Meals ready to eat (MREs) were initially introduced to the world by the U.S Military as an efficient way of feeding soldiers on the battlefield. Ask any soldier who has had perhaps a few too many of these delicacies-in-a-bag, and they will fill your ear with lots of colorful interpretations of this acronym. Military men don’t fall short of interpretations like “Meals Resembling Edibles”, but just barely, “Meals Rarely Eatable”, Meals Refusing to Exit” and many others.
Indeed, it can serve as a joke, but it can also serve as necessary meals for survival, wartime, and other situations.
Even with these many weird interpretations, most of the emergency department folks and preppers have been considered lifetime appreciators of MREs, probably because of the high caloric counts and the longer shelf lives associated with these edibles. To be very honest, anyone who’s had a bite of the MREs will tell you that they’re not as bad as the military men portray them. In fact, they have become better over time.
Here is everything you need to know about MREs.
What Are MREs?
MRE packs are food materials that have been taken through processing, canning, and at times, freeze-drying to increase their shelf-lives. MREs have been adopted by militaries across the globe as combat rations for decades. However, they’ve also ended up in civilians’ hands.
A simple MRE entrée will include a drink and professionally mixed fractions of vegetables, fruits, carbohydrates, fruits, and a dessert. Most of the main MRE dishes will incorporate recipes like fettuccine, noodles, spaghetti, chili, chicken, beans with chili, chicken burrito bowls, potatoes, bacon, hash browns, and other items.
MREs come in pouches with the ability to withstand the harsh battlefield conditions. The bags are airtight and come in three unique layers that allow the food to be adequately cooked, and sealed. The resultant ration will outdo any freeze-dried or dehydrated foods you will ever think of.
What Are the Components of these MREs?
This MRE menu will come in handy if you want to dissect the meal options included in this militaristic delicacy.
A typical MRE will contain an average of 1250 calories with 36% fat, 13% protein, and 51% carbs. As such, 3 MREs will be equivalent to 3 meals. But remember that it is a list of components that can vary depending on the manufacturer.
Here is the list of food materials that will be present in your MRE:
- Main entrée: Spaghetti and beef stew
- Bread/ crackers
- Side dishes: fruit, mashed potatoes, rice, corn
- A flameless ration heater
- Candy: Skittles, tootsie rolls and M&M
- Hot sauce or seasoning (in selected packages)
- Spreads: Jelly, cheese spread, peanut butter
- Dessert: cookies or pound cakes
- Essential accessories like creamer, salt, sugar, chewing gum, spoon etc.
Can I Freeze My MRE Pouch?
Yes, you can. Though the food components are preserved, freezing the pouch won’t have a destructive effect on the meal. However, you must bear in mind that repeated freezing may cause the lamination pouch failures. Most importantly, you need to know that the MRE pouch is industrially designed to withstand up to 1,000 flexes. Repeated freezing could accelerate the failure rate by a small percentage.
What is The Shelf-Life of a Typical MRE Package?
Most MRE manufacturers will embrace shelf-stable practices to present their clients ready to eat foods and components that will remain palatable and withstand the tough battlefield-like conditions. MREs will adopt sterile, oxygen, and moisture-controlled conditions to preserve and package the food materials.
MREs have a longer shelf life (spanning up to 5 years) as they’ll be heat processed to ensure that all food-destructive bacteria are destroyed. The sterile food pouch will also play a significant role in preventing the food from bacterial attacks.
Are MREs Good Sources of Nutrients?
It is easy to be deceived into holding the notion that MREs are junk, just like other processed foods that aren’t adequately nutritious. But you might meet with a wonderful surprise if you talk to the right people. Even though MREs aren’t meant to replace your regular meals, they’re loaded with the nutrients and calories you will need to sustain you in life.
Members of the disciplined forces use MREs because of their convenience and ability to stay in the human system for long. They’re packed with adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals to keep your body strong and healthy.
What Does an MRE Taste Like?
This question is pretty subjective, and you’ll obviously get varied answers depending on the person you ask. Like canned foods, there is some potential that you may not like it at all. However, frequent MRE consumers will hold the opinion that they taste better than the canned foods in your fridge.
MREs’ convenient nature makes them more enjoyable. Indeed, they can be eaten more regularly than canned foods, particularly if you appreciate quick meals. They are meant to last and to be used as home-style prepared delicacies.
Can I Eat my MRE Cold?
Yes, you can. All MRE entrées can be eaten cold and directly from the pouch. MRE’s are perfectly safe to consume in cold conditions. In many cases, most of the soldiers and emergency relief staff have been forced by work situations to eat MREs cold.
Where Can I Obtain MREs?
You have quite likely not seen these in your whole life. You may not have set your eyes on an MRE pack in your local grocery store or supermarket. Recall that it was illegal at one point to buy or sell MREs. But they are more abundant now, and the laws are certainly relaxed at the present moment.
While MREs are traditionally prepared for military bases, times are changing.
Many entrepreneurs have started creating their brands of dehydrated and preserved meal packs. While some have found their way to supermarket shelves, others can be accessed online.
There are millions of DIYers creating personalized MREs using food storage facilities that remove air from food. However, some companies (very few) will manufacture civilian MREs.
Here are the ways to get MREs without stress:
- Reach out to an army surplus store
- Veterans may get their hands on MREs
- Online stores
- Visit an auction site
- Talk to one of your military friends
MREs are nutrient-loaded foods that any prepper must work hard to embrace as part of their emergency kits. Their caloric compositions could be what you may require to keep you fully energized all day long. You may not need to warm your pouch of MREs as they are totally safe to eat cold. Further, you will only need to store them in places with temperatures not exceeding 70 degrees.
These kits help you stay prepared for any situation.