You know that feeling when you’re so hungry you become hangry? You’ve probably experienced it and witnessed your kids (or spouse, or mother, or best friend) experience it as well. It’s when you are so hungry that your lack of food causes you to become angry, frustrated or both. Now imagine your kiddo hits that point…on the trail…with no snack stand or drive-thru in sight. It’s hard enough when you’re out on a hike and in need of fuel, but our little people can feel as if they can hardly take another step. Keeping everyone’s energy up on a hike doesn’t have to require a deluxe picnic of homemade perfection prepared the night before. It can be as easy as grabbing a few things you already have in your pantry, or just picking up a few items on your next trip to the grocery store. Here are some of my family’s favorite go-to goodies on the trail:
Puree Pouches: Whether it’s baby’s favorite purees or apple sauce, anywhere you get groceries has great brands of these convenient pouches, many of which are organic! Once your little ones are old enough to eat straight from the pouch, you don’t even need a spoon! Plus, the entire family can enjoy – even grownups!
Fresh Fruit: Hearty, sturdy fruits like apples and oranges are delicious and easy to take in any bag without worry of getting smashed into mush. We also enjoy fruit bars, such as Trader Joe’s Fruit Bars, which are marketed as gluten-free, vegan, and raw, coming in tasty flavors such as apple banana or apple coconut.
Dried Fruit: Our family typically carries raisins, mango, peaches, or apricots on any given hike. While they don’t provide the moisture of pouches or fresh fruit, they get those taste buds working and are easy to chew along the way.
Nuts and Seeds: One of our favorite things to chow down on is almond butter spread inside a whole grain English muffin. You can easily substitute peanut butter, sunflower seed butter, or any other favorite spread.(I’d love to do Nutella, but there’d be no turning back with my 4 year-old!) To make things really easy, don’t even bother with the bread or spreads and just grab your favorite nuts and seeds, which provide great long-lasting protein power.
Granola bars: My husband has a huge weakness for all things granola! Granola cereal, granola in yogurt, granola bars – any way it comes, he wants it. We’ve started taking along his newest favorite, Kashi Honey Oat Flax Crunchy Granola & Seed bars. Granola offers something sweet without foregoing nutritional benefits like whole grain and fiber.
Trail Mix: We don’t usually take the time to make our own and we can be a bit picky about what pre-made mixes include, but trail mix can be an exciting treat for kids on a hike. Throw together some nuts, seeds, dried fruit, M&Ms (be careful, they melt!), etc. and you have a energy-packed treat you can eat by the handful. Due to the small size of the items in trail mix, keep a close eye on little ones to make sure they’re fully chewing each bite and aren’t talking, skipping, or goofing off while eating.
Please remember that what you pack in, you pack out – make sure to have a disposable bag you can toss all your garbage in so you can easily toss it in a trash can once off the trail. I prefer to carry a few self-sealing zipper bags (like Ziplock) to keep in leaks and to prevent attracting critters. We also make sure to have plenty of baby wipes to clean up everyone’s hands before and after snack breaks.
Most importantly, always remember that everyone needs to drink lots of water. It’s important to avoid getting hangry, but far more important to be hydrated. Take plenty of water, toss some of these easy-to-pack snacks in your daypack, and your family has the fuel they need for a fantastic hike!
Felicia Kemp is a wife, mother of two boys, lawyer, travel lover, foodie, and family blogger. Follow her family’s hiking adventures on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @FamilyTrailTime.