Every pound--no, every ounce--counts when you're backpacking. While you can cut down on weight through careful gear choices, food is always going to be one of the heaviest items you carry, especially at the start of a trip. To keep the weight of food under control, experienced backpackers choose simple, nutritious foods that provide a lot of energy for their weight. The following are good examples of foods that will fuel you successfully through even the longest trips.
Inexpensive, light in weight, filling and nutritious, instant mashed potatoes can form the basis for a variety of meals in the backcountry. Preparation is simple--just put some flakes into boiling water and stir. You can add almost anything to them, from squeeze butter to tuna. They're guaranteed to fill up your empty spot.
Pasta, Noodles and Rice
Variety is the key here. Take your pick from almost any variety of pastas, from couscous to rigatoni, and cook them up in your pot. Packaged noodle meals, available at every supermarket, are a variation on the theme; since they're packaged with dried sauces and flavoring, they add some flavor to the mix. Rice is indestructible on the trail, keeps for a long time and is loaded with important nutrients.
Need a hot, quick meal? Instant oatmeal, and its cousins instant grits and instant cream of wheat, are quick and easy to fix--just dump them into some hot water. They're already packaged into lightweight single-serving packets, so there's no worry about measuring and mixing.
Powdered milk is a great complement to instant oatmeal, and perfect for the hiker who has to have a bowl of cereal in the morning. There's a lot of nutritional value in powdered milk as well; mixing a little into different meals can add some caloric punch to your repast. Practice a little bit, and you can even learn how to make a decent alfredo sauce for your pasta with it.