A Guide to Purchasing Military MREs

MREs, or Meals-Ready-to-Eat, are a key component of the military's nutrition and food supply for both active duty members and veterans. They are easy to store, well-rounded meals that provide essential nutrition for those in the field. In this guide, readers will learn all about MREs, from their history and components to tips on purchasing them. We’ll cover the benefits of using MREs, different types of MREs available, and other food sources to consider.

Follow along as we explore the ins and outs of purchasing military MREs to help you make an informed decision.

What is an MRE?

MRE stands for Meals Ready-to-Eat, and they have been used by the United States military for decades. MREs are individually packaged, self-contained meals that contain all the nourishment required for a single meal. Each pack contains an entree, side dish or snack, spread or dessert, along with flameless ration heaters, beverage mix and utensils.

MREs have come a long way since their introduction in the 1980s, when the military adopted the idea of a one-meal packs for their soldiers in the field. Back then, only two menu options were available—beefsteak and vegetable omelet. Over the years, however, the range of flavors and options on offer has expanded significantly, now including ethnic dishes like Mexican Rice and Chicken Tikka Masala.

The advantages of MREs are numerous and they provide an important source of nutrition. They are lightweight, compact, and designed to withstand extreme temperatures and climates without spoiling. Life expectancy of an MRE ranges anywhere from six months to five years, depending on the type and manufacturer. As such, they are purpose-built to be used anywhere—from the battlefield to emergencies such as natural disasters and other emergency situations.

Not only do MREs provide convenience for those on the go, but they also offer an essential source of nourishment and energy needed to stay fueled during difficult times. The nutrients found in an MRE provide a balanced diet and include carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals. In addition, most MREs come with additional extras such as dessert, gum, candy bars and drink mixes. These extras provide a welcome distraction and comfort food during difficult times.

Benefits of an MRE

MREs, or Meals Ready to Eat, are a type of food used by the military. They provide the necessary nutrition to keep soldiers fueled and going during long missions and active duty, and have become increasingly popular for ordinary citizens looking for convenience and portability when it comes to their meals.

The primary benefit of an MRE is its convenience. With an MRE, there's no need to fuss with ingredients, cooking, or cleaning up dishes. An MRE is as simple as adding hot water to the meals pouch, waiting a few minutes and eating. It's also lightweight, allowing for easy transport and storage.

Another advantage of an MRE is its nutrition value. All MREs provide a balanced meal with all the essential vitamins and minerals. The military requires that all MREs contain at least 1,080 calories and must meet the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) guidelines established by the National Academy of Sciences.

Finally, MREs offer a level of safety and reliability that other types of food can't match. MREs are designed to last for up to five years when stored in the appropriate environment, and most have customized packaging to protect from harsh weather, moisture, and other elements. This makes them the ideal choice for emergency preparedness and for long-term storage.

For these reasons, MREs are preferred by the military and are becoming more popular among civilians who value convenience, nutrition, and reliability when it comes to their food.

Different Types of MREs

MRE stands for Meal Ready to Eat, and these lightweight, nutritious meals are designed to meet the needs of the military in both emergency situations and regular daily meals. A variety of MREs are available, designed for different scenarios and different tastes.

The main types of MREs available include:

  • Standard MRE – This is the traditional version of the MRE. It is usually composed of an entrée, side dish, snack, spread, desert, and crackers/bread. Beverages are not included.
  • Long Term Storage MREs – These meals are designed to last up to 25 years when stored in a cool, dry place. The food is generally more processed and doesn't contain as many fresh ingredients as the standard MRE.
  • Military Grade MREs – Military grade MREs are the same as standard MREs, but they come in military-style packaging. These are generally more expensive than civilian versions.
  • Specialty MREs – Specialty MREs provide special food items such as gluten-free, vegetarian, and halal options. These meals are often more expensive and are designed for specific dietary needs.

In addition, there are also heat-and-serve versions of MREs. These require no water or preparation and can simply be heated in the pouch and eaten.

When selecting an MRE, it is important to consider your individual needs and preferences. Different types of MREs have different flavors and nutritional content, so it is important to choose the one that best meets your needs.

MREs, or Meals-Ready-to-Eat, are a type of food that is packed for long-term storage and used by the military in emergency situations. They have gained immense popularity among civilians due to their convenience, portability, and nutritional value. If you’re thinking of buying an MRE, it’s important to understand what they are made of.

The ingredients of an MRE will depend on the type of meal and the brand, but generally speaking, they consist of a main entrée, side dish, bread item, dessert, spread, seasoning, and snack. Popular MRE entrees include a variety of beef and pork meals, vegetarian chili, and spaghetti Bolognese. For sides, common items are mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, and refried beans. The bread item is usually a tortilla or cracker, while desserts may include chocolate hazelnut cake or Nutella spread.

Everything is packaged together in a plastic bag, often with a self-heating component if the meal is meant to be eaten warm. Each MRE comes with a set of condiments or seasoning, ranging from cheese spread and tabasco sauce to sugar and cinnamon. Additionally, most MREs come with snacks such as candy and crackers that provide a great source of energy.

While the contents will vary between vendors, these are the core ingredients that make up an MRE. Keep in mind that while they are a convenient way to get your necessary nutrients, they are not intended to be used as a sole source of nutrition and should be balanced with other foods.

Preparing MREs

MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) are a staple of the military, as they’re easy to store, transport, and prepare. There are two common methods for preparing an MRE: dry and wet heating. Both approaches require very minimal resources and take only a few minutes to complete.

Dry Heating

Dry heating requires no additional water and is accomplished by using a flameless heater. Most MREs come with one included in their packaging, though you may need to purchase one separately if needed. The heater can simply be placed beneath the packaging, or inside of the pouch itself. After 8-10 minutes, your food should be at the optimal temperature for consumption.

Wet Heating

If you have access to hot water, you can use this method to heat your MRE. Simply fill a pot or container with hot water, place the MRE into the water, and wait for it to heat. Depending on the size of the MRE, this method may take anywhere from 10-20 minutes; the larger the MRE, the longer it will take to reach the desired temperature.

Once your MRE is heated and ready to eat, be sure to take the proper safety precautions while consuming it. Make sure to discard any excess packaging or components safely as well.

Looking for MREs to Buy

When it comes to buying military MREs, buyers need to be sure that they’re getting the real deal. MREs typically come in two types: original government-issued MREs and commercial MREs. The former is issued by the Department of Defense, while the latter are commercial versions that are typically made to meet or exceed the same standards as their military counterparts.

To find quality MREs, the first step is to research the company and make sure they have a good reputation. This can be done through online reviews or inquiries with other customers. Once you have chosen a vendor, you will want to ask them if they can provide information on the age and shelf life of the MREs they provide. It is important to note that the shelf life of MREs varies depending on several factors such as temperature and storage conditions. Thus, it is important to ensure that the MREs are not past their prime.

Another consideration when purchasing MREs is cost. MREs can vary greatly in price depending on the vendor, so it’s important to shop around and compare prices. Additionally, some vendors may offer bulk discounts or specials, so it pays to ask.

Finally, it is important to keep an eye out for any additional fees or charges associated with the purchase. Some vendors may charge a restocking fee for returns or an additional delivery fee for orders. This can add up quickly, so it’s best to ask about these upfront to avoid any unexpected surprises.

By following the tips outlined above, readers should be able to find quality MREs at reasonable prices. With the right knowledge and research, it is possible to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to military MREs.

Alternatives to MREs

For those who are looking for food sources that don't require long-term storage or require special heating, there are a variety of alternatives to military MREs.

Freeze-Dried Foods

Freeze-dried foods are lightweight, shelf stable and do not require any special heating. They are usually easy to prepare and come in a variety of flavors. Examples of freeze-dried foods include fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, beans, and meats.

Ready-to-Eat Meals

Ready-to-eat meals can provide a convenient and balanced meal in no time. These meals are vacuum sealed and require no refrigeration or heating. Many of the ready-to-eat options are packed with vitamins, minerals, and proteins to provide the essential nutrients needed for a healthy diet.

Dehydrated Foods

Dehydrated foods are lightweight and shelf-stable. They are ideal for camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities. Dehydrated foods also come in a variety of flavors, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and meats.

Canned Foods

Canned foods are widely available and give individuals a variety of meal options. Canned items are an ideal choice for those who are limited on space and want quick and easy meal options.

No matter what type of food source is best for your needs, there are a variety of alternatives to military MREs that can provide convenience and nutrition.

Cost Considerations

Military MREs can vary greatly in price and quality. The cost of an MRE is dependent on several factors, such as the brand, number of servings, type of ingredients, and country of origin. Generally speaking, a single MRE will cost between $5-$10 USD. If you are looking to purchase in bulk, you can expect to pay significantly less per unit. For example, if you purchase a case of 12 individual MREs, you will likely pay only around $50-$60 USD for the entire case.

When looking for MREs for sale, remember to read customer reviews. This will give you a better idea which brands are more reliable and provide a higher quality product. Additionally, there may be other deals and discounts available if you know where to look. Some vendors offer significant discounts when certain products reach a certain quantity, so it pays to do some research.

Always read the product description carefully before making a purchase. Some MREs may contain certain allergens or ingredients that are not suitable for certain individuals. Furthermore, it is important to check the best before date on the package to make sure it is still within its expiration date. This will ensure that you purchase a safe and healthy product.

Myths About MREs

MREs have a mystery and mystique that often leads to decisions based on misinformation. In general, there are many myths floating around about MREs. It is important to understand that these misconceptions can lead to incorrect conclusions. Here we explore some of the most common myths surrounding MREs and why they are not true.

Myth 1: All MREs are High in Calories

One of the most widespread myths about MREs is that they are all high in calories. The truth is, an MRE typically contains between 1,200 and 1,800 calories. This is about the same amount of calories as one might find in a complete meal, such as a large sandwich and side dish. While it is true that some MREs come with large portions and can be higher in calories, most are relatively small and contain a reasonable amount of calories.

Myth 2: MREs Expire Quickly

Another common myth is that MREs expire very quickly. However, the reality is that most MREs have a shelf life of three to five years. This is due to the fact they are specially sealed and packaged to ensure they remain safe to consume during long-term storage. While some components of the MRE may have shorter expiration dates, the entire package should remain fresh and edible for several years.

Myth 3: MREs Tastes Terrible

While it is true that some older MREs may have been unpleasant to eat, modern MREs have come a long way in terms of taste. Many consumers are pleasantly surprised when trying out the wide variety of flavors available in modern MREs. As such, it is no longer necessary to suffer through bad tasting meals just because it is packaged as an MRE.

Myth 4: MREs are Only for the Military

Finally, many people believe that MREs are only for military personnel and are not meant for civilian consumption. This is a false assumption, as MREs intended for civilian consumption come with different labeling and packaging than those intended for the military. While they share many of the same ingredients, they are made to be used in different scenarios.

Overall, understanding the facts about MREs can help individuals make more informed decisions and purchase the right type of product for their needs. By avoiding myths and misconceptions, consumers can trust they are making the right choice when buying an MRE.

Recommended Vendors for MREs

When it comes to purchasing military MREs, it’s important to be sure you’re buying from a reputable source. The quality of an MRE can vary greatly depending on the vendor and you don’t want to end up with a product that isn’t suitable for the intended purpose. To reduce this risk, here is a list of recommended vendors where you can safely buy MREs:

  • SOS Food Labs Inc.
  • Meals Ready Eat
  • Ready Store
  • Optimus Survival
  • TheEpicenter.com

We recommend thoroughly researching each of these vendors before making a purchase. Look at customer reviews, pricing, and shipping policies to ensure the best deal is found. Additionally, when the MRE arrives check that all components are present and that no components are damaged or expired. Doing so will give you the assurance that you’ve purchased a high-quality MRE.

MREs (Meals Ready-to-Eat) are an essential component of any military member's diet, providing a nutritious and convenient way to get a meal on-the-go. In this guide, we’ve discussed the history of MREs, their benefits, different types and components, as well as how to prepare them. We’ve also covered factors to consider when purchasing an MRE, such as cost, reputable vendors, and alternatives for those not wanting to purchase an MRE.

We hope that this guide has given you a better understanding of the value of an MRE for your own or a military member’s needs. With the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re providing your family or friends with a quality meal quickly and conveniently, you can confidently purchase an MRE from one of the trusted vendors recommended in this guide. As more and more people turn to MREs for their meal needs, the improved quality of life they provide is no doubt worth the investment.


  • Q. What is an MRE?
    A. MRE stands for Meal, Ready-to-Eat and it is a self-contained, individual field ration that is used by the military in combat or other field conditions. They are packaged for single use and contain all the items necessary for a meal.
  • Q. What are the benefits of an MRE?
    A. The major benefits of an MRE include their convenience, portability, long shelf life, and ability to provide hot meals in challenging conditions. Additionally, they are nutritionally complete and provide a great source of energy.
  • Q. What types of MREs are available in the market?
    A. Different types of MREs that are available in the market include entrées, starches and grains, desserts, beverages, supplements, and side dishes.
  • Q. What ingredients are found in an MRE?
    A. Common ingredients that are found in an MRE include whole wheat flour, white rice, dehydrated vegetables, beef chunks, vegetable oil, tomato paste, and cheese powder.
  • Q. How do I prepare an MRE?
    A. MREs can be heated in both wet and dry methods. To heat in a wet method, it is best to submerge the MRE pouch in boiling water for a few minutes. To heat in a dry method, wrap the pouch in foil and place in an oven preheated to 300°F and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  • Q. What are the cost considerations with purchasing an MRE?
    A. The costs associated with purchasing an MRE depend on the type and quantity desired. Factors such as storage and shipping also influence the total cost.
  • Q. What are some recommended vendors for buying MREs?
    A. Some recommended vendors for buying MREs include SurvivalFrog.com, MREInfo.com, and ReadyStore.com.