I'm usually the one planning meals for the wife and I on our trips, and we've settled into a fairly good regular menu of lightweight, tasty, and calorie-filled breakfasts and dinners. Lunches, on the other hand, I'm still struggling with.
Our lunches are pretty much what we ate when I was a kid going on backpacking trips with my parents: crackers, cheese, salamis, trail-mix, jerky, etc. just kind of a hodge-podge of food. The only problem with this is that all that stuff is heavy! We've been going on longer and longer trips, and I'm planning a 10 day trip right now, and that kind of lunch is going to be waaaay too heavy for two people over that period of time.
So... What do you recommend for light lunches that still pack some calories and taste?
well... crackers, cheese, salamis, trail-mix, jerky... don't have much water in them. In other words they have a fairly high calorie density. Lighter stuff will not have as many calories. If you want to up the calorie density, you have to up the fat content. More cheese, salami, peanut butter, chocolate. Of course your body has to be able to function with that kind of diet (something you might want to verify before hand).
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
I spend the time to eat a solid breakfast if I'm going to hike all day and really don't do a real lunch. I stop and snack on the same stuff you bring a few times while I rest a bit.
I've not done a 10 a day backpacking trip in a few decades, so I don't know what I'd do different besides get a bigger pack. One thing I do that may be different than most is bring raw honey with me, and I take a tablespoon or two of that while snacking. It's not light, but it has a lot of goodness for the weight. I also bring ginseng along, and take that while I'm snacking too. That gets me through to dinner time.
Hmmm... Yeah, not eating isn't probably going to work, and I already do the crackers/salami thing. I have pretty much gotten my dinner menu from backpackingchef.com, and as a resut, my dinners weigh easily half of what my lunches weigh - maybe less. That website recommends going to a hot lunch that's basically like one of their dinners. I may have to try that if no one thinks I'm missing something obvious.
Myself, for lunch I tend to do something like a Probar, but I snack on trail mix & salami/cheese throughout the day, too. The bars are good, and have decent nutritional value, but I can't do them every day, day in and day out. I don't mind the little bit of weight penalty to salami/cheese/trailmix, just to have a little something different texture/flavor-wise.
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I eat hearty for breakfast and dinner. I don't eat lunch as such; I just snack throughout the day. Dried fruit and nuts are standbys for me. Nuts are a relatively concentrated calorie source containing heart-healthy fats and protein. I usually divide a cereal bar into 2-3 parts and eat a section at a time. Ditto for a piece of cheese (sharp cheddar). For long trips I bite the bullet on $$ and snack on freeze-dried fruit, which is a lot lighter than dehydrated fruit.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
My wife and I like a flour tortilla wrapped around almond or peanut butter and a piece of fruit leather and /or Nutella. We're also very fond of Oberto's bacon jerky. Some of that,a little sun dried tomato and a packet of mayo in a wrap is pretty edible.
I'm mostly with Oregon Mouse. I rarely eat lunch as such, but snack often on GORP and granola bars of various sorts (I'm fond of apricot Cliff bars cut in pieces). But I cook with esbit (when I'm solo). There is usually a little piece left when I'm done boiling water. I blow it out and store it in a Ziplock. sometimes when the day is long and the weather miserable, I'll heat water with a couple of those pieces and make Cup-a-soup or hot chocolate. Almost no additional weight and a good pep up.
... I have pretty much gotten my dinner menu from backpackingchef.com, and as a resut, my dinners weigh easily half of what my lunches weigh - maybe less...
I actually doubt this is true on a per calorie basis. Dehydrated meals tend to pretty low on calories. I checked out backpackingchef.com and their recipes seem pretty typical. Fairly high in carbohydrates and a bit of protein with a smidge of fat. Carbs and proteins are 4 calories per gram. Fats are 9 calories per gram. Once you remove the water, that is what your packing breaks down into. There is not much water in crackers, cheese, hard salamis, nuts.... If you replace an equal weight of salami and cheese with dehydrated meals you are going to have a calorie loss. Furthermore, you've said you want to decrease food weight. Your plan (replace high fat foods, with less mass of high carbo, dehydrated meals) will result in a serious decrease in the amount of calories carried. Over a ten day hike that could be a real problem.
Good and fair points. I do modify the backpacking chef meals to be a little more protein-ish. Thing is, objectively those meals weigh less and subjectively make me feel more full. Bur... on a per-calorie basis, you may be right. Maybe I'm just bringing too much for lunch? The dried fruit, I know, has to go (or be limited). No one eats it and it gives me the farts! (And is really heavy!)