I have been hearing about MREs for years. It was about time I tried one out, and I figured I would share my experience with all of you.
MRE: Meal Ready to Eat.
These are a general purpose meal that you don’t have to have a kitchen, cook, or a table to have them. It meets every purpose for war. You don’t have to keep it in the fridge; you can throw it in your backpack and not worry about it. And they keep for years…
One might think that they will only use them while in theatre (deployed), but they actually eat them a lot stateside as well depending on the training that they may be going through.
When you open the bag this is an example of what you will find.
- Hot Beverage Bag-unless it is super cold and going to make coffee, you don’t usually use this. Overseas there is bottled water every where, and you would just use your “tang” bottle instead. The hot beverage bags are a heavy duty Ziploc bags though and will be used to hold maps and electronics.
- Grape beverage base powder-kind of like a Gatorade substitute. Some extra packets will have Crystal Light-like packet, and the blackberry is legit according to Tom.
- Banana nut muffin top-pretty good by MRE standards. It is chewy and rubbery, but it will be powder on your clothes.
- The bag everything came in-becomes the trash bag at the end
- MRE heater and spoon-if done right you can use the heater to heat your side and your entre. The heater is activated with water and you place the meal and heater in the bag. The instructions also say lean against a “rock or something” while you are cooking it. These heaters are not always very reliable. The best way to make a MRE heater do what you want it to do is to put sugar and water in the bag. This works wonders.
- Peanut butter-This is gold.
- Extra stuff-see picture below
- Wheat snack bread-super doughy dense bread
- Pears (side item)-The side item will vary depending on the MRE.
- Spicy Penne Pasta (entre)-some of them aren’t that bad. Beef stew, cheese tort and beef brisket are Tom’s favorites.
Every MRE comes with an entre and side item. There will be the heater and some extra elements. However, every MRE will differ a little bit. Tom has only ever seen 24 different versions. Case A has it’s own assorted 12 and Case B has its assorted 12. The case is essentially the big box that they come in.
Here are some of the accessory things that come in the pack.
- Instant coffee
- Moist Towelette
- Iodized Salt
- Pepper Sauce (some have tabasco sauce)
- Toilet paper
They are super high in calories, but if you think about the place they are in, it makes since. In the situations where soldiers are going to need to eat these, the nutritional value is spot on.
MREs replaced the rations that were served in earlier wars. You can learn more about the historical context of MREs here.
There are lot of things that these MREs can be used for besides just eating, which is one thing I didn’t know before Tom started talking about them all the time. Like the matches are used for smoking or to light anything on fire. They aren’t really used for eating the meal.
A soldier may not need to eat everything at once. You may eat the entre and save other things for a snack later if you are on patrol.
MRE swaps also largely occur. With each pack having various accessories, this provides opportunities for soldiers to do tradeseys on any item they are not particularly fond of. The items people fight over: chocolate peanut butter, tropical Skittles, and first strike bars. Just picture elementary school lunch box swaps with adult hungry soldiers.
So how did my experience go with eating one of these ready to eat meals?
It was really interesting to actually see what these were all about, but I will say it will probably be a pretty dire situation before I choose to eat one again. Also Tom says that he is not very happy about having to eat one over the weekend. He is a pretty rocking husband who loves me and wants to help me with the blog!
Here is a video of Tom eating an MRE, and keep in mind that this is actually a slow pace since I kept talking to him. If the situation calls for it, he can eat it under 4 minutes. There is some profanity at the beginning, but I promise this is a good video. And you actually get to see a “Talks with Tom” live!
I hope you enjoyed this special “Talks with Tom” and my education on MREs!
Have you ever tried an MRE?