MRE (Meal, Ready To Eat) | What You Need To Know

Meal ready to eat or MRE comes pretty handily in times when you can’t prep or cook food. Learn more about it below!

Getting to Know Meal Ready to Eat or MRE

All war is won in the kitchen. How traveling soldiers are fed has long interested me. As a man with a background and education in cooking and the restaurant business, I can appreciate the struggles of feeding the masses. When you consider the importance of feeding the most effective fighting force on the planet, in the field, that is something.

You could argue that food systems like the MRE are as important as any military strategy or weapon in the field. If you take away a soldier’s rifle, he would not be able to execute. If you take away his MRE, well, it would be a similar situation. Soldiers must know how to fight but everyone has to eat.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the MCI or Military Combat Individual ration was created. Now, this was a far cry from what MREs have become today but the idea was there. These early rations were based on three units as part of the ration. You would receive one from each unit.

  • M Unit was the Meat: Beefsteak, Meat Chunks, Boned Chicken, Turkey Loaf
  • B Unit was the Bread: Crackers, Hardtack, Four Cookies
  • D Unit was Dessert: Cake, Bread, Fruit

Since then, the MRE has become much more palatable and is much safer with higher quality. Are MRE’s the right thing to store at home as part of your food storage plan?

Shelf Life and Storage

Let’s get right down to it. How do these things store, and should they be a legitimate part of your food storage plan?

MREs are a vastly different type of food item than freeze-dried food or long-term food storage items. These foods are ready to heat up and eat or even to be eaten cold. The fact that the foods are ready to eat is a tremendous benefit. This means no fuel cost.

The biggest problem with MREs is that they have a short shelf life. You are going to get about 60 months, at best. So, these do not store like your typical long-term food storage for 20 years! However, they do offer you a ton of great options in terms of meals that can be eaten on the move and a little variety in your meals.



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A post shared by D M (@sfdma) on Oct 22, 2019 at 11:55am PDT

It seems to be up to the person but MREs have a reputation of being tasty or being terrible. Taste is always a matter of preference, but it’s still something that we need to talk about. With an MRE, you are dealing with food that is designed to fuel a soldier and to last a while.

If you haven’t eaten canned food, to some degree, the MRE may taste like nothing you have ever eaten. It could taste like something never wanted to eat!

MREs come in a variety of flavors and each MRE contains several items. It’s not uncommon for people to love the taste of one component but despise another component. So, the taste will be about the type of MRE you have and your preference.


The MRE Menu has changed drastically over the years and features some remarkably interesting foods as of the 2019 menu. You will see things like jalapeno cornbread, lemon pepper tuna, beef brisket, and spinach mushroom cream sauce with fettuccine.

Along with the main course, you are going to get a side dish, dessert, crackers, spread, and some kind of powdered beverage.

You will also get utensils, matches, coffee, gum, and some seasonings.

These meals were designed for a very active person who is literally in the process of fighting a war. You will get between 2000 and 2400 calories out of your MRE. That is a lot of calories for the average person. If you are sedentary and hiding out from an SHTF situation, just keep that in mind.

Because you are dealing with high sodium, low fiber foods you will likely experience things like stomach aches and constipation. These are not long-term food options on their own.

Give Meal Ready to Eat a Try First

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Memorial Day MREs!!! Our family tradition for Memorial Day….enjoy an MRE meal together. A fun way for the kids to learn about and show gratitude for the sacrifice that many have made for our country. Today we remember and honor those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice. #memorialday #memorialdayweekend #memorialdaymres #mealsreadytoeat #army #navy #airforce #marines #coastguard #nationalguard #usa #unitedstates

A post shared by Jonathan Slater (@jonslater5) on May 25, 2020 at 11:22am PDT

If you would like to add MREs to your food storage plan, you should first give them a try. See if this kind of food is something you want to eat. Just consider that they are going to be only a piece of your food storage program. You are not going to want to rely only on MREs, but they might be great as a supplement to other foods.

The MRE is also going to be a great option if you must travel or even if you like getting into the outdoors on a regular basis.

While you might not want the MRE to be your only food solution over the long haul, they most certainly have a place in the prepper or survivalist’s food storage program.

Have you ever tried eating an MRE? We’d love to hear your experience in the comments section!

Up Next:

  • 4 No Cook Meals For Surviving The Pandemic And Food Supply Shortages
  • Homemade MRE’s for Preppers
  • Ready-Made Survival Meals That Actually Taste Good

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