I'm too lazy to do the whole ice and cooler thing, but tuna packets, ramen noodles, and the little microwavable chef boyardee things work well. I generally only use them as a backup if no other food is around.
Get an aerocoast cooler bag, two ice bags from walmart or walgreens, then stuff it with whatever you like. I bring yogurt and hard boiled eggs for breakfast along with some oatmeal. Lunch meat, cheese, bread, chopped up veggies for lunch. Nuts, jerky, protein bars for snacks. Leftovers in tupperware containers for dinner, or sometimes Ill make up a big batch of something the night before i leave like stir fry, throw it in a couple containers and it feeds me for two dinners. Tuna packs, canned soups, fruit and things that don't need to stay cold I put in my rollerboard to make more room in the cooler. Get creative and you can eat really well out of your bag. Be lazy and you eat tuna packs and microwavable crap all the time and it gets old really fast. I find that if I eat out of my bag for most of the trip but still go out to eat and drink with the crew when we have a longer layover I don't feel like a complete slam clicker. Usually I will buy a couple meals per trip.
I put a thermometer in my cooler bag with some ziplock bags filled with ice. I forget what the temp was, but I remember it being too warm to prevent food poisoning. I stick to non-perishables in the bag now. If I bring something from home, I use the crew room fridge, and eat it during a sit.
I use 2 ice bags to increase the cold surface area in the bag and it keeps everything cold. I freeze the food in the tupperware containers to help them stay colder longer and put in fresh ice every morning and night and sometimes during the day from the plane if its a long one. If I have sits i will throw some stuff in the fridge and pick it up the next day. Been doing this for 5 years now and never had a problem with food spoiling. Just be smart about it and if you are concerned the food might have spoiled don't eat it. I would bet you have a much higher chance of getting sick from airport food then you will from your own cooked and packed food.
I carry various trail food - it's lightweight and generally nutritious, not cheap, but definitely not as much as the salmon at the hotel restaurant. Also, in addition to tuna packs and other standard stuff like that I usually have a couple MREs on hand - they vary a lot in quality, but there are lots of online retailers who sell them so you'll just have to try them out and see what's good (entrées only - don't get the full meals with a bunch of crap you don't need).
But in general, I use pack food to supplement real food I buy on the road - I work mostly 4 days and going without a real meal for too long is depressing.
PBJ's will last a 4 day, but not on cheap white bread, got to be on something heartier(and generally healthier to boot). Apples work best for fruit since everything else I have tried gets mangled pretty easily. I usually carry a can or two of soup(the microwavable bowl types). Carry some instant oatmeal packets for breakfast, the water from the galley is hot enough generally and two packets will fill up one foam cup. Walmart sells trailmix in individual serving sizes. I havent ventured into carrying the ice bags because I dont have enough room in my cooler bag, I need to buy a bigger one.
Freeze everything you can that won't hurt the quality of the food. Cook all of the meat to "well done" and be sure your marinade includes some salt and vinegar. I usually grill a bunch of chicken breast then cut it into strips and pack it into a sturdy resealable container and freeze it. You can freeze the envelopes of tuna without hurting them too. As you eat your tupperware food, re-fill them with ice. Leave what you can in the crew room freezer/fridge. I've found if you tuck a plastic grocery bag over everything, just under the cooler top, it helps to prevent the air from leaking in from the zipper. Bury your cooler with blankets and pillows on the overnight. I have the "strong bags" crew cooler and with some effort can keep food fresh, if not frozen until day 4.
Gonna revive this post so I'm not double posting. Since I am on reserve and basically have to be ready to go when called, any one have things i can pack real quick and go that will last a 4 day? Also recipes would be appreciated (PM if you got a good one). Chicken and rice get real boring real quick. Got a brand new aerocoast and looking to fill it. I have the bare basics, breakfast bars, oatmeal packs, pop tarts just in case. Looking for things i can heat up.
Only things to add to what has been posted.
Cheese. Usually holds up well if your ice melts. I usually bring some Brie that goes well with almost anything.
Meats that travel well such as salami.
Single servings of rice to mix with other foods.
Single servings of peanut butter.
For breakfast, instant steel cut oatmeal with peanut butter and honey, jelly and/or fruit. Healthy and VERY filling.
Some manufactures have come out with single sevings of microwaveable vegetables that don't need to be refrigerated.
Often when I go out to eat I will save half my portion for the next meal, especially since many restaurants give large portions. For a while Olive Garden had a deal where you got a free meal to go with certain entrees. For about $12 I got two meals which using the above method equated to four meals. $3/meal is not bad at all.