In this final installment of our series we’re going to talk about food storage royalty. With its’ all-in-one nature, compact packaging, solid flavours, and impeccable calorie/protein counts this is easily the most difficult item to keep on our shelves. I am of course talking about Meals Ready to Eat.
Commonly referred to as MREs these rations were originally designed for military use and replaced canned combat rations in the US in 1981. Lightweight in comparison to their wet canned predecessors, MREs allowed supplies to be carried longer distances by soldiers on foot, and for aid to be sent quickly and efficiently to victims of natural disasters. Even in 2019 all production of MREs is redirected to disaster relief when necessary to ensure these awesome little rations go where they are needed most.
So what makes MREs the most searched for food storage rations? Convenience, with a capital C. MREs come complete in one durable pouch and include everything you need to enjoy the meal. Cutlery, salt, pepper, napkins, and even hot sauce come packed alongside the main meal and 2 sides, and if you have water handy a juice mix and instant coffee packet are also included. Each item is individually wrapped, allowing those with smaller appetites to save pieces for later, or for easy trading.
The final puzzle piece that makes MREs so popular is the included flameless meal heater (sold separately here). These pouches contain chemical, single-use, heating packs that activate with just a splash of water and warm your main course from room temperature to piping hot in minutes. These packs can be used indoors, don’t require refueling, and can be activated with any kind of water (even snow) as the liquid never touches the food. Once your meal is ready to eat, you can keep the heater as a hand warmer until it cools off (it lasts at least an hour).
Each MRE meal contains 1200+ calories, with an average of 1300, making it easy to get your daily minimum calorie allowance from just one ration. With two rations per day most people will be comfortable and not feel hungry (2400 calories). Our MREs do contain meat, making them high protein and perfect for first responders.
The uses for MREs don’t stop at preparedness or military use. They’re amazing no-cook options for picnics and camping too. In fact, last Valentine’s day these made a perfect ‘romantic dinner’ hiked up to the best view for miles. Despite the February chill we had warm food (without breaking campfire bans) and sitting on the heaters afterwards gave us plenty of warmth to stay and chat as the sun set. Truly an unforgettable experience!
If you’re considering MREs for your kit, don’t wait to order! As the manufacturers reroute stock to deal with emergencies (most recently the California fires) they can be difficult to get, causing long wait times across the country. It pays to stock up before you need them and the five year shelf life* will ensure they’re still good when the time comes.
*Like most food storage this shelf life is dependent on cool storage temperatures.
Thank you for reading!
Written by Zenia Platten – Writer and emergency preparedness professional.