10 Tips for Eating MREs, from a Pro

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The Beef Ravioli Meal, Ready to Eat (MRE) was the best option on my post Hurricane Katrina menu.
Six years ago, citizens of the Gulf Coast were starting to understand the immediate implications of their world post Hurricane Katrina. Power had been out since the storm made landfall, which meant that refrigeration systems were inoperable, food was spoiling, and people were hungry. Eventually federal, local and volunteer aid agencies started to distribute cooked meals to those affected by the storm.

In the interim, the National Guard and police distributed MREs (Meal, Ready to Eat) at filling stations and by Humvee. MREs are a full day's calories consisting of an entree, appetizer, dessert, beverage and accessories (i.e. a heater, condiments, gum and toilet paper) packaged in a waterproof vinyl pouch.

A deputy sheriff delivered two cases (12 per case) of MREs to Mom and me at her home in the dense, piney woods 20 minutes north of Lake Pontchartrain. It was finally time to take a break from our cans of cold Chef Boyardee ravioli.

Top 10 Tips for Eating MREs

10. Save used spoons, and duct tape them together to make tongs that you can use when you've run out of MREs and need to flip the foil-wrapped grub you've cooked on the engine block of your truck.

9. Carefully cut the exterior pouch along the top seam in order to maximize your ability to reuse it to catch rain water, which you can then use to mix your Kool-Aid.

8. MREs are designed to be a one-meal-per-day system for soldiers in combat and as such are high calories. You will blow up like a balloon from water retention and weight gain if you pig out on more than one per day.

7. Seek another meal option if you are prone to constipation. MREs will interrupt your daily ritual. Think about it. Deucing on trailblazer while camping on Galveston beach is tricky. Now, imagine the risk and discomfort a soldier would experience thanks to a case of "the runs." Thus, the cork-like qualities of MRE food. Drink enough water, and you should be good to go.

6. Do not overfill the food heater, and don't seal it too tight. MREs come with a food heater that requires only a couple of ounces and a few minutes to get your entree off-the-stove hot. Adding more water does not make it hotter, but it will cause the pouch to burst open from added pressure. You don't want that.


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6 comments
Red wing
Red wing

Your 10 tips have a new scrabble word" trailblazer", & I don't mean a Chevy truck. What a great visual from your outward bound description. lol. The "Sweet Amalgam of Boone's Farm" reminds me of being in middle school trying Mad Dog on an empty stomach, before pizza on a Saturday. That's the true definition of Uck! Good job.

furioso ateo
furioso ateo

The milkshakes are delicious! The trick is to use not so much water, and mix thoroughly to make it more of a pudding. Also, there's a trick to make sugar cookies using the sugar and creamer, but I forget the exact steps. If you get the chicken fajita, toss out the tortillas, get some vegetable crackers, mix in some jalapeno cheese with the chicken fajita meal, and you've got yourself a decent chips and dip setup. 

Ah, my days in the field with the USMC!

Tony7913
Tony7913

Don't forget you can mix the cocoa and creamer to make Ranger pudding.

trisch
trisch

What I learned from going on camping trips with ROTC classmates back in college is that MREs are delicious when the burger patties emerge from the cooler with a nasty stench that no amount of grilling can cook away.

CraigHlavaty
CraigHlavaty

I miss the USMC now.  They were great in the field. I miss that fruit drink.

jim
jim

Sloppy Joe MRE + Jalapeno Cheddar "spread" (looks like yellow toothpaste coming out of the pouch) + yellow mustard on torta loaves or hamburger buns. Damn near as good as mess hall Sloppy Joes. I just can't figure out why there isn't a chipped-beef and cream gravy ("SOS") MRE entree.

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