Caloric density of food

I'll be honest. I've always bought backpacking food by wandering around the grocery store and grabbing anything that had a decent number of calories and a fast enough cook time. We did mail drops for the JMT though so for the first time ever I did a bunch of Kcal/oz calculations. The results were surprising enough that I made a spreadsheet of them for your enjoyment: the data

General observations

  • Breakfast flavorings have about the same caloric density as the breakfast itself. Looks like a great place to be decadent.
  • Nuts are surprisingly calorically dense. Combine this with physical density and I finally understand why I always have extra gorp. Also oh goodness the peanut butter.
  • The dinners are less dense than the lunch foods. I'd been under the impression that the weight of the cook set was justified by weight savings on food in the long run. Turns out hot dinners might be more about comfort and how much of what foods we're willing to eat in a sitting. That or dinner is secretly a conveyer of ghee.
  • Ramen deserves its popularity outside of bear canister country


  • A lot of this data is from an online calorie counting website 'cause walking around the grocery store with a laptop sounded awkward
  • Some of our favorite dinners are missing because I haven't been able to find numbers for them yet.
  • None of these weights include packaging. This is an especially big hit for the oils.
Do you have any favorite camping foods I'm missing?

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