If you have not seen or heard of MRE’s (Meal Ready to Eat) by now, I have to wonder where you have been. MRE’s are a military staple that has naturally bled over into the preparedness market because of their long storage life and simplicity. For the uninitiated, MRE’s are what our soldiers eat when they are away from base. MRE’s come from a long history of military food options that are meant to fill bellies and provide energy in a near bomb proof package that can be thrown in the back of a connex for 5 years and not go bad. Taste and consistency are usually the casualties in this type of scenario.
MRE’s are utilitarian and I have said it before, if you are expecting gourmet out of something with those requirements you will be in for a big surprise. Other bloggers have complained about how unhealthy the meals are and how the taste leaves something to be desired. While that may be true in a sense, again these weren’t designed to win any foodie contests; their only mission is keeping you alive. These are not fresh ingredients you grew in your garden or purchased at the local Whole Foods, these are survival rations.
When I was in the Army, these were usually given out as lunch. Hot breakfast and dinner were usually offered any time we were away from our regular mess hall so we didn’t technically live on MRE’s but ate more than enough to develop favorites. I had tried them all and some were definitely better than others. I have had my fair share of MRE’s in various locations all over the world. Did they taste better than anything else, no but they were filling.
XMRE contacted me back in February and asked me if I was interested in reviewing a new offering they had, the 1300XT. The 1300XT is designed to provide 1300 calories in one meal. It is the same idea as any other MRE but with a little more calories. Like all MRE’s, the idea that makes these meals such a good choice for the military also makes them worthy of consideration for preppers, so I was happy to give it a try.
I opened the box and saw a lot of new menu choices that I had never tried before:
- Shredded Beef in barbeque Sauce
- Chilli and Macaroni
- Cheese Tortellini
- Chicken Pesto Pasta
- Southwest Style Beef in Black Bean Sauce
I don’t think any of these menu items were available when I was in the service, but the idea is the same. In every MRE you get the following:
- entrée: Variety of beef, chicken or vegetarian entrees.
- Cracker/Bread: Regular or vegetable crackers, snack bread or flour tortillas.
- Snacks : Nut raisin mix, dry fruit mix, corn nuggets or others
- Spreads/Sauce: Peanut butter, Cheese spreads, fruit jellies, fruit jams or others.
- Dessert : Puddings, pound cakes, wet packed fruit, dessert cookies, dairy shakes or other portion-controlled packs.
- Fruit Flavored Beverage: Single or assorted fruit flavored drink mixes or others available.
- Instant coffee: Single serve instant coffee.
- Spoon: Single serve instant coffee.
- Napkin: 11 ¾ x 12 ¾ brown napkin.
- Beverage Bag: Hot beverage bag included in each meal.
- Condiment Kit: Includes salt and pepper, non-dairy creamer and sugar.
- Moist Towelette: Towelette with sanitizing soap solution. Which comes in handy if you are like me and get food all over your fingers.
- Optional Flameless Heater: One MRE military type flame-less meal/ration heater – for each XMRE complete meal kit.
I decided to go hiking on a local trail with my survival dog and try the XMRE out for lunch. I took the Shredded Beef with barbeque Sauce and for those counting calories, the nutrition information is printed nicely on the back of every bag.
After we walked along for a little bit in the snow I found what I thought was a good place to stop and eat lunch. I poured the contents of the XMRE out and remembered that it is better to do this on level ground. Oh, how the mind forgets when you get older. I took out the Ration heater and got ready to warm my meal up. We didn’t have heaters when I was in the army, we relied on fires or the engine block of our 5-ton trucks to keep food warm. The last ration heater I tried took a couple of minutes to get warm, but not the heater from XRME. It started smoking almost immediately and was definitely doing a good job. My meal was nice and toasty in no time which if you think about a Bug out scenario could be an advantage. No fire would mean you could escape detection more easily.
I tried the cracker and jelly but prefer Peanut butter or cheese on a hard cracker. It just seems to go better, but both were just as good as any MRE cracker I had ever eaten. Mine tend to crumble in my hands and this was no exception. My dog helped me finish off some of that part.
Next I moved on to something I hadn’t tried in an MRE before and that was Roasted Corn Nuggets. This was just like corn nuts and provided a nice crunchy appetizer before the main meal.
After I had finished the cracker and corn nuggets, I was ready for the shredded beef. Opening the bag I saw exactly what I expected to see. It wasn’t pretty (is shredded beef ever?) but it tasted pretty good. My dog kept a very watchful eye to make sure that I didn’t drop any.
The last item I tried was the cookie. Again, something I never had in the MRE’s of old. We had things like fruit loaf, which wasn’t too bad, but this cookie was pretty big and it tasted good too. Maybe I was hungrier than I thought or my standards were low.
All in all, I was pleasantly surprised with my XMRE meal. The food all tasted fresh for an MRE if that makes sense. Everything tasted good and even the moist towelette bath I had to take to get all of the barbecue sauce off my face was nice. When I was done I threw all my trash in the handy-dandy bag and we got back on the trail.
Going back to my earlier remarks about MRE’s. They are not what I would feed my children every day if I had options. These meals are made to stay fresh and stable for years so you have to understand there are some chemicals in here. I choose to look at these for what I believe are their strengths. Exceptionally long storage life – usually about 5 years in the right conditions. They require no cooking. They come with all the utensils you need to eat, wash up and have a cup of coffee afterward. They are dead simple.
I have a few boxes of MRE’s in my home because they augment my food stores. While they don’t form the majority of my food supply, I think they have a place. If disaster happens and I want to eat a quick meal without cooking anything, I have the MRE. If I need to go out away from home for a day or two, MRE. If I want to offer some charity to someone, MRE.
Are MRE’s a good choice for you? Only you can answer that question, but I am pleased with the quality of XMRE and would recommend them to anyone. You can purchase these online at Amazon and for more information you can view their website.