MRE survival food

MRE Survival Kit for Emergency, Storage, Convenience

MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) are US Military precooked ration packs designed to feed soldiers who are currently engaged in ongoing missions. The MRE and Survival go hand in hand.

Just like regular meals, the military MRE is fortified with vitamins and minerals, enough to nourish and replenish the body.

Today’s MRE’s are a lot better than when they were first introduced! They’ve come along way since C-Rats. They are made with a very wide variety of foods and flavors – and are available for civilian use.

Why MRE Meals are good diversification

MRE meals are a good addition to part of one’s overall food storage preparedness and survival kit.

– They are excellent for portability and ease of use.

– They’re well purposed for travel. For example I typically keep several in my 72-hour survival kit in my truck (along with other types of emergency foods).

– MRE’s are great for bug out bags too.

About MRE’s

To preserve the quality and freshness of these specially designed meals, the MRE is sealed inside airtight containment-pouches.

They are compact and lightweight, which makes them easier to bring along and can easily fit into the pockets of a backpack, survival kit, or even cargo pants.

Generally, these meals (not just a single packet, but a prescribed meal) contain an average of 1,250 calories. Typically they contain about 1/2 carbohydrates, 1/3 fats, and about 10% proteins.

MRE Survival Food Shelf Life

MRE’s do not require refrigeration.

The shelf life of a military MRE is specified to be 3 years at a temperature of 81 degrees F.

However MRE meals will store well for 5 years (or much longer) under good storage conditions!

Note: Temperature is the most important factor having to do with general food storage shelf life.

MRE Heaters

Although MRE’s can be eaten cold, some main course packets are designed to be heated using a flameless heater.

This would be an additional pouch packet designed to accept an MRE in order to heat it up. Simply add some water into the heater pouch (there’s a reference line for how much water) and slip the MRE packet into the heater pouch. Wait for several minutes (typically 10 – 15) for a heated meal!

Where to buy MRE Survival Food

From a survival & preparedness standpoint, MRE meals have their place in one’s overall food storage or survival plan. I generally have several cases on hand along with all my other diversification assets.

MREs can be purchased by civilians from distributors and contractors who supply MRE meals to the United States Government. These MREs are very similar to genuine US Government MREs, differing only in minor details such as the design of it’s case, bag, or type of spoon, etc..

Most major preparedness distributors sell MRE meals.

MRE Meals

NOTE: MRE’s are not intended for long term regular consumption, week after week.

NOTE: You need to (should) drink lots of water when you’re consuming MRE meals day after day to avoid ‘binding’ (constipation). They may plug you up after longer term consumption.

NOTE: MREs are generally very high in sodium.

What are your experiences (stories, etc.) with MRE’s?

[ Read: Temperature Versus Food Storage Shelf Life ]

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  1. Broadwing,

    Brother! I liked the ham and eggs too. The spaghetti was my favorite. Hated the beefsteak with potatoes because I always burned the potatoes when heating over a heat tab. I miss the peaches and fruit cocktail. I still have a handful of P-38s sitting on my shelf.

    Give the MREs another try. If you remember them in 1984 (I was with the 9th ID), they were pretty rough. Especially the smoked sausage (AKA 5 fingers of Death) or Pork Patty (dehydrated). Much better now.

    I like Mountain House too. Just got some in. But I worry that hot water may not be readily available on the move.

    1. I hear you Brother. Even though I no longer smoke, it was nice to see those helicopters throw the c rats out. Sometimes with mail slipped inside.

  2. Ah yes the old C-rations with smokes. I was able to trade for anything since I did not smoke :-) My experience is with the 90’s MRE’s and they were good but would indeed bind you up after a few days.

    For a 72 hour kit I fully recommend them as very light for the calories carried and the ease of eating.

    So Ken and others what EXACTLY does Current Year Inspection Date mean? When I was in the Army we inspected our units deployment MRE cases every year. They passed inspection if case was in good condition and still had a year or better left on it’s expiration dates. So in short how fresh is Current Year Inspection Date mean and how were they stored Temperature wise?

  3. A couple of things.
    When using the heaters use only 2 of the 4 tabs, its plenty.
    The “12 pack caes” comes with 12 differant meals, and the caes A for instance comes with differant meals than case B, or C. So check which case your ordering.
    As Ken said, these suckers WILL plug u up if eaten for a long time, so plan accordingly.
    I also keep some in the truck and GHB. Amazon at $85 is a good price, they are good to have around JIC.

    PS; Welcome back Ken 😁

  4. I have several cases of MRE’s I got after Katrina when the National Guard gave 2 cases free to anyone who showed up We went several times just to get the free MRE’s. That was thirteen years ago. I still have the MRE’s. According to the experts I suppose they are long expired and probably not fit to eat but if that’s all I had I suppose it’s better than nothing.

    Like others here, I have fond memories of the old style C-rations. It’s weird… I prefer them to the modern MRE. Too bad they don’t make them anymore. I remember getting C-rations in 1968 and 1969. I never found a can I didn’t like. Some guys complained about them but then some people would complain if they were in paradise. To me, they were a treat and they always came with a small pack of cigarettes (5) and a John Wayne Key (P-38). I carried my John Wayne key around on my keychain for years but somewhere it got misplaced.

  5. MRE’s serve their purpose, but I look at them as sort of a second resort.

    Instead I pack food that backpackers would carry such as Knorr pasta sides, rice sides, foil tuna packets, nuts and jerky, some instant cup ‘o soups, some drink mixes and coffee, couple cans of ravioli……. For the weight of mre heaters I can carry a small stove, fuel and water.

    MRE’s are great for feeding mass casualty incidents a meal or two but there are better and cheaper options if you can plan ahead.


  6. Be very careful about what you are ordering. I did order some that were supposed to be as issued to the military. If that was so they were issued to be distributed as emergency rations for starving civilians. The civilians would probably have still starves as the calorie count was that low. once again, buyer beware. I still have them on hand and there is a box on them in my stepdaughters car. I figure they would keep her and the kids going if they had to walk a hundred miles t get home.

    As I mentioned in the last thread. Wally world sells ready to eat meals in mylar packages. They are microwavable but don’t need to be heated. Averaging a little over 300 calories a meal they are cheap and don’t take up much space. No water needs to be added.

  7. MRE’s are a great source of carbs, protein and sodium in a SHTF situation. Yes you need sodium to replenish your body. As Ken said and many others here you need to drink LOTS of water. I remember many a days training at NTC (Mojave desert) and other places, eating these for every meal day after day for weeks. They weren’t too bad back then (88-91) but I hear they are even better know. Again drink LOTS of water.

    Back then my favorite was the sausage or beef patty, served cold while doing whatever I had to do at the time. You can also get creative with all the other packets to make a good meal. Ramen noodles with cheese sauce and hot sauce was one of my favorites. Or the crackers with PB&J, all included in the old packs.

    I will order some more just for shots and giggles.

    Adapt and Overcome.

  8. When I was in the Army (92-97) and we went on an FTX (field training exercise) we would eat 1 MRE a day (for lunch) and we where fed T-RATS (troop rations heated and served out of a field kitchen) for lunch and dinner. I have a couple of cases of MREs and some in mine and wife’s GHB. I look at them as food for the beginning of a SHTF event, don’t need a fire so, no smoke or smell of food cooking. Also if you break them down to the lowest packaging they will fit in your pockets/pouches a lot easier.

  9. Back in the 1980’s a bunch of firefighters got sick from eating Korean War vintage C-rations. ( there was a pile of discarded cans 5 feet high in the center of Camp. ). Lots of youngsters did not check the cans for “oil canning” prior to opening and gobbling up the contents.

    I did not get on the fireline that week. I was busy starting IV’s in dehydrated firemen that were puking and crapping the water out of their systems. We began to see the C-rations being replaced with MRE’s back then after that fire ( hills above San Berdu). We preferred the C-rations but we always checked the date on the can prior to placing them in our backpacks. At least the MRE’s were made after 1965.

  10. Originally I was all for MREs for being in my BOB’s. I’m not keen on the 5 year shelf life so after my one and only case expired after five years, I decided to go the MH route for my BOB foods along with energy bars. Weight is much lighter and since I’m carrying basic water load and filter system I shouldn’t have a problem using the MH rations. For my money you can keep the MREs, I won’t buy anymore.

  11. Homemade Pemmican and CLIF bars are easy on the wallet and light. Tasty too. MRE’s are pretty expensive. Has anybody vacuum sealed Pemmican and have information to share about that?

  12. Well aware of the digestive issues with these. If you go this route, pick up some ‘stool softener’ (docusate sodium) over the counter when shopping. It’s not a laxative, just what it says…And like Ken says, drink lots of water!

  13. I have 3 boxes..
    2 have been in the bottom of the freezer for 8 or 9 years I can only assume they are still good.
    the one I took out to make room, eh some day I’ll try it.
    I look at them as a true last resort, grab and go only if necessary.

    I liked them when in my 20’s I suppose mainly because i’m lazy and there was zero prep time
    to eat.

    1. I actually have a lifetime supply of Zantac. Tums too. If the tums doesn’t work I take a Zantac. Also have a lifetime supply of Imodium as getting bound up has never been a problem for me. Usually the opposite.

  14. I was a tool truck driver in the early 90’s and carried several cases of MRE’s. The spaghetti and BBQ were my favorite. If you wanted one of those it would cost you, but you could have all the chicken-a-la-king you wanted for free. The National Guard gave out MRE’s a few years ago in an ice storm and they were not the same.

  15. I go with canned food, MRE’s are just not my thing. As a contractor I find canned goods are great for daily use or emergencies. Buy what you eat daily has always been my motto.

    1. Go a Head and spend the money – Get Mil-Spec – those SOPAKOCO Tried did not care for.
      You could tell they were cheap when you ate them.

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