MRE vs Freeze Dried, which one do you stockpile for a long term SHTF / TEOTWAWKI survival situation? Personally, I have uses for both. My food stockpile contains an assortment of MREs, freze dried 7 year pouches and several #10 cans of Mountain House freeze dried food.
When my buddies and I go on our annual camping trip on the Angelia River, I usually bring 7 year pouches for my main entree, and a couple of MREs for assorted snacks.
Lets discuss the various good and bad points of both. First, lets talk about MREs, and then freeze dried food.
MREs – Meals Ready to Eat
Something that is very important to my family and I is sodium content. My wife has high blood pressure, and my dad has heart issues. While stockpiling food, it is important to take special needs into consideration.
This is a partial list of sodium content to various MREs I have in my stockpile.
It all started several months ago when I was telling my buddy about the undeveloped / primitive camping spots on the Angelina River here in Jasper Texas. Years ago we used to go camping along the bayous and marshes around Bridge City and Orangefield, Texas. But we have not done that in several years. So after talking for a little bit, we decided to take a camping trip on the Angelina River.
Back in early November, a date of November 29 – December 1 was picked. The permit was submitted and the site was reserved.
November 26, 2010 – my daughter and I took the boat out – to make sure that it would run ok for the camping trip, and to check on the site my buddy and I were going to be using. The site we had reserved was occupied on November 26th so my daughter and I could not stop and take a look at it. So we just turned around, and headed back home. The boat ran fine, so there were no worries there.
November 28, 2010 – my wife and I drop my kids off at my moms house where my ex-wife will pick them up. From there, my wife and I head over to my buddies house, visit for a little while, then he rides back to my house with my wife and I. Instead of him making the drive to my house Monday, we just picked him up on the way back home.
I spent the evening of Sunday, November 28 going through my gear, getting my large MOLLE pack together, rounding up some MREs and Mountain House Meals, charging AA batteries for the camera and flashlight, charging D batteries from my Maglight, dug the tent out,,,,,,,,,,,.
At 9:00 pm central time, The Walking Dead comes in AMC. So I take a break from getting my gear ready to watch a little TV.
After watching The Walking Dead, I played a little Left 4 Dead 2 and went to bed around 10:30pm.
There is a thread on the forum that is talking about MREs, and it got me to thinking:
MREs are a good grab and go meal -what could be easier then just grabbing a full meal, stuffing it in your backpack, and your ready to go. The outside package is pretty tough and puncture resistant. MREs are the kind of thing that you can cram into the bottom of your pack, and you don’t have to worry about them leaking, or getting a hole poked in them.
MREs are high in calories and have a high sodium content. As an example, the Spaghetti with meat sauce has 810mg of sodium. If your in the military and having to hump your pack 25 miles at a time, or in good physical shape, 810mg of sodium might seem like nothing. But for people with underlying health conditions, overweight, high blood pressure, 810mg for 1 meal can be a lot of sodium.
Their high price and their suitability to high temperatures makes me add them to my “do not stockpile” list. I like to keep 4 or 5 cases on hand. Currently I think I have about 9 cases,,,, something like that.
Its one thing to have disaster plans, its another thing to test those plans several times a year. So when is a good time to test your plans? Personally, I like to observe how things go during holidays and events. Even during birthdays parties, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter,,,,, anytime people gather at my house I like to observe everyone and see how things go. Do we have enough hand soap, were we able to cook for everyone, were we crowded in the house, were the bathrooms accessible,,,,,.
The most recent test was Labor Day, 2010 – during labor day weekend my family and I headed to the camp (also know as the Bug Out Location) for 2 days. Early saturday morning my wife got up and went to the local wal-mart to get some last minute stuff. From her report the store was fully stocked on just about everything besides meat – steaks, briskets, sausage,,,, stuff like that. I figured that people coming into the area would have cleaned wal-mart out.
One observation was how a small town like Jasper, Texas handles an influx of people during the holidays. Were the gas stations sold out of gas, did the stores have plenty of food and water on the shelves, was the traffic flowing at a good rate?
We loaded up the pit, supplies, and headed out. Even though I have a 128 quart coleman 5 day extreme ice chest, the ice seemed to melt pretty fast. A few bags of ice would have given my family about 2 days days worth of cold food.
The summer of 2010 was not only a great summer that will never be forgotten (at least by me anyway), it was also the summer that a lot of new survival gear was added to my inventory.
1. Large MOLLE pack – after much debate, I figured it was time to jump on the MOLLE pack bandwagon. Instead of hauling my large ALICE pack around on camping trips, I have switched to a 4,000 cubic inch Large MOLLE. I miss the outside pockets of the ALICE pack, but that has been fixed by adding a Maxpedition clam pouch and a couple of sustainment pouches. The only thing I need now is an internal radio pouch, and everything will be good to go.
I have a lot of backpacks, but only 3 in the 4,000 cubic range – a Kelty, large ALICE pack and now the new large MOLLE pack.
2. Magellan sleeping pad – after sleeping on the ground for almost 30 years, its about time that I got a sleeping pad. The Magellan sleeping pad I got folds in half, and then rolls up about the size of a cantaloupe.
Back around 1995 or 1996 I bought a rather cheap sleeping pad, but it was big and bulky. Even though I have owned it for 14 – 15 years, its only been on maybe 6 camping trips. I wanted something that was small enough to fit inside my pack folded in half, or outside my pack not folded in half.
3. Eureka solitaire one man tent – my previous one man tent had been a Wenzel starlight biker tent. After using the biker tent for about 15 years, I figured it was time for a new tent – something that is a little more open across the top and breathable in hot weather.
The only problem I have with the Eureka solitaire, its so compact its difficult to move around in, and impossible to sit up in. Even to get a drink of water you have to twist your head around.
Awhile back I posted a video on youtube about storing MREs. Lets just say that some of the comments are either really funny, or really sad – depending on how you look at it.
It all started when a buddy of mine cleaned out his food stockpiles and gave me about 8 1/2 cases of MREs. Not being the one to pass up free food preps, I gladly accepted the MREs and loaded them up in the SUV. On the way home my wife and I decided to get one of those plastic shelving systems from a local big box mart.
One side of my sons closet was cleaned out, the shelving system was assembled and the MREs were put on the shelves in order to when the test / inspect date. The ones dated in 2011 were put on the bottom, the ones dated in 2010 on the second shelf up from the bottom, and the ones that your supposed to test were put on the third shelf up from the bottom. Some backpacks / daypacks were put on the very top shelf.
The following video is the one that I posted on youtube.
Examples of some of the comments:
You should not store the MREs in your house, because they will expire faster – ok, I dont even know what to think about that comment. If you not supposed to store the MREs in your house, where are you “supposed” to store them?
How are you supposed to reach the MREs if SHTF? – Do some of these people live in a fantasy world or something? Do they expect nukes to fall out of the sky at any second, blasting away bridges, roads,,,,. I guess I’am “supposed” to carry the meals around in the trunk of my car, or in the back seat of my truck?
Why do you have the meals stored in your house? You should buy a shed and store them there – Do people not realize that MREs are heat sensitive? The high the temp the meals are stored at, the shorter the life span. Here in East Texas we are in the lower 90s by May, upper 90s in June, and usually in the lower 100s in July and August. Storing the meals in temps that high could take years off their life expectancy.
As a long time survivalist, I just dont know what to think about some of those comments. Is common sense missing from our society these days?
If we were talking about a case of canned soup, would people be saying these same things? Or is just because we are talking about MREs? Storing MREs is no different then storing a case of noodles, or some dried beans, or some soup. Why would people want to move MREs into the 100 degree heat but keep their canned goods in the house?
All of these values came from my own personal stock of MREs. One thing that I noticed while looking through the meals, the sodium content would vary. So your MREs may not have the same “exact” sodium content as what has been posted here.
Couple of canned food examples
Chef Boyardee mini Ravioli – 15oz can – 950mg of sodium
MRE Beef Ravioli in meat sauce – net wt. 8 oz., – 1,080mg of sodium
Maruchan Ramen hot & spicy noodles – net wt. 3oz – 2 servings per package – 770mg per serving – for a total of 1,540mg of sodium
Campbells Spaghettios meatballs – 14.75 oz can – 650mg of sodium
There is an interesting thread in the forums about MREs VS Mainstay Meals. Both types of meals are good for what they are designed to do. Its not a matter of which one is “the best”, its which one fits your needs the best.
MREs – have a short lifespan, especially if they are stored in a shed, or somewhere where it gets hot, say above 90 – 100 degrees. I think its something like 1 day over 100 degrees takes 1 month off the life expectancy – but dont quote me on that.
MREs are somewhat expensive, with 12 meals costing about $75 – depending on “where” you get them from. For the sake of discussion, lets use the rough estimate of $75 per case. This equals out to $6.25 per meal. If you eat 2 meals per day, a case should last a single person about about 6 days.
Lets say that you wanted to stock a months supply of MREs for one person, this would equal out to 5 cases, 5 cases * $75 per case = $375. Now lets say that you have a family of 4 people, 4 * $375 = $1,500. $1,500 for a months worth of survival meals, for a family of 4 can get a little expensive, especially when you start talking about buying 3, 4 or even 6 months worth of meals.
I like to have a few MREs at the house, they make an easy “grab and go food” for a hiking or camping trips. Its a full meal in a pouch, what more could you want? When your getting ready to go on a camping or hiking trip, MREs make meal planning simple. Just read the outside of the pouch, pick out the meal you want, stuff it into your backpack, and head out.
Some MREs have a high salt content, which may not be good for people with high blood pressure. The main entree I’am looking at right now – Meatballs in Marinara Sauce – has 1,620mg of salt, which is 68% of the recommended daily allowance of salt.
Now for random video about MREs.
Mainstay Bars – Are supposed to have a life span of 5 years, contain 9 – 400 calorie meals divided into individual potions, contain no animal products, and are supposed to be kosher.
The lack of animal products makes the mainstay an excellent choice for people who can not eat meat due to religious reasons or restricted diets.
The mainstay meals are not supposed to induce thirst – but after eating one, it would have been a lot better with something to drink.
Mainstay meals are supposed to be resistant to temperature fluctuations of -40° F to 300°F.
Each serving of a mainstay contains about 23mg of sodium, which is 1% of your recommended daily allowance. If you eat all 9 portions, that equals 207mg of sodium, as compared to the 1,620mg in the main entree of the MRE. For people on salt restricted diets, the sodium content alone is of great importance.
Mainstay bars take up WAY less room then an MRE.
Your going to have less trash with a mainstay bar, as compared to an MRE. Mainstay bars are wrapped in foil, where each part of the MRE has its own packaging.
Price – they can get expensive. The average price I see on the internet is about $75 per case. With 12 meals per case, that gives an average price of $6.25 per meal. If your looking for a cheap camping / backpacking food, there are less expensive options out there.
Bulk / weight – MREs can get heavy, fast. After all, each package is probably 1.25 – 1.5 meals. A lot of times part of the MRE is left over for the next meal. If your looking for a lightweight camping / backpacking meal, your probably better off with some dehydrated stuff then with an MRE.
Sodium content – as already mentioned, MREs have a high sodium content. People with underlying health conditions need to keep this in mind. If you have high blood pressure, maybe 800mg of sodium in one meal is not for you.
Affected by heat – You do not want to store your MREs in the garage or storage building if temps can get above the 90s. The MREs lifespan is severely affected by high temps, and should be stored in climate controlled conditions.
Full meal in a sealed bag – main entree, side dish, snack, desert, heater, accessory pack all in a single pouch.
Military tested – when the military test and approves something, that tells me that I can put my faith in it.
There are several questions that are repeated on the forums, one of them being about MRE shelf life. On the bottom of the case of MREs, there should be a red sticker – with a 2 red circles inside of a red square.
Both of these two red circles should be a different shade of red, the closer the two reds are, the sooner you need to open one MRE out of that case and see if its still good.
On the bottom of the case, there should be two dates – a manufacture date and a test date. However, some cases will use a different form such as “1068″. In this case, the first number “1″ stands for the year (2001) and the next three numbers indicate which day of the year (365 days in a year) it was packed. So “068″ would be day 68 of the year 2001…or March 9, 2001.
MRE‘s are VERY sensitive to temperature. One day over 100 degrees takes about one month off the shelf life. Store the MRE’s in the coolest part of your house, maybe a closet or a basement.
Eversafe meals are kinda like a Meal Ready to Eat (MRE), but are a little different. The meals are packaged in a see through package, so the contents are visible. This is unlike a standard military issue MRE, where the package is not see through.
The meals are packed inside of a study cardboard box. The straps that help hold the box closed can also be used as grab handles.
On the top of the box it says – “Two meals, per person per day.”
On October 4th, 2008 my son and I went on a day hiking trip. Before we left the truck I got out the Garmin GPS and the topo maps and saved the truck as a waypoint. We also brought along a rifle for protection against wild hogs, snakes and coyotes. Bears have been reported in the area, so we had to keep those in mind as well.
We then hiked to a local creek and had lunch with eversafe meals – which are kinda like MREs. On the way back to the truck, the batteries started going out in the GPS. So the batteries were swapped out and we got back on track.
When using a GPS its important to have spare batteries. That is one reason why I try to pick devices that use AA batteries. Whether its a flashlight, or a digital camera, keep in mind ways that these items can be used to help each other out. If the batteries in the GPS go dead, take the batteries out of the camera. But its difficult to do that when the camera uses a Lithium Ion battery, instead of AA.
While on the hiking trip, several deer scraps were spotted. This let my son and I know that the bucks were getting ready to go into rut. Hopefully we will have a good deer season.