Travelling the Australian wilderness and bringing enough rations with me is something I couldn’t get right for a long time. I never have enough space in my pack for supplies, food and water for more than three days or so. So, as I solution, I started looking up lightweight options that could fulfil my needs. MRE packet meals seemed to be a great solution that doesn’t take too much space and doesn’t have to be stored in a certain way.
MRE is an acronym for meals that are ready to eat. They are self-contained meals designed for a single person. They’re great for when you need nourishment in the middle of nowhere where preparing food is difficult or impossible. This type of meals are used by the military but are also a great solution in survival situations as well.
There are many different MRE meal packages, including options for vegetarians, people who can’t digest gluten, and people with allergies. This makes them easy to buy even for those who have special dietary requirements. Even though they are different than standard options, they have everything you may need. For instance, a vegetarian MRE meal package can contain a veggie burger and beans, providing you with all the protein you may need. If you’re gluten intolerant, there are solutions that have reduced gluten and include things like gluten-free bread, fruit and peanut butter. Other than that, you may find food classified as either MRE entrees or full meal MREs.
Full MRE meals not only contain a meat component like meatloaf, but they also include items like cookies or crackers, or a dessert if you want to get a little more carb-based energy. These are usually well-rounded and can be useful for people who want more out their packs. MRE entrees, on the other hand, will usually contain one item, like meat sauce and spaghetti. There won’t be extra items like electrolyte-infused drinks to help wash the meal down. These are useful if all you want is a meal packed with nutrients and carbs to get through the day.
Luckily, these meals are specifically designed to last for at least a few years on a shelf at temperatures of around 25°C. The temperature of the food will obviously vary depending on the weather and the time of year, but when the food is stored at higher temperatures, it won’t last as long. Worst case scenario, the rations can last up to one month, even if they’re exposed to temperatures of 35°C every day for that one month period. On the flip side, if stored at lower temperatures, they will last up to several years.
Generally, in military zones, MREs aren’t used on an everyday basis. In fact, even when soldiers are in forward operating bases, there’s a dining facility serving warm food. In these situations, MREs are used rarely, but when on the front lines, many soldiers will rely on them for as long as months at a time. Usually, due to the variety of these packages, soldiers get all the nutrition they need to keep going without getting tired of eating the same things every day. Not only are MREs extremely useful for when food is low, but they also provide about 1300 to 1500 calories, enough to keep the average person going. For instance, if you’re stranded in the middle of nowhere for a few days, an MRE meal or two a day can ensure you have food until help arrives. In fact, they are great for sustaining yourself, so if you live in an area that’s prone to earthquakes, harsh weather or flooding, you should highly consider getting a few meals ready to eat.
These meals include an FRH, short for Flameless Ration Heater, which is used to heat up food rations. While it doesn’t warm food as well as a microwave or stove, it’s water-activated and specifically designed to heat an eight-ounce meal. FRHs were developed in the 90s, and they’ve been included in most MRE packages since. They can be used without fire so that they don’t increase the risk of fire hazards while out in the open. This makes MRE meals an even better solution for when you’re in areas where starting a fire is prohibited, allowing you to consume them anywhere, even in emergency situations.
FRHs are designed to be very compact. In fact, the heater that’s included in MRE products is only about 12x10cm. Additionally, they’re designed to be lightweight, weighing less than 50g. In order to use the FRH, all you have to do is put the food inside the bag provided, add some water, and put it next to the heater. Heating the food will usually require about 10 minutes, and when it is heated, the water you added will also be hot, so be careful not to hurt yourself.