One of the more popular survival items would be the MRE, or meal, ready to eat. These are the heavily packages long term storage foods that arose from the military’s need to feed troop under extreme conditions. These meals needed to be nutritious, high calorie and filling to a soldier on the move. Feeding an army has always been a monumental task, and the fact that the armies on the move were often not in a position to erect field kitchens to serve them good hot food made the task even more formidable. In the early days rations consisted of mostly dried foods and breads, but as canned goods were developed soldiers could feast on things like canned meat. Development continues today, but after the close of the Viet Nam war large strides were made in the processing and packaging of military rations that led to today’s Mylar and plastic wrapped meals.
Most survival minded folks are familiar with the OD green packaging of the military MRE’s that were widely available until a few short years ago. Usually not tremendously tasty, they were a relief after a long march. Anything is better than nothing as they say. The meals were packed with calories, and two meals a day were usually sufficient to replace lost calories after a march or battle. But because of their increasing, and unauthorized sale to civilians by some contractors and soldiers, the defense department passed a regulation prohibiting the practice. There is no specific law denying the sales, of course, so they continue to be found on the market.
As a result of the fear of the outright prohibition of the sales of military MRE’s, many manufacturers have begun to produce commercially available MRE’s in a wide variety of offerings. Normally packed twelve or eighteen to a case, retailers offer a good product to include in your preparedness plans. The government does still offer the military MRE when disasters such as Katrina pop up, but for my money, I’d just as soon make sure I have a supply of my own available for these disaster situations.
The bottom line is that the purchase and use of these meals can be a tricky option in your planning, so you really should investigate all of the aspects of what you are buying. For instance, after Katrina struck the market was flooded with official MRE meals, and it was presumed that contractors, and/or individuals were redirected free meals towards these sales, some of which had been on the popular auction site eBay. Another thing to consider besides where they come from is the age of these meals, and how they were stored. An MRE does not have an unlimited shelf life, and the warmer the storage temperature, the shorter the shelf life. Stick with a reputable firm, that way you’ll have a better chance of success with your purchase.
MRTE’s are made to be eaten cold, and no doubt if the crap hits the fan you’ll be eating more than a few that way. But they don’t have to be. MRE heaters are now offered that can warm your meal or beverage. These operate exothermally, so you needn’t fuss with a fire or stove to get them heated to your liking. But if you are on the run, you’ll get just as much nutrition cold as hot, so not to worry on that front.
Many are available packaged as a complete kit, including utensils, condiments, a dessert, beverage and a napkin, and sometimes a candy as well. These are more expensive, but worth it if you anticipate the need for travel. I would recommend you get about two weeks worth of full kits, and make the rest of your meals up from an assortment of entrees and dessert packs, commonly known as sides.
Supposedly, MRE’s stored at 80 degrees F have a life span of three years, but this span shortens quickly as the temps go up. My recommendation is that you try to store them in a place as cool as possible, perhaps in a cool basement where you can maintain an average temp in the 60s. I would also suggest that you date all of you packages, just like your long term storage foods and that you develop a plan to cycle through your storage food. It doesn’t make sense to have a couple grand’s worth of food sitting in your basement for a few years without using it. That way you can keep it fresh, and if you have any developing problems with your cache, you can nip it in the bud.
Keep your storage area as dry as possible, even if you have to get desiccant bags and hang them up, or a dehumidifier. A great plan is to store your food on top of pallets to increase the amount of air circulating around it.
Remember, keep you food cool, dry and safe and you’ll be able to better survive the coming times.
Here a few links to get you started down the shopping aisle for MRE’s. I have not done business with many of these companies, so I cannot vouch for their products or service. Please don’t use these links as a recommendation for their business, but merely as a source of information.