The most important meal of the trip
As the old saying goes "breakfast is the most important meal of the day", and I have to agree especially when it comes to tramping. What ever time you leave home for your adventure, always make sure you have breakfast first. Your body needs this fuel to get you started for your trip, starting out on an empty stomach is a recipe for low energy and early fatigue.
I know that when you are up at 5am and leaving home at 6am, it can be the last thing you feel like. But then you get to the start of the track, your excited about the journey ahead, after about the first hour the realisation hits that you still have another 4 hours to go and a fair bit of climbing. You pace begins to slow, your legs begin to feel heavy, your breathing becomes harder and you wonder how you are going to get through the trip.
So what's the answer? Unfortunately it's simple, eat at home before you go. Ensure your body is as well fueled as possible before you take that first step. Over the next day or so, your body is going to be burning up energy at a great pace. Gaining height and altitude all take a toll on the body and the best thing you can do is feed it, and make sure that food gives you bang for buck.
What am I taking about? The day before you leave home, get prepping just like you would when you plan out all your gear and food. Early starts don't make it easy to labour over a hearty nutritionally dense meal, think out side the box.
Overnight oats are a great option: the night before soak put rolled oats (quinoa flakes if you are gluten free), dried fruit, chia seeds, nuts, coconut chips in a bowl and add milk (regular, soy, almond etc.) and leave overnight. In the morning add a bit more liquid, some tinned or stewed fruit and you are good to go.
Banana pancakes and a protein shake: again a really easy night before prep. Mash a banana, add some milk (regular, soy, almond etc.), and flour (regular, gluten free).
If you are an early riser and have the time, muesli, toast and fruit are a great option
During the trip always ensure that you start every day with breakfast. The checklist here is nourishing, nutrient dense, filling and full of good quality calories. Fortunately there is an enormous range of freeze dried options catering for all tastes and dietary requirements. The advantage of using a freeze dried option is that they are designed specifically for adventurers and will give you all the nutrients and energy you will need for the day ahead.
Other options where you can create you own "just add water", or if you are carrying a full cooking kit then there are endless options.
For the create your own "just add water" brigade, then see above for the overnight oats suggestion, but feel free to get creative and come up with your own mixture.
Instant oat sachets are another great choice, you can add just about anything extra to these such as dried fruit and nuts.
Soaking dried fruit and chia seeds overnight, then in the morning crumble over a hearty muesli bar.
If you are carrying a full cooking kit then why not go for eggs Benedict, bakes beans on toast, cooked oats from scratch and the list goes on. Just about anything you would cook at home is an option here. There are even some pretty handy egg carriers, no worrying about egg through your pack.
Where to from here? Planning is the key, if you are thinking of changing from full cooking kit to freeze dried, make sure you try the meals at home before you head out. There is nothing worse than looking forward to breakfast on day 3 only to find out that a) it doesn't taste good, b) it's not filling enough or c) it didn't agree with you. The same goes if you are looking to make the switch from freeze dried to "create your own", since you're at home you can get really creative with food combinations.
It's probably also a good idea to consider waste in the whole planning process, often when you get home and empty out your pack you find a whole pile of wrappers and packaging that take up space and have the potential to create a mess in your pack.