MRE meals

All posts tagged MRE meals


By Ken Jorgustin – Modern Survival Blog

MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) are US Military precooked ration packs designed to feed soldiers who are currently engaged in ongoing missions.

Just like regular meals, the military MRE is fortified with vitamins and minerals, enough to nourish and replenish the body.

Today’s MRE’s are a lot better than when they were first introduced! They’ve come along way since C-Rats. They are made with a very wide variety of foods and flavors – and are available for civilian use.

Continue reading at Modern Survival Blog: MRE Meals for Food Storage & Survival Kit



By Joshua KrauseReady Nutrition

Have you heard the news? The Army has an offer for those of you who are particularly brave. You no longer have to join the Army if you want to serve your country. You just have to eat their food.

U.S. Army researchers invited men and women to help improve their Meals, Ready-to-Eat — if those volunteers can eat nothing else for three straight weeks.

Participants would eat and drink the provided rations for 21 days, then go back to a normal diet for 10 days, according to the study. It’s open to people between the ages of 18 and 62 who “meet additional screening criteria.”

The goals of the study go beyond improving the taste, the Army Times reported. Researchers say they’re hoping to add other nutrients to the food and to look at its impact on bacteria inside the digestive system, potentially improving what they call “gut health.”

Don’t worry. You’ll be properly compensated for your service.

Volunteers can’t have alcohol to help swallow the food — they’ll need to avoid all outside food and drink for those first three weeks, officials say. The Army will pay volunteers $200 each for completing the study.

All kidding aside, I don’t think you could give me enough money to eat MREs every day for three weeks. Or at least, the Army doesn’t have enough money to compensate the number I have in my head. I’m willing to bet that a lot of you reading this feel the same way. For those of you who haven’t tried MREs before, let me fill you in on what’s going to happen to the poor bastards who volunteer for this study.

It’s probably not a coincidence that the researchers are trying to study the effects these meals have on gut flora. If you read the ingredients list for these meals, you’ll find that they contain a lot of the same garbage you would find in junk food. Lots of chemicals and GMOs, and much much more. If you had a prepared MRE dish in front of you, and you closed your eyes before taking a bite, you’d probably recognize the taste as something remarkably similar to that of fast food, convenience store take out, or TV dinners. Though it’s prepared in a way that allows the food to last much longer, that’s pretty much all it is.

So what do those junk foods do to your gut flora? As some studies have shown, they can absolutely obliterate vast swaths of your stomach’s bacteria within a matter of days. This might help explain why MREs are notorious for causing constipation (which is also caused by their lack of fiber and high calorie content). Other signs of poor gut flora include inflammation, bloating, gas, fatigue, and diarrhea.

So if you ate nothing but MREs for three weeks, it’s safe to say that your body would be kind of a mess. Granted, some people don’t seem to have any problem with digesting MREs, but for most us, three weeks would be devastating. In the past, a lot of veterans have reported severe constipation for the first few days, sometimes followed by the exact opposite for another few days.

However, it is possible for your body to adapt to this stuff. After all, many of our servicemen have had to eat MREs for months at a time when on deployment, so it’s certainly possible, even if it’s not desirable. Given enough time, your bowel movements would probably return to a (somewhat) normal state, and the other side effects would subside. The horrible ingredients in these meals would still be doing damage to your body, but eventually you’d return to functional state.

Once you stop eating them though, you might run into a few more problems. That’s why this study wants to follow their volunteers for a while after they go back to eating normal food. After eating MRE’s for three weeks, your digestive system would have adapted to the food. Going back to real food could be a real shock to the body. Diarrhea, gas, and cramps would probably be felt for at least a few days, until the digestive tract “relearned” how to digest real food.

Overall, I can say without a doubt, that I do not envy the volunteers for this study. While some people seem to be able to handle MRE’s without any severe symptoms, eating them for three weeks would be a wretched experience for most of us. That is after all, one of the reasons why they’re paying people to do it.

On a final note, if you have any MRE horror stories, feel free to share them in the comments.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition: Here’s What Happens When You Eat Nothing but MREsAbout the author:

Joshua Krause was born and raised in the Bay Area. He is a writer and researcher focused on principles of self-sufficiency and liberty at Ready Nutrition. You can follow Joshua’s work at our Facebook page or on his personal Twitter.

Joshua’s website is Strange Danger





Emergency Food for Those Desperate Moments

MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat) are one of the first kinds of stored food that come to mind after you’ve got your canned goods and other regular stuff stashed away. They are appealing for multiple reasons: the included heater that reduces the amount of water needed, the durable packaging that makes them convenient for storage and carrying, and the high calorie content per meal are just a few. However, despite the improvements made over the decades they are still well known to have their…unique quirks that could make them less than desirable as a civilian survival diet. Let’s take a look and see if these military meals should be part of your stockpile.

Strengths of Ready to Eat

First, let’s look at the conveniences offered by your average MRE:

  • Reasonably durable packaging. Military-style MRE’s have to be able to withstand a little wear and tear in the field, so the brown plastic bags tend to be pretty strong. Aside from a weakness to punctures, you will not come across many normal wear issues in the average MRE. MRE-Nutrition 
  • A filling and complete meal. A single MRE is a single meal, and it is designed to fill your stomach with 1200+ calories. Assuming you eat everything provided (yes, including the condiments!) you will receive food that has been at least “fortified” with all the nutrients you need as well.
  • Minimal water requirements. The flameless heaters use very little water, as do the “milkshakes” or sports drinks provided. Most entrees and side dishes are not dehydrated, so they don’t need water to be eaten. Heck, if you were truly pressed and had no water at all you could eat most MRE’s cold!
  • Provided utensils and additions. Most MRE’s include helpful items for eating and cleaning up, including spoons, chewing gum, napkins, TP, and other useful stuff.
  • Comfort foods. These meals often include dessert items and candy of some kind, giving you a nice sugary jolt and a bit of the “taste of home” regardless of where you are.
  • Decent shelf life. At 40 degrees, modern MRE’s can survive up to 5 years of continuous storage before going bad, and if in a pinch some of the more durable parts could potentially last beyond that.
  • Reasonably good taste. Let’s be honest, no 3 year old MRE is going to compare to freshly cooked meals in any way. That said, modern MRE’s have been designed to be at least mildly tasty, particularly compared to the old “Meals Refused by Ethiopians” or C-Rations used during Vietnam. Having tasted a beef meal myself, it certainly tasted like it was supposed to, and the jelly/cracker combo was certainly decent if a bit dry.

These strengths were designed for soldiers in the field when the logistical support wasn’t able to truck in more “normal” meals in. As such, many preppers have seen these foods as being the perfect solution for bugging out or at any other time when cooking and preparing food at home just isn’t possible.

The weaknesses

However, the MRE’s are not 100% perfect, and definitely suffer from a few problems when used in a survival situation:

  • Low fiber content. Dietary fiber is what keep you regular, preventing you from becoming constipated. MRE’s have low amounts of this fiber, which has the potential to cause constipation in some people. Oddly, the constipation is not a constant factor at all times (and certainly drinking plenty of water helps to mitigate the effects) but the low fiber certainly is.
  • High fat, calorie and sodium content. These probably sound like great things, and they are…assuming you’re a soldier running about all day and burning 4,800 calories a day and sweating buckets of salt out of your body. If your retreat lifestyle is more sedentary, constant MRE meals will likely cause you to swell up like a balloon or potentially cause other health issues.
  • Proper nutrition requires eating the entire meal, including condiments. You might say, “I’m an adult, I think I can manage to eat all my dinner, particularly when the alternative is starving!” and that may well be, but the fact that the military spends millions of dollars trying to stop soldiers from tossing vital parts of their meals suggests a different outcome. In every instance where large numbers of people have been using MRE’s, swapping and even total abandonment of parts of the meals has been a constant problem since the meals are specifically designed to be eaten completely as one unit. Foods like those made by mountain house tend to be lighter and less bulky than an MRE. 
  • The food and packaging is bulky and heavy compared to comparable freeze-dried or dehydrated foods. Although it did a lot to improve taste and texture when the military decided to stop dehydrating everything, the moisture content did add to the overall weight of the MRE. If every ounce counts, you may need to go with a less weighty meal source.
  • They are not designed to be eaten indefinitely. If you ate the same well rounded home cooked meal (say fried chicken, beans, mashed potatoes and corn with a glass or two of water for example) you would eventually get bored with it, but it wouldn’t cause too many health problems so long as you got all the essential nutrients. MRE’s are not designed that way, and are really only made for eating for a couple of weeks at a time. In practice soldiers have eaten them for several months with few known ill effects, but others have reported gastric distress and the like as the weeks dragged on. Much like the constipation issue it probably varies by person.
  • Heating elements are dangerous in tight confines. Do not set off your heating element in any enclosed space! They release hydrogen as a byproduct, which has the unfortunate side effect of being highly combustible unless it is allowed to rapidly dissipate.


MRE’s are potentially a potent addition to the survival pantry but only if used properly and with a correct understanding of the limitations they have. They’re not a substitute for proper raw ingredients like beans and rice, but when you’re on the move they can be great for limited use or very hard work in the hot sun.

Your thoughts?

Have you had experience with MRE’s? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

This article first appeared at Prepared For That: MRE’s: Great Survival Food or A Waste of Space?