MRE or “Meals Ready to eat” are military-style food rations.
There are two categories of MRE:
- Military MRE
- Commercial civilian MRE.
Military meals ready to eat are made for the US military and the armed forces of other countries.
They are sometimes sold on eBay but there is risk there as the military considers this illegal as they want to discourage theft of their property. There is also a risk as the age and storage conditions the MRE experienced before you bought it will be unknown perhaps even to the seller. Military MRE cased of 12 sell for as little as $40 on eBay ($3.33 per meal) which is less than $72 ($6 per meal) average case price of commercial MRE. Besides risk, you should also consider shipping costs which online retailers may charge less than $15 where eBay sellers sometimes charge a lot more for shipping and “handling”.
The main difference between military and commercial MRE (that is good commercial MRE from main brands such as Sopakco, MRE Star, aPack) is calories and sodium levels.
This 2-minute video shows you the difference in contents between Military and Commercial MRE;
They choose an inferior commercial MRE package I do not recognize but the information is useful. The best source online for MRE information is mreinfo.com. There is a great forum where people who love to talk about MRE exchange information and stories about MRE.
Military MRE has high sodium content as they are intended for the short term on the go use. Military MRE has 1250 to 1300 calories whereas until recently commercial MREs had less.
Some commercial MREs have has few as 700 calories. MRE Star’s civilian MREs now have an average of 1,100-1,300 calories.
Some reasons why they are a popular choice for survival food;
- MRE’s packs are a complete meal with the main course, side dish, crackers with spread, dessert, and a powdered drink mix.
- MRE packs last 4-10 years depending on storage temperature, longer than most canned food.
- They are pre-cooked and in a pouch “ready to eat”, nothing needs to be added
- Usually you buy MRE with flameless heaters so you can eat your meal hot (cold is ok too)
Where to buy MREs
Military MRE is often sold against government regulations on eBay. Also, if you go to a local military surplus shop it is likely they will have some. However there is some risk as the seller likely does not know the history of how the MRE was stored. Even if the military MRE has a date code in last year you still don’t know if it spent a couple months in the desert which use up most of its shelf life. Commercial MRE can likely be found at your local camping and outdoors shop.
Commercial MRE is available in 12 meal cases online. There is also bulk MRE pricing for pallet loads of MRE.\
Here are some online site that sell MRE;
If you are interested in buying MRE by the pallet see our Bulk MRE page.
You can best use MRE for emergency situations where you “are on the go”. Also, if you do not want to waste time cooking or do not want the hassle of bringing cooking equipment with you. MRE’s are the most convenient survival food choice.
MRE cost is about $6 per meal plus shipping for a case of 12. You can get discounts if you buy larger quantities.
There are often periods where MREs become unavailable due to being bought up by relief agencies dealing with a disaster. The price increases for awhile then goes back to about $6 meal or $72 per case.
Shipping is not included with most suppliers if you order one case, but some will offer free shipping if the order is more than $100.
For a food reserve for periods longer than a week, however, a “freeze dried food” reserve is better in terms of space and cost per meal. You will need water for freeze dried food which, although hydrates quickly, is nevertheless is not as “ready to eat”.
MRE’s are the most convenient survival food choice.
MRE typical contents:
- Entree: menu varies in quantity (up to 24) from year to year for most MRE brands
- Side dish: examples – Au Gratin potatoes, Applesauce, Cornbread stuffing, Re-fried beans.
- Dessert or snack – candy, pastry, or chocolate bar
- Crackers or bread
- Spread: examples – Jalapeno cheese, Chocolate peanut butter, or Blackberry jam
- Powdered beverage mix: such as fruit drink, cocoa, instant coffee or tea
- Utensils – plastic forkette
- Flameless ration heater (FRH) – this is a pouch you put the entree in, it contains iron filings that provide a lot of heat when salt water is added.
- Accessory pack: chewing gum, water-resistant matchbook, napkin/toilet paper, towelette
- Seasonings: salt, pepper, sugar, creamer, and/or Tabasco sauce
As you can see it is – a full course meal, ready to eat.