MRE's Provide the nutrition and caloric value you may need during an emergency or following a disaster.
MREs (or “Meals Ready to Eat”) are individually packed and self-contained meals. They are the brain child of the Department of Defense and used by military special ops, combat troops during deployment. These meals do not need to be refrigerated and can be eaten straight from the packaging with no need to cook or heat the contents. These food rations became the main source of food for deployed combat troops in the U.S. military beginning in 1981 replacing the old meal cans.
Modern day MREs come with several different Entree' choices and various “additional items” inside each meal. Since about 1990, a Flameless Ration Heater (FRH) has been available which allows the user to quickly heat up the contents of the main Entree' with no flame involved, only a chemical reaction between flakes of magnesium and water takes place producing heat. You simply add water to the small plastic bag provided, insert the Entree', and in a few minutes you have a hot meal ready to eat. Of course other options of heating the Entrée is to remove the meal from its package and microwave 2-3 minutes or submerse in boiling water and allow to heat.
Today’s MRE’s are very popular as an easy to store and quick to prepare emergency food supply among preppers, survivalist, hiking, camping, law enforcement, firefighters as they provide better nutrients than other emergency foods.
Most MRE meal cases provide (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and contain 700 -1350 calories each. The military recommended meal caloric intake is about 1300-1500 calories each meal, some may require as much as 2400 calories for high stress operations. This is due to the typically strenuous physical demands put on soldiers during deployment. If MRE’s are being used instead as an emergency food, many individuals find it relatively easy to get by on two meals a day (or 2500 calories) for high energy needs during a disaster and or recovery.
Contents of an MRE:
The primary of an MRE is the Entree' or main course. Some examples of main courses are beef stew, beef taco, turkey chili with beans, chicken with rice, spaghetti, lasagna and vegetables.
Standard components of a MRE Meal Pack:
- 1. Main course - chili with beans, spaghetti, beef stew, chicken and noodles etc.
- 2. Side dish - rice, corn, mashed potatoes, snack bread etc.
- 3. Desert - cookie, pound cake, pastry etc.
- 4. Crackers – or cookies etc.
- 5. Spread - cheese, peanut butter, jelly etc
- 6. Beverage mix - tea, coffee, coco mixes etc.
- 7. Candy - M&M’s, Skittles etc.
- 8. Seasoning - blend spice, hot sauce, salt, pepper etc
- 9. Utensils - fork, knife, spoon, matches
- 10. Napkin - standard, moist towelette
- 11. Chewing gum - Chiclets etc.
- 12. Beverage mixing bag – standard
- 13. Flameless Ration Heater (FRH) - standard magnesium based heater in a plastic bag
MREs are required to have a shelf life of 3.5 years if stored 55 - 81°F. If the packaging of the meal is not compromised and a meal is past it’s expiration date (even significantly so), it has been shown through lab tests that they are generally still safe to eat. However taste, texture, color, and nutritional content of the food will suffer.
Most experts will agree that the 3.5 year shelf life is extremely conservative and a more realistic number, that is generally accepted, is that an MRE stored at 75°F will last about 5-7 years. Each manufacturer has a recommended shelf life that should be followed.
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