MREs For Sale - Your Long Term, Best Price, Emergency Supplies Food Storage Solution, As Used By The Military.
MREs - Meals Ready To Eat
I recently wrote this hub about stockpiling emergency food supplies against possible disaster, and in doing the research came across MREs, or meals ready to eat, the US military rations. They struck me as a good solution to the problem of storing a food supply long term, and I dug a little deeper than I needed to. Anyway, what I couldn't shoehorn into that article is presented here, now.
Interested in MREs? Think they might solve your emergency food supply problem? Read on.
Sure-Pak Genuine GI Issue MREs
Feeding Troops In The Field
The MRE, or meal ready to eat, is pre cooked food in foil and plastic pouches. It's the military solution to feeding troops in the field, and an option to consider when it comes to building your emergency food supplies.
Because of previous unauthorized sales to civilians, the Department of Defense requires that 'U.S. Government Property, Commercial Resale is Unlawful' be printed on each case of MREs. Despite this disclaimer, no laws forbid their resale, and they are freely available online and offline.
Contents usually include a main course and a side dish, along with a dessert or snack, crackers or bread. You can get vegetarian MREs too. There may be a spread of peanut butter, cheese, or jelly, and a powdered drink, ranging from instant tea or coffee to fruit flavored isotonic drinks.
You'll also find a plastic spoon, a flameless ration heater, or FRH, and an accessory pack, with chewing gum, water-resistant matches, napkins and toilet paper, and seasonings. Many items are fortified with nutrients, and each meal provides 1200 calories.
The MRE package - officially -a tri-laminate retort pouch - is basically a flexible can made out of thick aluminum foil and plastic. The pouch, being lighter, more flexible, and flatter than a tin can, is more convenient and easier to carry.
The MRE has the disadvantage that the pack is susceptible to damage by rough handling, especially at freezing temperatures, which can rupture the pouches.In the factory, the MRE pouch is filled with food, sealed, and boiled to sterilize the contents. Since the MRE pouch is flat, it takes much less time to heat the contents to sterilize them, which makes for a better tasting product.
Since the contents are sterile, they can't spoil until the pack is opened. Like all canned foods, MREs have a shelf life, which depends on the storage temperature. At 100 degrees Fahrenheit - likely in a desert scenario - an MRE is only viable for a few months. Stored at room temperature, that extends to three years, while refrigerating an MRE could extend its life for many years.
Most of us would rather eat a hot meal than a cold one, especially when the weather is cold and wet, which is why all military MREs come packaged with a flameless heater. Flameless heaters use the oxidation of a metal to generate enough heat to warm the food. To make a flameless heater, magnesium dust is mixed with salt and iron dust in a pad the size of a playing card. To activate the heater, add water. Within seconds the flameless heater reaches boiling point. Place the heater and the MRE pouch back in the box the pouch came in, and in ten minutes, a hot meal is ready.
Where Can I Buy MREs?
Online, start with eBay and Amazon, but check the listings carefully so you know exactly what you'll get and exactly how much it'll cost. You can get Ameriqual A Packs at the Ready Store and Sopakco MREs at Amazon. These two civilian MRE brands are highly regarded by reviewers. If you know someone in military service, there's a chance they can get MREs for you. Full-time military personnel, National Guard and reservists often get them during training exercises.
If you live near a military base, there's a good chance the MREs available locally will be more reasonably priced because of the number of local people selling them to the surplus stores. You can buy military MREs at gun shows or gun shops both online and offline. Before you do, make sure you check the packed dates and the inspection dates. The prices can be more reasonable than surplus stores, and some vendors could have individual MRE components for sale. You can usually find MREs at army surplus stores, but, these are also where the MREs are the most expensive. And they often have older packed dates and inspection dates. Why take a chance when you can buy them new online?
MREs are also sold from military base commissaries. The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees, and their families. If you can shop there, this is another option.
How Much Should I Pay For MREs?
Shop around to get a notion of the current price range. The internal cost of a 12 pack case of MREs is $86.98, around $7.25 a meal, to the government, which should give you an idea of the ballpark price.
You should look out for a couple of sneaky tricks. If you buy online, keep an eye on postage charges. Some eBay sellers will charge over the odds for shipping, so don't let a low Buy It Now price fool you. Incidentally, always pay BIN prices. This saves a bidding war. Those things never end well. ('I won! And I paid way too much. D'oh.')
If you see cases of MREs going for bargain prices online, cast a sharp eye over the listing details. Where you might find something like 'sold as collector's item only', which is a way of saying they're probably past their best. And they don't take returns. Not all MREs are genuine US military MREs. They can be purchased by civilians straight from the contractors who supply MREs to the Government. There are firms who produce similar goods for the civilian market, and for whatever reason market them as if they were the real military deal. These civilian MREs usually lack the FRH. If you're just looking to build a stockpile of emergency rations, I can't see why this would be a problem, but it's something to be aware of. If you only want the genuine US army deal, look for auctions with pictures and detailed descriptions of what you'll be getting.
Long Term Food Storage Solution?
What is the MRE shelf life? Well, it's not that simple. The MRE is made from a variety of components that deteriorate at different rates, making overall shelf-life determinations virtually impossible. The value of each component in a meal varies greatly, making storage decisions more complicated than they are for items like canned beans.
Generally speaking, the temperature at which they're stored long term is the major issue. At 100 degrees Fahrenheit, an MRE pack can be stored for 22 months. At 90 degrees, 55 months. At 85 degrees, 60 months. At 80 degrees, 76 months. At 75 degrees, 88 months. At 70 degrees, 100 months. At 60 degrees, 130 months or more. That's over ten years. I think you'll be okay.
Check that you're buying something that's not near the end of its shelf life, from a seller with a good track record, and you'll be fine. MREs are just one of the options out there, but it's an option worth considering. If you're building an emergency stockpile of food, MREs are a good way to go.