A lot has changed over the past few years. Those who engaged in the art of survival prepping pre-pandemic saw their concerns validated, while many who hadn’t, experienced a change of heart.
One of the staples for survival and emergency preparedness is a stock of MRE. Here’s what you need to know about making your own MRE at home.
What’s an MRE?
Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) are packets of sealed, easy-to-prepare food meant to offer nutrients and energy in an emergency or the field. The military has long used MRE during missions. These meals are designed to be easy to prepare, take up minimal space, last for a long time, and have a high-calorie count. When prepared correctly, an individual MRE will last up to five years.
While the military traditionally used these to support troops on missions, they have several other applications. There’s been a resurgence in popularity since the pandemic led to global supply chain shortages, showcasing the precariousness of our food supplies. According to Bug-Out-Bill, having a stash of MRE on-hand is also wise if you live in a place that’s prone to hurricanes or blizzards. Backwood campers and hikers also benefit from having MRE packed, as they take up less room than cans.
Choosing a Preservation Method
Most MREs use freeze-drying or dehydration as the preservation process. There are pros and cons to each solution. Freeze drying tends to retain more nutritional value in the food than dehydration. However, most of the food retains its size and shape, which can be an issue for space optimisation. Freeze-dried food also requires rehydration for eating, which could use up your water supply.
Dehydration tends to be more versatile and manageable for those creating a stash of MRE. You can dehydrate almost everything, from pasta sauce to yogurt, and dehydrators are more efficient. You may wish to use dehydration as your primary technique, then freeze-drying for things that can’t be dehydrated, like root vegetables.
Getting the Right Gear
In addition to a freeze dryer or dehydrator, you’ll also need gear to pack your food properly for maximum lifespan. A vacuum sealer and mylar bags are necessary for making your MRE stash. You’ll also want food-safe oxygen absorbers to remove any potential moisture exposure, preventing your food supply from getting spoiled.
Fortunately, all the gear you need to create MRE at home is widely available at department stores and Amazon.
Choosing the Right Foods
When determining what foods to add to your MRE packs, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind:
- the nutrient value
- the ease of preparation
- the caloric density
Three macronutrients make up everything we eat: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Protein provides satiety and promotes recovery. Carbohydrates are good for energy, and fats help provide high-density nutrients that help with both energy and satiety while bolstering calories.
Unfortunately, most fats don’t store well in MREs and go rancid easily. Instead, use carbohydrates and protein to make up the bulk of your MRE meals. Then, keep a stock of nuts and commercially dried milk, cheese, and jerky to go along with them.
Adding dehydrated fruits and vegetables will incorporate micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) into your meals to promote better health.
When creating a stash of MRE, consider what foods you enjoy and your overall goals. Remember to taste test your recipes and keep them stored in a cool, dry area.