Are MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) good to stockpile for SHTF? 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.
My first experiences with an MRE was back in the early 1990s, when one of my buddies got out of the military and brought some MREs home. My first impressions were, this MRE thing sounded pretty cool. Before I started taking MREs on my hiking/ camping trips, I mostly brought noodles or canned goods.
The canned goods was an old habit I had picked up years before hand. When my buddies and I used to go camping along the marshes of Bridge City, Texas, I would go through the cabinet to see what mom and bought to eat. If there was a can of chili, I would grab it, put it in my pack, and go camping. Garbage disposal was not an issue, I would just bring the cans back home and throw them away.
The MRE however changed all of that. The package could be burned, or rolled up to take up less space in my pack. When you bring a can of chili, there is not much you can do with the can after you eat whats inside. A can is a can – it has to be brought back home and disposed of properly. And unless you wash out the can, it has rotting food in it after its opened. Having rotting food in your pack is not a good thing – especially when wild critters come around looking for something to eat.
One thing that I learned with eating MREs with my kids, they get a kick out of the accessory pack. When the package is opened, its kinda like Christmas. My kids dig though the meal, pull out the gum, look at the matches, eat the hot sauce,,,,.
After my kids and I ate the meals, we usually throw the cardboard packages into the fire, and let nature take its course on garbage disposal.
Eversafe Meals – these have a see though outer packaging, sometimes contain civilian foods like Spam or M&Ms, and do not have the accessory packet. From what I understand, the Eversafe meals containing the single serving of spam was produced only for a couple of years. I like the Eversafe meals because you can see everything that is inside the package, where with a standard military issue MRE, the outer package is not see through.
With a standard MRE, the main meal is listed on the outside of the package, leaving people to wonder what else in on the inside. The Eversafe meal, with its see through package allows people to inspect the meal, and deiced if they want to eat that exact meal combination before the package is opened.
The Eversafe meal may include:
- MRE main entree
- MRE snack
- MRE heater
- Paper napkin
- Plastic spoon and fork
- Coffee and creamer
- Salt & pepper
- List of contents
- Some contain M&Ms and single serving of Spam
The Sure-Pak MREs are like Eversafe meals, as in they have a seen through package, but Sure-Pak meals seem to have more contents. For the sake of this article, I pulled out one of my Sure-Pak meals of chicken, noodles, vegetables in sauce and opened it up.
- MRE main entree – chicken, noodles, vegetables in sauce, Calories: 260, Sodium: 230mg
- MRE side dish – Mexican style corn, Calories: 130, Sodium: 310mg
- Cracker – Calories: 180, Sodium: 115mg
- Cheese spread with Jalapenos – Calories: 180, Sodium: 310mg
- Pop-tart – Calories: 210, Sodium: 170mg
- Sqwincher – electrolyte replacement mix – fruit punch flavor
- Plastic fork, spoon and knife
- Salt and pepper
- MRE heater
Humanitarian Daily Ration (HDR)
Just has the name implies, these meals are designed for Humanitarian aid missions. The HDR contain no animal by-products, so there are no moral or religious objections to eating them. This makes the HDR a good choice for aid missions where there may be moral or religious objections to eating meat, or eating certain types of meat.
The HDR meal is wrapped in a non-see through package, and contains a list similar to the Eversafe meal.
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.