@anakelly 

If you're going farther and harder, you NEED gear that is smaller and lighter.

However, if you're not going so far, and not going so hard (and frankly will be doing more camping than hiking), then your choices can lean more toward "glamping" (using more "luxury items" and gear based more on personal preferences and comfort rather than well-reasoned decisions based on efficiency). I have a "micro stove" (and KNOW how to use it, CORRECTLY), but if I plan on taking it easy (and drag another person along), I don't change my stove, I use my slightly larger cook set. I have a short, "head-to-hips" sleeping pad, but I may use my long, "head-to-heels" pad. I may even bring a PILLOW!

If you're not covering many miles (which means you're probably not going any farther than the frontcountry) and not going out for more than several days/nights, SURE, use whatever types of food you want are fine, including expensive, bulky, freeze-dried camping food. OR, use appropriate fresh and even canned food. Just pack (and store) correctly! You just need things that work as expected, so whatever makes you happy.

As to reviews, beware reviewers who over-reach by trying to come-off as some sort of half-a** scientist, engineer or researcher!! Look for opinions based on EXTENSIVE EXPERIENCE!!!