MRE VS Mainstay Meals

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.

MRE Drawbacks:

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.

MRE Advantages

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.