The Top 10 Best Lunch Ideas For Hiking in Colorado | Best Hiking Lunches
Hiking in Colorado is a great way to get some exercise and fresh air. But what do you do for lunch when you’re out on the trail? If you’re looking for some inspiration as you cruise through the grocery store, look no further! This blog post will give you 10 of the best lunch ideas for hiking in Colorado. From sandwiches to salads to snacks, we’ve got you covered. So what are you waiting for? Grab your backpack and let’s get started!
Before We Dive In, Make Sure You Remember To Pick The Right Food For The Right Hike
The best foods for any hike are hard to pin down because, while a protein bar or granola may seem like the obvious option, you may need something sweeter, warmer, colder, want fresh foods, or possibly just have different personal preferences. Whatever your reason may be, don’t think that granola and protein are what you should always bring because you might be wrong. Some questions you should be asking yourself as you’re meal planning include:
- how strenuous will this hike be?
- how long will you be hiking?
- what’s competitively priced?
- what’s nutritious?
- what will I enjoy?
If you can find a few nutritious lunch ideas that answer all of these questions, you’ve figured out lunch.
Good Options For Longer Hikes
Longer Hikes oftentimes don’t have lean protein, fresh fruits, hard-boiled eggs, or any truly delicious trail snacks. The goal with planning your delicious hiking lunch ideas for longer hikes is to focus on utility and do your best to make them decent. How do we do this? By finding food ideas that have complex carbs and as much protein as we can get. If you’re a fan of long hikes, this is for you.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
A classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a classic lunch idea for hiking in Colorado. Peanut butter is a great source of protein and healthy fats, while jelly provides some sweetness and antioxidants. This simple sandwich will keep you fueled up for a day on the trail.
To make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, start with two slices of bread. Spread one slice with peanut butter and the other with jelly. Put the two slices together and enjoy! You can also add some additional toppings to your sandwich, such as bananas, chocolate chips, or granola. To make it extra-satiating, we recommend you add flax seed and use Dave’s Power Bread because it’s higher in protein and will keep you feeling full and energetic longer.
The top-rated peanut butter brands are typically high-fat, no-stir peanut butter. Kirkland Signature Peanut butter from Costco has limited ingredients, is competitively priced, and is fully organic. It boasts more fat and less sugar than most competing brands. Alternatively, other nut butters like Nuttzo or almond butter are also great options to consider as well.
Trail Mix & granola bars
Trail Mix – This is a great option for those who want something that is easy to carry and doesn’t require any preparation. Simply mix together your favorite nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and chocolate chips (if desired) and you’re good to go! A simple place to go to buy trail mix is Sprouts. Their bulk section has a variety of different competitively priced, healthy and filling options to help you successfully trek up the mountain you’re planning on.
Beef Jerky and Turkey Jerky
Jerky of all kinds can be very filling and provide you with the calories that are necessary for you to be successful in your hike. The hard part is, some jerky is high in sodium to help preserve it and as a result, will force you to drink a lot more water.
For extra-long hikes, freeze-dried meals are a must. After hiking 20+ miles, you need to eat, and eating a granola bar won’t cut it. We’re huge fans of backpacker pantry and Mountain House meals. Both are consistent and delicious. All you have to do is add hot water to the pack and wait a few minutes and, voila, you have a delicious lunch.
The standard that basically everyone’s brought with them on a hike at least once. Needless to say, not all protein bars are good for hiking, though. Some lack the nutrients you need to get you through because they’re more built for lifting weights or some other sport. Others might as well say “candy bar” on the front. The only protein bars that are made for hiking are Probars. They function as a meal replacement and are definitely high-calorie so you know that you’re prepared for a longer hike and are able to maintain your energy levels.
Staying hydrated and caffeinated is important on a hike and water doesn’t hydrate you like liquid IV does. Liquid IV comes in a variety of different flavors and includes caffeine and sugar in most of them. These aren’t energy drinks but they definitely can help you prepare for hot weather without having to carry so much water.
If you’re like me and hear “ramen noodles” it may remind you of college. While those vividly oversalted memories may not be ideal, ramen doesn’t always have to taste so terrible. A few great ideas for hiking include bringing hot sauce like Sriracha, red onion, some hard cheeses, and additional seasoning like Trader Joes Umami seasoning and adding a small amount of the seasoning packet. Immediately, your potentially terrible ramen noodles aren’t as bad.
Day Hike Food
While day hikes still can be hours upon hours long, your food spoiling shouldn’t be as big of a concern as long as you have a couple ice packs and plan accordingly. The main goal with planning your delicious hiking lunch ideas for day hikes is to enjoy your meal and fuel up as well. Oftentimes bringing healthy snacks or even a little junk food can be perfectly fine. If you’re a fan of day hikes, explicitly, this is for you.
This is a great option if you want something that is easily portable and doesn’t require any cooking. Simply mix together your favorite pasta, vegetables, dressing, and cheese and you’re good to go!
This is a great option if you want something healthy and refreshing. Simply mix together your favorite fruits, add some yogurt or honey if desired, and you’re good to go!
Hummus and Crackers
Hummus and crackers are one of the best lunch ideas for hiking in Colorado. This simple yet delicious meal is perfect for a quick hike or a long day on the trail. It’s packed with protein and healthy fats to keep you fueled and satisfied, and it’s easy to pack and transport. Plus, there are endless ways to customize your hummus and crackers depending on your preferences. Here are some of our favorite combinations:
– Classic hummus with whole wheat crackers
– Spicy hummus with pita chips
– Roasted red pepper hummus with baguette slices
– White bean hummus with pretzels
– Sweet potato hummus with graham crackers
No matter what combination you choose, you’ll be sure to enjoy this tasty and nutritious meal on your next hike in Colorado!
Chicken Salad Wrap
A chicken salad wrap is a great option for a healthy and filling lunch while hiking in Colorado. It’s easy to make ahead of time and can be packed with plenty of protein and vegetables to keep you fueled throughout your hike.
Fruit and Cheese Plate
A fruit and cheese plate is the perfect light lunch for hiking in Colorado. Pack a variety of fruits, like apples, grapes, and berries, as well as some cheese and crackers. This will give you sustained energy throughout your hike.
Greek Yogurt with Berries
This lightweight and nutritious lunch option is perfect for hikes in Colorado. The berries provide a natural sweetness, while the yogurt packs in protein to help keep you feeling full throughout your hike.
When it comes to packing a lunch for a hike in Colorado, you can’t go wrong with a quinoa salad. This healthy dish is packed with protein and complex carbohydrates, making it the perfect fuel for a day on the trail. And best of all, it’s easy to make ahead of time and doesn’t require any cooking.
To assemble your quinoa salad, start with a base of cooked quinoa. You can cook this grain ahead of time or use pre-cooked quinoa to save time. Then, add in your favorite vegetables, such as diced tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers. For a bit of sweetness, include some raisins or dried cranberries. Finally, top off your salad with a flavorful dressing of your choice. olive oil and vinegar or tahini dressing both work well.
When it comes to packing a lunch for a hike in Colorado, there are endless possibilities. But when it comes to finding the perfect balance of healthy and delicious, we always come back to good old vegetable soup. To carry vegetable soup with you, you’ll have to likely bring a thermos which may add too much weight for you depending on if you’re planning a long day hike or a short one so keep that in mind as you consider your nutritious hiking lunch ideas.
This classic dish is packed with nutrients and antioxidants, and it’s easy to make ahead of time and store in a thermos. Plus, it’s just as satisfying when eaten cold on a hot day as it is piping hot on a cold one.
So next time you’re planning a hike in the Centennial State, be sure to include a big batch of veggie soup on your menu.
A turkey sandwich is a great option for lunch when hiking in Colorado. It’s a light meal that won’t weigh you down but will still give you the energy you need to power through your hike. Plus, it’s easy to make and doesn’t require any special ingredients.
To make a turkey sandwich, start by spreading some mayonnaise on a slice of bread. Then, add a few slices of turkey and top with another slice of bread. You can also add some lettuce, tomato, and cheese to your sandwich if you like.
A bagel with cream cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, red onion, and smoked salmon
While this may be out of left field and be entirely unexpected, smoked salmon isn’t perishable as long as it remains sealed and, with enough icepacks, your cream cheese can remain cold. The benefit of bringing bagels with lox onto a hiking trail is that it’s incredibly satiating, high calorie, and high fat so you’ll remain full for the remainder of your hike. In addition, if you’re a salmon fan, this will make your celebration of summiting the mountain even better.
Hiking Snack Ideas for your hike
Needless to say, lunch is important but don’t forget about snacks as well. If you’re still thinking about what to pack and haven’t made your decision yet, keep reading. Snacks are much simpler because they’re rarely perishable food and more focused on what’s nutritious, satiating, and delicious.
Low Sugar Dark Chocolate
Dark Chocolate has a little caffeine, is delicious and if it’s low in sugar, it’s not terrible for you. This is an easy snack idea and is unlikely to ever seem unappealing.
An apple, banana, or raspberries are never a bad idea for a hike. Not only do these have a lot of fiber (avoid them if you have IBS) so they fill you up for a long time but they’re also delicious and bound to make your already fun hike even better.
Homemade Baked Goods
A cookie or homemade piece of banana bread is definitely an appealing way to celebrate summiting a mountain. We’re a fan of all the recipes included here.
A MicroBrewed Beer
While this is non-traditional and definitely not healthy, little is as enjoyable as sipping on a somewhat refreshing beer after you finish a strenuous hike. The calories are definitely appreciated if you’ve pushed yourself hard to climb the mountain.
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are packed with nutrition including Vitamin A, Complex Carbohydrates and they taste delicious. While it may seem weird to be awkwardly eating a sweet potato like an apple on a hiking trail, you won’t be thinking it’s as weird once you’re feeling full and ready to finish the hike. A quick hint is to add a little brown sugar and butter on the inside before putting them into foil to be baked and ready for your hike.
Needles to say, if you bring Cherry Tomatoes on a hike, you’ll need some sturdy Tupperware to avoid pulverizing them in your pack. These sweet morsels are nice sugar-filled umami bombs that are the perfect pairing for a long hike. Before putting them in the Tupperware, put some light salt, feta cheese and garlic-infused olive oil on them to make them even better. Make sure you pack a fork otherwise you’ll either be disappointed in your lack of preparedness or have oily fingers on your hike back.
This salty snack can help you get the protein and fat that your body craves as you’re trekking through a long hike. What makes these great is that you can keep them in your fanny pack or your pocket for easy access along the way. If you get low blood sugar, these can help fix that problem without taking up too much space in your pack. Sunflower seeds are a good option for nearly all multi-day hikes and day hikes.
So In Conclusion:
No matter what your Colorado hiking goals are, we hope you’ll consider packing one of these amazing lunch ideas on your next hike. With a little preparation, you can fuel yourself with some of the best hiking lunches around and enjoy an incredible day in the Rockies. Do you have a favorite Colorado hiking trail? Let us know in the comments below!