I applied similar logic to my own gear list. What really helped was building my kit from a bottoms up approach that reflects some of your wife's comments about "need".
For example, in essence, what I'm really doing is going for an extended day hike. In that context, what exactly do I need for a series of summer nights in the high Sierra?
* Even if daytime temps hit the high 70s, nighttime temps can drop below freezing, so I need @ least a 30 degree quilt - 17oz.
* I don't really need a groundcover, but window shrink wrap only weighs 1.5oz, so I take that along. Ditto for pad - I take along a hip pad that weighs 5oz. (Yes, I can go lighter.)
* The Sierra typically get afternoon showers. Maybe it will continue to rain a little @ night, or the dew may be heavy, so I take along a tarp that weighs 11 oz with guys/stakes.
That's about it - my total add'l equip over & beyond a day hike.
As for food, my wife & I like to cook @ home, but I realized I can go days on GORP out on the trail, so I don't bother with any stoves, cookware, etc.
So there it is - a long day hike kit with a few add'l items to make it through X nights, along with some high calorie nuts & berries.