What is an MRE?
The Meal Ready-to-Eat – commonly known as the MRE (as shown below) – is a self-contained, individual field ration in lightweight packaging bought by the United States military for its service members for use in combat or other field conditions where organized food facilities are not available. (info via)
The Most Common Contents in a Military MRE
- Entree: the main course, such as Spaghetti or Beef Stew
- Side dish: rice, corn, fruit, or mashed potatoes, etc.
- Cracker or Bread
- Spread: peanut butter, jelly, or cheese spread
- Dessert: cookies or pound cakes
- Candy: M&Ms, Skittles, or Tootsie Rolls
- Beverages: Gatorade-like drink mixes, cocoa, dairy shakes, coffee, tea
- Hot sauce or seasoning: in some MREs
- Flameless Ration Heater: to heat up the entrée
- Accessories: spoon, matches, creamer, sugar, salt, chewing gum, toilet paper, etc.
(MRE content list info via)
Preppers Turn to the Homemade MRE Option
Preppers are now making their own MRE’s to add to their bug out bags – which would be a 72-hour supply of food. Some preppers even add homemade MRE’s to their emergency food supply within their home or survival bunkers.
Making your own MRE’s can save you money, and you can customize them to your own liking. You can save tons of space using a vacuum sealer machine. It also allows the food to stay fresh much longer!
Another packaging option is large freezer bags with zipper tops.
Homemade MRE Food Choices
It is important to remember that an adult should consume 2500–3000 calories a day, especially if they’re in an ‘on the go’ type of survival situation. So, make note of the caloric value of each MRE. Try to fit an entire day's worth of food in each homemade MRE. Choose foods that are lightweight and have a decent shelf life. To save room, certain food items can be removed from their original packaging and sealed using vacuum sealer bags.
Here is a list of possible food items you can include in each homemade MRE.
- Cereal Bar – Protein bars are also great. They give you that extra boost that is much needed in the morning.
- Dried Fruit – Such as raisins. They come in individual boxes, but you can vacuum seal them instead to save room.
- Coffee – You can buy instant coffee mixes in individual pouches. Don’t forget about creamer and sugar; they also come in individual packets.
- Tuna – Starkist now has tuna pouches, which are individual servings and are a great space saver. If you’re not fond of seafood, chicken also comes in this same type of packaging.
- Crackers – I personally love cheez-its with my lunch but, of course, any crackers would work. They can be vacuum sealed as individual servings.
- Drink – you can buy most drinks such as lemonade and gatorade in individual serving packets.
If you’re on the go, a snack between lunch and dinner is important. Keeping your energy and sugar levels up will help you tremendously. Here are some great examples.
- Peanut M&M’s
- Trail Mix
- Energy/Protein Bars
- Beef Jerky
- Hormel ‘Compleats’ Entrées – These complete entrées come well sealed and are pre-cooked, so they can be eaten warmed up or cold (if you do not have a way to heat them). Another plus is they do not need refrigeration. Click here to see the full list of meal choices. They now also have breakfast meal choices. These too can be removed from their cardboard packaging to save room in your homemade MRE.
- Ramen Noodles – This is another great main entrée choice. They come in several flavors and are very inexpensive, so buying ramen noodles in bulk will not break your wallet.
- Crackers – Any cracker you prefer will do, of course, but my personal favorite is saltine crackers (to go with the ramen noodles dinner choice). They can be vacuum sealed for individual servings. Hardtack is another great option. It’s a type of hard bread or biscuit that would go great with ramen noodle soup. Hardtack will last forever – great shelf life! Check out the recipe here.
- Drink – As with your lunch, include an individual serving packet of your favorite drink mix.
Miscellaneous Items To Consider in Each MRE:
- Chicken or Beef Bouillon Cubes – Can be used to make broth. Include 3–4 cubes per MRE.
- Plastic Spoon – I personally would pack 2 for each MRE.
- Napkins/Tissues – Include about 5 per MRE.
- Multi-Vitamins and/or OTC Pain Medicine – Both of these items can be purchased in individual packets.
If you have made your own MRE’s we would love to hear from you! Share your experience in the comment section below.
Check out these other related articles on prepping tips from us here at Survival Life:
- 21 Garage Sale Items for Thrifty Preppers
- 5 Tips for Beginning Preppers
- 7 Helpful Tips from Seasoned Preppers