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A person sits on grass with a sandwich and packed lunch

With the October half-term approaching it's the perfect time to explore Scotland's forests at their finest. It’s when the landscape really comes to life in russet reds, brilliant oranges and dusty yellows of the season.

Whether you're foraging, stargazing, or visiting your favourite place you need to make sure you've got the energy to make the most of it. Read on to find out what to pack for a wild day out.

Pack lunches for trailblazers

Pack lunches go way beyond a soggy sandwich and a bag of crisps. For a day on the trails, we love bringing something healthy, full of energy, without lots of plastic for us to carry home.

Experiment with tacos, burritos, wraps and flatbreads instead of boring old sliced bread. Go crazy for dips, and fill up on hummus, guacamole or falafel. Or perhaps treat yourself with the king of all road snacks - a sliced boiled egg!

Planning your lunch list

It’s easy to keep a packed lunch healthy and nutritionally balanced, with a little bit of everything you need to keep you going on a long walk or cycle ride. According to NHS Choices, a balanced lunchbox should contain:

  • Starchy foods like bread, rice, potatoes or pasta. Wholegrain is best for getting your daily fibre.
  • A source of protein, so always include something like meat, fish, eggs, beans or tofu.
  • A dairy item, like cheese or yoghurt to provide calcium, or a vegetable alternative.  

Avoid the sugar slump!

The main thing you want to avoid for trail lunches are processed foods –  they are never as good as natural options for delivering sustained, long-lasting energy and goodness. A little treat is nice to have in a beautiful location, but there’s nothing worse than feeling your energy levels slump halfway through a trail. Nuts, fruit and veg, or healthy snacks like crispbreads or oatcakes are much better at giving you a slow, measured release of energy than sugary treats. Avoid the sugar slump, and snack smart!

Recipes and suggestions

Thankfully, there are tons of great packed lunch suggestions out there. Check out the Waitrose guide to packed lunches for kids, this list of 30 quick and healthy lunches from Bon Appetit, or take a look at the ‘packed lunches’, ‘healthy lunches’ and ‘school lunchbox’ sections of BBC Good Food for ideas.

The October holidays are the perfect time for the family to enjoy the forest before the cold sets in. Why not pack a lunch and hit the trail? Use our Find A Forest tool to find the perfect walk near you.

More autumn articles on our blog: