You’ve probably heard the term Meal, Ready-to-Eat, or MRE for short. It’s a term coined by the U.S. Military in the 1970’s when the armed services recognized the need to provide troops in the field with a variety of nutritionally balanced meals that were relatively easy to carry, had a long shelf-life, and could be eaten in remote areas where no additional cooking supplies were available.
MREs have evolved over the years, getting better with each iteration. New entrees and side dishes have been developed that are actually relatively tasty. However, MREs are designed for very active soldiers to eat on a short-term basis, typically 3 weeks or less. Each MRE contains an average of 1,200 calories and 52 grams of fat. Certainly not a diet you’d want to sustain you for the long run.
In recent years, MREs have been marketed to civilians. Campers and backpackers have bought the civilian MREs for their excursions into the woods. Preppers have also bought a lot of the meals to prepare for times of scarcity. This can be pretty expensive though.
Making Your Homemade MRE
A few years ago, I began making my own homemade MREs. I use the when I go backpacking or spend the weekend in the woods. I also keep several of them with me in my Get-Home-Bag that travels with me everywhere. Here’s an example of a breakfast homemade MRE that carry.
- 2 packages of instant oatmeal
- 1 granola bar
- 2 paper towels
- a plastic spoon
- a tea bag
Here’s how the finished product looks.You can improve upon this design by adding other items.
Although I haven’t tried it, I suspect that, if I’m careful, I can boil water over an open flame in the plastic food saver bag. You can also mix the oatmeal in the little packets eliminating the need for a bowl or plate. Take care since the water will be very hot.
Technically, this is not a Meal, Ready-to-Eat since it requires some external components, namely a source of heat to cook the oatmeal. For me, that’s not a problem since I always carry several ways to make a fire with me and at this point I’m not trying to evade someone or escape detection. If you prefer, you can make the completely self-sufficient by adding a flameless heater and some water pouches. For me, those enhancements are not worth the added expense and effort.
I’ve also made other meals using cracker packs, bouillon, and Ramen noodles. I’m not sure exactly how long these meals will last. I suspect quite a while. Like a good prepper, I rotate through my stock on a regular basis, eating the older meals while making new ones. Since I spend the weekend in the woods regularly, eating what I store is not a problem.
Having a few of these tucked away in my bag provides a sense of comfort that should I need to spend an unplanned night away from home, I won’t go hungry.
Have you made MREs? Got one that you’d like to share? Let’s hear it.