What’s an MRE?

What the heck does MRE stand for?

This is a Meal, Ready to Eat.  It's a military thing.  Ever wondered what military members may eat out in the field?  There's a good chance they are having an MRE, especially if away from their base area, which would have a dining facility.  So these are designed for field use, contain a good amount of calories, and come with a device for heating the food.

The first time I saw an MRE was during my internship.  Since we were in Maryland we often met up with other local dietetic interns, including the Army interns.  We had a class day once at Walter Reed and they gave a presentation on MRE's.  I was really scared by this at the time because I didn't see any that were vegetarian (I now know these exist), and while I had no intention to ever join the military, the thought of these meals just seemed scary.  Yeah, not sure why.

So when I met Ryan and he had a whole box of MRE's (similar but not identical to actual military ones they would have in the field) I was not really sure what to think when he wanted me to try one.  This was a few years ago.  It turns out, they are not that bad and veggie options do exist.  They are perfect to keep in the home for emergency situations, camping or traveling.  We once brought them with us on a 16 hour road trip and had some fun cooking them up in a rest stop parking lot.  They come with a a heating element that you can set up and activate right where you are and it will heat the entree package.

Well, we managed to lug these things to the island, and then as we were packing for Japan realized these were old and heavy, and just not worth it to take with us again.  Instead, we played with them.
Here is the inside of an MRE package.
This one was vegetarian with eggs, veggies and cheese.
It contains 300 calories, so that is just in the entree alone.  This would be rather filling and a good thing if you are in the field (or in an emergency situation) and not sure when you will be able to stop and eat again.
All of the ones Ryan had came with this bread thing.  All items are individually wrapped, so you could save for later, if that would be practical.
This is what it looks like unwrapped.
This has 170 calories.  Would be nice if this was whole wheat and had a little bit more fiber.
There is a little packet with condiments, which includes matches and seasoning, along with a napkin.
Another popular item in these was the cookie.  Ryan said other ones have other treats, but all of his had a cookie.
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This is the heating element.  You add some water and it activates something, my guess is chemical, and it heats up.  You slide the entree packet in there and it gets warm. 
In addition to the entree, bread and cookie, these came with a fruit.  In this case it was an apple sauce, which was 100 calories.
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Here is a complete nutrition breakdown for these.  Sorry the picture is not easy to see, but at least you can tell that nutrition is addressed on the packaging.
These are some more of the entrees.  We opened all of them and checked them out.  This is chili mac.  You can see what the entree packet looks like out of the box.
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This one is a chicken fajita entree.
Other than raspberry, there is a plain applesauce.  This one is listed as carbohydrate enhanced.
More entrees.  Many more with meat, but there are some vegetarian choices out there.
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This one is a little less in calories, but again combined with the other items this packs quite a bit of calories that would be needed as fuel for someone out in the field.
Not sure I like this chopped and formed.  Something about this does not seem appetizing (other than it being meat).
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I believe this is the chili mac.  This is just a view of what an entree looks like inside.
So that a little about MRE's.  They have a few other little things inside, but these were the major components we looked through before getting rid of them.  I'm not an expert on these or anything, so please feel free to share any comments about your own experiences if you have tried these or are in the military.  

QUESTIONS: Have you ever heard of an MRE?  Have you ever tried an MRE?  


Astra Libris said...

Thank you for the up close view of MRE's! I've never had them, but Zach has had lots of experience subsisting off of MRE's, so I was very interested to learn more about what they look like inside! :-)

Gina; The Candid RD said...

I've actually heard of these before, but have never tried them! They actually look....good!

Special K said...

I just looked at one when I was TDY in Villseck and am a little judgmental about them. They don't seem all that nutritious and compared to those that we give astronauts, lacking in good protein and fiber. Too bad they can't make PB & Js in a can!

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