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MRE Ready to Eat

MRE - Meals Ready to Eat

History of the MRE

The military Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs) were first issued in the early 1980s as a replacement for the previous version of military rations. One of the main advantages of the new MRE was the advanced packaging technology, making them lighter in weight and more complete than standard canned feild ration. This new packaging, using self-contained pouches rather than cans, also played a role in making the U.S. space program’s meals more convenient and appetizing.

Each food portion in a MRE is sealed in a special three layer pouch, cooked and sterilized and then packaged with the other meal contents in a single outer pouch. MRE meals are complete, including entrée, side dish, drinks, dessert, condiments, spoon and heater. They are truly ready to eat.

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Military Issue MREs
Military MRE

The official military MREs are designed to provide complete nutrition and energy requirements for personnel in the field and far from meal services. MRE meals provide 1,250 calories and one-third of the day’s recommended allowance of vitamins and minerals. Everything in the MREs is ready to eat, with no rehydration or even cooking necessaryOnly the drink requires the addition of water. Each military MRE comes with a heater for optional warming of the entrée portion of the meal. Even condiments or seasonings and a biodegradable spoon are provided.

Currently, there are 24 different MRE meals available, including vegetarian MRE choices. Every year the menu options are upgraded, with the least favorite MREs dropped and new items added. Some current MRE entrée options include beef ravioli in meat sauce and southwest beef and black beansVeggie burger in BBQ sauce and vegetable lasagna are just two of the vegetarian MRE meals available. Most of the dinners are accompanied by crackers with cheese spread or peanut butter, dried fruit and nuts, candy and seasonings. Some come with sugar-free beverages so that the calorie content remains in the food rather than the drink. An accessory pack includes tea or coffee, sugar, matches, gum, a towelette and a tissue.

MRE shelf life is estimated to be three years when stored at 80 degrees Fahrenheit
. Special time-temperature indicators are on the cases, making it easy to tell when the MRE rations have expired. The indicators change based on the temperature of storage, so if kept well below 80 degrees, the MRE shelf life is lengthened.Freeze Dry Guy does not recommend storing MREs for over 1 year if in a hot environment, if this is the situation, be sure to change them out anually.



Disadvantages of MRE's

Because MRE food is completely ready to eat, each meal is heavier than a corresponding Freeze Dried or Dehydrated meal. This makes them somewhat inconvenient for backpacking or other situations where they must be carried. MRE shelf life is not nearly as long as specially produced dehydrated and freeze-dried survival food, making the latter the preferred foods for long-term storage. If storing a large quantity of MREs, a rotation system is advised so those getting close to their expiration are used and replaced with new supplies. 

Let Freeze Dry Guy help you determine what products are best for your long-term survival food.  We have emergency preparedness experts ready to help you for FREE, with no obligation.  To order, shop online or call us at 866.404.3663

Civilian MREs
Civilian MRE
To meet the growing demand for MRE food, a number of companies produce meals ready to eat that are very similar to military issue rations. Several of these companies are the same ones that produce MREs for the military. After Hurricane Katrina struck, many desired a survival food with the MRE’s ease of preparation during times when water and fuel are at a minimum. These self-contained, complete survival meals require no rehydration and sometimes come with an included MRE heater like the military ration packages. Civilian MREs have close to the same number of calories and nutrients as their military counterparts, although the menu selections are sometimes less extensive. Like the military version, the civilian products come 12 meals to a case. Civilian MRE shelf life is comparable to the military version.


Advantages of MRE's

The number one advantage of MRE meals is their incredible convenience. They are genuinely a ready to eat meal. No cooking is required; no rehydrating is necessary- just open the package and eat. The MRE’s nutrient content provides approximately 1,250 calories and one-third of the day’s vitamins and minerals. This is enough to ensure an active person has adequate nutrition to meet the demands of surviving a disaster. Although the rations have an approximate three year expiration, the MRE’s shelf life can be extended by storing them in a cool place.