How to Make DIY MREs for Your Bug Out Bag

Any die-hard prepper will tell you that preparing DIY MREs is the way to go. Commercial ready-to-eat meals can be a budget strain, so it’s best to make them yourself. How? Continue reading.

RELATED: MRE (Meal, Ready-to-Eat) | What you need to know

DIY MREs for beginners

A short story

The use of MREs dates back to ancient times. Roman soldiers carry provisions consisting of hard bread and wine. Although primitive by today’s modern standards, this basic nutritional combination was enough to last you for days.

In modern times, MREs have become part of the basic military arsenal. Freeze-dried goods and canned food are just as important in warfare as weapons and ammunition. Without this rudimentary supply, a soldier’s chance of survival in combat is jeopardized.

Modern MDRO basicsReady-to-eat military meals are prepackaged, self-contained single field rations used in combat

A standard government-provided MRE is a far cry from the rock-hard cookie of ancient Rome. The state ensures that modern MREs are filled with the basic nutrients the body needs to survive. A typical meal consists of high-calorie food groups that meet the highest hygiene standards.

The only bad thing you can say about these meals is that they can be boring. The challenge for MDRO producers now is to make the food palatable without compromising the health factor. In short, MREs shouldn’t have to taste like hospital food.

Make your own MREMilitary Combat Ration Food Set-DIY MREs

A handy option for preppers who want their MREs to be nutritious but still taste great is DIY. There are many advantages to preparing your own MRE. For one, you can customize the food you include in your package.

The trick is to keep the balance between taste and good nutrition. However, choosing a balanced meal from processed foods can be a challenge. Fresh food is not an option as your MRE is meant to be saved for emergencies.

Short term consumptionPhoto of a soldier in camouflaged uniform and tactical gloves with canned MRE-DIY MREs

Since MREs are intended for emergency use, they are not suitable for long-term use. Some MREs can last up to five years or even longer under ideal storage conditions. But do you really want to eat foods that have been stored for that long?

In practical terms, MREs are best used in emergencies such as hurricanes or natural disasters. An MRE prepared for this purpose is designed for a service life of around one year. If there are no such emergencies within this period, you can use it on your next hunting or camping trip.

RELATED: Homemade MREs for Preppers

4 simple tips to prepare your DIY MREDisplay of old Vietnam era military C ration meals that the troops ate while in the field - DIY MREs

1. Choose the right food

First, consider the foods that should go in your MRE. Remember that an ideal meal package consists of a main meal, drink, snacks and dessert. Even if your MRE is intended for short-term use, it is imperative to maintain the correct nutritional balance.

In addition to the nutritional value, make sure there is enough variety in your MRE. Eating the same type of food for days on end can put a strain on your taste buds. In short, keep it healthy but varied.

2. Keep it easy

The point of preparing an MRE is to be able to wear it in an emergency. Packaging tons of food to feed Africa misses the point. Please keep your MRE lightweight.

A simple solution to the MRE weight problem is dehydrated food. There are several different types of dehydrated vegetables, fruits, and meats that you can find in the market. These meals can be inexpensive and easy to prepare and perfect for quenching.

3. Use what you have

MREs can be quite expensive. But if you have the money, why are you skimpy, right? However, for those on a tight budget, you can use the contents of your supply. We sometimes tend to overlook what we already have.

For example, canned food that has been gathering dust on your shelf for a long time is best. Since most canned foods don’t require boiling, they’re perfect for your bug-out bag.

4. Invest in a freeze dryer

It may cost a little initially, but in the long run a freeze dryer is a good investment. Even more so, if you live in a country where there is a regular influx of products, this device would be more optimal. Freeze drying is the best way to save food for later consumption.

The freeze dryer can also be used to preserve meat and poultry. The process reduces weight while still being able to preserve many nutrients. Plus, freeze drying also solves the MRE weight problem that you’re likely to fear if you stumble upon.

Checklist for MRE examples

Despite the considerations discussed earlier, what you include in your MRE is entirely up to you. However, putting together an MRE shouldn’t be a problem. But to get you started, below are a few important things to pack in your bug-out bag:

  • Snack crackers
  • Instant coffee
  • Freeze-dried vegetables and meat
  • Peanut butter on a bag
  • Protein smoothie
  • Energy drink
  • Electrolyte water
  • Instant ramen
  • Diet supplement tablets
  • Trail mix
  • Instant mashed potatoes
  • Crackers and cheese
  • Protein bars
  • Instant rice
  • Packet of hot chocolate instant tea
  • salt and pepper

Note: Use a zip lock bag to make sure the contents of your MRE don’t spill into your bug-out bag. A vacuum sealer is also best if you have extra cash to spare.

Indispensable MRE toolMilitary Combat Ration Food Kit-DIY MRE'S

Once everything is in place, it is time to prepare an important point that you will need to do with your MRE. You just can’t eat all of the food with your hands, can you? Instead of using a regular fork and spoon that could poke holes in your ziplock bags, you can use a wooden spork.

A wooden spork is easy to clean and has no sharp edges compared to normal metal forks. Plastic dishes are also not recommended. They break easily and could become potential pollutants in the wild.

Watch this video and learn how to make a do-it-yourself 24-hour MRE:

Nothing beats a well-cared for MRE during a lengthy error or emergency. With these simple but practical DIY MRE preparation tips, you’ll be better prepared for unexpected events.

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What kind of foods would you include in your DIY MRE? Feel free to share your ideas in the comments section below!


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Macallister Anderson

I am by no means an expert in every aspect of this stuff. I plan to learn, and when possible, enlist the help of experts in various fields to come together and offer their knowledge. In a few years, I dream that this site will be a virtual survival encyclopedia and allow a total novice to come on here and be supplied with everything they need to prepare for anything.

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