peppers in rice paper wrappers. Pack a side of soy sauce or peanut dipping sauce.
- Mini Meatballs: Prepare small meatballs using ground beef or turkey. Bake or pan-fry them and pack them in a container. Kids can enjoy them plain or with toothpicks for easy snacking.
- Pita Bread with Hummus: Cut pita bread into wedges and pack them with individual cups of hummus. Kids can dip the pita bread into the hummus for a tasty and protein-rich snack.
- Cucumber Sandwich Bites: Slice cucumbers into rounds and sandwich them with cream cheese and slices of deli meat or cheese. Secure them with toothpicks for a refreshing and satisfying finger food.
- Tortilla Roll-Ups: Spread cream cheese or hummus on a tortilla, then layer with slices of deli meat, cheese, and veggies. Roll it tightly and slice into pinwheels for easy snacking.
- Apple Nachos: Slice apples into thin rounds and arrange them on a plate. Drizzle with nut butter or honey and sprinkle with granola or mini chocolate chips for a fun and nutritious treat.
- Ants on a Log: Fill celery sticks with peanut butter or cream cheese and top with raisins. It’s a classic and fun snack that kids will enjoy.
- English Muffin Pizzas: Split English muffins in half and top them with pizza sauce, cheese, and their favorite toppings. Toast them until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Chicken Skewers: Cut chicken breast into bite-sized pieces and thread them onto skewers. Grill or bake until cooked through and pack them for a protein-packed finger food.
- Sliced Melon: Pack a variety of sliced melons like watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew in a container. They’re hydrating and refreshing for a hike.
- Dried Fruit and Nut Mix: Create a mix of dried fruits like apricots, raisins, and cranberries along with nuts like almonds, cashews, and peanuts. Pack them in individual containers for a trail-ready snack.
- Mini Corn Dogs: Skewer small sausages with toothpicks and dip them into cornbread batter. Deep fry or bake until golden and serve with ketchup or mustard.
- Nacho Cheese Tortilla Chips: Pack individual bags of nacho cheese tortilla chips for a crunchy and cheesy snack on the go.
- Soba Noodle Salad: Toss cooked and chilled soba noodles with sliced cucumbers, shredded carrots, and a soy-based dressing. Pack it in individual
- Dry Cereal and Dried Fruit: Mix your kid’s favorite cereal with dried fruit for an easy trail snack.
Simple and Easy Day Hiking Lunch Ideas
Now that you have a fantastic repertoire of lunch ideas, it’s time to put them into action! I encourage you to try out the suggested options and get creative with your own variations. Remember, it’s all about tailoring the meals to your family’s preferences and dietary needs.
So, pack those sandwiches, salads, snacks, and fruit combos with confidence, and embark on your next hiking adventure with a delicious and satisfying lunch in tow. Your kids will be fueled up and ready to conquer any trail, and you’ll enjoy the precious moments spent together in the great outdoors.
Wishing you happy trails, wonderful memories, and many exciting lunchtime picnics on your hiking journeys! Let’s make every hike an unforgettable experience for our little ones.
Are you looking for hiking activities for kids? Be sure to check out this post!
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