The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." --American Statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

Saturday, November 30, 2013

MRE's.......Meals rejected by everyone...."

I am an Army veteran and I still have an interest in the service,  One thing I like are cartoons....There is a cartoon, that you can find in Army Times and other places.  The cartoon is "DBS" and this weeks cartoon asked about MRE's, and the worst one we ever had....

Well the first time I had MRE's was in Basic Training in Fort Leonard Wood Missouri, we called it "Fort Lost in the wood"  or "Little Korea".  It was not a fun experience, I didn't really enjoy my time in the service until I got to Permanent Party which was where I went after all my training.  I spent a lot of time in the field while I was in Germany,  When we weren't on maneuvers, I spent time inside the 1K zone( The zone between East Germany West Germany and Czechoslovakia) There was a test I had to take to enter the zone under the auspices of 2nd ACR, to be border qualified.
    The following 2 photo's I took while doing a border tour.

 I was Border basic...My squad leader had a different exam as did the senior NCO's and Officers.  Well it was an eyeopening experience to see the "151" loaded with ammo and LAWS rockets.  We always made jokes that if the Soviets came through the Fulda Gap, we would be Speedbumps for"8th Guards Army". 

Well one of the things we got were 2 cases of MRE's.  When they first came out...they weren't that great, I used Tobasco Sauce to spice the dull selection along with Mrs. Dash.  The MRE I dreaded the most was the infamous "Ham and Chickenloaf", that pink glop was just vile.

  When we were in the field, we would try to make runs into town to pick up fresh food from the market to supplant our rations.  When they could, they would provide T rations that were opened up and brought to us in mermite containers.  The food was bland but filling.  Again my tobasco sauce and mrs dash would come to the rescue and Make bland food tasty...well better than before.  We also would trade with the German civilians for "real" food and they would take the MRE's.  
     When we got deployed to Saudi Arabia in Desert Shield in 1990 we ate MRE's for a long period of time, the rations had improved, one of my favorites believe it or not was the tuna and noodles and we had started getting M&M candies in the MRE's along with a little bottle of Tobasco sauce.  Between the cheese sauce and peanut butter we were pretty regular.
     Here is some information on MRE's
     mre case Meal, Ready to Eat, Individual - MRE

MREs (Meals, Ready-to-Eat)

MREs are the main operational food ration for the United States Armed Forces. You can check out the MRE History page for more a more in-depth history of how MREs came to be but the short version is that the c-rations and k-rations from World War II developed into the MCI (Meal, Combat, Individual) rations used in Korea and Vietnam. Then in 1980, the MRE was developed and became the primary ration for the US.

What is an MRE?

The MRE is a totally self-contained complete meal. One MRE = one meal. The packaging of an MRE is designed to withstand rough conditions and exposure to the elements. Inside each MRE bag is an entree and a variety of other food and drink items. MREs come packaged in cases with 12 MREs per case. There are currently 24 different "menus" or varieties of MREs. Menus 1-12 are packaged in a case designated Case A and menus 13-24 are packaged in Case B.

What's in an MRE?

You can find a listing of the exact components of each MRE on the MRE Menus page . The military makes a few changes to the menus every year so you will find a different menu listing for each year. In general, though, each MRE contains the following:
  • Entree - the main course, such as Spaghetti or Beef Stew
  • Side dish - rice, corn, fruit, or mashed potatoes, etc.
  • Cracker or Bread
  • Spread - peanut butter, jelly, or cheese spread
  • Dessert - cookies or pound cakes
  • Candy - M&Ms, Skittles, or Tootsie Rolls
  • Beverages - Gatorade-like drink mixes, cocoa, dairy shakes, coffee, tea
  • Hot sauce or seasoning - in some MREs
  • Flameless Ration Heater - to heat up the entree
  • Accessories - spoon, matches, creamer, sugar, salt, chewing gum, toilet paper, etc.
Each MRE provides an average of 1,250 calories (13% protein, 36% fat, and 51% carbohydrates) and 1/3 of the Military Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamins and minerals. A full day's worth of meals would consist of three MREs.
Here are some pictures of an MRE (2009 Menu #20) and its contents
MRE Bag and contents
MRE Bag MRE Contents
Spaghetti with Meat Sauce Entrée
Spaghetti & Meat Sauce Spaghetti & Meat Sauce
Chipotle Snack Bread and Cheese Spread
Wheat Snack Bread & Cheese Spread Wheat Snack Bread & Cheese Spread
Baked Snack Crackers (Hot & Spicy Flavor) - Cheez-Its
Baked Snack Crackers Baked Snack Crackers
Cherry Blueberry Cobbler
Cherry Blueberry Cobbler Cherry Blueberry Cobbler
Spoon, Drink Mix, and Accessory Pack Contents
Spoon & Accessory Pack Spoon & Accessory Pack

How do you eat an MRE?

True to its name, the MRE is "ready to eat" and everything can be consumed without cooking or heating (but the beverages are much better when water is added to the drink mixes). While the entrees and sides are fine to eat cold, they usually taste much better when heated up with the included Flameless Ration Heater or by boiling in water.

How long do MREs last?

Officially, MREs are designed to have a shelf life of three years when stored at 80 degree F. These times can be lengthened or shortened depending on their storage temperatures. Higher temperatures = shorter MRE lifespans. I've tried many MREs that were 10 or 15 years old and with the exception of a few parts that had darkened in color over time, they still tasted fine.
Please see this page for more information on MRE Shelf Life.

Where can I buy MREs?

The U.S. Government does not allow the manufacturers of military MREs to sell them to the general public. Please see the page on Buying MREs and also the page on Civilian MREs for a commercial alternative to military MREs.

Official Military MRE Page

This is the link to the official military page on MREs:


  1. Meals Reviled by Ethiopians.
    Back in the early 2000s, I attempted to eat one that I'd squirreled away in the late 1980s. As son as I punctured the entree, the whole house filled with the most noxious odor I've ever had the misfortune to experience.

    So yeah, they DO have a shelf-life. And 10-15 years is a bit past it.

  2. Thankfully never encountered the loaf... At least MREs had a 'bit' more variability that C or K rats, but you're right, Tabasco and some salt seasoning WERE a requirement! Interesting pics from back in the day too. And I still carry a small bottle of Tabasco in my backpack... Never know when you're going to need it! :-)

  3. Oh yeah, and they are made by the folks that also make "Hungry Choice" meals...

  4. MREs after my time. Small town Germans were wild about CRats. We would swap CRats for fresh made food, either by going to the shops, or with the Germans coming out to our bivouac with food. Didn't work at the company level but was common with smaller work parties.