Food on the trail is one of the most important considerations in hiking and backpacking. You need to give yourself as many nutrients as possible because, chances are, you are expending far more energy that you normally do back at home. The difficulty of choosing the right food for the trail comes in the form of specific tastes, of course, but also making the choice of whether you will be eating cold or packing for cooking.
Even the lightest and most efficient cooking equipment can grow heavy on a long or difficult trail. To ensure you have the lightest pack, the best deal is to go simple. Follow the GORP method, and pack plenty of peanuts and raisins. Both of these items are good for quick energy and taste good. Occasionally mix things up with sugary delights like M&M's or chocolate chips that you can easily carry. Unless you have digestive trouble, dried fruits are also excellent for snacks, and you can get just about anything that grows: bananas, figs, pineapples, cherries and apricots. Not only do you get all the nutrition benefits of fruit, but they're tasty. To shake things up a little, add some crackers and cheese or peanut butter.
If you plan on staying overnight while out on the trail, you may want to go ahead and pack that cooking equipment. This gives you a bigger variety of things to eat when you set up camp. Rice is very lightweight and can be cooked over a low flame so you don't waste your fuel. Add some nuts, mushrooms or soy sauce to add flavor. Speaking of flavor, don't forget to pack a spice kit that at least includes salt and pepper, and maybe some cayenne pepper for those who have to have things a little spicy. Ramen noodles, pasta and bulgur are other lightweight and easy-to-prepare foods that won't waste much fuel in cooking. To add some texture, bring along some cheese or pats of butter.
Hikers today have a much more extensive selection of food they can eat than in the past. Meals ready-to-eat (MRE) are widely available. These packaged meals routinely provide more than 1,000 calories, and three a day will come close to meeting your caloric needs for a typical hike. You can find MREs that feature everything from enchiladas to spaghetti, and although you'll never mistake the flavor for restaurant food, they're easy to use. Also consider taking along a few cans of tuna, a roll of summer sausage, and granola bars for dessert. Throughout the day, the best choice for a beverage is bottled water. Keep away from caffeine so you don't get fatigued after the effects wear off.