8 Lunch Ideas for Your Next Canoe or Kayak Trip

lunch served on the deck of a kayak

On kayak and canoe trips, I like to carry simple meals that require little prep and take up little room in the portage pack or hatches. Usually that means that I pack one or two types of lunches for a 10-day trip. By day 10 that can get a little old. Recently, I posted on PaddlingLight’s Facebook page asking for lunch ideas. The responses were varied, some elaborate and some simple. But all were less complicated than those found in a commercial paddling cookbook such as The Back-Country Kitchen: Camp Cooking for Canoeists, Hikers, and Anglers. The ideas were so good that I thought I’d share with the rest of PaddlingLight’s readers.

Main Dishes for Paddling Lunches

  1. Wraps, summer sausage (or pepperoni) and cheese. To prepare: Pull a burrito wrap out of the package, slice summer sausage and cheese. Wrap it up and eat. To pack: To preserve the wraps in your food bag, wrap them around the outside of bag so that the wraps follow the contours. Options: On a cold, wind day consider cooking the wrap in the fire.
  2. Wasa crackers, cheese, sausage and horseradish mustard. To prepare: Take a Wasa cracker, slice sausage and cheese onto the cracker and cover with a big helping of mustard. To pack: Wasa crackers are hardy, but take care when packing them. Keep them in that paper package they come in and pack at the top of your food bag. Many grocery stores carry horseradish mustard in plastic squeeze bottles.
  3. Peanut butter, summer sausage and some maple syrup…all wrapped up in a tortilla. This idea comes from Sven Hoaglund. I’m not so sure about the peanut butter, but maple syrup on sausage tastes great. If Andrew Zimmern can eat bizarre foods, so can paddlers. It’s probably tasty.
  4. Hot soup. To prepare: Kurt Penner suggests heating up soup at breakfast, storing it in a lightweight thermos and eating it a lunch. This is especially good on cold, rainy days. I like carrying along instant soup mixes, which makes the process as easy as heating water and opening a package of soup.
  5. Fruit, pepperjack cheese and a walnut, dried cranberries and sunflower seed mix. Combined with a lovely crusty loaf of Italian or other good bread covered with olive oil that had herbs and pepper and garlic steeping all day. This suggestion from Tracy Prior Seffers would work best on shorter trips where you can protect the bread or on trips that you’re motivated to make bread the night before.
  6. Four-oz bag of chicken salad with multigrain sandwich thins, a couple sticks of Polly-O cheese, some Spanish olives. To pack: Kayak Gus tells us that this combo fits inside a ziplock bag with a single-serve Gatorade drink mix and a Clif Bar.
  7. Hummus with mini pitas. This idea comes from Agnes Jung. To prepare: Mix powdered hummus with water until the hummus forms a paste-like consistency. I find that mixing the hummus at breakfast and storing it in a plastic bag makes lunch prep faster.
  8. Pitas! You can put lots of stuff in them such as PB&J, Honey, sausage slices, smoked salmon or tuna from a pouch, cheese, dried beef, etc. To pack: Pitas are fragile so store them on the top of the food bag. You could substitute burrito wraps for pitas and use all the same ideas.

Side Dishes for Canoe and Kayak Lunches

  1. Fruits: Apples hold up extremely well in a pack and taste fantastic at lunch. They supply a crunch often missing from camping food.
  2. Veggies: Carrots and celery both hold up well in a back, and you can dip the celery into a plastic tub of peanut butter with little mess.
  3. Trail mix. My recipe for the best trail mix is one bag Peanut M&Ms, one bag mixed nuts without peanuts, one box of Goldfish crackers.
  4. Cliff bars.
  5. Homemade energy bars: If anyone has a good recipe, please, share! Via Facebook, Agnes Jung suggests this recipe for Healthy Carrot Cake Power Scuffins
  6. Fruit cups but they get eaten early to lighten the weight.
  7. Granola bars.
  8. Gummy worms. Tim Gallaway says, “Nothing makes a day better like a gummy worm on a rainy day boating. Gummy worms aren’t just for boating though. We always get them for skiing. They’re great for a quick boost going up the lift.”

Any other ideas?


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7 Comments

  1. Posted December 29, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    My fav trail mix is 1 lb of M&M’s and .8 lb’s of M&M’s mixed.

    Baby bell cheese is gold. Wax wrap is great to help along a damp fire as well!

    • Posted December 31, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      I like that M&M mix. :)

      Here’s another trail mix from Plight’s Facebook page: Nathan Pitzer mixes freeze dried bananas, M&M’s, cashews, freeze dried pineapple and raisins.

  2. Kurt Penner
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    Hidden Valley ranch dressing is available in shelf stable 2.5 oz tubs. Great with raw carrots, celery, bell pepper slices.

    Caramel fruit dips in individual sized tubs can be found in the produce section of most groceries. Also shelf stable.

  3. deborahde
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    Lunch ideas #1 – #3 –> Constipation City baby! Get some baby carrots or apples or something w. fiber in there lol

    like the gummy worm idea for skiing tho :)

    • Posted December 31, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

      :) You probably wouldn’t like my typical breakfast menu then — Poptarts! I just checked to see how much dietary fiber was in wraps and crackers. Each wrap or cracker offers about 20 percent (6 grams) of the daily recommended allowance. That’s not too bad.

  4. Posted December 31, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    Celery. Dip it in peanut butter and then dip it in a bag of trail mix. Eat. Repeat.

  5. Sandi
    Posted January 9, 2012 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Oranges travel well, too. And English cucumbers are a great substitute for lettuce in a sandwich (or pita). Uncut bell peppers last well but are a bit bulky and you’ll need to eat them within a day of cutting them open (unless its cold or they’re refrigerated) I always carry prunes as an antidote to the sausage and cheese lunches ;-)

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  • By Åtta enkla lunchidéer | kajaknördar on December 29, 2011 at 11:55 am

    […] Är ju lätt att kokboksrecept är krångliga och tar upp hela packutrymmet. Här är inlägget: 8 lunch ideas for your next canoe or kayak trip […]