When we started researching this trip, and the best foods to eat on the trail, our main focus was that it needed it to be both lightweight, simple to prepare and clean up, and easily bought at any trail town grocery store. Many hikers use the dehydrated foods, such as Mountain House, which you can find at outfitters, but we would not be passing by many outfitters, so this was not a convenient option.
While researching this trip, we ran across a great way to cook on the trail, called "freezer bag cooking". See www.trailcooking.com Whenever we go into town to resupply, we always pick up a box of Ziploc Freezer Bags (the double zipper kind, quartz-size) as well, and repackage everything into the bags. Once on the trail, water is poured into the bags to hydrate whatever food is in there, and we eat out of the bags as well, that way, there's never any clean up. We also are using an alcohol stove, without the ability to simmer anything, so this does limit us somewhat in what we can prepare, but we like the simplicity of it all and the lack of necessary clean up. The alcohol stoves are the lightest weight option, and the fuel has been available everywhere, whereas we have seen other hikers who have trouble finding a cannister for their Jetboils or similar stoves.
Here is what Keith normally eats on the trail:
Breakfast - instant cinnamon and spice oatmeal, 2 packs. When he transfers it into the ziploc, he normally throws in some instant milk as well. Then, you just heat the water, add it to ziploc, seal it up, put in a cozy or pot with a lid, or a mug, and let it sit til it's edible. We buy the Nido instant milk, whenever possible, because it is a whole milk, not an instant skim milk, like the Carnation brand you find on the baking aisles.
Lunch - two flour tortillas with one of the following rolled inside: tuna salad in a pouch, peanut butter (Jif Peanut Butter To Go/8 packs to a box) and grape jelly (we grab the little jelly packets from McDonalds when we are in town), or a combination of the cheese sticks and beef sticks rolled up into the tortillas.
If we are just leaving town in the morning, we will sometimes take a packet of hotdogs, and have them for lunch or supper, with mustard packets from McDonalds, rolling them up in tortillas. They have enough preservatives to last all day. When it was much cooler, we'd carry them for up to two days. I have also seen other hikers who carry sliced lunch meat for a couple of days with no negative effects.
Supper - Instant loaded mashed potatoes (Idahoan) with one of these added to it: pouch of chicken breast meat, or beef jerky nuggets, or salmon in a pouch.
He has also used the Marie Calender's noodles with sauces, which is kind of heavy, but he likes them so much, it's worth the weight. You do not have to bring water to a boil, just til it's steaming, and then add water, seal up the bag, and let it sit til the noodles are soft enough (about 5 minutes). While the noodles are softening, put the sauce bag on top of the bag of hot water, to warm it.
Snacks - Keith prefers the Quaker Oats Granola Bars, chocolate chip or oatmeal/raisin. He has also used the Nutrigrain Breakfast Bars, as well as Peanut M&M's and Trail Mix (1 part each of MM's, raisins, and cocktail peanuts).
**If you use a stove that allows you to simmer, you of course, have more options, such as the different Lipton Sides and pasta packets. A lot of hikers use the Ramen, and add pouches of tuna, chicken, salmon, etc.
**To avoid too much weight loss, many hikers carry a small bottle of olive oil and add it to everything they eat. I think 1 tablespoon contains around 130 calories.