A hiking trip usually lasts for several hours or a day, but some may stretch over a couple of days too. Thus, a hiker will usually need to carry at least one meal along. More important than any meal though, is water. The human body is 66% water. It is a known fact that a person can survive for about a month without food, but less than a week without water.
While planning the meal for a hike, stick to foods that are light to carry, that can be kept cool, and those that can be safely transported. Options for a day hike range from sandwiches, fried chicken, bread and cheese, and salads. These foods can be made the previous night and refrigerated or frozen. They can be kept cold during the hike by packing them along with frozen box drinks. The drinks will thaw out and you will have a nice chilled drink to refresh yourself with.
Alternately, you could take along non-perishable foods like nuts and crackers. Make sure you carry sufficient water, but if you run out of it, purify the water from streams or lakes by boiling or using purification tablets.
For a long hike, you will need to put some thought into planning your meals. While you can pack the above suggested foods for the first day, you will need to carry foods with a longer shelf life for the subsequent days. Some suggestions include canned tuna, ham, chicken, and beef, jars of peanut butter, dried noodles, and soups, juice boxes, beef jerky and other dried meats, dried fruits and nuts, powdered milk and fruit drinks and dehydrated foods. You could also carry dried pasta and powdered sauce mixes.
For a hike lasting a couple of days, you can carry foods that would be ideal for each of the three meals. Options for breakfast are a nutritious cereal or muesli that can be eaten with milk, made by mixing powdered sachets with water. Breakfast bars are a quick non-fussy option. If you are carrying equipment to cook food, or are ready to collect firewood and make your meal, you can prepare porridge, oats, cracked wheat, or semolina polenta plus dried fruits.
For lunch or dinner you could use the tinned food, or make sandwiches (provided the bread stays fresh) using a solid bread-like rye or pita with cheese, salami (which will last longer if kept whole), or margarine, peanut butter, jam, or honey, and pickles. Pre-prepared packet meals of rice or noodle base are another way to go. Frozen dried meals, though expensive are lightweight and yet another option to consider. It is also possible to prepare your own dehydrated foods. One may be surprised to learn that almost all foods can be dehydrated, from broccoli to lamb stew to mangoes.
Start your day with powdered milk, hot chocolate, tea, and coffee that come in sachets. Carry powdered sugar, and you can have a steaming hot cuppa while enjoying the sunrise.