Getting out with the family for adventures can be challenging enough– deciding what to eat shouldn’t keep you home! Check out these ideas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on adventure days! Plus, get a free printable menu with adventure day food ideas to help you remember.
I’ve really enjoyed writing about adventuring with family this week. But, knowing where to go and what to pack is all well and good, unless you feel lost about what to pack to eat. Or what to eat when you get back home.
I know how stressful it can be to figure out a lunch to throw together that everyone will enjoy (while also getting everyone ready to leave). Or to figure out a dinner to cook that doesn’t deplete your already low energy after an adventure. I’ve been there. Many times!
After years of adventuring with my kids every week during the spring and summer, I have a ready-to-go list of lunches and dinners that we rely on for adventure days. I put together an entire adventure day food plan for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Save this post to refer back to for easy meal ideas, and be sure to scroll to the bottom for the free Adventure Day Menu!
Adventure Day Food Ideas
Before we head out on adventures, I want to make sure that the kids eat a good breakfast that is going to fill my kids up so that they are not hungry as soon as we arrive at our destination. My kids eat cereal a couple times a week on other days, but if we are going to go hike, play, swim, or whatever, I encourage them to eat other options.
Our go-to’s are:
- yogurt with granola & fruit or jam
- Instant Pot steel cut oats (1 cup oats, 3 cups water, 3 minutes on high pressure, natural release)
- eggs and sausage (from the freezer)
- smoothies and toast
- bagel or English muffin egg sandwiches
Just like breakfast, I know that if we are going to be “adventuring”, we are all going to need PLENTY of food that is FILLING and REFRESHING. Not only that, but the food also needs to be something that my kids WANT TO EAT. Otherwise, they’re not going to be interested in pausing their play time to eat something.
That said, I can’t be in the kitchen all morning packing a lunch before we head out. This is why I buy more “ready-to-go” foods once the weather starts warming up. Cheese sticks, salami, baby carrots, fruit pouches, granola bars, pimento cheese, meat sticks, fruit strips, and the like.
In addition, I try to spend a little time over the weekend prepping at least a couple of things we can take with us on picnics during the week. Hard boiled eggs, tuna salad, ranch, muffins, fresh salsa, pasta salad, etc.
If you want to see a full list of ideas, as well as our favorite picnic gear, you can check out my post: 30+ Healthy Grab & Go Picnic Ideas.
When I asked on Instagram about what one of your biggest struggles with food and adventure days, I heard from SO MANY that when you got home from adventuring, you were too tired and drained to want to do much of anything for dinner. BUT, most of us also can’t spend $30+ on take-out every time we head home. Or we just don’t want to.
Don’t get me wrong, I will totally spring for fast food occasionally. I do have another solution, though.
I put together a list of super, (SUPER), easy dinner ideas for any night you need them. (Of course, we need really easy dinners on more than just adventure days).
The list is categorized by meals that you can prep ahead of time (the weekend before or morning of), meals you can pull out of the freezer and heat, and meals that come together quickly (promise!).
- cook rice the morning of, or over the weekend, and have ready in the fridge to use for a quick fried rice dinner.
- chop some root veggies and slice up some sausage, then toss it all together in a bag and put in the fridge. When it’s dinner time, simply transfer everything to a sheet pan, drizzle with oil, salt, and seasoning, and roast. (full recipe: Sheetpan Roasted Sausage and Root Veg)
- prep potatoes to be cooked for a baked potato bar. Wash the potatoes, and place on a trivet in the Instant Pot with a cup of water underneath. Use the delay start to set a cook time, or simply press start when you get back home. (most baking potatoes take 15-18 minutes on high pressure with a natural release)
- make a batch of Instant Pot 30 Minute Barbecue Chicken in the morning, or over the weekend. Simply reheat and serve with fries/chips and fruit for an easy dinner. (Alternately, you can cook a larger pork roast with barbecue sauce and freeze in dinner sized portions)
- cook a beef roast or venison roast over the weekend to have delicious, hit-the-spot French dip sandwiches for an easy dinner
- combine everything to make lentil sloppy joes in the Instant Pot and use the delay start feature to have it ready when you get home. Or, make the mixture in the morning or over the weekend and just reheat. Serve with buns, or over rice for a healthy, inexpensive meal.
- the next time you make spaghetti, make a little extra and follow Naptime Kitchen’s instructions to freeze as a simple baked spaghetti. Pull it out of the freezer before your adventure and bake when you get home.
- Cook rice ahead of time (morning of, or weekend before), and make sure you have the ingredients on hand to make flavorful burrito rice bowls. Everyone can add their own toppings for a quick and easy dinner idea. (Alternately, use the recipe for Magic Burrito Pot from my cookbook for a similar dish)
FROM THE FREEZER
- potstickers (we always have these on hand from Costco)
- chicken nuggets (I found an organic version my kids love from Costco. We like to use our CrispLid to heat them, and then serve them with homemade ranch or barbecue dipping sauce. Add applesauce and baby carrots and you have a VERY easy meal!)
- black bean burgers (serve with sour cream/homemade yogurt and salsa)
- Instant Pot Chicken Pot Pie (this recipe makes enough for two 9×13 pot pies. They freeze and reheat wonderfully!)
- freezer soup (tomato soup, broccoli cheese, chicken and wild rice, spicy sausage and lentil… there are so many easy soups that freeze and reheat well!)
QUICK & EASY
- Instant Pot Ramen Noodles + Egg Rolls (my ramen noodle recipe is so quick and easy, not to mention is a family favorite. Perfect with a side of veggie egg rolls from the freezer!)
- didn’t prepare rice ahead of time? That’s okay. This Instant Pot fried rice shortcut is done in 30 minutes.
- Instant Pot Garlic Orzo with Bacon & Greens(this one pot meal comes together quickly and is comfort food in a bowl)
- Quesadillas with chips & salsa (ingredients for quesadillas are easy to keep on hand, especially since you can add all sorts of leftovers to them! Pair them with chips and salsa, fresh fruit, or a green smoothie for an easy kid-friendly meal).
- Salad Bar (keep basics on hand– lettuce, toppings, dressings– and you can easily throw together a quick salad bar for a make-your-own-dinner kind of night. A salad bar can work for reluctant salad eaters too with a tasty homemade dressing and the ability to choose their own toppings– even toppings all eaten separately)
- Sheet Pan Nachos (nachos are a crowd-pleaser that come together quickly. Stick with a traditional version, or try the Taco Chicken Nachos from my cookbook)
- Breakfast for dinner (this is a go-to for good reasons. Eggs, frozen hashbrowns, easy Instant Pot grits, toast with jam, bagels…the options are many and kids can help make this dinner too)
- Green smoothies and popcorn(my kids love this dinner, and when served with some salami or deli meat, you have all the major food groups– fruit, veg, dairy, whole grains, protein!)
- Easy Tortilla Pizzas (this is a fun twist on nachos or quesadillas, and they’re fun to eat too)
- Charcuterie Board (who says charcuterie just has to be a lunch time thing? Ingredients to put together a filling and nutritious board can easily be kept on hand and spread out for a simple dinner idea)
- Hot dogs and applesauce (of course hot dogs had to be included… quick, easy, and supremely kid-friendly. Boost the nutrition by serving it alongside fresh fruit or applesauce, carrot sticks with ranch, or this easy coleslaw hack)
- Skillet Tortellini Bake (if you’re wanting something more filling after a day out of the house that is still easy to make, this dish is it. You could even cook the meat and pasta ahead of time to cut down the cook time– and effort– even more).
- Instant Pot box Mac’n’cheese(I always make box mac’n’cheese in the Instant Pot. It makes a very simple dinner with some frozen peas and bacon stirred in)
- Naan Bread Pizzas (personal pizzas without needing to worry about dough)
Free Printable Menu
Get all of these ideas in a printable to refer back to when you need them! Tape it to the inside of a kitchen cabinet, or tuck it in your planner for easy reference. The top half of the printable with help you with ideas for lunches on your Adventure Days, and the bottom half will remind you of all the easy dinner ideas mentioned above!
I hope these meal ideas and tips are helpful to relieve some of the stress from adventure days so you can get out more and enjoy more time outdoors together! Don’t forget you can check out the rest of the adventuring series on the Family Adventuring page. (What to keep in your car for adventures, a free Adventure Bingo printable, how to easily turn adventure days into learning days, and more!)
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