MRE meals, meaning Meals-Ready-To-Eat are mostly used by soldiers in the army for the purpose of consuming a full-nutritional meal while in the field. Their packaging is made from material which are capable of withstanding a range of environments, and even a parachute drop!
Those meals though, aren’t necessarily used only by the Army Force. Out in the market exist civilian MREs, which can be extremely useful for someone who likes to go camping, fishing, boating and in general for anyone who enjoys outdoor activity! In addition, these meals are important to store in case of emergency because of their duration through time.
In this article you will find out which are the best civilian MREs if you wish to buy one. Also, because we always need a buying guide before we make our final choice, don’t forget check out some advice afterwards!
Top 7 Best Civilian MRE Reviews
1. MRE Box B, Genuine US, Military Surplus
If you are looking for a great example of these meals, which is definitely close to the ones they use in the army, MRE Box B is perfect for you.
It arrives in a box that includes 12 nutritional meals and water-activated flame-less heaters for each one of them. Every meal has approximately 1250 calories and its shelf life are 7 years.
In every package you will discover an entree, a dessert, a snack and beverage powders. The food choices vary from beef ravioli and Mexican style kitchen stew, to vegetarian cheese tortellini and meatballs with marinara sauce. Moreover, for the dessert part you will find cookies or cake, and as for snacks there are crackers or bread with many different spreads, like peanut butter or cheddar cheese.
Another feature of this box is that it contains an accessory pack with matches, utensil, spoon, moist towelette and even a chewing gum! Adding some extra points to the product, according to users’ reviews, the shipping is fast and the taste is pretty nice.
On the other hand, sometimes the company will send you same menus, which is something that some people find boring. Also, there were cases where the heaters didn’t work or didn’t even exist in some meals but this is a solvable issue.
2. Sure-Pack MRE
Another interesting choice for an MRE is the Sure-Pack from Sopakco company, which is a well-known organisation for the production of these meals.
This also contains 12 individual meals per case, two of each six flavors and flame-less heaters. You are able to put it in storage for 5 years and the calories of each one is 900 to 1250.
It can also be characterized as a full course option, because it contains again an entree, a side dish, a dessert, a snack and beverage powders. As a main course you may eat beef ravioli, beef stew, grilled chicken breast and others. The interesting fact here is that there are vegetarian choices such as cheese omelette with vegetables and vegetable lasagna.
They don’t leave out of course the accessory kit with the napkins, the salt and pepper and the spoon. Some advantages of this package are that it is low in sodium and its preservatives free.
Moving to the negative side, the quality and the taste of the menus isn’t as good as the previous one. I probably should add here the fact that they don’t send you 12 different meals, but 2 of each 6, so you don’t get the chance to try many different flavors.
3. A-Pack Ready Meal
A-Pack Ready Meal is a simple but effective addition for any mountaineer of fisherman who wants to store their food in a backpack.
It has a large quantity of portions since it includes 12 meals, two of each six flavors with easy to open packaging. You can count in the flame-less heaters as well. The calories of this meal are 1030 to 1120 depending on the type of food, and its lifespan is 36-40 months.
This package has a number of parts: entree, side dish, seasoning packet, utensil and a towelette. The exciting aspect of it, are the different cuisine options. You will try the Asian vegetables in sauce with noodles and chicken, the spaghetti with the Italian style sauce and meat, the Indian pork with sauce and rice and other exotic flavors.
In the rest of the meal there are the same choices every time: Banana apple smoothie or sweet potato grape smoothie, crackers, butter and a seasoning packet. It is very easy to carry in you backpack because of the size, it doesn’t need refrigeration and it is low in sodium, which is good thing.
Unfortunately, there are no salt or sauce and no coffee or sugar. Apart from that, we also have here just six flavors and the rest of the package been the same every time.
4. XMRE Meals 1300XT
This case of meals is totally worth it for two main reasons. Firstly, the high quantity of calories and secondly, just those snacks!
XMRE meals are found in a package of 12, of 6 distinct flavors. The calories they provide for an organism are 1300-1500 each and they can be stored for 5 years or more.
Needless to say, that it is a proper experience for a civilian MRE, since it includes all the pieces needed! An entree, a snack, a dessert, beverages, an accessory kit and a flame-less heater. The main dish may contain beef, chicken, turkey, pork, tuna, pizza or vegetarian options.
Furthermore, the really impressive part are the snacks and desserts. There are so many of them! You will discover cookies, bars, spreads, side dishes, chickpeas, nut mixes, dry fruits, corn nuts, cakes and many other to bite if you feel hungry! We should add to the cons the accessory pack for the easier usage of the meal and the high quality of the food, as many users reported.
Despite of all these positive factors, we only have 6 flavors here as well. On top of that, there isn’t much variety in the main course with the repeatable same sauces. Finally, some reviewers witnessed in this case as well the absence of flame-less heaters in some of the packages.
5. MRE STAR Full Meal Kit
The products of MRE STAR company could be classified as credible since the government utilizes them.
A professional package of 12 meals, 6 flavors and flame-less heaters. Their shelf life is 5 years depending on the temperature and the number of calories 1100 to 1300.
The MRE STAR Polly bags contain an entree, a starch item, a snack, a dessert, a drink mix and an accessory pack. The options of the main courses are respectable here as well. You might come across with a beef stew with potatoes, a chicken noodles stew with veggies, a vegetarian chili, a jalapeno curry beef with potatoes and many other. I must say that those recipes sound really tasty.
In addition, there are snacks like energy bars and dried fruits, desserts like cookies and drinks, for example lemonade or fruit punch. Let’s not forget the accessory kit which, among others, includes a candy! Adding to the cons, the bags are light resistant and waterproof, so that they will be secured in any environmental situation.
Although it is really hard to find something negative about these meals, i have to consider again the 6 flavors instead of twelve. What is more, I haven’t noticed a spread like peanut butter, which is really needed for the crackers.
6. IRPRUS Military MRE
Sometimes all you need is just one meal to survive the day of your hunting trip. Here is the part where the Russian IRPRUS MRE meal comes.
This package includes three meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It can be stored for 2 years and for all three meals, the calories are 3700.
Although the package is for one day, it includes everything you might need: entree, snacks, spreads, canned vegetables and a drink. As you can imagine the Russian flavors star in the menu with pate, meat and porridge.
Nevertheless, there are also other contents like crackers, marmalade, a cheese spread, and a fruit bar. Moreover, an additional element is the accessory pack. Among coffee, sugar, napkins, matches and other items, it is really interesting that it includes dry fuel in case you want to start a fire.
One crucial fact is that the bag itself is from a pretty sturdy material and it has a zip lock gripper. Because of this gripper, you are able to eat the breakfast and then store the rest of the meals in the bag.
Although IRPRUS MRE has a lot of possibilities, there are some black pages in its use. Firstly, it doesn’t contain a heater, so you have to find a way to warm your food before consuming it. Secondly, the instructions are only in Russian and for someone who buys an MRE for the first time it will be difficult to use. Finally, many reviews express complaints about the not so good taste of the food and the bad packaging which resulted in a damaged product when they ordered from overseas.
7. Kim Byeong Jang Combat Bibimbap
For an admirer of eastern cuisine, this MRE meal is the ideal option. It is a Korean package which includes 3 bags of local type food. It is consumable between 9 and 15 months and it contains 185 gr of food per bag.
The flavor of each meal is dried beef with rice, vegetable and red pepper paste. As you understand, it is pretty simple and it is really recommended for leisure activities. In addition, you must use boiling water for ten minutes or cold water for 30 minutes in order to prepare it. It also contains a disposable spoon and a Korean red pepper sauce.
Just remember, if you do not like spicy food very much, put a small amount of this sauce because it appears to be really hot! I am positive that this is not the best choice if you are looking for a full meal, but if what you want is something small, like a snack, and you enjoy Korean cuisine, this is a very nice choice!
Things To Check Before Buying An MRE
There is an endless market out there for the MREs, especially nowadays, when you can even find YouTube videos with people who try them out and offer reviews! The most critical question is what to look out for when you decide to acquire one yourself. There are some certain parameters to be aware of so that you will be satisfied with the product you chose.
While searching the internet for reviews about the civilian MREs, I came across a common problem of the buyers. Usually these meals last for a very long time, but when you receive the package you must always check when it expires.
The main reason for that is that many times companies send MREs whose production took place for example 2 years ago. That means, that a package which was supposed to last on your shelf for 5 years will last for three. Always pay attention to that and don’t feel uncomfortable to return a product so that you get what you paid for.
Durability is the main advantage of an MRE meal. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that it lasts the same time if you store it somewhere warm. They do not need a refrigerator but you should be cautious with the stowing.
The usual temperature to achieve the maximum lifespan of the merchandise is 70 Fahrenheit degrees. If you leave it somewhere where is hotter, it will result to the decrease of its shelf life.
Another factor to consider is the distance between you and the company which send you the product. It is quite obvious that if you order something from overseas then there is a high possibility it will arrive damaged.
Many reviews about products which came from far away expressed complaints about detriments on the boxes. MREs meals might be have quite durable packaging but let’s not forget that it is food! Imagine if something goes wrong and you wish to return the merchandise and send you back a new one…
It is understandable for anyone to want to try an MRE meal, because is something exciting. It is a really nice feeling to open a box which you don’t know exactly what it contains, but if you have allergies, you’d better skip it.
The most usual allergies are those of nuts, and I must say that almost all the options I saw had them inside. If you are experiencing a problem like that, then it is better for you to make a meal from home to take out to your trip and to not risk it!
There are some important reasons to check the contents of an MRE package before you buy it. When you are aware of the food options you will also know what to wait for. It is crucial for you to be informed about the product you are buying.
Moreover, there is the matter of taste. If you read the descriptions you will find out if the meals each MRE has to offer are enjoyable for you. For example, you might be a vegetarian or you might not like tomato sauce. Knowing the contents will help you exclude the meals you don’t like.
Search For The Authentic
Like in all things we buy online, there are imposters in buying MREs as well. You might end up with a rotten meal which has nothing to do with the long-life element of the what you are searching for.
This is why you must look up the name of the company which offer the certain MRE and also the cover of the bags. After that, you should check on the seller in any marketing website to see if there is the proper correspondence with the above. Most of the websites are not able to do anything in case you are deceived.
Learn About Them
The last and most important advice to follow is to learn about the MREs. Dive into the web, find edible sites and discover what are they and what is their purpose. By doing that, you will find out all the nutritional facts, all the history behind them and the proper way to use them.
Through this information you will learn how to prepare them correctly and how much you need to eat. Did you know that the soldiers need three of those meals per day? Of course, that doesn’t mean that the right quantity for you is this one as well.
Are there MRE choices for Vegetarians?
Yes, you can find many different MREs with vegetarian menu.
Are MRE meals healthy?
MREs are full nutritional meals and they are healthy. Imagine that a soldier consumes 3 of them per day!
How long can you eat them for?
The Army has a 21-day limit for consuming MREs, because actually it is processed food which might cause damage to your digestive system is you use it longer.
How long will it last in high temperature?
Although when you store them in low temperature they will last for years, if you put them in 120 F degrees, they will last just a month.
How much does it cost?
The prices vary online but usually you can find good quality ones for about 120-150$ per 12 meal packages.
Can children eat MREs?
Yes, they can, and also you can split one for two kids since the number of calories is big.
Are there different types of MREs?
Yes, there are the military and the civilian ones and they have differences.
Can a civilian buy a military MRE?
It is illegal for civilians to buy military meals. Nevertheless, there are many people who sell illegally these products online.
All things considered, the best civilian MRE is a difficult product to choose. There are many options and these seven above can cover all tastes. In my opinion, these meals are great for civilian use but also their importance lies to the fact that they proved to be really helpful when major emergencies came to the surface, like earthquakes and other disasters.
Either you prefer simple meals or richer ones, they are manufactured in a way to please every taste. For all that is worth, I am already checking which one of these to buy for my next camping trip!
James BartonHi, I'm James. I am the founder and main editor for The Survival Corps. I have been a part of the survival and prepping community since my mid 30's as I downsized and started to prepare to be self sufficient in a time of crisis.
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