7 Best MRE Meals To Stockpile For Food Scarcity Emergencies

By Will Brendza | Last Updated: March 13, 2018

MRE MealsBest MREs For Long-Term Survival And Food Storage

After water and shelter, food is one of the most fundamental long-term survival necessities.

Food is fuel.

It keeps your body running like an engine.

It sustains you. It’s a survival necessity from the day you’re born until your final breath – no exceptions.

Sure, you can indeed survive weeks without actually eating something.

But going even a single day without eating has a discernible effect on your energy levels.

And after two days, your cognitive ability to think clearly will begin to suffer.

And we all know a clear mind and ample energy are critical for successful survival in real emergencies.

That’s why it is so damn important to keep a stockpile of emergency survival food!

Heck, it may even be the best investment you ever make.

Now, ideally, you’ll want to stockpile something lightweight, calorie-dense, and nutritious. And, most important of all, it must be NON-perishable food.

Lots of non-perishables do not taste very good. In fact, lots of nonperishable survival food tastes like crap.

Foods with extreme shelf life are usually full of preservatives. Let’s say these foods don’t make for a great gourmet dining experience.

But some survival rations DO taste fairly good. Some might even say they taste exceptional (especially relative to other non-perishable foods).

An MRE meal is one of the best, most nutritious, longest-lasting, and tastiest survival foods.

So we’re going to dive into MREs and how they can be used for emergency preparations:

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mre's for food stockpile

What Is An MRE Meal?

MRE stands for Meal Ready to Eat, as in, it’s ready to eat straight out of the packaging.

They come in sealed, airtight packages to prevent them from drying out or going bad.

The U.S. military originally designed these survival rations. MREs were developed in the late 1970s and early 1980s. They replaced the MCI rations (Meal, Combat, Individual rations). MCI rations were the ones used throughout WWI and WWII.

MREs were lighter weight, cheaper, easier to transport, and more nutritious than MCIs.

MREs were for soldiers who got trapped without food deliveries or mess halls and they kept those stranded warriors fed and living to fight another day.

While MREs are still relatively new, the need for portable nonperishable military food goes back thousands of years.

  • “The generally awful reputation of military food dates to ancient times.” – Rebecca Rupp

Providing a supply of nutritious food for soldiers on the move has been an epic challenge throughout history.

The logistics of keeping an army fed on the move often made the difference between winning a war or losing it!

One of the ancient options was to scavenge the local areas, depleting farmers and small towns of their meager food supplies. This practice was frowned upon back then and even more so today.

Hence, modern-day armies figured out a new means to feed an army on the move without stealing from civilians. MREs are the most recent solution to this ancient problem.

MRE Mass Popularity

However, with the insane utility of MREs, they quickly became popular among the civilian world as well, especially with:

  • Hunters
  • Backpackers
  • Campers
  • Hikers
  • Bikers
  • Fishermen
  • Etc.

Basically, anyone and everyone who spends long hours outdoors.

They’re still one of the most popular forms of survival food today.

Even humanitarian and government disaster response groups have adopted MREs. They hand them out to victims of natural disasters and national emergencies.

MREs are fantastic, and you should take advantage of the fact that they are so readily available today. So stock up because they may not always be as cheap and as abundant.

Here’s an interesting video of 5 Things You Don’t Know About Military Rations:

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What Makes An MRE Meal Great

There are a lot of reasons why MRE meals are great.

First: How long do MREs last?

They can last for up to seven years on their own, and if kept in cool conditions, they can last even longer. Theoretically, if you freeze them, they can last indefinitely.

This long shelf life makes MRE’s decent choice for emergencies.

You can store them with your survival gear, in your food cache, car, bug out location, or anywhere! And you can be sure that they will be good when you return in a year to eat them.

They’re relatively cheap.

Most of the places online that sell MRE meals do so in packs. Usually, you can get between four and twenty per package. And the more you buy in bulk, the cheaper they are individual.

A single MRE costs around $6-7, but if you buy that same MRE in a pack of twelve, it will cost closer to $4 or $6.

That’s a great incentive to buy a lot of these things. The more you have, the better off you’ll be in the long run.

Transportation and portability are critical when it comes to MREs.

These things were designed to be carried by soldiers over long, hard distances. So, weight and packability are significant factors.

MREs are engineered to be light while still packing a big nutritional punch.

And because of the way they’re packaged, they’re easily stored in a backpack, glove box, or pocket.

No spilling, molding, or mess.

They taste pretty damn good for military/survival rations.

These things do not taste like dried cardboard caked in mud, like many non-perishable meals. Many companies offer different meals and flavors, so it’s not difficult to find one you like.

Some offer full MRE meals (with a variety of flavors), which include most of the following:

  • Main Course Entree (i.e., beef stew or chili and macaroni or cheese tortellini)
  • Side Dish (i.e., rice, corn, mashed potatoes, etc.)
  • Sandwich Bread Or Crackers
  • Spread – (i.e., peanut butter, jelly, or cheese spread)
  • Desserts and snacks (i.e., cookies or pound cake)
  • Candy (i.e., M&Ms, Skittles, or Tootsie Rolls)
  • Hot Sauce or Seasoning Packets
  • Powdered Drink Mixers
  • Flame Ration Heater (for the entree)
  • Accessories – (i.e., spoon, matches, creamer, sugar, salt, chewing gum, toilet paper, etc.)

MREs make survival a tasty experience. Just because you’re in an IT-hits-the-fan scenario does not mean you have to eat crappy food.

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Best MRE Meals On The Market Today

There are many MRE food companies out there, and they all make similar products.

So I’ve put together the following Best MRE for sale:

1.  The Ready Store MRE Meals

3 Month MRE Meal Supply

The Ready Store – 3 Month MRE Meal Supply

First off, The Ready Store is my go-to vendor of Military-Grade MRE Meals.

Not only do they sell some of the top MRE meals, but they do so in bulk and at a fair price.

The Ready Store sources their MREs from the same companies that are contracted to make them for the military.

So you can have confidence in the “up to 5 years of the self-life”, no cooking to consume, and MADE IN THE USA!

I really like that you can order small, medium, or large quantities with a single purchase, for example:

2. Western Frontier 12 Meal Case

These genuine US warfighter rations offer about 1250 calories per meal.

These cases also include flavorful spices, matches, toilet paper, and other survival accessories.

The meals are randomly selected from two different menu options but come with a variety of:

  • Asian
  • Mexican
  • Italian
  • Traditional
  • Vegetarian

There’s even an assortment of snacks, desserts, coffee, milkshakes, and beverage powders.

While the packs have an inspection date of 2019, there is no official expiration date. This means that they’ll likely last about 5-7 years on their own.

3. Captain Dave’s 12 MRE Meals

This pack has 12 entrees (not complete meals, just the main dishes).

There are at least six different meal flavors included in this case. Some are chicken-based meals; others are beef-based.

This government-approved MRE manufacturer guarantees quality products.

4. Western Frontier Ultimate MRE 6 Pack

This case of 6 MRE meals is enough to get anyone through some tough times.

There are approximately 24 different meal flavors that are randomly selected.

They range from chicken and noodles to beef chili and potato hash browns with bacon.

5. Rothco MREs Box A, Genuine U.S. Military Surplus

These MREs are genuine US War Fighter Rations with 12 different Meals per Case.

Making this ideal for hunting, camping, hiking, fishing, boating, and emergency food supply.

Each MRE meal contains a flameless ration heater for a hot meal anywhere you go.

The meals also feature an accessory pack with coffee or beverage powder, matches, seasonings, gum, wet wipe, and tissue.

Designed for maximum endurance and nutrition with an average of 1250 calories per meal.

6. X MRE Meals 1300XT Single Meal with Heater

This is your best option if you’re looking to buy a single MRE.

Each meal packs a calories punch per meal of over 1,300 calories.

The shelf life states it’s good for at least 5 years or more, depending on storage temperature and storage conditions from the date of pack.

Each MRE meal provides the nutrients & caloric value of a complete meal. XMRE can be eaten anytime at any place.

The food is pre-cooked and can be eaten hot or cold, with a flameless heater included – add water.

7. Genuine U.S. Military Surplus Assorted Flavor (4-Pack)

This one claims a very long shelf life if stored per the MRE manufacturer’s directions. Each MRE has a 2012 or newer manufacture date.

Again this option is good for hunting, camping, hiking, fishing, boating, and emergency food supply.

Designed for maximum endurance and nutrition with an average of 1250 calories per meal.

Modern MRE Taste Test

Here’s a video of a modern MRE review. This video gives a solid overview of what you can expect from your MRE food nowadays:

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How To Heat Up An MR

Of course, as the name implies, you can immediately open the packaging and start chomping away at one of your MREs. But most MRE meals suggest you heat the meal before chowing down.

There is nothing wrong with eating them cold and fresh out of the wrapper; they tend to taste better warm.

Some MRE cases will include a heating system; others leave it up to you. So, I thought it might be useful to list a few different methods for heating an MRE.

Flameless Retention Heater

These nifty little ovens were explicitly designed for MREs. If your MRE includes a heating method, it will probably be a flameless retention heater.

It works without the need for matches, tinder, or fuel.

Just slip your MRE inside the flameless retention heater pouch, and add a teaspoon of water to seal it up. Now sit back and let the magic unfold.

The water starts a reaction inside the pack and generates heat to warm your meal in minutes.

Boiling Water

Most MREs are packaged in a material that is both water and heat-resistant, so boiling them is no issue whatsoever. And it’s an easy, efficient method for quickly heating your food.

Allow water to come to a boil in a pot, and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Place the MRE inside the boiling water and allow it to soak for 5-8 minutes.

Pull it out carefully so as not to burn yourself, and you’ve got a hot and ready meal!

This method is particularly useful in survival situations. That way, you don’t require a fancy chemical heating package or a portable butane stove.

If you have got fire, water, and a pot, you can get that MRE warmed up, no problem.

The Saucepan

Get your hands on a saucepan and a heat source (a fire will do, but a stovetop will do better).

Open up your MRE, pour the contents into the saucepan, and let it heat to the desired temperature. DONE!

The Oven

If you have access to an oven (rare in actual survival), you can use it to warm your MREs.

Just get an oven-safe pan, open your MRE into it, and cook it in the oven at 350 degrees. It takes about ten minutes (or until it reaches the desired heat).

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Maintaining Your MRE Stockpile

Unfortunately, no survival meal is going to keep indefinitely. Even military-designed long-lasting MREs come with an expiration date.

Knowing this, you must keep a close eye on when your MREs go bad.

The last thing you want is to bust into your survival food rations only to get food poisoning via a bad MRE. The food you were counting on to stay fresh. Do not let it happen!

The problem is that when you are dealing with foods that last up to 7 years, it can be hard to keep close tabs on them. It’s hard to know the precise date when it goes from edible to poison.

You can’t mark an exact date on your calendar.

So what do you do?

You should keep a running list of what you have / when you got it, and when it’s likely to go bad.

A simple spreadsheet will suffice, and you can keep it in your cache of survival foods.

Mine is on a clipboard that I reference every time I add something new to my survival food supply. Be it canned foods, dehydrated goods, bottled water, or MREs.

Then, when some of your foods are approaching expiration, you can single those out. Eat them before they go bad, and then replace them.

In this way, you cycle through the older food supplies and have fresh survival food at all times via rotation.

Also, keep in mind where you store your MREs makes a big difference in how well they keep.

If you stash them on a windowsill in direct sunlight and leave them there for three years, don’t expect them to last. They won’t be good when you eat them.

Cool, dark, dry areas are best for storing foods like MREs – think root cellar. You can help them to last even longer than their usual shelf life just by where you store them.

Pantries, garages, basements, and closets all work well for this.

Final Thoughts

Adding MREs to your survival food stockpile is a major step towards self-reliance.

MREs ensure that, no matter what happens, you will have food that you can eat to survive.

You can rest easy knowing you have an MRE safety net waiting to catch you in a long-term disaster.

They enable you to store savory, high-calorie meals for a long time. That way, when the moment finally comes, you’ll not be the family that goes hungry.

Will Brendza

P.s. Are you ready for the tough times ahead?

Find out now by taking my short Readiness Score Quiz - it’s absolutely free. Once complete, you’ll know exactly where you stand on the “fragile” vs.” resilient” spectrum.

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