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Storage foods

Try Meals Ready to Eat for survival/emergency food energy

Try Meals Ready to Eat for survival/emergency food energy

How important is a long-lasting, calories and nutrition-laden food source for survival/emergency situations? Very.

by Leon Pantenburg

Disclaimer: I was not paid to do this review. At the time of publication, mealkitsupply.com has no advertising or sponsorship relationship with SurvivalCommonSense.com.

My association with MREs goes back to my Army days. Though I was a civilian, as a public affairs specialist I sometimes accompanied soldiers on field exercises. Breakfast, lunch and dinner  was a MRE, an acronym for “Meals Ready to Eat.” Or “Meals rejected by (starving) Ethiopians. Detractors claim here are three lies in the title.


A Meal Ready to Eat can be a good choice for emergency, long term storage food.

Generally, I was hungry enough that anything tasted good. My favorite meal was chicken stew, followed by beef stew. The ham was another favorite, and I frequently made a ham sandwich with the crackers.

After moving to Idaho, my brother Mike Pantenburg and I did a lot of backpack elk hunting. We’d be gone for several days, and weight was at a premium. I’d buy several cases of MREs at the PX at Mountainhome Air Force Base, and those fueled the hunt.

We’d take out all the non-essentials, and pack the entrees, bread, peanutbutter and instant coffee. In these instances, food was fuel, and taste was secondary. Neither of us liked the scrambled eggs, so we’d loot those packages for the goodies. Eventually, we ended up with a case of nothing but scrambled egg entrees.

Today, I pack MREs in my car kit, bug out bag and hunting fanny pack.  There are several in the hunting rig.

Here’s the specs on the mealkitsupply.com MRE:

  • Five year shelf life
  • More than 1,200 calories per meal
  • Each MRE weighs 20 ounces

According to the website, Meal Kit Supply MREs are the freshest military MREs for sale commercially, with 100 percent military MRE components – as close as is commercially available to real military Meals Ready to Eat! meal Kit Supply provides one of the highest calorie counts commercially available for MREs, according to the website, which means more food energy, cheaper.

Each three course meal includes an entree, side dish, bread, spread drink mixes, dessert condiments, instant coffee, a spoon and napkin. It also contains a water-activated flameless ration heater.

An often overlooked, important component is the flameless heater. Hot food is more than a nice ammenity – in some cases, it could be a lifesaver. To a cold, chilly skiier, a hot meal can help bring up their core temperature. And don’t underestimate the morale-boosting effect of  warm food – check out what this World War II infantry veteran of the Battle of the Bulge had to say about cold, frozen chow.

And think about this – if you get stranded in your car overnight this winter, a hot meal might make the inconvenience more bearable. In a cold, windy duck or goose blind, hot food will be most welcome.

mre meal heater

To use the heater, fill the bag with water to the line, and wrap the food packet in it according to directions.

The heater works well. All you do is fill the bag to the marked line and  wrap the entree package in it. Make sure the bag is resting on something that is safe for heat. The water rapidly heats up, and steam soon comes out of the end of the bag. After about 10 minutes, you have a piping hot meal. There’s no mess, and cleanup is easy.

A quick caution about buying MREs: Make sure they are from a reputable company, and that they are fresh. While shelf life  varies, depending on a lot of variables, such as where they are stored, consistent temperatures etc. , you can expect a MRE to last about five years. Make sure the MREs you buy are not already four or five years old!

So are MREs the best choice for outdoor emergency food?

Not for me. Not in every instance. In camp, after a cold, wet day out hunting, fishing or hiking,  I want real food cooked in a Dutch oven. (Here’s one of my go-to camp meals. Or if you’ve had a good day fishing, here’s how to cook fish in aluminum foil over a campfire.) But on the trail, food is fuel, and I need something that is quick, nutritious and (hopefully) tasty. In those instances, MREs may be the best choice. As long as you don’t get the scrambled eggs entree.

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Leon Pantenburg is a wilderness enthusiast, and doesn't claim to be a survival expert or expertise as a survivalist. As a newspaperman and journalist for three decades, covering search and rescue, sheriff's departments, floods, forest fires and other natural disasters and outdoor emergencies, Leon learned many people died unnecessarily or escaped miraculously from outdoor emergency situations when simple, common sense might have changed the outcome. Leon now teaches common sense techniques to the average person in order to avert potential disasters. His emphasis is on tried and tested, simple techniques of wilderness survival. Every technique, piece of equipment or skill recommended on this website has been thoroughly tested and researched. After graduating from Iowa State University, Leon completed a six-month, 2,552-mile solo Mississippi River canoe trip from the headwaters at Lake Itasca, Minn., to the Gulf of Mexico. His wilderness backpacking experience includes extended solos through Yellowstone’s backcountry; hiking the John Muir Trail in California, and numerous shorter trips along the Pacific Crest Trail. Other mountain backpacking trips include hikes through the Uintas in Utah; the Beartooths in Montana; the Sawtooths in Idaho; the Pryors, the Wind River Range, Tetons and Bighorns in Wyoming; Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, the Catskills in New York and Death Valley National Monument in southern California. Some of Leon's canoe trips include sojourns through the Okefenokee Swamp and National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia, the Big Black River swamp in Mississippi and the Boundary Waters canoe area in northern Minnesota and numerous small river trips in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Leon is also an avid fisherman and an elk, deer, upland game and waterfowl hunter. Since 1991, Leon has been an assistant scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop 18 in Bend, and is a scoutmaster wilderness skills trainer for the Boy Scouts’ Fremont District. Leon earned a second degree black belt in Taekwondo, and competed in his last tournament (sparring and form) at age 49. He is an enthusiastic Bluegrass mandolin picker and fiddler and two-time finalist in the International Dutch Oven Society’s World Championships.

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