The Typical Military MRE (Meal, Ready to Eat)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

When the BF said he was going to cook I was intrigued. I hadn't yet seen any kitchen skills though he said he was good with a BBQ. A skill he said with such pride on his face, only to be crushed at my admittance that I had no such means of cooking. Considering where I live, a BBQ might get stolen. So when he said he brought dinner and tossed me a small camo-green weather proof pouch labeled "Menu No. 5 - Chicken Breast" I was taken a wee bit off guard. 
Brian, as you may have guessed, is in the military. He had left work a bit early and snagged one of the MRE's (Meal, Ready to Eat; oh the military loves their acronyms) for me as he figured I would be amused. 

I was. 

Apparently each of these are between 1000-3000 calories, designed to be eaten once a day (though many soldiers eat three or four and subsequently return home with a bit of pudge). This particular meal was, according to Brian, "Not one of the best, but not so bad as the instant tuna casserole." This particular one contained a chicken cutlet reminiscent of the ones you were probably served in a school cafeteria, jalapeño catsup,jalapeño cheese spread, a piece of wheat bread, a spiced pound cake, M&M's (naturally), and some minestrone. Plus, tea, vanilla cappuccino, salt and pepper, mints, utensil, and a moist towelette were throw in. 

Oh, you may be wondering how we cooked all this. Well, thanks to the process of advanced chemical engineering, the military has that figured out. To cook the chicken we inserted into a plastic pouch a packet with heating powder. The powder, when mixed with an ounce of water in the pouch, creates a chain reaction that basically boils the water on spot, poaching the chicken which is in it's own pouch (the reason for that is the chemical and the water are both slightly toxic. "Do not eat chemical heater or its water byproducts!" says a warning). While poaching you have to prop it up against a "rock or something" according to the diagram. Seriously.

Here it is cooking:
So what does the final meal taste and look like? Well, the chicken cutlet when smeared with the catsup isn't horrible. It tastes like Middle School. It's also the only food Eat Beast ever begrudgingly ate. He tasted it. Spit it out. Looked at me. And then, realizing he would get nothing else, proceeded to eat it. It was a first. 

The spiced loaf was tasty, decent even in flavor, but the slightly powdery consistency was... odd. The bread, apparently universally detested by soldiers (though better than the crackers that can come with it) was like moist cardboard. It was a crime to bread everywhere. The cheese spread, a whopping 300 calories, was bad. It was bad. Like movie theater spicy nacho cheese, but unmelted, and with an undertaste of art paste. The minestrone was surprisingly good, had it actually some broth or something it would have been downright tasty. However, it was basically cold minestrone casserole.
How our boys and girls eat this I have no idea. All I know is I am going to contact the USO to send a care package with many tasty things inside it to someone who needs it. I highly suggest doing the same if you can. Our military deserves better than this.

Other Care Package Links:
OMP Care Package Information
Guide to Packages


  1. Actually this explains a lot...I used to date a guy who was in the military...Needless to say his taste buds are flawed....*no not sayin all military people have flawed taste buds...*

  2. Ok - so I cannot let these libels against the MRE go unanswered.

    A couple things: "designed to be eaten once a day"... Not true. They're meant to be eaten thrice daily - 1100 - 1800 calories apiece to account for the increased level of activity.

    Second - all the food is precooked and pre-pressurized ( If kept in the cardboard case, MREs will last 10 years. After 10 years, they're still safely edible, they just start to taste funky. These logistical concerns, somewhat sadly, outweigh the taste considerations.

    Also - everyone knows the minestrone is gross. Try the sloppy joe - comes with real Cheez-Its.

    Finally, it also comes with gum - mint or cinnamon.

  3. Interested Soldier: It tasted funky after day 1. 10 years would just be beyond funky. Like, funky cubed or something. Still, valid points you bring up. Cheez-its do rock. I wish ours had that. We did get Crispy M&M's though, so yay.

  4. what I find really interesting about the MREs is that most of them have 2 pouches of things that should be heated, but only enough powder to cook one thing.

    I actually really liked the Thai one...would have been nice to have both hot rice and hot Thai chicken.

    However, now that I look at the MRE Menu ( it seems that it has been a while since I've had one...

  5. i've eaten an australian MRE, and it was pretty good. this was back in the day of tins though. the cooking instructions were along the lines of, dent side of tin, heat in fire till dent pops out, open and eat. tortellini - not so bad. also comes with chocolate and life savers, and condensed milk. I will never be able to stomach defence force coffee - black instant coffe with condensed milk for both creamer and sweetner...

  6. That's it. Every set of cooking instruction need to include the term "or something."

    Preheat the oven to 350° or something.

    Pierce the top of the pastry with a sharp knife or something.

    Yes, our soldiers do deserve better. They also deserve better armor, imo.

  7. I've always been told to avoid the cheese in the MREs.

  8. My boyfriend was in the army for 5 years and according to him, the key to being able to down all of this nasty stuff is to mix together all of the main dinner components. In this case you would crumble up the bread and mix it with minestrone, chicken, jalapeno cheese and ketchup. I was once forced taste one of these concoctions (mine involved some sort of beef in a sauce) and was surprised that it was actually edible. Unfortunately after years of doing this, the desire to "mix it all together" is permanently imprinted in his brain and he instinctively does this with almost everything he eats.

  9. I remember being shocked and awed that Interested Soldier actually liked some of the MRE's when I first met him in his Army incarnation... Of course, "liked" in this case means "would prefer them over dirt or fermented goat's milk" ... and yes, "rock or something" is the best instruction ever.

  10. Gross it is but it gets the job done I suppose. They without a doubt deserve so much better. Great idea for sending care packages.

    Thanks for trying it out for us:)

  11. ROFL!!!

    DH is military and our emergency reserve food for hurricane and tornado weather consists of MREs brought home from the field. I've not actually ventured to try one. I've just never been that desperate.

    But they do make me laugh. In theory, some MREs (I think the ones with peanut butter) do have 3000 calories and are meant for eating one a day. There's a way to spread out the meal so you get the right calories at the right times. I'd have to track down someone who went through survival school and ask though.

    Not all MREs can survive 10 years, the expiration dates on the better tasting ones say 5 years, max. You can probably still eat them after this, but then again, you really can't eat everything. You shouldn't, but you can.

    And, for the record, most of the deployed soldiers don't eat MREs. Not unless they want to. A majority of our bases overseas have DFACS (cafeterias). Several have Burger Kings, Cinnabons, and other assorted restaurants.

  12. I remember those!
    My dad used to get them for earthquake supplies, and we'd eat them JUST before they went bad and needed replacing.

  13. They can also be used as an explosive device.

    Marines never come home pudgy. Too much work to do...burns up all those calories. :)

  14. Its the best way to buy ready to eat meals while you are travelling


Hey, you're leaving a comment! That's pretty darn cool, so thanks. If you have any questions or have found an error on the site or with a recipe, please e-mail me and I will reply as soon as possible.

Vanilla Garlic All rights reserved © Blog Milk Powered by Blogger