Sunday, September 15, 2013

MRE : The Price

I posted a full review of an MRE pouch from Meal Kit Supply company a few days ago, and Harry Flashman made a comment about value, and MREs. Here's the quote:

 "I'm conflicted about MRE. They are good, wholesome and easy to store. But they cost so much that I think of the food I could just buy at the grocery store with the same money. I compromise by keeping some, but not a huge number. I also make sure my kids have some in their apartment, where they have little space for storage."

I completely agree with Harry. MREs have their place in a prepper's pantry. The core of the debate really boils down to frugality, and the situation in which the MRE will be used. If you are looking for a year's supply of food, then MREs are a poor choice. A quiet day hike through your local nation park, and an MRE is probably not your most frugal choice either. I'd much rather pack a sandwich, chips, fruit, and a bottle of water for lunch.

On the other hand, I've been on a few canoeing trips when on the sixth day, an MRE for dinner was an excellent way to end the day. I've also cached a few MREs when I did week long hikes in the fall, and an MRE or two were nice changes to the menu. You don't have to worry about menu selection, and the food doesn't go bad because it got too hot.

We have a few reasons that we keep MREs at our house. Long term storage of meat for dinner can be problematic, and MREs can expand your menu choices. The brisket is excellent, and the dinner meal can be rounded out with canned vegetables, and Macaroni and cheese.

The desserts will be a welcomed comfort food, and are hard to bake on a camp stove.I have really been impressed with most of the dessert options of the MREs. While they cost almost as much as a cake mix, they are for long term storage, and already prepared. These have always gone over well on the extended backpacking trips, and are fairly lightweight to pack. I can almost guarantee that someone will ask you if you have another in your pack!
The portability of the MREs are excellent, as long as you aren't on foot. The MRE pouches, at a little over a pound each, are too heavy for an extended backpacking trip. Plus, there is a lot of packaging from a used MRE. Freeze dried foods are an option for the wealthy, and home dehydrated meals are the cheaper route. I could expand this into some of my backpacking menus, but I'll stay on topic.

For disaster situations and charity, the MRE reigns supreme. The MRE is self contained, except for the water needed for it, and requires no additional equipment to prepare.

In a SHTF scenario, MRE would be a good advantage for stealth. It requires no fire for preparation, and can be ready in ten minutes, or eaten cold. Our suburban plan, is to use MREs once the neighbors start  looking for food, and the exodus from the cities. We don't want to tip our hand about the food that we have stored by preparing it on the propane grill, or the white gas backpacking stove. We estimate that the likely gap will be about two weeks to a month depending on the season of the event.

The debate boils down to finding a proper balance between cost, use, and the situation.

My question is this: Why do you store MREs?

Keep Right On Prepping - K


  1. That seems well reasoned to me. I may buy a few more cases for the store room. They do make a nice alternative to cooking.

    1. Thanks for the inspiration for a post.

  2. Thanks again for your great reviews. You've saved me a few bad mouthfuls along the way.

    I keep some MRE components (but only about 6 of the full packets) for several reasons. First combines portability and ease of use. Bug out bag has some wheat bread and peanut butter packets, car kit has some meaty entrees and carb-full sides. If need be, I can carry a couple pouches, like entrée and carb component, on my body to have a warm meal for dinner.

    Second reason is their temperature tolerance. It can be 105 F here or below freezing. In the spring, the swing can be 50 or more degrees day to day, or 40 degrees between day and night. Some types of food don't stand up to a year or two of that in the car kit. So far, MRE components have stayed good.

    Last reason is variety of flavors. Food bars may be fine for some, but I can't stick with one sweet flavor for days. The variety in MRE's can satisfy both sweet and savory cravings, helping avoid food fatigue.

    I don't have cases of the components, primarily because I can't eat many of the offerings due to my food allergies, and there are only 2 of us. If I had children under 15 or so, I'd keep more. I keep enough that we could stay in reasonable health for a few weeks with those as a major component of our diet, if necessary. I have a second BOB that contains additional fast items like just-add-water entrees. That bag contains the full MRE's, additional vitamin-rich beverage powders and some dehydrated dog food so we can all eat on the go if needed!

    1. MM, your very welcome, and I'm always happy to pass along any information that has/hasn't worked for me.

      In your case, food allergies can have a huge impact on your long term storage, and MRE purchased individually can play an easy way to get your nutritional needs.

      If my memory serves me right, I believe that the military only intends for MREs to feed it's troops for only 28 days at a stretch.

  3. Great post. I keep exactly five cases of MRE's in my home. My main food storage tends to lean towards number five cans of dehydrated or freeze dried foods, along with of course, my normal everyday grocery store food storage.

    1. I'm glad that you brought up that point, your food storage needs to be broken down into sub-categories: Refrigerated (perishable in 1-2 days), short term (2 days-6 months),medium term, and long term.

  4. I keep a few MRE's around and you are right they will be best for when you cannot openly prepare something. The smell of food will travel for miles especially if someone is starving.

    1. One of the several types of pollution that a prepper needs to think about: Noise, light, and odor...