I found a new backpacking food that I really like. I buy the individual packages of almond butter and honey and I buy pre-cooked bacon that doesn't need refrigerated and put the two on a tortilla. Taste good and quite filling. Also doesn't require water to prepare. This meal ways a little more than a Mt house but ends up weighing less because I don't need to pack water. Also the area where I'm hunting mule deer this year it a 1500 foot drop to get water. I have been trying to come up with meals that require little to no water to minimize trips for water.
As i live in CO, i know hydration at high altitude is imperative. However, I've learned that simple water isn't enough.
So, i supplement it with the Gatoraide packets I can add to my Nalgene bottles. I notice a difference in how well I respond to the additional fluid i take in vs just water.
As to food - in general i prefer "boil-n-eat";
Dinners - i like the powdered mashed potato mixes. They are awesome! One pkg = TWO servings. I like to add in 1/2 a pkg of gravy mix with each mashed potato serving. I use the chicken-in-foil pkgs and add one to the mashed potatoes/gravy for a very nice evening meal.
I also (in advance) fry some ground beef and make taco meat then freeze in zip-lock bags (which i can boil in a pot). Add some Dorito's and cheddar cheese and I've got a nice dinner.
Another tasty meal is a Ramen-noodle pack with 1/2 a pkg of the pre-cooked chicken. Add some cheese and a little Cayenne pepper (a LITTLE) and the spice adds some spicy heat which in turn heats my body up a good bit.
Breakfasts - oatmeal. It's easy to make along with hot cocoa in the morning.
Lunches (eat as i hunt) - beef jerky or some deli meat, cheese, mini-Snickers bars and nuts (almonds mostly).
So that's pretty much my food prep. I'm not a backcountry chef (or a chef *anywhere*), but my appetite is always satisfied.
As a longtime backpacker I have learned to segregate my meals into "BREAKFAST" "LUNCH" and "DINNER" gallon freezer bags. This size bag can usually carry 5 days or each meal.
As for what food to bring I suggest you go to the BACKPACKING LIGHT site. On the "Food and Nutrition" page you'll find lots of ideas.
Besides freeze-dried food there is dehydrated food you can buy or make with a home dehydrator. Then there is "FREEZER BAG COOKING" that sources food mostly from supermarkets and uses just boiling water in freezer bags to "cook" the food with the proper amount of boiling water.. There are a few books on this that have excellent menus. Freezer bag cooking allows you to develop your own meals that are tastier and less expensive than freeze-dried food but take no longer to cook. You will need an insulated envelope for the 1 quart freezer bags when you add the boiling water but they are easy to make from fleece, aluminized bubble wrap, etc.
As for and electrolyte drink I use CYTOMAX powder (at REI and other outdoor and sports stores) because it works better than Gatorade. If you do use Gatorade remember to cut it with 50% water so it can be absorbed quickly by your gut. Straight Gatorade is too concentrated to be properly absorbed. It does not have the proper "osmotic balance" or ratio of electrolytes to water.
BTW, stay tuned to this thread B/C I'll be posting my hunting trip meals here about mid September.
In a recent article in Backcountry Hunters and Anglers quarterly mag, a suggested calorie dense food was bacon strips and peanut butter. I have tried this and it's tasty.
On a couple 2016 backpack hunts, my cousin and hunting buddy has been experimenting with his dehydrator. He made a lentil and turkey stew that was to die for. From what I understand he fried a bunch of ground turkey and mixed it in with package of lentil stew mix he purchased from a hippie store in San Fran. He then dehydrated the pre-cooked stew and vacuum packed it. We added boiled water in the field and it was as good if not better than any store bought back packer food. I don't know what shelf life on this is, but imagine you could freeze until your trip. It should last several days in your pack unrefridgerated.
One of my problems with store bought bars and meals like "mountain house" is the packaging. It takes a lot of space to carry and then you have a lot of trash to deal with afterwords.
I know several die hard western hunters who live in The woods who make their own food. Purchased a good dehydrator and make all their meals and snacks. Long run money saver. Better food. Make Anything you may want.
If you are heading out in colder weather here are some tips for foods that keep your furnace stoked.
My main winter calorie-rich food consists of fruitcake (yes, the "dreaded substance") but I know which brands to buy that are palatable. Or perhaps you know someone who makes excellent homemade fruitcake. That is the best kind. I can choke down a good piece of fruitcake in the early pre-dawn morning W/O having to start my stove so I can get a fast start for hunting.
Other good foods are freeze-dried pastas dishes, flat breads with cheese or peanut butter or Nutella or jam. For evenings I sometimes fry pancakes on my little "one egg" skillet as well as freeze-dried omelette. A tiny backpacking spatula really helps here.
For cool or cold weather your body craves oils and fats so chocolate and nuts are also good to pack for snacking. In cold weather you can even take a few sausage patties for the 3rd day, when your body is really wanting fatty foods. The smell of frying sausage itself is worth the few extra ounces. BTW, some backpackers never make a lunch stop but just "eat their way down the trail" with snacking.
COOKING UTENSILS: I've cut off the handle of my "one egg" skillet and use the aluminum pot gripper that I use on my pot. I've found that a 3 cup aluminum pot is the perfect size for solo camping. It holds enough for instant cereal as well as two cups of coffee or tea. And my pot is wider than it is tall which has been proven to require less fuel to boil water than tall pots or mugs.
So I learned this trick a few years back while stationed in Alaska. I was having beers at this dive bar in Fairbanks and met a bush pilot and we got to talking. I've used this several times and it's awesome.
Take ground hamburger or sausage and brown it up like normal. Dehydrate it, it will turn into basically brown looking sand. Its super light and easy to use. You just add it to whatever you got going on. I like throwing some in with ramen or mac n cheese and so forth. It will rehydrate pretty quick.
I will often times just hit a gas station and grab some trail mix and a pack of ramen or the like. Its an easy way to add protein. I also grab plastic utensils from the gas station. They are usually free over by the hot dogs.
Backpackers go one step further with pre-cooked hamburger. After frying the "riced" hamburger they rinse it in boiling water to take out as much fat as possible.
But this is done for summertime backpacking where fats can spoil quickly. For winter rinsing the hamburger is not necessary - or even wanted.
I also, year around, take pre-cooked turkey bacon to add to my freeze-dried omelette. It's delicious. I keep it in a used coffee bag that is lined with aluminized mylar. This keeps the smell in so it dos not attract coyotes and other critters like racoons and, out west, ring-tailed cats, the relatives of 'coons.