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Recipes for Lunch on the Trail

Updated on October 18, 2011
DonnaCSmith profile image

Donna Campbell Smith is a published author, freelance writer, and photographer. She also specializes in horses.

How many times have you set out on an all day trail ride, stopped for your lunch break and when you reach into the saddlebag for your P&J sandwich it is smashed into a very non-sandwich looking glob? Or you open your can of soda, and it explodes and spooks your horse? How did that happen? Well, what do you expect after that long canter down that straight stretch of the road?

Saturday Trail Ride


First, let me say a carbonated soft drink can start a stampede. I actually have seen this happen. It was on one for those saddle club, all day rides. We were way back on a logging road in the middle of nowhere. We’d stopped for a break after a nice canter. One lady had dismounted and popped the top on her can of soda. It made a loud pop and then sizzle noise. Her horse took off and left her standing there and several others jumped and spun around. Fortunately the riderless horse stopped a short ways down the road and one of the other riders retrieved it.


The best thing to take to drink is water. Fill your canteen, tie it on the saddle horn or with the tie strings on the saddle and you will have plenty to drink for the day. Pack juice or tea if you want something flavored. To keep juice boxes from becoming squished put them in a plastic food saver box. Those flat containers are also good for packing sandwiches and other food.


You should probably take non-perishables, but you can keep your lunch cool for a time by placing frozen gel packs in with the food and drink. There are insulated saddlebags on the market that have waterproof inner linings. Some are advertised to keep foods cold for up to 24 hours.


There are many styles of saddlebags today. Some have bottle holders on the sides, are lightweight, and easy to clean. In addition to the traditional saddlebag that fits across the back of the saddle there are cantle, pommel bags, and water bottle holders that fit on your belt or attach to the saddle. They also come in a wide range of colors and patterns.

Tortillas Rollup Recipe

A hearty bread for your sandwich will not only be tastier, but it will hold up better under the rigors of the ride. An alternative to bread is soft tortillas. You can spread P&J on the tortillas or be more creative.

Here is a recipe for tortillas rollups:

Mix 2 packages of cream cheese with 1 envelope of Ranch Dressing mix, ½ cup minced bell pepper, ½ cup minced celery, ¼ cup minced green onion, ¼ cup minced green olives. Spread the mixture on the tortillas and roll up. Pack the rollups in a plastic container. You will have leftovers. The creamed cheese mixture is also good on crackers for party fare or slice the rolled tortillas to make little pinwheels.

Sandwiches made with dried beef, cured ham, cheese or corned beef work well on a tortillas or between slices of bread. Spread mustard or your favorite spread on the tortillas, then add thin slices of meat and cheese, the roll it up. If you want to add sliced tomatoes pack them separately in another plastic sandwich box.

Finger Foods, and Don't Forget the Carrots!

Finger foods can accompany or replace the sandwiches. Try cherry tomatoes, fruit, cheese cubes, jerky, pepperoni slices, celery sticks, pickles, crackers or trail mix. My favorite tail mix ingredients are raisins, nuts and M&Ms. Seasoned cereal mix and other dried fruits are good.

Of course the little cans of pork n beans, sardines, and Vienna sausages are good travelers. If you like potato chips take the canned variety to avoid them becoming crushed. The small individual sizes are ideal. In fact, save your empty chip cans to pack other picnic items you don’t want to turn into crumbs along the ride - like crackers and cookies.

Don’t forget – carry your trash home and dispose of it properly. You know the rule – pack out everything you pack in. Tuck a plastic grocery store bag into your saddlebag for the trash so no pork n bean juice leaks out into your saddlebags. Oh, and don’t forget the carrot slices. Ole Paint likes to eat, too!

Do you have a favorite trail lunch idea? Share it with us in the comment section below.


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    • DonnaCSmith profile image

      Donna Campbell Smith 8 years ago from Central North Carolina

      LOL, yes, but those other horses on the ride might not be so lucky to have a good trainer like you;o) Better give everyone a heads up before you "pop your top."

    • Mardi profile image

      Mardi 8 years ago from Western Canada and Texas

      Donna - great article and ditto on the pop cans and stampede comment. Thankfully I now use this as part of my training so my guys and gals are all OK with opening of cans - soda and other!

      I am going to try the roll-ups next ride, thanks for the tip.

    • DonnaCSmith profile image

      Donna Campbell Smith 8 years ago from Central North Carolina

      LOL! me neither.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 8 years ago from California Gold Country

      I would never ride a horse that was in that condition.

    • DonnaCSmith profile image

      Donna Campbell Smith 8 years ago from Central North Carolina

      LOL, I am sure there are plenty who agree, but I feel the same way about riding and drinking as I do driving and drinking. In fact I heard about a guy who got a DWI - while riding a horse under the influence;o)

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 8 years ago from California Gold Country

      So, I suppose a nice cold beer might not be such a good idea after a hot dusty ride.