See What’s Inside an MRE (Meals Ready to Eat)

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This post is by Bernie Carr,

Two years ago, we bought a few MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) as part of our food storage plan.   Because they come with a heating unit, MREs offer the convenience of being able to eat a hot meal in an emergency.  They also stack well in a small space. Later on, I found out about LRPs which are lighter and more portable than MREs, and stocked a few of those as well.

We noticed the expiration date on our MREs was 6/1/2012 so we decided to start rotating them.  The expiration date is not a firm date, it is more of a guideline.  However, you should always be aware of what’s coming up to expire in your food storage pantry to avoid problems later.

I thought I’d post about what I found in my MRE so I took photos.

The MRE included lots of items:

  • Veg Patty in BBQ Sauce
  • Clam chowder
  • Heating unit
  • Crackers and cheese spread
  • Shortbread cookie
  • Condiments such as tabasco sauce, salt, pepper
  • Coffee and creamer
  • Spoon
  • Tootsie roll

What I found curious was the packet was labeled Penne Pasta with Veg Sausage, but inside the package was “Veg Patty in BBQ Sauce”

The heating unit included instructions on how to use it.  All you have to do is add about 1/4 cup of water (to the line indicated)  insert the entree into heating unit, lay it down diagonally on an incline and allow it to heat.  I only heated the packet with the veg patty as I wasn’t sure whether the clam chowder would heat up.  I boiled water on the stove and warmed up the clam chowder packet in the boiling water.

The heating unit got very hot after a while.  After about 10 minutes, the food packet was ready to eat.  Here is what everything looked like:

Veg patty in bbq sauce
Clam chowder

Now it’s time to taste it.  I tried the veg patty first.  It was okay, but not something I liked very much.  However, if you are hungry and out in the field I bet it would seem a lot tastier.  The clam chowder was another story- it was actually pretty good.  I thought it tasted better than the average canned soup, and had lots of clams.  With all the food included in the MRE, the whole meal was pretty filling.  I saved the crackers and cheese for later.

Writing this article brought up some questions about MREs and food storage in general.  I’ll find out and will post about this in a few days.

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  1. My husband is a truck driver in the oil field.Since he often runs out of hours while in the field he carries MRES.We buy. the entrees only,from emergency essentials.We don’t bother with the heaters,he just puts them on the engine block to heat up.Buying the entrees only is a cheaper way to do this.

  2. The Inspection date on MREs is not an expiration date. Depending on the storage temperature, they will keep for a very long time after that date. Awhile back, I ate some MRE hot dogs that were pretty tasty and with no ill effects.
    In a pinch they can even be warmed up next to your body. But a pan of hot water works real well too.
    For more info, try this>
    For a good selection to buy with free and fast shipping try>
    Enough though, I’m starting to sound like a commercial………

  3. Note the following is a joke…

    I am surprised no one has brought up and of the “other” names for MREs, like:

    Meals Revolting to Everyone

    Meals Rejected by Ethiopeans

    and some others. LOL!

    Seriously, after the C-rats we had when I was in service, all the MREs I have tried are tasty and beat the heck out of beanie-weenie 😉

  4. I think you talked about LRP’s before, the shelf life listed on the DOD site was 2 years vs 7 years for MRE’s. The DOD also says the shelf life varies with heat shortens shelf life and lower but not freezing extends the life. Check the shelf life of products before you decide what to stock up on. Also, as posted check expiration dates on any product as some vendors have things in stock long times.

  5. Yes, the Tabasco sauce company even puts out a recipe book to do creative things with MREs. It is always important to remember though that you aren’t likely to get gourmet tasting quality out of items that can be stored long term. An example is fresh made Stew or Chili, compared to the canned variety.

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