What is an MRE?

What is an MRE?


Mention stockpiling survival food and a topic that is bound to come up is MREs. Maybe you are new to prepping and are wondering exactly what MREs actually are. If so, we think you will find the following information very useful.

What are MREs?

MRE is actually a military acronym that stands for Meals, Ready to Eat. Hence, the term MRE is used by service members when referring to prepackaged rations that are normally eaten in the field. Designed to ensure that soldiers are always well fed, they contain every component of a complete meal. They are also packed in such a way that they remain fresh and do not require any refrigeration whatsoever.

Although Meals, Ready-to Eat are available only to service members, civilian versions of MREs exist as well. Like those designed for the military, they are complete meals inside a vacuum-sealed pouched. Each one contains an entrée, side item, bread or cracked, dessert, beverage mix, and condiments. You can eat them hot or cold as each one also contains its own flameless, disposable heater.

History of MREs

The Meal, Ready-to-Eat first made its appearance in 1975, and was touted as a replacement for the unpopular Meal, Combat, Individual or MCI. The initial reception however was not what the military had hoped for. Accordingly, they began working on improvements such as a flameless heater and more palatable desserts.

Today, a team of individuals is constantly evaluating needs and desires of soldiers to come up with more palatable menus that people will enjoy eating. This has resulted in a wider selection of entrees and even a few vegetarian options.

Our rations are designed by government contractors who are familiar with military MREs. As such, they contain many of the same menu items as rations given to service members.

MRE Comparison

Components of Meals, Ready-to-Eat

Each pouch contains a full, three-course meal that is approximately 1,100-1,200 calories in all. Each contains an entrée or main dish such as beef stew, chicken enchiladas, or spaghetti with sauce. The entrée is sealed inside its own inner pouch, and does not require rehydrating. You can eat the main dish directly from the package, or use the enclosed ration heater to warm it up.

Side dishes can be vegetables, fruits, or starches. Some can be heated, while others are designed for you to eat straight from the pouch. For example, raisins, nuts, and trail mix are popular ready-to-eat side dishes.

Crackers and/or bread is served along with a spread such as peanut butter, jelly, or cheese. Their tight vacuum seal ensures that they remain crisp and fresh for up to five years after packaging.

No meal is complete without a dessert. Some common desserts found in Meals, Ready-to-Eat include cookies, brownies, or packaged candy.

Flavored drink mixes give people something to look forward to other than just drinking water. Some are similar to sports drinks in that they contain added electrolytes to help ward off dehydration. A few will also contain cocoa, coffee, tea, or another hot beverage mix that you can use to warm yourself up with.

Other Items

Aside from food items, each unit contains:

Condiments that vary based upon the entrée

  • Napkins
  • Plastic utensils
  • Wet wipes
  • Flameless ration heater

MRE Contents

Benefits of MREs

When it comes to survival food, Meals, Ready-to-Eat are a great choice for a number of reasons. First, their unique packaging allows them to stay fresh for up to five years. This means it is easy to stockpile food far in advance of any emergency.

MREs do not require any refrigeration. As such, you will not have to worry about them spoiling in the event of a power outage. And while they do not require any power to store, they can also be heated without electricity or an alternative heating source.

You can easily carry MREs with you. Consequently, many people keep a few on hand in their bug-out bag, vehicle, or camper “just in case.” The meals are also very easy to grab whenever you need to evacuate in a hurry.

Prepackaged meals such as these have all the nutritional requirements you need to remain healthy. At the same time, they offer additional calories that will provide you with added energy at a time when you are likely to need it the most.


Who are MREs Good For?

We’ve already mentioned that Meals, Ready-to-Eat are a great source of emergency food. However, you should consider having a few on hand even if you are not into prepping. For example, they make ideal meals for camping, hunting, fishing, hiking, or any other form of outdoor recreation because they do not require a cooler.

Emergency rescue personnel often keep these rations on hand for a number of reasons. First, they may offer them to disaster victims who might otherwise have nothing to eat. First responders themselves also carry them because they are easy to eat while on the go. 

Scouting groups can use MREs for educational purposes. By teaching kids about them, scout leaders can help troop members hone their own survival skills. Showing children how to properly use flameless ration heaters will also promote their safety. 

Those living in coastal areas are often concerned with having emergency food on hand during hurricane season. By stocking a few cartons of MREs, these individuals can effectively prepare for severe weather for up to five seasons. 

Storing Meals 

To get the maximum shelf life possible, store your rations in a cool, dark place with a controlled temperature of between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Ensure good airflow by placing your rations on pallets or dunnage, leaving around six to twelve inches of space on all sides. 

Check expiration dates often, and rotate stock as needed to ensure you are always using the oldest meals first. Inspect your storage area often for signs of insects or vermin. If noticed, take the appropriate pest control measures at once. 

MRE Storage

Everyone can Enjoy MREs 

Meals, Ready-to-Eat are ideal for a number of situations and are therefore great for nearly everyone to have on hand. Since they last longer than most canned goods, they can also be a very economical choice for preppers who are on a budget. We offer a variety of meals that are perfect for prepping, outdoor survival, disaster relief, or a variety of other occasions. Please contact us or visit our website to find out more.

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