What Do You Know About MRE Meals?

What do you know about MRE meals? MRE stands for meal, ready-to-eat. It’s an individual field ration that’s self-contained within lightweight packaging. The American military buys them for service personnel to use in field conditions or combat operations when there’s no practical possibility of organized food facilities.

MREs are supposed to be kept at cool temperatures, but refrigeration isn’t necessary. The predecessor of the MRE was the MCI, which stood for Meal, Combat, Individual rations. Canned MCI rations were used until 1981. LRP rations were also used previously by patrol units in the Vietnam war, specifically Rangers, Special Forces, and the general Army. In a number of natural disasters, MREs were distributed to civilians needing nutrition.

If you’d like to know more about these rations, keep reading to learn about their history, their development, the multiple uses for them, and where you can even find them for yourself.

MRE Meals

The History Of Mre Meals

This history of soldier rations is as old as the nation itself, due to a Congressional resolution that was passed during the very Revolutionary War that founded the country. The initial ration was intended to consist of enough food for a man to be fed for a single day. It was mostly beef, rice, and peas. By the time the Civil War broke out, canned goods were emphasized by the military. Later on, there were self-contained kids issued as whole rations which had canned meat, bread, pork, sugar, salt, and coffee.

World War I rations saw canned meats replaced with salted or dried meats that were preserved and lighter in weight, letting foot soldiers carry even more rations. The start of the Second World War saw a handful of newer field rations, such as the Jungle ration and the Mountain ration, released into the supply chain.

Quartermaster Command introduced cost-cutting steps in the latter part of the war and into the Korean conflict which saw C rations involving heavy cans come back, irrespective of what mission or operating environment service personnel might be in. Canned wet rations were used even into the Vietnam War, where the enhanced MCI field ration served as the last predecessor in rations before the modern MRE came into play.

It was during and after World War II that officials in the Pentagon began realizing that it wasn’t enough to just give field personnel a nutritionally balanced meal. By this point, service members were deployed in a number of different combat scenarios, climates, and geographic regions. Each dictated a distinct subset of ingredients in order for food to be found palatable by soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines over time. Furthermore, being able to cater to the personal preferences and tastes of individual service members would make them more likely to eat the entire ration and its included nutrition. This would help them stay alert, healthy, and more active in their duties.

Specialized forces were starting to come to fruition during this time period, and they often worked in very extreme environments. Carrying heavy field loads while they were on foot for longer missions meant that they needed to carry less yet still stay fed. Canned wet rations were no longer an option.

The MRE started development in 1963. The idea was to use advances in modern food preparation, as well as new packaging technology, to form a lightweight meal replacement. An early version was the LRP ration, short for Long Range Patrol, which had dehydrated meals stored inside a canvas pouch that was waterproof. It was unfortunately expensive compared to the traditional canned wet rations, so its use was limited.

1975 saw the start of work using another dehydrated meal that would be stored in a plastic retort pouch. This work was headed up by a Dr. Abdul Rahman. He later received the honor of the Meritorious Civilian Service Award for the contributions he made. Special issues began in 1981. It was standard issue by 1986, starting with dozen entrees on the limited menu.

MRE meals have seen continual development since they were introduced. Flameless ration heaters, or FRHs, came about in 1990. They use a water-activated exothermic reaction to produce heat, which lets a user or service member deployed in the wilderness or field the enjoyment of a hot meal.

A number of surveys and field tests were conducted, and active-duty personnel made it clear they wanted bigger serving sizes and additional entree options. Images and graphics got added by 1994 so the packets were more appealing and user-friendly. Some inedible components, like napkins and spoons, were now made using biodegradable materials.

The available entrees went up to 16 in 1996, with vegetarian options now possible. It was up to 20 entrees the following year and 24 the year after that. Now, service personnel can choose from two dozen entrees and over 150 different additional items. This variety means that armed forces personnel from any culture and in any geography can find something they’ll eat.

MRE Meal Requirements

Each meal is supposed to provide 1200 calories of energy and nutrition. No one should eat them for more than 21 days if on active duty, as the assumption is that logistical support can bring fresh food in after that. The minimum shelf life depends on storage conditions, but should be at least three years. The weight depends on the menu but should be 18 up to 26 ounces.

Contents Of An MRE Meal

Each meal varies, but it should have some version of a number of contents. An entree is the main dish centering the meal, followed by a side dish and snack or dessert. That could be a fortified pastry, a Soldier Fuel Bar, or just commercial candy. Crackers or bread are common along with a spread of peanut butter, jelly, or cheese.

Powdered beverage mixes are common, featuring sports drinks, dairy shakes, fruit-flavored drinks, cocoa, or even instant tea or coffee. A beverage mixing bag is also standard.

Utensils, even if just a plastic spoon, are standard items as well, along with an accessory pack. It might contain xylitol chewing gum, a napkin and/or toilet paper, a moist towelette, freeze-dried coffee powder, and a water-resistant matchbook. Seasoning might be included, such as creamer, sugar, salt, pepper, and/or Tabasco sauce.

3 Uses For MRE Meals

1) Natural disasters: Perhaps one of the most effective uses civilians can find for MRE meals is simply for disaster preparation. FEMA and many other disaster response authorities recommend that homes and families have enough drinking water and nonperishable goods for each person for three days in the event of things like earthquake, tornado, or hurricane. If you’re by yourself, three-gallon jugs of water and a box full of MRE meals means you’re pretty much ready to go. Store them in a dark, dry, cool pantry, and you’re set. Just remember to swap out the water and check the dates on the rations from time to time.

2) Easy eating during camping, hunting, and fishing: If you are an outdoor enthusiast of any kind and like heading out into nature for many different activities, then these field rations make keeping yourself fed very easy. Many MRE meals don’t require much in the way of preparation, and some of them you can eat just as-is, even if it’s not very tasty. If you plan on spending a day rafting down a river and don’t want to come to a bank for lunch, using field rations is a way to eat on the water without weighing down the boat. They are particularly useful for boating.

3) Supplying scout troops and outdoor groups: If you’re trying to organize a bunch of people, especially teens or kids that might not be used to feeding themselves, that are going into the woods or wilderness for a while, then simply handing out a bunch of prepackaged rations is a great way to make sure everyone is going to have a full stomach. It also makes meal prep a lot safer, and cleaning up a campsite should be a breeze, as everyone can just stuff their waste in a sealable plastic bag and pack it out.

6 Places You Can Buy MRE Meals

If you’ve read enough about these rations to be convinced that you should have some for one or many of the purposes just listed out, then you need to know where you can get them. It used to be something you might only find in outdoor supply catalogs or Army/Navy surplus stores, but fortunately the modern market has many more options for you to check into.

Department of Defense policy states that MREs made for the military must have printed warnings about not being for resale, but many still wind up on the civilian market, as there is not actually a law against it. Civilian equivalents are also made to military standards.

1) Army/Navy surplus stores: Many growing up thought these were the only places to find MREs and other post-military goods or things that someone made for the Armed Forces and just had too many of. Excess supplies also used to be sold to auctioneers or otherwise wind up off-base and on the secondary market, although the Department of Defense has cracked down on that in the subsequent years. You can still find a good number of field rations here though, and if you’re ex-military yourself, it’s a great place to reminisce or just meet other veterans.

2) Outdoor supply catalogs: The Internet has really diminished this industry, but there are still outfitters that put out catalogs. Many now sell online and still send out print catalogs to those that request them or are still on a mailing list.

3) Expos and trade shows: Some dealers have stock they can’t seem to move online or through a store, so they bundle them up and offer them at cheap per-unit prices to sell on the travel circuit. Not every city or area gets hunting and camping shows, but if there are enough outdoor enthusiasts in an area, one will eventually stop in for a day or a weekend. Keep an eye out for these, because if you’re looking to buy in bulk, it might be worth a little bit of commute to fill your car up with economic goods.

4) The Internet: Dealers across the Internet sell MRE meals, and this e-commerce arena has really stolen the thunder of surplus stores and catalogs. You can find both individual dealers on sites like Amazon and eBay, or independent e-commerce sites that deal in such product lines. Always do your homework here, as you need to know things like volume savings, shipping and handling, the life expectancy of the meals, and how much time they have left. Also, check into seller ratings, return policies, and if the meals are civilian or military-grade items.

5) Military manufacturers: The prominent source for MREs is going to be the very companies that make them for the military. A civilian market has proven itself to have an appetite for these (pun intended), and so more are made than the Department of Defense has annual need for. You can find them in military grade, which meets the standards the Armed Forces requires, or you can also find civilian grade, which might have more flavors and options.

6) Your local camping store: If your town or city is big enough to have a retailer dedicated purely to camping goods, then they possibly just might have a few field rations sitting on a shelf for easy eating. Your selection is likely to be limited though, and there may not be many of them. It’s handy if you want to throw lunch in a day pack, but it might not fulfill the listed needs discussed earlier in this article.

You may have already known some of this about MRE meals, but hopefully this article has helped you learn something new. With luck, you have a better appreciation for the history of this item, its many uses, and where you can possibly get them.

Learn More About Eversafe Civilian MREs With This Review

MREs are becoming increasingly popular for sports enthusiast, survivalist, and even ordinary people. If a family is going on a camping trip and they want some really easy meals that are light to carry and require nothing to heat up and eat, then this type of meal can be a great choice. Survivalist who are wanting to store food on the chance of a natural disaster or terrorist attack can do so easily with this type of meal as it requires no refrigeration and can be kept up to 5 years before it expires.

The Biggest Supplier Of MREs To Government Agencies

The company that makes Eversafe Civilian MREs is the largest supplier to government agencies of MREs. They have been producing these types of meals for over three decades and Eversafe is the brand they use for selling to civilians. While these meals are not exactly the same in every way to the ones given to soldiers, they are very close. The main difference is that the military MREs have two entrees and the civilian ones have one. Everything else is the same.

The Benefits Of MREs For Civilians

Extreme athletes and survivalist have been using MREs for several years now. There are many reasons that ordinary people would want to consider having these as well. If you live in an area that has a tornado or hurricane season and you are concerned that you may be trapped for a few days in an underground bunker or another place where you wouldn’t have access to food or the ability to cook it or keep it refrigerated, then MREs would be the perfect choice. If you were in your car and it breaks down on the side of the road at night time and you have to wait for several hours or more, then having this as an emergency meal is a great use of this product.

The idea that emergencies don’t happen has long been debunked. From Hurricane Katrina to the events of 9/11, we know that natural disasters and terrorist attacks are possible. In Hurricane Katrina, there were people that were trapped in areas for days without water or food even with the best attempts by the government to help these people. If they had MREs and some stored water, then they would have been able to survive much more comfortably than they did.

If the unimaginable were to happen and the country was attacked by terrorist and you found yourself without power or you were forced to go to the mountains or anything such as that, then MREs would be a great choice. Even those that went through other hurricanes such as Hugo where electricity was out for over 2 weeks through most of some of the major cities that were hit, then having this food available would be a practical way to eat at home.

Buying Direct From The Company That Makes Eversafe

Right from their website, it is possible to buy cases of 12 meals-ready-to-eat or even a pallet of 48 cases. Depending on the amount that you buy, these will run anywhere from $6.50 to just under $8 per meal. Many will feel that price is very affordable while some may feel it’s steep but the important thing to remember is that these are complete meals including an entree, bread, spread, a snack and even a beverage along with the calories and the nutritional components that will keep someone strong and reasonably healthy. These packs each come with a flameless heater that means you need nothing else to have a hot meal.

Because the Eversafe meals are made by the largest supplier to the government and the fact that they have over 30 years of experience means that they know what it takes to make MREs that give everything that is expected in this type of meal. It is light to carry and it has enough calories and nutrition added in so that the body can stay strong. The company has the experience to know how to prepare these meals so that the taste is as good as possible.

Eversafe MRE

Many who have served in the military and then get out trust this company when buying MREs for civilians. The reason is simple, in the military, these were the very meals that they got in the field and they have become a trusted company for those who have experienced eating meals-ready-to-eat in real situations. If this is the maker of MREs that those that have served in the military trust, then it’s likely the right choice for most civilians.

MREs Should Be Included Among All Emergency Essentials

Many people keep an emergency blanket in their car or a first-aid kit in the car or in their home and those are great ideas. MREs should be included along with those. Sometimes a person may be driving down long stretches of road in the desert or they may be on a camping trip where something happens and they need to stay longer than they anticipated. These and countless other emergency situations save lives when having food and beverages are essential to survival.

If someone waits until the emergency happens, it’s too late. Because MREs require no refrigeration and can be kept for up to five years there’s every reason to keep them with other emergency supplies so that when and if an emergency happens, they are available when you need them.

MREs Are Now The Newest Trend For Truck Drivers

One of the newest segments of people who are beginning to regularly buy MREs are truck drivers. Among the truck drivers that buy these type of meals, the Eversafe brand is by far the most popular. The reason many truck drivers find these meals to be very convenient is the fact that they often make deliveries in places that are out of the way. It is very common for them to have to arrive and then wait for several hours before their truck can be unloaded.

While trucks certainly do have coolers and refrigerators, the problem is that the driver doesn’t always keep those things stocked. If they get out in the middle of nowhere and are waiting to be unloaded and they get hungry, there’s absolutely nothing they can do about it. But by storing up a case of MREs they can store them under their bed or any other storage bin they have in their truck and then when they need it they can just pull it out and eat it.

In this review of the Eversafe Civilian MRE meals, we have covered the details on the fact that this company has more experience than any other and as the largest supplier to government agencies, they have a solid product that consumers can trust. If you want to buy MREs for civilians this is the right brand to get.

Military MRE Food: Pros and Cons

MREs, or Meals Ready to Eat packages, are food packages that are designed to last for years, even under severe circumstances. While they can certainly help soldiers and adventurous souls stay alive in extreme conditions, they are not devoid of cons. The excellent example of military MRE available on the civilian market is 1300XT from XMRE.

In this short piece, we take a look at the top pros and cons of military MRE food.

Pros

Here are the top advantages of MREs:

Variety of food choices

When MREs were first introduced, the number of food options was very limited. However, over the past couple of years, an enormous number of fresh MRE food items have been added to the menu. As a result, these days, you can get various beef, chicken, and pork main dishes, but also side dishes like rice, oatmeal, and pasta. Notably, MRE meals produced by the maker XMRE score very highly in this regard.

Longevity and durability

If the conditions are right, MREs last a long time. In many cases, a package may last over a decade! Usually, MRE packages tend to be highly durable, too. You can carry them in rough shape for years and still be able to eat the content inside them.

Ease of use

As most MRE packs come with flameless ration heaters nowadays, you can eat your meal even if you are stuck in a forest where there is no electricity or fire. Plus, you can find all sorts of useful things, including spoon and toilet paper, inside a pack.

Cons

Here are the top disadvantages of MREs:

Relatively higher cost

If you directly compare MREs to ordinary food or even freeze dried food, it becomes apparent that MREs cost a tad bit higher. For a single Meals Ready to Eat pack, you need to shell out between $8 and $10.

Lack of availability

You cannot find MRE food inside regular grocery stores. To purchase your share, you must visit a military store. That said, these days, many online sellers have begun selling MREs, too. So, the process of purchasing MREs has become a lot easier than it used to be.

Massive calorie content

A typical MRE package contains about 1200 calories of food. Even though this is good news for soldiers involved in a war, for an individual who is not in the army gulping down so much food at once is nearly impossible.

As is evident from the above information, not everything about MREs is positive. Still, compared to the pros, the cons of MREs can be considered as negligible.

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