Don’t ask me why, but as soon as I get on my boat I’m feeling hungry. And that’s goes twice as much for my kids who burn up energy like nobody’s business.
Over the last couple of years my wife and I have developed a master list of what we believe to be the best boat snacks that deliver every time without fail.
They are easy, simple to pack, don’t leave a load of mess, and more importantly, will keep hunger at bay if you’re on a long boat ride.
You can go take a look now at our recommendations below, many of which also fall under the category of healthy boat snacks – in fact, I’ve separated those ones out to make your selection a lot easier if you want to keep things healthier.
Whether you own your own boat or have been invited out onto the water for the day, I hope that you find this list of snacks to take on a boat useful.
Scroll down now for all of the ideas, and then at the end some comments from other boat owners where I asked for their recommendations too.
Good Boat Snacks for a Boat Ride
The snacks below are the ones that we always take out on our pontoon boat every summer. The reason we choose to take these ones is that they are simple to buy, prepare, pack, and won’t need any refrigeration at all.
Handy Hint: We’ve also put together a list of finger foods that you might want to try when boating. To see those alternative recommendations, click here now.
1: Cooler Corn on the Cob
If you have a cooler box, you can fill it with boiling water, throw some corn cobs in, and they will cook in a couple of hours, resulting in a great snack once your passengers are hungry.
If you do this before you get on the boat, you can also take some spray butter with you and be feeding a ton of people in no time – just be careful of the heat that escapes when opening the cooler up.
2: Goldfish Crackers are Always Popular
You either love them or you hate them, but you can’t deny that they are easy to take on a boat and have a slightly nautical theme – so makes sense, right? At least they will do to the kids on board!
And whilst you’re here, did you know that Goldfish Crackers were originally made to be used as floating crackers to go on soup?
3: Thermos Hot Dogs are Insanely Simple
Using a similar method, you can cook up hot dogs in a cooler box too with some boiling water. But if it’s a smaller group of people, you can do exactly the same thing with a large thermos flask.
Around 20 minutes before your hungry crew is ready to eat, place a bag of bread rolls out in the sun. They will then warm up nicely too before you put the hot dog into the roll with any sauces you choose.
4: Pasta Salad
For a tasty boat snack that combines meat, veg, or fruit depending on your own preference, then how about pasta salad? It should take no more than 20 minutes to cook up before your ride or trip.
You don’t need to be a great cook to make this stuff up. It’s filling enough to provide a great meal whilst boating, whether you’re on a day’s boat ride or something longer term.
5: Tacos in a Dorito Bag are Messy but Effective
For something truly delicious and a little off the wall, mix up some taco mixture the night before the boat ride and store it into a container.
Then the next day when you’re out on the water, open up the taco mix and empty some into an open bag of Doritos – this is one of the most popular and best boat snacks ever published on Pontoonopedia so please give it a go!
Pretzels are very rich in carbohydrates, but also low in fat… making them a winning boat snack. The most nutritious ones will be those labelled as whole grain, as they contain more fiber than standard pretzels.
And you don’t want them getting soggy, so store them in plastic sandwich bags, ziplocs, or plastic containers. Take some dip too, as this makes them a small yet tasty snack to suit any boat ride this year.
Believe it or not, popcorn is a healthy snack, providing you don’t buy the sugar or chocolate varieties. Low in fat, high in fiber, and easy to pack, you can’t go wrong with this idea.
And if you do choose the salted variety of popcorn, make sure you take plenty of drinks. Nothing makes you thirstier than a salty snack, so be prepared and take bottles of drink.
8: California Veggie Wraps
Another suggestion to get those bellies filled would be one of these wraps. If you pack them with veggies, then you should still have plenty of room left over for any treats and candy.
If your day on the boat is going to be active with water sports, then these won’t leave you feeling bloated – unless you decide to customize them with calorific meats and sauces – and why shouldn’t you!
Sliced cheeses or string cheese make for very good boat snacks as they are easy to eat, easy to store, and packed full of proteins and fats to keep you going.
But cheese by itself can be a little boring, so think about taking breadsticks or dips with you to make more of your packed lunch.
Healthy Boat Snacks
As I mentioned earlier, boating can real tire you out, in particular the kids so we are always looking to give them something that’s healthy but will still fill them up enough.
It’s also important to recognise than being on a boat on a hot day can dehydrate you. That’s why fruit is such an important component of our healthy boat snacks selection which you can view below.
10: Fruit to Keep You Hydrated
Any type of fruit is a great idea to take as healthy snacks for a boat ride. Whether you cut the fruit up before hand, or just take some apples, oranges, or pears with you, it’s something and would have on hand.
Fruit is a very simple snack to pack and can be kept fresh in a portable cooler box pretty much all day. It’s healthy too… and for boat owners apple slices and similar won’t leave stains or a mark on your boat.
11: Sliced Veg
Just like fruit, sliced veggies are simple to prepare, simple to store, and easy to eat with no knifes or forks required meaning you won’t have to pack as much.
Once prepped and wrapped up in some foil it’s an easy snack package to slide into a bag, or even up against some colder and larger food items in a cooler box if there’s no refrigeration on the boat you are riding on.
12: Frozen Grapes
For something cold and refreshing on a warm or hot day on the water, consider freezing some grapes or even strawberries. Just throw some in a freezer bag the night before the boat ride.
What I love about this boat snack idea is that you can snack on them at any point during the day, and they will also help to keep other food and snacks cold in your bag. They work almost as well as ice packs.
13: Tuna or Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Protein is essential for battling tiredness so for something suitable as a meal snack, I’d go with chicken or tuna sandwiches, wraps, subs, or rolls.
To get some more taste into the meal, use flavored dressings and not mayo as that tends to be full of calories. In fact, just one tablespoon of mayo could contain up to 90 calories, which isn’t going to help keep your weight down!
14: Hummus and Crackers
High in protein and low in calories, these are also very simple to take on a boat. I’ve been on a health kick the last 12 months, and this is my personal favorite healthy snacks for boating.
Yes, it can be a little bit messy, so you could prepare it beforehand. Even so, it’s not hard to take a small plastic knife with you and make this up on a plastic container lid or similar.
15: Oven Roasted Almonds
Almonds contain protein and omega 3 fatty acids and are really good for you! Take a load in small plastic containers or bags but opt for the oven roasted ones with no salt added.
And if you weren’t already convinced, did you know that roasted almonds also contain folic acid, mono-saturated fats, and potassium too – all of which are meant to be good for your heart.
16: Trail Mix Helps Keep Energy Levels Up
Another healthy boat snack idea would be trail mix. It’s easy to pack in a small plastic container too and works well even if you have wet hands.
What I like most about trail mix is that it is a combination high in energy. So, if you and your kids are flagging during a long boat trip and want something to tide you over (no pun intended) then look no further.
17: High Protein Granola Snack Bars
For an even better energy boost, get some of those granola snack bars that you can buy virtually at any store. They are one of the best boat snacks as they don’t need to be kept cold and will keep hunger at bay.
I don’t have any preferred brand name here, just take a look at your store for the ones which don’t contain as much sugar as the rest but still have a decent enough calorie count to keep the kids happy.
18: Vegetarian Snack Kabobs
These will need to be prepared in advance, but if you have the time, put together some veggie kabob sticks. We always break the wooden sticks in half and thread the veg on, as it’s smaller to pack for the boat ride that way.
As with any of these healthy snacks for a boat ride, make sure to wrap them up in aluminum foil to avoid cross contamination if meats are on board, plus make sure all snacks are clearly labelled.
19: Zucchini Chips
One of the easiest and best boat snacks that’s still healthy are tasty zucchini chips. They make for a great alternative to potato chips and taste great with a drink as well.
You will need to prepare them yourself though. Not that hard though, just cut up, mix in olive oil, paprika, sea salt, black pepper, and then cook in the oven for 30 minutes or so.
Best Boat Snacks You Can Grill
If you own a boat that comes with a grill (and if it doesn’t I recommend you buy one now!) then how about some boat snack ideas that you can cook up on board?
Elsewhere on Pontoonopedia I have put together what I believe to be the top 10 or so recipes for boat grilling. You can read those recipes here to see for yourself what’s possible, with a couple of my recommendations below.
20: Grilled Cheese Dogs
Nothing is tastier than this, I promise you! And the smell? Well, that’s just to die for. It’s simple boat snack as well, providing you have a grill on board.
I won’t give you the recipe here, as it’s obvious what you do. But I would say one thing you want to do is throw the buns on for 10 minutes before serving up. That will make them nice and crisp too.
21: Grilled Veggies
If you have tried grilling veggies on your BBQ at home, you probably already know that they will drop through the grill – take it from me, it’s frustrating!
So just do what you do at home and cook them up on some foil laid over the grill. They taste great when you season with oil and spices.
Here’s also what some other boat owners I know have to say about grilling snacks on a boat. It’s very popular if you can do it and have the right equipment.
“When we’re on the water, it’s not so much about the food, but more about the boat and water relaxation! We do eat well though and love to grill up hamburgers and hotdogs on the beach somewhere once we’ve anchored down!”
“I hang out with a small group but like so many others we are always grilling something. That could be burgers, steak, brats, chicken. All this stuff goes great with a beer when the sun’s out!”
“We don’t tend to look any further than grilled hot dogs, they are hard to beat! Not really healthy snacks for boating, but we eat healthier during the week. Everything taste better when you’re eating it in the atmosphere of the lake.”
“Wrap some shredded chicken and spices in foil to warm on the boat grill. Take some cheese and sour cream for what we call boat chicken. It’s amazing how many condiments you can steal, I mean borrow from fast food places. Chick-fil-A and Taco Bell are the bomb!”
“We have a grill that attaches to our boat. Or We bring sandwiches. We alternate every weekend with fried chicken, brats, dogs, burgers, and a t-bone all on the grill. My grill is permanently mounted on a side railing.”
What Other Boat Owners Say
After I published this guide to good boat snacks I had a load of feedback on social media from other boaters who wanted to share their own ideas.
Here’s a selection of the best ideas for snacking that I got back, some of which I would certainly recommend and will be trying out myself.
“We like the ranch pretzels with crushed red pepper. We also like roast beef spread with salad either as a sandwich or with crackers. Summer sausage and cheese sliced with crackers is also always a winner.”
“We used to always bring boat bars, in other words things like Rice Krispie bars with chocolate chips mixed in or M&Ms. We also always take salami, cheese and crackers, plus use the frozen grapes idea too.”
“Last weekend our friend brought ham and pickle roll ups, veggie roll ups and buffalo chicken roll ups which ended up being the most popular snack that day!”
“We always take Little Debbies, chips, cold fried chicken, pimento cheese sandwiches, water bottles, tea, lemonade, and Kool-Aid to drink. It’s easy to forget the drinks, but you will drink way more than usual when on a boat ride.”
“I’ve been on many boat rides and trips this year with family members and have always taken ham and cheese roll ups, sushi rolls, taco salad, chips with dip, cheese, crackers, watermelon and plenty of beverages.”
“Our family loves any type of wrap, and I will make them with either turkey, roast beef, or chicken. I keep them in the same cooler with the drinks, and bring along some chips and sugar cookies, or another kind of cookie type snack that doesn’t mind the heat.”
“We take sandwiches mostly as we don’t want to get bogged down cooking on the water. I’ve got 3 kids so if it’s easy, it fills them up, and I can prepare if before we go on our boat ride, then it’s a winner for me.”
“I’m a Jersey girl living in the south and I love pickled eggs and pork skins. You have to try I promise you. These are the default snacks for a boat ride we always have with us.”
“We make these things called hot ham dingers with Hawaiian rolls instead. You just wrap them in foil and stuff them in a plastic grocery bag and let them melt in the sun. Delicious and keeps you full.”
“Last summer I did a low carb diet so took lots of sliced peppers and celery. If I break the rules on snacking I pack hard salami with cream cheese and peppercinis! Cold fried chicken, cantaloupe, fried hog jowl is also good.”
“Wraps stay really good and crisp and hold together so much better than bread or buns do when we are out for the afternoon on the lake. That’s my boat snack idea, and personally think it’s the best, but each to their own.”
What Else You Might Need?
Your boat might have some form of refrigeration on board, and that will completely change your approach to eating at sea or on a lake, giving you way much more scope.
However, you can buy portable cooler boxes that are ideal for boating, some of which also double-up as tables as you can see in this guide.
But for most people, you just want something that you can pack into a ruck sack or small bag, so here’s just a selection of items I recommend that you have to hand before the trip.
- Plastic zip lock bags
- Aluminum foil
- Paper plates
- Plastic drink coolers with spouts
- Portable cooler (can keep things hot as well as cool)
- Thermos flask for hot water (or keeping hot dogs warm!)
- 12v beverage warming device (stick it in your mug for a hot drink)
- Garbage bags
Storing Food on a Boat Safely
Lake, river, and sea water don’t mix well with food and can be a major cause of food poisoning, just as the hot sun can be.
So how do you store food properly on a boat?
Previously on Pontoonopedia I have written an extensive guide on how to store food, so it stays safe from contamination when on a boat. Please read through that in full on this link.
Handy Hint: My family and I own a pontoon boat and have even more food ideas if you need further inspiration.