What does one eat that ticks all the boxes? Lightweight, calorie dense, cheap, bearable taste. The answer depends on who you are, but there is usually a lot of compromise involved.
Firstly, drop the concept of having three actual meals a day. Most people have dinner and some sort of snack for breakfast and lunch.
So, what do I eat? Well, I chose to not carry a stove, which means I don’t eat any warm or “cooked” meals on trail.
This is from an 8 day resupply (which is longer than average).
6 bags of ramen, two packets in each (eaten dry or cold soaked) .
2 bags Idahoan Mashed Potatoes (usually with Fritos mixed in for texture and calories)
Bars are my breakfast and lunch. (I used to eat tortillas) Usually I eat 6-8 bars a day. They vary depending on what’s available.
2 Bags of Fritos.
Drink flavring for when water gets too boring.
Every resupply looks different. In the desert I had more pop tarts and tortillas. In NorCal I’ve gone over almost exclusively to ramen, bars and snacks.
So do I get enough protein and nutrition? Probably not. The fight to gain the calories you lose while walking is a hopeless one. It’s nearly impossible to eat enough, let alone carry it. What I can’t eat on trail, I compensate by eating tons in town.