A Few Words About MRE
Food is something nobody can survive without. Not metaphorically, literally. Food is probably the essential survival necessity. The only competitors of it are probably water and shelter. And yet, even if you have a shelter, hardly will you live a “long and happy life” without meals.
Meals are the fuel of our bodies. They let us lead the lifestyles we lead, make decisions, create things if we talk about something more than just surviving.
But if you stick to the survival paradigm, food is more important than one can think of it. Yes, we can survive days and even weeks without food, but these weeks will not be the best in your life if you try.
If you don’t consume food for a day—you feel tired, exhausted, your energy levels drop significantly.
If you don’t eat for two days—your brain stops working as it used to before, it does not function properly, you get problems with attentiveness and concentration.
And what really matters here is that being attentive and concentrated enough is extremely important in any survival situation.
The best solution will be to pay attention only to those meals with a long shelf-life, which have an optimal amount of calories, which are not really heavy (this factor will matter if you take these foods somewhere in the bag). But what matters most of all is that these meals must be non-perishable!
Unfortunately, many of these kinds of meals are tasteless. This is the price you have to pay if you want your meal to have a long-lasting shelf-life. It is usually achieved by adding an extra-amount of preservatives. And there is almost nothing you can do about it.
But you can pay attention to those foods which do taste great. No, I’m not kidding. This is possible. I am now referring to the MRE meals, where MRE stands for Meals Ready to Eat.
In this article, I will discuss such important topics as what can be considered to be MRE and what cannot, which MREs are the best, how to eat these meals, and some other issues every prepper should know.
Here you can get a free copy of our Family First Food Planning (FFFP) guide.
What Do We Call “MRE”?
When we say “MRE,” we usually mean “Meal Ready to Eat.” In other words, it can be eaten just after you open the pack. The content of such meals is placed inside a vacuum package with no air inside so that bacteria didn’t spoil the food. It means that such foods can remain eatable for a long time period, surviving a long-lasting shelf-life.
First, people started to use MRE meals to feed the soldiers in the U.S. military. Invented in the 1970s-1980s, they became a better alternative for the MCI rations. Compared to the latter, MRE meals were more nutritious, less expensive, and lighter in weight.
Thanks to the MRE meals, military men, who were captures and cut off from the food supplies, could survive those hard times. MRE’s were giving them enough force to keep fighting.
MRE meals are a rather new invention, especially in comparison to the history of humanity. There has always been a question on how to provide long-lasting foods to the soldiers in the wars.
According to Rebecca Rupp, this problem appeared long ago, in ancient times.
Back in those days, this question could determine the course of events. A well-fed army is a capable army, which can fight. A hungry army is a losing army.
Sometimes a hungry soldier could take the foods from the local farmers, thus keeping them hungry. But this activity was not encouraged but even censured.
That is why people had to think carefully of the solution to this ancient problem. Luckily, MREs became current, saving the U.S. military from starvation during the acts of war.
Nowadays army is not the only consumer of Meals Ready to Eat. Those people, who spend a lot of time outside their houses (I would even say, outside any houses), like survivalists, hunters, or fishers, are used to this kind of food as well.
Since a Meal Ready to Eat is one of the most popular foods for survivalists, and it is a great option for any emergency, these food items obtained huge popularity.
They are also widely used by disaster response groups in cases when people get trapped after natural catastrophes.
For now, MREs are cheap and available because now not that many people realize their utility. I recommend going to the grocery now and filling your shopping cart with these nutritious helpers!
Or, you can visit an online shop and prepare an MRE stock on your own.
Watch this video to learn more about military nutrition:
Here you can get a free copy of our FFFP Guide.
Best Meals Ready To Eat Available On The Market
The first meal I would like to introduce is Captain Dave’s products. Each pack includes 12 main dishes (which is already enough for one person for a couple of days).
These cases include 6+ various flavors—feel free to try them all. You can easily check beef stew, or, if you prefer something more dietary, try chicken-based meals.
This producer guarantees a high quality of dishes, so you can certainly add these MREs to your shopping cart.
The next meal case I would like to introduce is Western Frontier. This Meal Ready to Eat includes 12 food items with a calorie count equal to 1250 units.
Each case provides an addition in spices, crackers, napkins, and some other hygiene items.
This producer is interested in variability, that is why besides traditional meals, you can also try desserts, coffee, and even vegetarian options are present.
For these meals, there is no official expiration date. In other words, chances are their shelf life is more than 5 years. This is a great variant for emergencies.
The next manufacturer I intend to discuss is exceptional for me. I can state that it is my personal number one. I am now referring to The Ready Store.
Besides the high quality, they also guarantee available prices and the possibility to buy a lot at once.
This manufacturer cooperates with the military vendors, which means that their MREs Will definitely survive a shelf life of 5 years or even more.
There is also one nice addition in the form of the fact that these Meals Ready to Eat are produced in the USA!
Here you can check various options concerning the quantity of the products you are interested in:
- 1 CASE (12 MEALS)
- 1 MONTH SUPPLY
- 3 MONTH SUPPLY
- 6 MONTH SUPPLY
- 1 YEAR SUPPLY
Add it to your shopping cart if you want a meal that will include a ratio of at least 1300 calories. Just like the other MRE meals, this one has a shelf life of more than 5 years, starting from the day it was produced and packed.
The MREs of this producer are great for any emergency situation because they provide a nutritious ration and can fit even the military storage conditions (in other words, military men can eat it either cold or hot (a flameless heater is present)).
These MREs, just like the previous ones, are claimed to have a long-lasting shelf-life, and fit any of the “survivalist” purposes, be it fishing far away from the cities’ infrastructure or camping.
If you choose Genuine U.S. Military Surplus Assorted Flavor (4-Pack), you definitely receive a quality, like for the military personnel, a product, which must be put in your kit no matter what.
This Western Frontier Ultimate MRE 6 Pack is probably one of the best options if you are camping or hunting, or fishing in a company. This MRE includes 24 various flavors just for everyone, starting from black beans and finishing with something like cheese tortellini.
The last MRE I would like to introduce is a military MRE, titled Rothco MREs Box A, Genuine U.S. Military Surplus.
Each MRE meal contains a flameless ration heater for a hot meal anywhere you go.
These MREs provide some additional items, like coffee powder, gum, matches, and some others.
Checking The Taste Of The New MREs
Watch the video below, which is devoted to modern MREs. It will truly cover what you can run into when buying certain Meals Ready to Eat:
Here you can get a free copy of our FFFP Guide.
Why Choose Meals Ready To Eat?
In the previous paragraphs, we have already discussed several great MREs and their advantages. Many of these meals share great and useful characteristics. Now, to sum them up, I provide a list of reasons why you should choose MREs.
The average prices suggested by the manufacturers for their products vary somewhere between 6$ and 7$ per one product (one meal). However, you can cut the price if you decide to buy more.
Usually, sellers offer packs with 4-24 MREs, and if you choose the biggest pack, the price per one unit will be approximately 4$-5$, depending on the brand.
I suggest choosing the second option and filling your shopping cart with more products at once. And the matter is not only about the price, but also about the overall preparedness—the more meal items you stock up, the higher are your chances to survive a long-lasting disaster.
The General shelf-life of MREs is about 5 years, but you can increase it by putting them in the correct stock (in other words, in the place with lower temperatures). You can even freeze them, and in this case, they will last even longer.
This quality makes Meals Ready to Eat a great nutrition option for catastrophes. It does not matter where exactly you choose to store your products—in the survival gear, in the survival car, or in the survival location. Try to keep them in a relatively cold space, and even if you decide to eat them in a couple of years, they will be there waiting for you.
Since MRE meals were created for the military men to be taken in the epicenter of military operations, these meals’ portability is a key issue. They are designed in a way so that they were rather light in weight but still were able to provide full rations. And the shape the majority of these packs have allowed transporting many a once since there is no mess when loading the trucks.
The last precious feature is the taste of MRE meals. These meal items have a great taste in comparison to some other survival or military foods. There is a huge variety of possible flavors, so you will definitely find at least the one (or even more) which will become your favorites.
Each full MRE pack usually includes the Main Dish with addition in the form of:
- Candies (like Skittles)
- A Drink Mix
- A Hot Sauce (like bbq sauce)
- A Spread (like peanut butter or cheese spread)
- Desserts or Snacks
- Flameless Heater
- Additional Items (some utensils, sugar and salt, napkins, and some others)
If you are interested in more detailed product information, you can check in on the pack itself or in the store before purchasing. I recommend checking product information before adding Meal Ready to Eat to your shopping cart.
MRE meals are great alternatives to traditional rations, and they are mainly qualitative products offered for an affordable price. And, they taste well, especially in comparison to other non-perishable products, so you can choose a taste that fits you best among a wide variety of MREs.
Here you can get a free copy of our FFFP Guide.
Warming MRE Meals
Actually, MRE meals are “Ready to Eat,” which means that you can open the pack and start eating just like that. Of course, you can eat them cold, but the majority of MREs suggest getting heated before consumption so that the taste was fuller and the sensation was deeper.
There are several ways to heat an MRE meal. Many of the brands put some sort of a heating system in the pack, whereas others do not. I am here to tell you more about the ways to heat the MRE meals.
Flameless Rations Heater
A flameless ration heater is a device created especially for MRE meals. That is why it is the most popular way of heating these products.
To use it, you only need to put your MRE meal inside the item, then add a little bit of water, and seal the device up. The heater will then make everything on its own.
Yes, you got it correctly—this machine does not need any special fuel. All you need is water!
A chemical reaction inside the device, started by the water drops, creates heat and thus heats your MRE meal in several moments.
This is an easy but not always an available way. You will need to put the unpacked MRE meal inside the saucepan and close the pot lid (or not, it’s up to you).
Then place the saucepan on a heat source (the fire, for example) and wait. In several minutes your dish will be warm enough to consume and feel the taste.
This is another simple way to heat your MRE meal. Thanks to the pack of a meal, which is waterproof, you can easily put it into the water itself, and it won’t be damaged.
According to the instructions provided by the majority of brands, you have to
- Firstly, add water to the pot, not too much of it.
- Secondly, wait until the water boils and then reduce the fire.
- Put your MRE meal (in the pack) in the pot.
- Wait for 5-8 more minutes.
After that, you can carefully take the meal out of the pot and enjoy the warm product.
This way of heating MRE meals is a wonderful alternative for the flameless heater or the butane stove.
The Breakfast Oven
This is an additional option for MRE heating because hardly will you find an oven in a real survival situation. But if you “accidentally find one in your kit,” you can use it as well.
An oven usually works at a temperature of about 350-degrees, and thus 10 minutes will be enough to heat your MRE meal.
Here you can get a free copy of our FFFP Guide.
How To Keep MRE Meals Fresh?
Sad news—if you once fill your kit with the MRE meals, it still does not mean that now you will be forevermore prepared. Even these long-lasting foods get spoiled when times pass. Of course, MRE meals have a much longer shelf-life than ordinary meals, end yet, they are not eternal.
That is why you have to be very attentive to the date when your MRE stocks get uneatable. Once your meals get spoiled, you cannot eat them, which means you will have to throw them away. Do not let that happen!
Of course, I understand that it is quite difficult to track when exactly the MRE will worsen, especially if it is supposed to remain eatable for at least 5 years. It is impossible to find the precise date when the MRE meal will have to be put in the trash.
What can you do then?
I suggest having a list with all MREs you have, where you put which products exactly you obtain and when you bought them. I can also recommend tracking the date of packing these MRE meals.
If you are a survivalist, you probably already have one list like that. Probably, you report the survival tools and devices, or maybe vacuum-sealed or freeze-dried foods you have. Someone might even have a special folder on the laptop with detailed evacuation plans and instructions! If you are one of these guys, just add this “MRE meals list” to this folder and regularly check it.
If you act like a responsible survivalist and regularly check the dates, you will not let your MRE meals get spoiled—you will eat them before that! Don’t forget to replace these MREs with the new ones!
In addition, do not forget about the store conditions. The way you store your MRE meals matters! There is a variety of places where you can keep your MRE foods, but the best option will always be a cold dark place with no sun.
Some people choose to store the MRE in the root cellars—this is a sort of vault or crypt under the ground, which will be of good service for your meals.
If you consider yourself a true survivalist, you definitely must have MRE meals in your survival food stock.
Now you know that MRE can replace traditional rations, providing sufficient nutrition because the amount of calories they include is enough for a body to function well.
There is a wide variety of different MRE meals, each of a qualitative taste. Some of them are produced in our country. Some come from abroad. Some come with a heater. Some allow you to be creative when heating them. Some provide additional pleasantness (like utensils, napkins, gums, sauces (bbq sauce is my favorite), candies). This sort of food is usually available, having an affordable price.
If you add MRE meals to your survival kit, you will be calm about your future because you will know for sure that you will be able to survive many catastrophes.
Why is it illegal to sell MRE meals?
It is not illegal for brands and companies to sell MRE meals. However, it is indeed illegal for military men to resell the MRE meals they receive while on service. Each product they get must be used in an appropriate way, eaten at work by the soldier, and not taken from the work and resold somewhere to someone.
Where can I buy MRE meals?
You can buy MRE meals in specialized shops. People often order them online, sometimes even get free shipments. Some brands have sales days when you can buy MRE meals even cheaper than usual. This sort of promo allows manufacturers to involve more customers. That is why if you are interested in filling your kit with the MRE meals, check various sources and compare the goods.
Why are MRE meals so expensive?
Actually, MRE meals are one of the cheapest options of non-perishable foods. Of course, everything is about the degree. But the average price for 1 MRE meal is approximately 6-7$, and if you buy a bigger pack, it will decrease to 4-5$ for a meal. Besides, some brands have sales days, and you can buy MRE meals for a lower price, sometimes even with free shipments.
Can Civilians Buy MRE meals?
Yes, civilians can buy MRE meals in the stores. Many brands have great customer service, and you usually get each meal perfectly packed. The prices these manufacturers suggest are affordable, so feel free to add several MRE packs to your shopping cart and not worry about the quality. Usually, producers care about their reputation and try to make sure their clients will come back to them.