MREs, or “Meal Ready to Eat”, were originally developed by the US military to replace tinned rations. They are self-contained meals in lightweight packaging that are ready to eat direct from the packet. The food inside is already cooked and can be eaten cold or heated. More recently, the term MRE has come to refer to any lightweight packaged ready to eat meal, not just military rations. They are popular amongst preppers, survivalists and outdoor enthusiasts as they are easy to store, last a long time, and are lightweight and easy to carry.
You can buy US military surplus MREs in bulk cases. Stored correctly, they will last for years and the contents will remain in excellent condition.
Prepping And MREs
MREs are great for preppers as they are designed to last for a long time, and don’t need to be refrigerated. Some preppers like to stock up on a large number of MREs, while others like to store canned and dried foods. A combination of both gives you many different options, and a wider variety of foods should you need it.
Buy MREs in bulk if you don’t want to take the time to build up a food store. If you plan to buy a large number of MREs, it’s better value to buy them in bulk. Bulk packs of MREs come with enough meals to last for weeks, or even months. They also have a variety of different meals in the box
MREs are great for bug out bags, because they are lightweight and don’t need to be refrigerated. They can be eaten straight from the packet, with no water or heating required. This makes them ideal for a quick and nutritious meal when on the move.
Do MREs Need To Be Cooked?
MREs are pre-cooked. They do not need to be cooked, and can be eaten straight from the packet. You can eat them cold, or heat the meal before eating. Most MREs can be cooked by warming the packet for a few minutes in hot water.
Alternatively, use a flameless ration heater. These generate heat when water is added, so you just put your MRE and some water in the ration heater bag, and it heats your meal. No other heat source or cooking equipment needed.
How Long Do MREs Last And Do They Expire?
MREs can last a very long time, depending on how they are stored. Most MREs are packaged in a retort pouch, which will keep the food inside in good condition for several years. MREs will last up to 3 years if they are not stored in a cool place, up to about 27oC or 80oF. However, if stored in a cool, dark and dry place, they will last longer than this without the contents spoiling. MREs stored at less than 10oC or 50oF will last for at least 5 years. You can also freeze MREs to extend their shelf life even longer.
Do MREs Taste Good?
Taste is very subjective! MREs earned some very critical nicknames in the early days, such as “Meals Rejected by Everyone” and “Meals Rarely Edible”. The MREs have significantly improved over the years, but in the military some of the nicknames have stuck.
A pre-cooked, packaged meal is never going to be up to the standards of a freshly prepared meal using fresh ingredients. However, the majority of MREs are pretty good, and if you need a quick and nutritious meal at camp after a long day, they’re great.
Can You Survive On MREs?
MREs are designed to provide enough energy for military personnel who are very active. They are actually designed to meet a daily calorie requirement of around 4,000. This is way in excess of the amount of calories required for an average person who is reasonably active.
You can survive on MREs, in fact eating the three meals a day that they are designed for will give you a lot of energy. This, however, is where the problem lies. MREs are intended for very active people, with lots of calories, fat, protein and sugar. Eating MREs for several days, particularly for people who are not as active, can upset the digestive system. Many people have reported constipation after living on MREs for a few days.
Surviving on MREs for a couple of days on a camping trip is fine. Surviving long term on MREs might cause you discomfort!
Are MREs Worth Buying?
MREs are definitely worth buying. They are easy to carry, are ready to eat whenever you need them, and provide a good amount of calories. For preppers, the best use of MREs is as part of a bug out bag. They can be stored for several years in your bug out bag, and if you need to bug out, will be very easy to use for a quick and nutritious meal.