The great discovery we made about food was bagels and cheese.
Cheeses of all sorts will last four days on the trail. Even in summer. Since you are usually only four days between resupply they always last long enough.
Cheap bagels, with preservatives will last four days too. Won’t get broken down in your pack. Plenty of calories.
Butter and white chocolate peanut butter also add calories and flavor to all sorts of things. Including bagels.
Freeze dried chicken and freeze dried sausage crumbles add protein and flavor to many noodle, rice, ramen, stuffing, bean and coos coos (semi) instant meals. Especially if added with butter.
Gorp type food works best if it is bundled. So rather than one big bag with everything, have a variety of bags. Granola. Nuts. Raisins. Craisins. White chocolate M&Ms. Reese’s Pieces. Different amounts and percentages in several bags.
I found that way I got tired of the gorp much less quickly. (Especially since I am allergic to regular chocolate).
Breakfast of pop tarts was ok once in a while. Too often and they went into hiker boxes (a hiker box exists for you to dump extra stuff in and to search for buried treasure). Mostly the large 520 calorie honeybuns is what I ended up getting for breakfast.
Food comes in several categories.
1. Calories. On the trail once we hit our stride I needed 6,000 calories a day or I lost weight.
That is a lot of food.
2. Nutrition. Mostly getting enough protein. At 6k calories you get a lot of protein from normal food. 200 calories and 3 grams goes from inadequate (for a normal non-Trail day that is 25 grams of protein) to easily breaking 60 grams a day.
3. Variety, interest. Honestly, after hiker hunger kicks in that doesn’t matter as much. But no one wants to be the guy trying to eat 15 snickers bars a day to get enough calories.
The kind of meals I tend to eat:
Two honey buns or four pop tarts. Cake donuts. Basically about a thousand calories I can eat while walking to start the day.
Usually 2-3 snacks a day. Payday or White Snickers. Nuts/gorp (of all sorts). Beef Jerky. Granola and nut bars. Cliff bars. Candy fruit slices. Other candy. Fruit pies (the Little Debbies or others).
Bagel with cream cheese or hard cheese and pepperoni. Tortilla with cheese sticks and sausage sticks. Prepared before starting so I can walk and eat at the same time.
This was the meal we stopped and cooked for.
Stuffing mix, freeze dried chicken and butter.
Knorr side (noodles, rice or other) freeze dried chicken and butter.
Freeze dried refried beans, or coos coos, etc with freeze dried meat and butter.
Quesadillas (cheese with maybe some sausage or pepperoni). I even carry a pan just for them.
Or I did not eat enough for dinner. Make sure to complete dinner first. I found if I did not I could run out of appetite.
Peanut butter, especially white chocolate peanut butter. Electrolyte tea (just water and electrolyte mix. No calories but warm if you are cold). Anything also in the snack category.
To drink it was mostly water or water with propel zero calorie electrolyte powder added to it. Calorie free is easier to clean up. If it tastes good, you needed it. If it tastes bad, you have enough electrolytes.
Town food is a different category. Usually that means hamburgers or pizza for dinner, possibly milkshakes. For breakfast it means eggs, hash browns and pancakes.
For a snack it probably means a liter or two of fruit juice. Ice cream for make up calories.