View Full Version : Product Review: Mil*Spec MRE's

Rich Lucibella
December 5, 1998, 03:20 PM
For all you Y2K fans out there, I have to state that I hardly expect utilities, the banking system, the government or civilization to fall apart on 1/1/2000. I don't expect Clinton to declare Marshall Law and UN Troops to flood the nation moving door to door to collect our weapons. But, with the growing risk of biologic and computer based terrorism, it's nice to know your options.

I recently decided to try a few different Meals Ready to Eat (MRE's) while ordering other stuff from a catalog (Cheaper than Dirt? Brigade QuarterMasters?). And so I found myself in posession of a package from The Wornick Company in McAllen, TX.

The meal comes in a heavy, sealed plasic pouch. The pouch indicates:

Pasta and Vegetables in Tomato Sauce.
Menu #2.
Contains: Pasta and Vegetables Entree, Applesauce,Crackers, Strawberry Jam, Chocolate-Covered Oatmeal Cookie, Orange Drink Mix and Condiments.
A complete nutritional breakdown is provided, along with ingredients and prep instructions. (850 Calories)

Now I gotta mention that I'm second generation Italian...and I cook. I know pasta and I know sauce. I don't eat in fast food places (with the exception of an occasional Mickie D's Egg McMuffin, hash browns and coffee). I don't appreciate prepared foods in can or container. In short, I'm not easy to please...a real sumbitch, if you will. However, being charitable and cautious, I approached the contents with an open mind(?).

Upon tearing open the package, I found everything as described, in individually wrapped containers. The one exception was the substitution of Instant Coffee for the Orange drink (the manufacturer reserves the right to make minor substitutions).

Included were plastic serving dish, plastic utensils, including a very long spoon, plastic wrapped napkin, salt, pepper, powdered non-dairy creamer and two sugar packets...thats right, two. For those of you who drink coffee with more than one sugar, you know what it's like to pull out of the Golden Arches to find the inevitable one (or zero) sugar packets. Perhaps you even know the frustration of a hotel 2 cup coffee maker with 1-2 sugar packets (Grrrr, don't get me started!).

The meal may be eaten cold, but I opted for immersion of the entree packet in boiling water for 5 minutes. I spread the Jam on the crackers, opened the applesauce and emptied the hot entree onto the plate.

I can't tell you what a pleasant surprise this meal was! While it was hardly 5 star dining, it was actually quite tasty. The pasta was not mushy, the vegetables were readily identifiable and the tomato sauce was more than palatable. The applesauce was a good as any from a jar. The jam was delicious and the coffee was hot and appropriately sweet. :) I waited for the stomach distress that often follows intake of strange prepared foods...it never materialized.

Based on this one sample, I intend to order others and highly recommend these items for those who maintain disaster stores, "bugout kits", for camping, remote getaway homes and hunting sites.

I have been cautioned that purchase of a six month supply might trip certain agency triggers, given the hype about that latest of "public enemies", the "Militias". While none of us welcomes Big Brother scrutiny, I have to believe that the Y2K hype has expanded MRE orders to such a degree that an extended supply for one or two persons is now commonplace.

The increased demand also has the benefit of drawing down outdated MRE stocks and increasing the probability that your order will be relatively fresh.

[This message has been edited by Rich Lucibella (edited 12-06-98).]

December 5, 1998, 06:14 PM
No Gum? When I was doing some little prep for OCS (I was in the PLC program with the USMC) we had MRE for two meals and they both came with gum. so that we could get the taste of the meal out of our mouths. at least thats what the Gunny said it was for

Rob Pincus
December 5, 1998, 06:32 PM
Well, My favorite always used to be the chicken stew and tuna with noodles and beef stew wasn't bad unless you get one with an extra dose of fat.
try then cold Rich, any of the meals with red meat leave a horrible coating of cold fat in your mouth when you eat them cold.

I've had quite a few leftovers from field excercises that have piled up, (most of a duffel bag full...) but I received all of them at least 4 years ago- god knows how long before that they had been packaged.
what is the word on when I should start feeding them to my stepkids and replensih the stock??

btw- I'm with you on the coffee, Rich.. I'm not happy until the spoon sticks straight up.


Rich Lucibella
December 5, 1998, 07:23 PM
Honestly, I forgot! There certainly was gum included. Thanks for the reminder.

I'm told a 10 year shelf life in cool climate....do not freeze. Mykl provided me a wealth of great info a few months back...perhaps he'll weigh in here.

December 5, 1998, 08:27 PM
Get the barbeque pork, or something with pound cake in it. And if you're going to be living of them, some laxatives can't hurt either ( :D).

PS- What ever you do STAY AWAY from the beefsteak!

[This message has been edited by PCurrent (edited 12-05-98).]

December 5, 1998, 10:16 PM
I'm here Rich.

Gotta agree with you PCurrent, the MRE's will plug you up like a welded in butt-plug! The military normally rotates the MRE's with "A" or "B" rations to ensure that sufficient green stuff and water-packed food gets in the digestive system. The MRE is designed for the physical intensity of combat environs, and subsequently is loaded with about 3200 Calories. Chompin' on these for the 3-squares without that level of energy burn will ensure not only that you're moving bricks thru your bowels, but that you'll grow to accommodate them. Drinking lots of water before & after eating is highly recommended when using the MRE's as a primary food source.

The cardboard cases, in which military contract MREs are packaged, are stamped with the expiration date. Just because the date has passed however does not mean the meal packs and condiment packets aren't still potable, just suspect. Watch for bloated or pressurized entree` packets as they may have a gas producing bacteria in them or possibly even toxins such as botulinum. Don't purchase or eat any packets that are opened (tears, pinholes, and faulty edge seals are the most common). I would be suspect of the individual meal packs sold at some surplus and low budget outfitters, as they are probably discarded military stocks that have been separated from the tell-tale case. The same goes for the individual entree and condiment packs. Once they are separated from the case, most don't have the expiration date markings on them.

The MRE is excellent for cold weather snacking, emergency stores in the storm shelter, boat airplane/'copter & the car/truck/4x4. If in vehicles, protect from heat if possible, as this will cause them to breakdown & spoil faster.

Other items to consider for stocking with the MREs are UHT milk, & sterile water, both of which have extended shelf lives. Set up a plan to rotate stocks by using them periodically, this ensure the entire stock isn't about to go bad just as a blizzard pops over the mountains or swoops across the praires or Great Lakes.

A great advantage of MRE over the traditional "6-month" or "1-year" cache of bulk foods is that it is consummable in small quantities, unlike the gallon size cans of corn, beans, pudding, & etc. found in many of the food cache marketeers catalogs & adverts.

[This message has been edited by Mykl (edited 12-05-98).]

December 9, 1998, 07:47 PM
Okay, okay, don't keep us in suspense -- from which catalog did you order these culinary delights? The catalogs typically do not specify the contractor that manufactured the MRE.

Rich Lucibella
December 10, 1998, 12:58 AM
I honestly don't remember, though I'd give even money it was Brigade Quartermasters. In any case, the source company's site is at
http://www.wornick.com/ .

I have received private email to the effect that military MRE's are no longer available to the public; Wornick's MRE's do not meet the standards for military MRE nutrition. I don't know if this is true. Stats for the meal I reviewed:
850 Calories (155 from fat)
Fat: 16g 25%MDA
Sat Fat: 8g 40%MDA
Cholesterol: 5mg
Sodium: 511mg
Carbs: 164g 55%mda
Fiber: 8g
Sugar: 97g
Protein: 12g

December 10, 1998, 10:39 PM
Rich, you are correct on both counts, the Military MRE is no longer available on the surplus markets, and the version selling in BQ does have a lower calorie count.

The military versions have a higher calorie count for obvious reasons, but the new surplus ones remind me of the "humanitarian" or "relief" meal packs that were started....

Either way, if you have $50 to spend, this is one place where it would be well invested.

Kevin Jon Schlossberg
SysOp and Administrator for BladeForums.com

Scott Evans
December 11, 1998, 12:58 AM
My reflex reaction when hearing of MRE’s is “Yuck ! No thanks”. Yes, I know it is a good idea have durable rations on hand … and I do … and they are MRE’s . I’m just saving them until I have absolutely nothing else left to eat. Rich, your review of this product sounds very familiar yet soooo different from my recollections of the MRE’s I consumed while in the Marine Corps. They very well may have improved considerably over the last several years. Bob Foster (my production Manager) A retired Marine 1st Sgt. acquired a few cases of the newest MRE’s several weeks back and he has them stored at the shop. One morning he was raving as to how good the new MRE’s were. I was skeptical and had errands to run and was gone most of the morning. When I returned it was near noon and the guys had broke for lunch … A double take was necessary on my part as I walked buy and noticed that each member of the crew was gleefully chowing down on a different meal from Bob’s MRE stash. (quite a sight if you know my crew) I was offered one but took a rain check. . I may just try one next time ….

A side note:
Yesterday the crew ate “Bear Chili” … Frank Piper prepared it from the Black bear recently taken from the Edge-Works back 40 (actually back 20). Now that’s good survival food.

Scott Evans
January 6, 1999, 08:57 PM
I walked past the guys eating lunch today and sure enough what I thought I saw … I did … They were eating MRE's … again. I once again passed on the offer to partake. YUCK … I mean no thank you. I did not think anyone would believe me so I took a snapshot. If any one would like to see 1Sgt. Robert Foster (retired) raiding his own Y2K stash check out

www.tacticalholsters.com/showroom/The Crew.htm

Either MRE's are really good or Bob is having flash backs :)

[This message has been edited by Scott Evans (edited 01-06-99).]

Rich Lucibella
January 6, 1999, 09:33 PM
You need the "http://" before the "www". Even with that, however, your url is not found on the server.

Could you find out what brand these guys munch on?

Scott Evans
January 6, 1999, 09:52 PM
Thanks Rich, I have been looking for a reason to fire the little computer geek :)
I will look into the brand.

Scott Evans
January 7, 1999, 08:30 AM
Rich the brand is:



e-mail, or call and Bob will send you one of his MRE's to compare. Bob's come with the new heater/cooker.

[This message has been edited by Scott Evans (edited 01-07-99).]

Rich Lucibella
January 7, 1999, 10:56 AM
Thanks, Scott.
I'll do some research.

January 7, 1999, 02:27 PM
I just noticed on the Wornick site that the "mil-spec" MRE's only have a shelf life of 3 yrs. I wonder if there is a tradeoff for taste?

Rich Lucibella
January 7, 1999, 04:50 PM
Don't know. But a post here suggests the nutritional value leaves something to be desired. The search continues.

Douglas in CT
January 7, 1999, 11:06 PM
As much as I enjoy the MRE, I must point out that there is a bit too much salt used (probably for long term storage) for my taste.
The MRE is portable, versatile and will do well for a short term menu - requiring no extra water to prepare (except for that darn salt taste.
Remember, the best rule I've found is " Store what you eat"(and watch those expiration codes).

Yours - from the feedbag,
Douglas in CT

Rich Lucibella
January 7, 1999, 11:26 PM
Info on brands and nutritional facts is greatly appreciated.

January 8, 1999, 12:08 AM
The pork in barbecue sauce was always my favorite! And if I got one of the MREs with chocolate chip cake in it, I was in heaven! Can't say I enjoyed the cookie bars though.

I hear they've got burritos, lasagne, etc. nowadays.

BTW, those MREs were versatile. The plastic wrapping was recommended by our drill instructors for stopping 'sucking' chest wounds!

January 8, 1999, 05:41 PM
OK- here come the age comments- are these things any better or worse(taste wise) than Cs ? If you have to ask what Cs are don't bother....

January 8, 1999, 08:06 PM

The early MRE's were mostly freeze-dried crap. We're into the 3rd generation (at least) of these things, and they're pretty good. I'd say they're every bit as good as C-rats. However, neither will hold a candle to Adjimah's noodles or Addachi's yakimandu. Unfortunately, the John Wayne Bar is only a memory for those of use that used the pot to heat water and soak our feet...

Ed Brunner
January 8, 1999, 09:08 PM
They put the peanut butter in the C's to heat the spaghetti with if you didnt have a little C4.
Im going to have to try MRE's.

Better days to be,


January 12, 1999, 10:53 PM
Ah yes...the memories. Is there anything worse than a cold can of Ham and limabeans at 4am in the botom of a wet foxhole. Ouit complaining about the current MRE's, you don't know what bad is.

January 13, 1999, 11:58 AM
I had the honor of being enlisted at the time of the great C-Rat to MRE switch. I dined on C-rats at the infamous E-beach at PI as a recruit. Then when I made my first trip to the field it was MREs. My recollection is that at the time C's had it over MRE's by a long shot. I managed to keep a Cinnimon nut roll from the DI's, at great risk to the platoon, and I do remember it being well worth it.
I will be dinning on MRE's with my 6 yr. old son the next time we go plinking. I will let you know how it is. For some reason he is real psyched about eating "Marine Food"!

January 14, 1999, 12:54 AM
MRE's came long after I left but I do remember C-rats. I liked 'em. Used to lay them up on the intake manifold for a while to heat them up.
Ed- you've got it all wrong. The peanut butter was for heating the instant coffee!
Now how many of you are scratching your heads trying to figure that one out? ;)

January 18, 1999, 04:02 PM
Hey, you guys forgot the gorilla cookies!

Do you remember?

Ed Brunner
January 20, 1999, 01:12 AM
Grayfox;Here's a war story.I was in Vietnam with a South Korean Infantry Regiment and few Koreans used the C Ration coffee. So every morning one of the Korean troops would present me with a bunch of the coffee packs. Very Oriental-with both hands extended and much bowimg by both of us.

These were the same troops who woke me on Christmas Eve singing Christmas Caroles.

And who had the biggest body count.

Better days to be,


January 22, 1999, 08:09 AM
I'm currently stationed at Osan AB in the ROK. During every 4-day exercise, we eat MREs. I love 'em. Some of my troops complain a little, but then eat them. I suspect its more a matter of societal tradition to complain about any "institutional" food. Get any group of people together and give them meals they had no say in selecting or preparing and they'll complain. Kinda like complaining about hospital food or about about taxes. I really do think MREs are quite tasty, balanced, and a lot of variety. They never plug me up, but then I intentionally push a lot of fluids because we "suck a lot of rubber" (gas masks) during the exercises and sweat like pigs. I figure I'm lucky...what do ANY of our enemies have to eat or wear as protective equipment. I'm the luckiest man I know...no whinin'

January 23, 1999, 12:55 AM
Ok, I can't find my BQ catalog.

Anyone know of a cheap, reliable source for MRE's?


Kevin Jon Schlossberg
SysOp and Administrator for BladeForums.com

January 23, 1999, 03:10 AM
Cheaper than dirt has them. They have a contract with the manufactuer to make them up special just for them. Price is $49.95 per case of 12.

Rich Lucibella
January 23, 1999, 10:52 AM
Grayfox, I wonder if you have the necessary info to do us a *great* service. I was apprised that the MRE's on which I originally based this thread do not meet military nutritional stds. I am looking for those that do.

If you can shed some light on this, many of us would benefit from a new thread on the subject.

Thanks in advance.

January 23, 1999, 10:26 PM
Sorry Rich, all I have is whats on the catalog. According to it CTD's version is made by the same manufactuer as US issue MREs. But, CTD has a 10 oz entree instead of govt 8oz and entree is packed in polymer tray instead of a bag. Other than that it's supposed to be the same as military stuff.

Just ordered a case. When it arrives I'll start a new thread and tell you what I think of them :)

[This message has been edited by Grayfox (edited 01-23-99).]

January 25, 1999, 01:28 PM
Rule for eating the new style MRE's: Don't eat the M&M's! The chocolate just doesn't age well. They may be safe to eat, but the flavor has left the building. Give me that maple nut cake anyday...

January 25, 1999, 05:51 PM
And to think that no one spooke of the treasured fruit cocktail found in the C's. Man that was worth gold in the field. Another thing the C's have over the MRE's was being able to mix a couple of ingredients and come up with PUDDING! Takes me back.

Mark THG
January 29, 1999, 08:44 PM
I'm glad for the review. I've been thinking of picking up a couple of cases this spring. My wife says why ? I said Y2K not! only real problem is here in south Texas it's real hot and I'm concerned with storage.

www.customholsters.com (http://www.customholsters.com)
M/D ENTERPRISES Custom Concealment Holsters
[email protected]

Matt K
February 2, 1999, 03:49 AM
Ok, I give in. How do ya use peanut butter to heat coffe or whatever from the C's?


February 2, 1999, 10:33 AM
It's been so long since I made that crack, I'd almost forgotten it. Ok, the peanut butter in C-rats came in little flat cans. This stuff had been in storage so long that the peanut oil had seperated and floated to the top. Guess what? Peanut oil will burn just like alcohol. So, open the can, strike a match- Presto! instant stove! The really great thing is that when you're through with it, you can still eat the peanut butter. Ain't it wonderful to learn new things? :)

February 9, 1999, 12:46 AM
Ok, I promised a review of Cheaper than dirt's MRE's. I ordered a case via internet about two weeks ago. I called today to check on my order and they never got it. Dumb computer! (or maybe dumb computer operator). Reordered today, report still coming. Sorry about the delay.

February 9, 1999, 05:45 PM
We mix "Ranger Pudding" from MREs. Coffee, creamer, sugar, coccoa powder, and water. I heard of a couple other "recipes", but forgot them.

February 9, 1999, 10:48 PM

Here's a couple:
Water, cocoa mix, crackers, sugar, coffee.
Water, jelly spread, applesauce, crackers, beverage powder (not cocoa), sugar, fruit cocktail/dehydrated fruit.

Pretty good stuff....


Kevin Jon Schlossberg
SysOp and Administrator for BladeForums.com

Walt Welch
February 18, 1999, 11:21 PM
What about cigarettes?? I always used to crack up when I would slip a few WWII C-rat ciggies into my dad's pack. I never smoked.


Mike Spight
February 22, 1999, 05:04 PM
MREs..yum, yum. Like the other old guys who witnessed the transition, I still preferred the taste and utility of C-rats. Nothing can beat a can of beans and weenies heated up on an engine manifold or over a smidgen of burning C4...those of us who served in the brown water navy (they call them Special Boat Units now) found another use for the peanut butter...the bilge pumps in our boats had a grease cap fitting, and we were supposed to re-fill them every few days so the pumps wouldn't burn up. When out of the heavy grease, the peanut butter worked just fine. My favorite all time C-rat was ..."turkey OR chicken, boned...". We called it "mystery bird...". Figured that if the maker didn't know which one it was, it must be a mystery. Ham and eggs (chopped) weren't bad either if heated and with a generous load of tabasco...got to stop...getting all misty eyed and sentimental...good thing about MREs is they don't make noise carrying them and they aren't heavy!

February 26, 1999, 10:27 PM
They're really bulky though.