Backpacking lunch doesn’t have to be boring! You can prepare a delicious, healthy lunch that will make your backpacking trips even more enjoyable. From Japanese sushi balls to hearty sandwiches and smoked salmon – I’ve compiled 17 of the best backpacking lunch ideas for you to enjoy on the trails.
Each recipe is easy to prepare with ingredients you can find at any grocery store and they are all designed to keep you fueled throughout your journey.
So grab your pack, head out on the trails and enjoy one of these delicious lunch ideas!
How Much Food should you take for backpacking?
Before you set off on your backpacking trip, it’s important to know how much food to bring. The amount of food you will need depends on the size and duration of your trip, as well as the activity level.
Generally, most people should plan for about 2,000 calories per day for an average-sized adult. This means you should bring around 2 pounds of food per day per person.
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What Kind of Food Is Best For Backpacking?
When it comes to backpacking food, it’s important to choose items that are lightweight and nutritious. The best foods for backpacking are those that provide long-lasting energy and won’t spoil in the hot summer months.
Some of the best non-perishable foods for backpacking include:
- Fresh foods
- Dried fruits
- Dehydrated meals
- Just-add-water meals
- Make-ahead meals
Also be sure to choose nutrient-dense foods like tuna packet, peanut butter, and trail mix that will give you the necessary calories and nutrients to keep you going.
About My Backpacking meal plan
The recipe will give you a quick and creative guide on how to combine either cooked or pre-pack foods to make your meal time much more pleasant, that’s why I skipped several common-sense single items as recommendations such as protein bars, powdered milk, instant soups, etc.
If you love camping, here is another easy camping meals for kids & you!
Little To No Cook Backpacking Lunch Ideas
Sushi balls (Onigiri)
- Cooked 3 cups sushi rice or instant rice, but short grain preferred
- Cut into small rectangles the nori sheets
- ⅕ cup of rice seasoning aka furikake
- Put your cooked sushi rice into a large mixing bowl. Add the furikake rice seasoning and mix evenly. Add 3 cups of sushi of rice and ⅕ cup of rice seasoning
- Separate the rice into equal portions, approximately one large handful for each, onigiri.
- Wet your hands with water and rub them with a pinch or two of salt. This stops the rice from sticking to your hands and helps keep it fresher for longer. Add water and salt.
- Pick up one handful/portion of rice. If you are hiding some fillings inside, here is where you make an indent, place the ingredients inside and fold the rice over, then lightly press into a ball.
- Start pressing and squeezing the rice into a triangular shape or snowball.
- Place a slice of nori on the bottom of the onigiri, rough side in towards the rice. Then fold it up towards the middle of the onigiri.
Peanut Butter and Jelly
- 6 Slices sandwich bread
- 6 Tbsp. peanut butter
- 6 Teaspoons grape jelly or 2 teaspoons strawberry jam
- On four pieces of bread, spread the peanut butter
- On the other side, spread the jelly
- Put the two pieces of bread together to form a sandwich
- Toddler adaptation: cut off crusts before serving
Premium Loaded Sandwiches
- Salt and pepper
- Grated or sliced cheese
- 2 Small cans tuna flakes in brine
- 1/2 Small onion finely chopped
- 4 Eggs
- Diagonally cut the 3 multi grained bread
- 3 Ham square or 3 slices of bacon
- 3 Slices cucumber
- 3 Slices big tomato
- 3-4 Lettuce leaves
- 3 Tbsp. mayonnaise
- Mix mayonnaise, onion, tuna, pepper, and salt.
- Cook egg (scrambled, hard-boiled, or sunny side up) heat ham or bacon in a non-stick skillet for at least 2 minutes or until cooked.
- Heat bread in a skillet until lightly browned.
- Layer from bottom to top: In any order; bread lettuce, ham, tomato, bread, cheese, bread, tuna, dressing cucumber, bread.
- 2 Tbsp. spicy mustard or hot sauce you preferred
- Shredded 1 cup Cheddar Cheese
- Chopped 1 Onion
- 1 Pack of Multigrain wraps
- Cooked 3 3/4 Smoked Sausage links
- Grill sausages until cooked, sausage can be left whole or sliced per preference.
- Spread each warmed tortilla with 1/2 Tbsp. spicy mustard.
- Place equal portions of sausage down the center of each tortilla.
- Sprinkle each tortilla with equal amounts of cheddar cheese and onions
Backcountry Tuna & Egg Salad
- ½ Teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ Teaspoon onion powder
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Diced ½ white onion
- Salt and black pepper
- 3 Tbsp. mustard
- Diced 4 large dill pickles
- Diced 2 celery stalks
- Drained 30 ounces canned tuna in water
- 7 Large Hard Boiled eggs
- 2 Cups mayonnaise
- Optional Garnish: Green Onion
- Drain tuna and add to a bowl along with the chopped pickled, diced onion and chopped celery.
- Peel and chop the eggs.
- Add and mix well all the remaining ingredients in a large bowl
- For garnish; sprinkle a few chopped green onions on top
No-bake energy rolled oats energy bars (bites)
- Dash of salt
- ¼ Cup almond butter
- ¼ Cup chopped pecans
- ¼ Cup raisins
- ¼ Cup honey
- 1 Cup dry oats
- ½ Teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ Cup toasted coconut
- Optional: ½ Teaspoon vanilla
- Add and stir the nut butter and honey to combine well.
- Use a spoon to scoop about a Tbsp. of the cookie ball mixture into your hand.
- Roll into a ball. Repeat with the remaining mixture.
Kewpie Egg Sandwich
This is my family’s favorite sandwich, tastes really good and is also calorie dense, so it’s good to serve for backpacking meals.
- For hard-boiled, 6 large-sized eggs
- For medium boiled, 1 large-sized egg
Filling and Assembly:
- Unsalted butter softened
- ¼ Teaspoon black pepper
- Optional: ½ Teaspoon white granulated sugar
- ¾ Teaspoon salt
- 2 Teaspoon whole milk or milk powder
- 4 Tbsp. Kewpie or regular mayonnaise
- 4 Slices shokupan with crusts
- Optional: chopped 1 tbsp chives
- Medium-boiled egg: In a pot of boiling water over medium-high heat, add all eggs and boil for 7 minutes and 30 seconds exactly.
- Prepare a bowl with cold water and ice. At 7 minutes and 30 seconds, remove 1 egg and place it in the ice bath for 2 minutes.
- Remove the egg, peel it, and set it aside.
- Hard-boiled egg: Refill the ice in the ice bath if it melted.
- At 9 minutes, remove the rest of the eggs from the pot and place them in the ice bath for 2 minutes.
- Remove the eggs and peel them.
Filling and Assembly:
- Get your hard-boiled eggs and slice them in half, mash and add them into a mixing bowl.
- Add and mix the salt, mayonnaise, milk, sugar, and black pepper to the eggs until combined. Cut the crusts from your shokupan and spread the butter on one side of each bread slice.
- Cut the medium-boiled egg in half and place them face side down on two pieces of bread.
- Take another slice and add it on top to complete your sandwich. Repeat with the other sandwich.
- Slice the sandwich in half
Asian Spring Roll Wrap
- Grated 1 large carrot
- 1 Teaspoon salt
- 3 Ounces uncooked thin rice noodles
- 3 Tbsp. lime juice
- Peeled, seeded, and julienned 1 medium cucumber
- 1/2 Cup loosely packed fresh cilantro
- Seeded and chopped 1 medium jalapeno pepper
- 1/3 Cup chopped dry roasted peanuts
- (8 inches) 8 Spring roll wrappers or rice papers
- 1 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
- 1 Teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 Cup hoisin sauce
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1/2 Cup hot water
- 1/4 Cup creamy peanut butter
- Minced 2 garlic cloves
- 2 Teaspoons canola oil
- 1/2 To 1 Teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Combine the hoisin sauce, sugar, and lime juice in a small bowl and set aside.
- Add 2 qts. water and salt to a boil in a large saucepan.
- Add noodles, and cook for 2-3 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- Transfer to a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of reserved lime juice mixture and set aside.
- In another bowl, combine the cucumber, peanuts, carrot, and jalapeno. Toss with the remaining lime juice mixture and set aside.
- For 5 minutes, soak spring roll wrappers in cool water. Carefully separate and place on a flat surface. Top each with several cilantro leaves.
- Place 1/4 cup carrot mixture and 1/4 cup noodles down the center of each wrapper to within 1-1/2 inch of ends.
- Fold both ends over the filling; fold one long side over the filling, then carefully roll up tightly.
- In a small saucepan, cook garlic and pepper flakes in oil for 2 minutes. Add the remaining sauce ingredients; cook and stir until combined and thickened.
Tuna Packets with Crackers
- 1 Tbsp. minced onion
- 1 Teaspoon minced celery
- Ground black pepper
- 4 Tbsp. mayonnaise
- 1 Pack of soda crackers or snack crackers
- Drained 1 can 6-oz albacore tuna in water
- 1 Teaspoon superfine mustard powder
- Mix and combine onion, tuna, and celery in a bowl
- Mix and add mustard powder and mayonnaise. Taste the mixture, and when needed, add salt and pepper
- Stay for at least 1 hour. Scoop a tablespoon of the mixture and top over the crackers.
Salami and Cheese Pita
- 2-3 Tbsp. alfalfa sprout
- 2-3 Slices pepper cheese
- Cut in half the 4 pita bread
- 2-3 Slice salami, thin cut
- Cut the pita in half and open it.
- Place the salami and cheese inside the pita.
- Toast it until the cheese is melted.
- Carefully open the pita backup and add the sprouts
- Halved 2 6-inch whole-wheat pita
- Shredded ½ cup romaine lettuce
- 3-4 Thin tomato slices
- ½ Recipe Classic Tuna Salad
- Divide tuna salad between pita halves
- Spread into the bottom of the pockets
- Carefully push in lettuce and tomato
- 4 Large Tortillas
- Optional: Salsa and grated cheese
- 1 Pouch Ready Rice
- 1 Pouch beans
- 1 7 Oz pouch Chicken Breast or chicken packets
- Bring a pot of water to a boil.
- Snip the edge of each pouch to vent and stand the pouches upright in the pot of boiling water.
- Cook for 5 minutes. Open the pouch and check if everything is heated. If not, for another 1-2 minutes, stir and return to the pot.
- Spoon 1/4 of each mixture onto each tortilla.
- If you brought add-ons, add them.
Ready-to-eat curry packets & rice
- 2 Ready-to-Eat Mixed Vegetable Curry
- Remove the curry in the box and put it in boiling water
- Once boiling, you can now remove the curry packet
- Transfer it to a bowl
Bagel & cream cheese
- 2 Bagels
- 4 Tbsp. cream cheese
- Cut in half if the bagel is not already pre-sliced
- Toast bagel halves in a toaster
- Spread with cream cheese
- 1-2 Teaspoons maple syrup or honey
- Optional: 1 teaspoon chia seeds, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of sea salt
- Toppings of choice: fresh fruits, nut butter, nuts, seeds
- 1 Tbsp. peanut butter
- Sliced 1/4 cup fresh berries, strawberries, and blueberries
- 2 Tbsp. chocolate chips
- 2 Cup of old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1/4 Cup plain yogurt or 1/4 cup more milk
- 1 Cup milk
- Add yogurt, chia seeds, oats, milk, vanilla, maple syrup, and sea salt into a jar or storage container with a lid.
- Stir ingredients together and place overnight.
- Remove the lid and give the oats a big stir.
- Top with your favorite toppings
- Overnight oats should last up to 5 days in a sealed airtight container.
Chicken salad sandwich
- Chopped (1/2 cup) 1 medium stalk celery
- 1/2 Cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
- 1/4 Teaspoon salt
- 8 Slices bread
- Chopped 1 1/2 cups cooked chicken or turkey
- 1/4 Teaspoon pepper
- Chopped (1/3 cup) 1 small onion
- Mix all ingredients except bread in a medium bowl.
- Spread mixture on 5 bread slices and top with remaining bread
Smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel
- 2kg Sustainable smoked salmon
- Rinsed and drained 1-2 Tbsp. capers
- Lemon wedges
- Halved and toasted 4 bagels
- ¾ cream cheese
- Optional: dill sprigs
For the quick-pickled cucumber and red onion:
- 1 Tbsp. caster sugar
- 1 Teaspoon grated lemon zest
- Peeled into long ribbons 1 cucumber
Sliced ½ small red onion
- 4 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 Teaspoon salt
- Chopped small handful of dill
- In a medium glass/ceramic bowl, combine all the ingredients except the onion and cucumber
- whisk to dissolve the salt and sugar
- Add the cucumber and onion, then toss to coat in the pickling liquid. Set aside to pickle for at least 15 minutes.
- Spread the bottom half of the toasted bagels with cream cheese, then top with a few slices of smoked salmon and a scattering of capers.
- Pile on a tangle of the pickled veg, and season with black pepper and a few dill sprigs, if using.
- Top with the bagel lids, then slice each bagel sandwich in half and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing
The bottom line
With so many delicious options, it’s hard to choose just one!
My personal favorite is the smoked salmon since it’s light and easy to pack, but I’m definitely intrigued by the sushi balls. No matter what you choose, I hope you enjoy these recipes and that they help make your backpacking trips more enjoyable.
Be sure to let me know which backpacking foods are your favorites- happy trails!