Whether you’re packing a bag for a hike across the Appalachian Trail, or for when the life hits the fan, MREs are an excellent item to include. They’re vacuum-sealed, lightweight, and provide the nutrients you need to stay on the trail or on the run. They’re also suitable for stockpiling since they last 3-5 years when stored in cool, dry spaces.
MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) were developed for the military back in the 70s, who are still the main consumers of durable foodstuffs. If you’re looking for MREs with a Department of Defense seal of approval, you’re going to be getting one produced by one of three companies: Sopakco (Sure-Pak), AmeriQual (A-Pack), or Wornick (Eversafe). These three brands have the lock on most of the military’s MRE contracts; however, the government is known to buy MREs from civilian producers in times of crisis.
If you’re looking for some top-notch pre-made, self-stable cuisine, we’ve rounded up the best seven flavors based on user reviews.
Since the MRE’s inception, chili-mac has been a favorite of military personnel and civilians alike. It’s so popular that virtually every company carries it. Two American classics in one pouch-how can you go wrong? This specific one is manufactured by Wornick and is sold through an MRE wholesaler on Amazon, so you’ll get all the other standard-issue MRE sides and condiments.
This breakfast skillet from Peak Refuel is a favorite among campers and extreme backpackers. It’s very filling and enough for two. Packing 39 grams of protein and 640 calories per pack, this is just what you need before you hit the trails.
Mountain House is a favorite brand among survivalists. They have one of the largest selections of MRE pouches around. Beef stew is a classic entrée that’s pretty hard to get wrong. This meal packs 20 grams of protein and 400 calories per pack.
Who doesn’t want a little ethnic diversity in their ready-to-eat cuisine? Good-To-Go has a nice selection of unique and exotic entrees. This Thai Curry pack is highly rated, and at 20 grams of protein and 780 calories, it can power you through most of a day of outdoor adventures.
Wild Zora Paleo Meals to Go prides itself on not being your grandparents’ camp food, which is probably true since our grandparents never heard of the Paleo diet when they were out sleeping in the woods. Nonetheless, these minimally processed meals with all-natural ingredients are great for anyone. They boast no antibiotics and no preservatives; just real food. This pack of chili has a substantial 36 grams of protein and 420 calories.
It’s understandable that if you’ve been living off of ready-to-eat meals for an extended time, you can tire of the stew-like consistency that most of them have. Bridgeford has developed a pocket sandwich, similar to that of a Hot Pocket (or pasty for our Midwestern readers), so you can switch it up from time to time. This Italian sausage with sauce is one of the brand’s more popular flavors. Each sandwich has 330 calories and 10 grams of protein.
We all need a sweet treat every once and a while, especially if we’re held up in our bunkers waiting for the zombie apocalypse to blow over. LuvyDuvy has been selling astronaut-inspired, freeze-dried ice cream products since 1985. Their tagline; “If it’s good enough for astronauts, it’s good enough for you!” Just kidding, but it really should be.
In a standard-issue MRE, you’ll find some variation of the following:
- An Entrée (usually meat but there are some veggie options)
- A Side (usually a carb)
- Bread or Cracker
- A Sweet Treat
- After Dinner Mint or Gum
- A Beverage or Beverage Mix
- Salt, Pepper, Hot Sauce, or Appropriate Condiments
- Flameless Heat Pouch (Optional)
There are a number of ways people can get their hands on MREs. Army/Navy surplus stores and online surplus dealers are a popular source. But beware, these methods run the risk of purchasing expired MREs. We suggest going straight to the source and buying in bulk from one of the suppliers mentioned above.
Military MREs aren’t known for being the most delicious options around. Still, demand for MREs has grown among civilians, especially among emergency relief contractors, non-profits, outdoor enthusiasts, and doomsday preppers. This increase in demand has caused civilian MRE providers to up their game and make their meal offerings more appealing. The lack of choice has kept the military MREs both the least desirable and the most affordable. If you’re looking for gourmet-level MREs (which still isn’t saying much) produced by civilian companies, you’re going to have to pay more. Companies like MRE Star, Emergency Essentials, and Bridgeford have emerged, offering a slightly higher caliber of cuisine and more menu options. However, as noted, you’ll also pay more for them.
- The 7 best mountain bike brands in 2024
- The 7 best Big Green Egg accessories in 2024
- Think you know the best campfire wood? These 7 wood options might have you thinking twice
- The best camping hacks for first-time campers
- The best snowshoes for winter trail exploration