One of the books that has really helped us is 'Pack Light and Eat Heavy' by Bill McCartney. Unfortunately it's out of print and harder to find. I'll try to write up some of the recipes here, but without the other information in the book, they're of limited value. Bill's key premises are that:
- you can eat a variety of food on the trail without undue difficulty or added weight
- you can 'build your own' backpacking meals easily and cheaply instead of relying on expensive selections from vendors
- you can prepare good meals without doing more cooking than boiling water
When we're completely in this mode, we use a Coleman 1 burner stove. This isn't the lightest or smallest stove available, but it's sturdy and reliable (I've even used it in cold weather, I just need to take a fuel bottle to bed with me) -- it was economical too, since my Assistant Scoutmaster and I both have one. If you're not planning on doing too much backpacking with it, this is a pretty decent stove to start with.
If we're not camping too far from our vehicle, we might plan meals that don't go so well on the single burner (like pancakes and bacon, ummm). In this case, we might step up to a Coleman 2 burner stove. Again, this is one that we already had access to (it's part of my family's emergency storage). It's served us well for everything from New Scout Patrol trips to cooking up some rainbow trout we caught at Strawberry Reservoir.
Of course, if you're serious about getting light for a back packing trip, neither of these is the right answer for you. I'm looking into some alternatives ... we'll see where that journey takes me.