12 Backpacking Lunch Ideas That Require No Cooking

When you are spending all day hiking or trekking, you don't necessarily have time to lug around pots and spatulas with you as extra weights. You also would not want to spend much time preparing food. Don't worry; we got you covered! This article is dedicated to easy backpacking lunch ideas, no cooking required.

No cook backpacking foods should be easy and quick to eat while also providing you with enough energy and nutrition to replenish your body after all the trekking or hiking. This article has been created with all of these factors in mind.

So, read on for some delicious, easy, and nourishing no-cook backpacking recipes and food ideas.

What Makes a Food Good for Backpacking?

Before we get to the actual recipes, let’s learn about what exactly you should be considering when packing food for backpacking.

Shelf Stable

Shelf Stable

Unless you are hiking in the middle of winter, it’s safe to assume there will not be refrigeration available for your food. So, it's crucial to pack food that can remain fresh at room temperature. The food should also be able to withstand being carried around in a backpack for a few days.



Remember, anything you pack you also have to carry, so you have to ensure you are reducing as much weight as possible. This can be done by reducing water weight through dehydration; you can rehydrate the food easily.

Calorie Dense


When you are hiking or trekking for long periods of time, your body loses a lot of energy. The food you eat should be able to replenish the lost energy and refuel you so that you can keep on going.


Quick to Prepare

In addition to all of the characteristics mentioned above, the food should also be done quickly. Because chances are, you will not have time to cook for a long time when backpacking. Moreover, you will be tired after a high level of physical exercise and won't have the time or energy to spend on preparing food.

Now that you know what to look for, let’s have a look at some recipes.

1. Tortilla Wraps with Peanut Butter and Honey

This is one of the no cook backpacking meals that can be made really fast and come in handy when you are running late. You can tweak the recipe so that the ingredients fit your taste. Simply get a tortilla and spread some peanut butter or any other type of nut butter based on your preference for it. Add a packet of honey on top.

Then throw in your favorite granola or trail mix on top and wrap the tortilla into a roll and voila! You have healthy and tasty food on your hand that ticks off all the boxes. What more could you ask for?

2. Chicken, Salmon, and Tuna Pouches

These packets are easier to pack compared to cans. They are also super quick and easy to prepare, plus loaded with proteins, which makes them a hit for backpackers everywhere. You can find these easily in Amazon, REI, Backcountry, Trader Joe's, Nuts.com, and Target. Excellent tortilla wraps and burritos can be made with these. 

Some ideas for burritos are salmon and cream cheese; mayo, ketchup, and tuna; chicken and canned pineapples; chicken and pesto, et cetera. Another great meal idea using these is crackers with tuna or salmon packets – it is crunchy, salty, delicious, and packed with protein too!

3. Cheese and Salami Pita Sandwich

You can either choose cheese or salami as the ingredient for your sandwich. Let’s discuss both;

Salami as an Ingredient for Backpacking Recipes

The reason why salami is preferred over other kinds of lunch meats is because lunch meats can get spoiled easily without being in the fridge for too long.

On the other hand, salami can remain stable and unspoiled for long periods of time, making it ideal for backpacking meals. If you are on a long backpacking trip, consider buying whole unsliced salami; they stay unspoiled for longer than the pre-sliced variety.

Cheese As an Ingredient for Backpacking Recipes

When packing cheeses for meals during backpacking, avoid any kind of soft cheese because they usually go bad faster. Hard cheeses such as Parmesan, Gouda, or Cheddar have very little moisture in them, so they do not go bad as fast.

Just like salami, try packing blocks of cheeses rather than pre-shredded ones because lesser exposure to moisture and air means they will keep fresh longer. And just to be safe, before consuming, look for any funky smells; and if you get such smell, discard the cheese.

But hard cheeses rarely go bad, so don't be discouraged from trying them out on your next hike.

Assembling the Sandwich

This one may not look like much, but it sure tastes amazing after a long tiring day of hiking. Aside from the ingredients mentioned in the heading, you will need little individual mayonnaise and mustard packs; you may take ketchup too if that’s more your style.

To assemble, simply cut the pita bread in half and squeeze in some mustard and mayonnaise. Then layer some slices of cheese and salami inside, and the sandwich is ready to eat. Despite being very simple, it tastes really good, especially if you get good quality salami and cheese.

4. Granola and Cold Cereals

If you think that these sound more like breakfast then lunch, you're right. But I could not help but add them, because I would eat these for lunch when I'm doing an activity that takes a lot of energy and leaves me exhausted. They are very quick to prepare and gives a much-needed energy boost.

Granola consists of rolled oats, nuts, maple syrup or honey, or any other type of sweeteners. They are high in calories and nutrition. You can add them to any of your other recipes or simply eat them as a snack.

For cold cereals, add in some powdered milk with them in a bowl and then pour some water on them. Then mix and enjoy! You could also do this with a granola mix as well. Add fruits, seeds, and nuts according to your taste and availability.

5. Instant Oatmeal

This one is loaded with fibers, and is easy, cheap, quick, and very customizable. To prepare instant oats, tear off the top of the packet and add some hot water and stir. No cookware needed, so one less thing to clean for you. You could add powdered milk, granola mix, and a packet of honey to it for taste. 

Or you could go the savory route instead, by adding in your protein of choice from a pouch, as discussed earlier.

6. Pumpkin Bread

Delicious, hearty, rich, and filling; pumpkin bread is a perfect choice for a quick meal. You can buy some from your local bakery or grocery stores; or bake one yourself if you are into baking. If you are indeed baking one, add whole pumpkin seeds to it to make it even tastier.

Pumpkin bread can be enjoyed by themselves, but you can also spread a packet of almond or peanut or any other kind of nut butter on it to boost the deliciousness.

7. Pizza Wraps

Some of us are obsessed with anything related to pizza, and rightfully so. Who doesn’t love the classic cheese, tomato, and carb combination? For a quick pizza wrap in between hikes, you will need tomato powder or sun-dried tomatoes, water, salt and pepper packets, herb packets if available for the base. 

You can use a tortilla, or pita bread, or bagels, or anything else available as the base. Now that the base is covered, add in some cheese slices, salami, or any other available cured meats, and you are done. Granted, it is far off from the traditional pizza, but still pretty delicious if you ask me!

8. Breakfast Bagels

Another great and delicious bread option. You can even take individual single-use cream cheese to top them off. The spread option is not limited to just traditional cream cheese, though; spread some peanut or almond butter on, or drizzle on some honey if you have a honey packet on hand.

You can also add tuna or ham and turn it into a sandwich; throw in some condiments from little packets too to make it even better, such as mayonnaise or mustard.

9. Smoked Salmon

Smoked salmons are sold in vacuum-sealed packages, so they hold up well when taken to backpacking trips. They are also mess-free and versatile; you could add many other common backpacking ingredients with it for a great meal and snack. Cream cheese and smoked salmon makes a great sandwich filling.

I would not recommend keeping it refrigerated for more than two or three days, so consume them within that time frame.

10. Pasta Salad

Use dehydrated noodles for this; the kind that needs only cold water to rehydrate. Once the noodles are ready, you can mix them with different pasta salad variations in every meal so that you do not get bored with it. For a very simple version, add some dehydrated vegetables, sun-dried tomato, and olive oil.

Along with dehydrated vegetables, you could also add tuna or chicken from those pouches we talked about earlier. Add a dried buffalo wing sauce mix and dried bell peppers for a delicious buffalo pasta salad. The possibilities are endless here.

11. Energy Bars and Meal Replacement Bars

You can never get bored of these because they come in hundreds of different varieties. Make sure you are packing many different kinds, not just your favorite one. Because variety is important, trust me on this. These bars are great to eat on the go, hassle-free, tasty, and loaded with fibers, proteins, nutrition, and calories.

12. Instant Mashed Potatoes

I would not recommend eating them as a standalone meal, but they can be a great side dish to almost anything you are having for lunch. Nothing is as hearty and filling as a big bowl of fluffy mashed potatoes. They are also super easy to make; just add some hot water and voila! They go well with proteins such as chicken or tuna.


That’s all, folks! We hope you found at least a few takeaways and ideas you’d like to try next time you go for a backpacking trip.

And let us know your opinion regarding our backpacking lunch ideas that require no cooking; also hare your backpacking recipes with us.

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