Plenty of you reading this have served in the US Armed Forces and are all too familiar with the old MRE’s (meal, ready to eat). Plenty more have run into them during disaster operations or when someone pulls one out of a bag when out camping. The content of these sealed pouches has changed quite a bit in the last two decades, let’s take a look at what a company like Meal Kit Supply has done to bring MRE’s to the top of the food chain.
For those who aren’t too familiar with MRE’s, a brief primer. These are fully cooked meals, sealed in retort packaging to drastically extend shelf life without refrigeration. These aren’t dehydrated meals that require boiling water to transform back into an edible product, these are meals in a bag that can be eaten cold or warmed up with the included heating pouch. The packaging is robust and rugged having been designed for military use. They have an advertised shelf life of 5 years, though I’ve eaten them at around 8-9 years old with no ill effect. MRE’s generally have an entrée, side dish and a few tertiary items to chew on. The US military has fielded some truly infamous variants (five fingers of death) but spent the last few years preceding the new millennium finding ways to improve the meals in both nutrition and acceptability.
Immediately after my first deployment to Afghanistan I headed off to Ranger school. 2 days after graduation, I was on a plane headed towards our forward operating base, preparing to invade Iraq. That was a whole lot of months where I was eating MRE’s every…single…day. Morale is affected a great deal by basic creature comforts like FOOD, so imagine my joy when I cracked a case of MRE’s and found something other than the same 24 options we had become so intimately familiar with. Now I’m looking at two cases of MRE’s from Meal Kit Supply and I can see how good it has all become.
Meal Kit Supply offers their MRE’s in two main variations: those which are three-course meals (brown bag, 1200+ calories, have breakfast menu items) and those which are the lighter two-course fare (white bag, 600+ calories). Lets take a look at the Spaghetti with Meat and Sauce meal in 2 and 3 course versions to compare.
• Both have the Spaghetti with Meat and Sauce entrée
• Three course also has potatoes au gratin side dish and pound cake
• Three course has cracker and cheese spread while two course has a toaster pastry
• Both have grape electrolyte beverage.
The price is comparative to what you’re getting out of the case. The two-course meals run ~69% the cost of the bigger meals.
Ok, so we’re looking at food that’s shelf stable, NOT crammed with preservatives, packaged in a sealed, rugged bag, doesn’t require heating or cooking and is loaded with enough vitamins, minerals and calories to keep you alive. Check.
It also tastes good. Yes, it’s true, the venerable MRE has come a long way since I was forced to choke down my last Beef with Mushrooms in 2004. Frankly these are better than the vast majority of my efforts to reconstitute freeze-dried camping food, and they don’t require me to keep extra water and a heating source handy. I’m eating a Pop Tart toaster pastry right now and there is no discernible difference between this one and the popular commercial variety. The Beef Ravioli in Meat Sauce may not be your Gramma’s old italian family recipe, but that doesn’t stop it from being the best you’re going to get up on the summit of a mountain, in a war zone or during a search-and-rescue operation for a lost hiker.
When I was dragging my rucksack all over Afghanistan I couldn’t dream of having a beef taco or sausage and hash browns MRE. Certainly not one that tastes as good as these.
Meal Kit Supply sells the 2 course MRE’s in a case of six for $44.95 with free shipping. The 3 course meals come in a case of twelve for $129.95, also with free shipping. If you’re stocking up for camping, hunting, disaster preparedness or just a few meals on hand for good practice, Meal Kit Supply has got what you’re after. Check them out!