I made a DIY Esbit stove design from a 3 oz cat food can....better IMO than a lot of the Esbit burners on the market which are either too heavy for what they are, or they cost too much. Here's the link for the article if you're interested - http://bladesandbushlore.com/index.php?topic=12408.0
I like to use Esbit/hexamine fuel for winter camping - alcohol stops functioning efficiently at the freezing point, and just below 20 F, it won't work at all...at least, not for me, even with direct flame contact. Esbit, on the other hand, has worked for me as low as 9 F without any issue. I'd be interested to give it a go in sub-0 temps to see if the fuel tablets have a limit. I'm not sure why some people have said that Esbit tablets "don't work in cold weather"....my observations and experiences differ greatly.
I do have an Emberlit, the standard stainless steel model...a bit heavy at 11 oz, but I wasn't willing to spend twice its cost on the titanium model. But I know there are a few other titanium versions out there which cost less, so I may go ahead and save some ounces.
Sarge - There are a lot of food variety options out there, fortunately
. A lot of it depends on how much time you want to spend preparing and cooking the meal. I don't mind spending half an hour prepping and stir-frying foraged greens with Chicken-of-the-woods, but that's something I'd be more willing to do as a dinner meal, when camp is set up and the hiking done for the day. Brekkie can be either a "grab-'n-go", facilitated with a homemade trail mix/gorp, or it can be a "take your time" affair with old fashioned oats, perhaps some coffee, tea, or a hot cocoa. Lunch and in-between meal snacks for me are usually quick munches of energy bars, more trail mix/gorp, or dehydrated fruits.
Perishables can be really nice, but they won't last too long before spoilage...maybe 3 days (more if winter camping
). Some bags wild salmon at the market come prepackaged inside. That can be REAL comfort food, just remember to freeze it before taking. And if you really want to have the capability to add extra calories to a meal, take a small bottle of olive oil (or save the packets from some of the boil-'n-bag meals
. For brekkie calories, peanut butter (also can be saved from boil-'n'-bag meals...I know each Backpacker's Pantry Pad Thai has one packet) is great. It can be a nice addition to an otherwise boring oatmeal, along with some dehydrated apple slices, dried cranberries, or foraged fruits. Walnuts can also be really good for extra calories - about 185 calories per ounce, actually, with 18.5 grams of total fat, and a bit of potassium to boot