How to Make Your Own MREs

7:30 PM

Whether you're a military spouse or you just like to camp, you've probably heard of Meal Ready to Eat, or MREs.


I had always heard about MREs but never knew quite what they were until our commissary had a bunch on sale. They were around $7 per pack and included a day's worth of food. Things like cheese, meat, crackers, and a dessert-ish substance were included in the pack.

Of course, I had to buy a bunch.

None of them were very good.

The uneaten MREs sat in our pantry until we moved, at which point I decided to put the poor packages out of their misery and toss them in the trash.

Needless to say, I'm not a huge fan of MREs.

They aren't all bad. MREs last ages and you can actually find some with edible food items that really aren't awful. You can find these at camping stores and at commissaries. Sometimes Army surplus stores will carry them, as well.

They really are fantastic when it comes to emergency prepping. If you're stranded in the middle of the woods or your entire house is destroyed except for your prepper pantry, you'll certainly be happy to have the food.

But not all MREs are created equal, and if you have kids, you may find that they flat-out refuse to eat what's inside a standard MRE.

This is where creating your own comes in.

If you have little kids, creating your own MREs ensures that you're set when a disaster strikes. My kids aren't horribly picky, but they are choosy when it comes to certain items. Making my own MREs is a little bit of work and requires some planning, but is worth it because I know that when we need the food, I'm not going to be fighting my kids to actually eat what's inside.


Before you run to the grocery store...

There are a few things you should know about choosing MRE-friendly food.

First, choose food you've actually eaten before. Emergency situations suck. Kids don't always deal well with trauma, which means the last thing they're going to want to do is try new food. Make sure you either buy food you know that your kids will eat or buy food your kids can test out ahead of time. Maybe even make a couple of extra "sample" MREs. You can put a few in storage for future emergencies and have a few out to snack on with your kids. Remember that storing food is useless if no one wants to eat it.

Next, stick to foods that are healthy. Processed candy will certainly store for a long time, but is it worth it? You don't need to be dealing with sugar highs or cavities during the zombie apocalypse or a tornado watch. Choose dried fruits, nuts, and other familiar foods. While most storeable food does have a lot of sodium, it's kind of a trade off, at least for my family.

Finally, don't be afraid to choose ingredients, rather than entire meals. My favorite? Peanut butter. Try to always keep some fresh fruit on hand in your house. You can pair peanut butter with apples or bananas for easy snacks. If you have bread available, you can make peanut butter sandwiches. You can even eat peanut butter with a spoon. (Did I really just say that? Oh yeah, I think I did. #Noregrets.) A lot of preppers think you can only eat food you've stored, but that's simply not true. Having extra peanut butter available will, however, ensure that you're able to enjoy some of your fresh food during emergencies, as well.

photo credit: Velvet Peanut Butter via photopin (license)

Consider how you'll store your MREs...

Once you've assembled some MRE food, you'll need to determine how you're going to store everything. While some preppers will seal their food up for the best storage life, not everyone can do this. (Whether due to financial reasons or you simply don't want to invest in a product to seal up your food, I get it.)

There are three main options for easily and simply storing your MREs. You can separate each meal using plastic or metal lunchbox containers, plastic zippered baggies, or glass canning jars. Obviously, canning jars are probably going to be the most eco-friendly method of storing, but the way you choose to store your items is going to depend on your intentions.

For example, if you want bug-out-bag MREs, zippered baggies is probably going to be the best way since they take up little space and you won't have to worry about your kids breaking glass canning jars while you're on the go. If you want something to have at home, however, canning jars offer a simple way to store MREs in your cupboard in a neat, organized fashion.

No matter what your goals are for making your own MREs, it's possible to store up on food simply and inexpensively. Most importantly, making your own MREs means that when SHTF, your kids will actually eat the foot you have on hand.

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Prepper Hacks 

for more ideas!

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