Backpacking is a great way to get outside, enjoy nature, and do something physical. Whether you are setting out on a short day trip or a longer trek, you will need food that will nourish you yet requires little prep. You want backpacking lunch ideas that are no-cook and still satisfying so you can refuel and get back to the trails. But you don’t want to survive on trail mix alone. So, what food items can you fill your camping backpack up with on your next trip? Read on to find out which backpacking lunch ideas we’ve found that we’re sure you’ll love.
Store-bought pita bread is an excellent vessel for protein-filled ingredients while on the trails. Try filling pita bread with hard salami and a hard cheese like cheddar, parmesan, or gouda. Hard cheeses are best for backpacking since they have a lower moisture content than soft cheeses. Also, avoid pre-shredded cheeses since they typically have more exposure to air and moisture. Pre-sliced cheddar or individually-wrapped string cheeses travel well, too.
As far as salami goes, it is usually made of pork that has been fermented and dried, so it can remain stable at room temperature for long periods. You typically wouldn’t want to take regular lunch meats on backpacking trips, but salami is different. If you’re going on a short journey, pre-sliced salami will work, but for longer trips, try out salami that isn’t sliced and do it yourself when you stop for lunch. You should have a knife of some sort in your pack anyway. Mustard and mayonnaise packets travel well if you need a condiment in your pita sandwich.
Crackers work well in place of bread for mini-sandwiches. You can throw a box or sleeve of crackers in your pack, and they will travel well as long as you don’t crush them. If you’re worried about breaking your crackers, put them in a plastic container that won’t destroy them in your backpack. The options for toppings are pretty much endless when it comes to cracker sandwiches. Tuna packets are a great high-protein option, and they travel well. If tuna isn’t your thing, you can get salmon or even chicken in the same style of packets. You can add mustard or mayo right to the pouch, plus a bit of salt and pepper to spice it up before spreading it on your crackers. Peanut butter on crackers is also delicious and high in protein and good fat. You can spread Nutella on crackers for a sweet snack or pile cheddar cheese and salami on them for a savory meal.
Tortillas are the next carb-based vessel we recommend for backpacking lunches. Tortillas can be filled with any of the ingredients we’ve already discussed and turned into a healthy meal. You can also make tortillas into a healthy breakfast with nut butter, honey packets, granola, or trail mix. Tortillas are great for a meal on the go because all you have to do is roll them up and get moving, and you can eat them with one hand most of the time.
As a general rule, you should plan on stocking 2,500 to 4,500 calories of food per person per day, but when in doubt, pack more food than you think you’ll need without overdoing it. Food choices should be kept simple, lightweight, and portable. Also, bring nonperishable foods that can withstand hot and cold temperatures since you don’t know exactly what kind of weather conditions you will encounter. Be sure to bring foods that you like — now is not the time to test out new foods. Also, be sure to bring a mix of carbs, proteins, and fats so your diet is balanced.
Not all of the foods you bring have to be processed; consider getting nuts and seeds, hard cheeses, and a baguette. These foods are sustainable, reasonably lightweight, and can be wrapped and thrown in a camping backpack. You can also bring sturdy fruits and vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, kale, snap peas, apples, or oranges. Most fruits and vegetables will stay fresh in your pack for a day or two. Bring travel-friendly salt, pepper, and any other spices you want to spice up your meals. Even hot sauce and cinnamon travel well and can spice up any dish.
If you plan on building a fire at some point or utilizing a heating bag, your food and drink options open up. Hot water can make mac and cheese, hot chocolate, instant rice, mashed potatoes, and so much more. Bring hot cider packets, chai tea, chicken broth, miso soup, ramen, and more. There are also convenient jet boil and solar-powered systems you can purchase if you’re really into backpacking and plan on getting your money’s worth out of such a device.
Use your common sense when utilizing the food you have packed. If something looks or smells bad, don’t eat it. Most of the foods above keep well, but sometimes food goes bad. The meats and cheeses we’ve suggested typically stay fresh for days at a time, but when in doubt, stay on the safe side. Nothing ruins a trip into the wild faster than food poisoning.
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