How to Make your Own Meals Ready to Eat (MREs)

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Written by Bernie Carr

Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) are portable meals used by the military.

What’s in an MRE?

MREs contain everything you need for one meal, including a meat entre, a type of starch or carbohydrates, drink mix, crackers, seasoning packets such as salt, pepper, Tabasco sauce, mint, coffee and tea. Because it also includes a heating unit, you get to have a hot meal out in the wilderness (or in an emergency). MREs are convenient and filling which are great advantages in an emergency. However, at $12 each, MREs can be expensive.

I like the concept of having easy to prepare meals for an emergency, so we will use that idea and make our own.

Ways to make your own MREs:

Prepackaged assembly

You will need gallon size zip top bags. You can also use a vacuum food sealer to package your homemade MREs.

For the best pricing buy these items on sale or with coupons. Purchase a variety of the following foods according to your preferences:

Breakfast: Instant oatmeal, dried fruit, nuts, granola bars, breakfast bars

Lunch: instant soup, ramen, easy to open packets of tuna, cheese spread, crackers

Dinner: meat spread, crackers, chicken or other meats such as Spam, tuna steaks in a pouch, Hormel Compleats, packets of instant mashed potatoes

Snacks: individually packed fruit cups, dried fruit and nut mixes

Miscellaneous: salt and pepper, eating utensils, napkins or wet nap, instant coffee, tea bags, mints or other hard candy, matches or lighters, portable stove and small pot for heating water.

Assemble packets of meals for each member of the family. Remove as much air as possible. If you have a food sealer, you can use that instead of the gallon zip bags. You will also need bottled water for preparing instant soups and for drinking.

These meals are suitable for consumption either at home or on the road.

“Just add water” meals

Another way to make instant meals is to assemble your own meals in a jar, using dehydrated foods. For example, for a pot of chicken soup, include the following ingredients in a Mason jar or in an airtight pouch:

1/8 cup dried onion

1/4 cup dried celery

1/4 cup dried carrots

2 chicken bouillon cubes

dash of dried parsley

egg or ramen noodles

Optional: canned chicken

Add an oxygen absorber to the jar. Remove the oxygen absorber and discard before cooking.

When ready to use, add eight cups of water to the above mixture and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the vegetables and noodles are softened. Add a can of chicken during the last five minutes of cooking. This recipe makes about five to six servings of soup.

You can make variations to this recipe such as using beef bouillon instead of chicken, and using canned beef.

Now you have a quickly prepared meal. Serve with crackers.

These meals should last approximately a year in your pantry. You can even use them on busy week nights instead of going out for fast food.

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About the author:

Bernie Carr is the founder of Apartment Prepper. She has written several books including the best-selling Prepper’s Pocket Guide, Jake and Miller’s Big Adventure, The Penny-Pinching Prepper and How to Prepare for Most Emergencies on a $50 a Month Budget. Her work appears in sites such as the Allstate Blog and, as well as print magazines such as Backwoods Survival Guide and Prepper Survival Guide. She has been featured in national publications such as Fox Business and Popular Mechanics. Learn more about Bernie here.

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