Thursday, April 17, 2008

Home Made MRE

I have been looking for sometime for a direct replacement for the commercial MRE due to the high price, weight and limited choices in entrees.

I first started back in 1983 with a then new vacuum sealing system. This was before retort pouches were widely available and the few that were had a limited variety. I was unhappy with the results I was having with the available choices of food for backpacking trips and started experimenting with my own concoctions. I tried instant rice, instant potatoes etc… I met with varied success but was never really satisfied with what I was coming up with.

With all the new advances in packaging and the different choices now available, a homemade "MRE" style food pack can be made for a fraction of the cost of the commercial variety. I have recently searched on the web for prices on MRE’s and have seen them as low as $62.00 dollars per case up to $89.99 and that does not include shipping!

Besides being expensive (I feel), MRE’s are fully constituted so they are heavy as well as bulky. I have heard some people that claim to strip down their MRE’s to lighten the load. If that is what you are going to do, just buy the entrĂ©e instead of the whole thing. I do have several cases of MRE’s, I don’t think they are all that bad other than the price. Mine however, will be stored in my safe room or pre-positioned at my base camp at a later date. I don’t want to carry all that weight.

Over time my criteria evolved and culminated in this current home made MRE. Here is a picture of version 1:

1 packet hot chocolate
2 packets flavored instant oatmeal
2 packets instant cup of soup
1 packet cappuccino
1 packet spiced cider
1 package cheese n crackers
1 granola bar
1 package raisins
1 packet of tea
2 packets of beef bouillon
1 Oberto meat stick
1 book matches
3 pcs jolly rancher hard candy
1 vitamin pack

This is designed with the premise that breakfast and supper on the trail will most likely be eaten in the same encampment. It is also designed around a warm meal with warm drinks for cooler and cold weather. The rest can be consumed while on the move during the day. 2 packages of oatmeal in the morning along with either cider or cappuccino for breakfast, granola, crackers, raisins, hard candy and meat stick for on the trail, hot soup and hot drinks for evening after the day’s journey.

Notice the size of these 3 meals compared to one MRE meal.

This MRE weighs nearly a pound all by itself! While I don’t have a weight on the ration pack I know it is not that heavy.

In order to increase the amount of calories available per day I am considering the meal extension pack.

If at anytime you are hungrier than what the homemade MRE will satisfy, a spoonful of peanut butter and/or honey will help satisfy that hunger. The bacon bits will lend a bit more meat into your diet as will the tuna and the mashed taters mixed with a boullion packet will be better than going hungry.

Here is another meal extension pack:

Add the French vanilla flavoring to your oatmeal or make a hot beverage with it. Trail mix needs no explanation.

Here is a second MRE version I have created:

In this pack you see a different soup mix which will make 1 quart of soup.

Here is 5 days worth of meals from home made rations:

Now lets compare this to 5 meals of MREs.

Where I live and hike, water is not much of a problem. Streams, ponds, lakes and rivers are abundant and you will likely run across water somewhere along your hike or bugout. Each of my ration packs will require between 2-1/2 to 3 quarts of water per day. This doesn’t include what I will drink on the trail. I will be carrying at the least 2 quarts and when I make camp I will need several gallons for cooking, drinking, washing and restocking my canteens. Some can be boiled, some will be purified.

Cost wise, I save money on my rations by visiting food warehouses and liquidation stores. I bought everything but the matches and bouillon packets at a liquidation store near where I work. Boxes of granola bars were a $1.00, a package of almonds for $0.25, a box of instant oatmeal for $1.00. You see how cost effective this can be. Also, when I am visiting other stores, I am always on the lookout for other items that would make good additions and add variety to these packs. Over a few months time, I have assembled a 30 day supply for each of us three.

I realize this would not work for very arid regions due to the amount of water you would have to carry. Those regions can pose big problems. Perhaps someone else will be inspired by this article to tell us what their solution is.


  1. Hey! This is a good idea, I think. Homemade MRE's. If they work they are a low budget preppes ideal. I'll try to put some chocolate in mine. I drink Decaf and a little chocolate in the morning helps keep things regular.

    And that is something not talked about in survivalism. A daily dose of caffine will keep the old bowel pretty regular. Coffee freaks and chocolate eaters might not realize the importance of caffine in their daily life. But it is addictive. And your regularity will depend on it. Either get off of it or get a supply to last you a long time.


    1. I know this is a very old post, but traditional MREs are designed to 'stop you up' for a couple of days, but also incorporate instant coffee packs to help loosen you up so you can go if you're eating these long term. I'd go weeks at a time on just MREs in the field in the military. We had porta-johns set up at most camps in addition to the bath houses (sometimes those took a while). The johns would be relatively pleasant for about the first week. Come days 5, 6 and 7 you could smell them across camp since by then most people could actually go.

  2. The only things I have found that need a frequent rotation are the crackers and cheese, Oberto meat stick, the vitamin pack and the nuts I have in them. The nce thing about them is you can vary the contents to suit your personal tastes.

  3. You've certainly thought this one out. Pretty impressive, and I'll undoubtedly print this post off.

    You're right when talking about the disadvantages of commercial MRE's, I should know, I was a grunt in the Marine Corps for 8 years.

    Most, if not all, of us would break them down for a lighter load anyway. I was grinning looking at how you put those together, thats something I would do and have done.

    As long as you got the ability to make some ranger pudding in there it's all good lol.

    Excellent post.

    I dunno what to tell you about those arid conditions you were talking about if you're operating alone. Besides having an A-B and even C plan.

    I suppose one could create cache's of potable water and map it, not sure how long jugged up water can last and not make you sick, but I'd think a true survivalist would boil it anyway or have some water purification tabs on hand.

    Thats a pain in the rear scenario, how ambitious are you lol.

    Always carry a garbage bag with you too, at night it can be used as a water collection system if used properly at night, catching the dew, mist or even some rain if youre lucky. You wake up and instant water. Might not be much, but its better than nothing. Set several out.

    Self discipline is the key, dont eat all your food or drink all your water too fast.

    You probably have no business out there alone if one doesnt know that anyway.

    You guys have a new fan here, I like it.

  4. Welcome to the blog! I am glad you liked the post. Sharing Ideas is what this blog is about, as well as chronicling my journey to freedom from the yoke of consumerism.

    I have great guides leading me and encouraging me with their own posts: Creekmore, Dragon, BigBear, Michael Boone, Judy of the Woods, Jim Dakin and Wretha. All are pioneers, blazing the trail for the rest of us.

    Ranger pudding?

  5. Thanks for the welcome message...

    Ranger pudding is nothing more than the cocoa powder thats in some MRE's with a little water added to it and stirred up. A big hit in the field and a quick energy fix...

    I liked mine about the consistency of dry wall mud. Good stuff lol.

  6. Welcome to the blogworld. On the homemade MREs--it's a good idea! But I'd read the contents of some of the instant drinks, the boullion, and a lot of the stuff you picture in the post. Even the instant potatoes. Have you ever read the ingredients on one of those things? A mention of dehydrated potatoes and onion, and then a laundry list of who knows what chemicals, chemicals, chemicals. Yes, tasty. Eventually health destroying. So, just a note to beware of all that crap food.
    Just a warning note from a long-time label reader....

  7. Thanks for the welcome.
    In the modern age of food, most anything you do not produce with your own 2 hands will have something in it to preserve it. It has been said on other blogs, that the food we eat in our store most likely came from over 1000 miles away. Without all these preservatives, the food would be rotten before it reached our store shelves.

    The MRE replacements in this article are made for short term sustenance such as hiking and perhaps bugging out. They are not meant as a long term food solution, even though they use off the shelf food components. We live in a toxic society, and we can only do our best to eat what is healthy for us.

    I will be paying closer attention to labels, not just for the junk added to the food, but for nutritional content also.

  8. Nice. I will keep those ideas in mind.

  9. Our local dollar store has beef 3oz beef jerky pouches for a dollar. I boil in hot water with canned or sundried tomato, ad some powdered milk, salt, pepper, a little tarragon(optional), Then I ad a little rice, or barley, or freeze dried potato and simmer. followed by a flour slurry to thicken.

    The liquid rehydrates the beef jerky, and you end up with a hearty gormet stew.

  10. One thing that you guys should remember regarding MRE's filled with Ramen, instant rice, and beef jerky is that having all packaged foods means you are eating a TON of sodium per day. Which can be a good thing in a survival situation due to salt loss. But I guarantee that if you eat all that sodium every day, your stomach is going to probably start having some issues after a few days.

  11. You can now get tuna and salmon in 4.5 ounce foil packets. The expiration date on them is usually over 2 years into the future. I understand that they will store much longer if they are not continually exposed to extreme heat. These are usually flavored in some manner, and will provide a much-needed protein addition to your diet when you are under stress.

    Sgt. Psycho

  12. KICK ASS thx dude all i ever need good job u thought it out

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  15. One of the little known facts about mass manufactured MREs is that the reason they have coffee in them is to keep you regular... ish. If you are eating nothing but MREs for a few weeks by the end of the month you are going to end up doing what is well known as passing the golden one. This is almost as dangerous as it sounds painful. Also, what most people do forget is that there is such a thing as too much protein. Most people lost in the woods end up dying of protein poisoning due to the fact that it is so much easier to kill and eat those high protein forest critters. Rabbits and squirrels. Just food for though

  16. Hi Scott,

    Great read! as one of the above posters stated, you really thought this ot. As having lived off of MRE'S while in the Army, you're right we did break down the MRE's a lot. The reason wasn't because of the weight of the package, it was due to the bulk of the package. It took up too much space.

    A couple of things I would recommend though. The first is that you can make peanut butter packages with crackers bye using a FoodSaver vacuum packer. you can make this with cheese sauce, peanut butter, and jellies. The second thing is that you can use your food saver to seal the whole packagethat way it won't be exposed to any moisture. Lastly, don't forget to put condiments into the package. Those were lifesavers to us.

    Great post again! 1LT Hoppy

  17. Great post and I enjoyed reading all of the comments as well. I have started saving water jugs and a few other things here and there. My friends laugh at me because I am storing water, they always ask what are you waiting for The zombie apocalypse? I'm not really a prepper but I have seriously started thinking about it lately. I know that if things do go wrong they will go wrong very quickly and that there won't be time to, pardon my french, get your shit together. I know that we can't really rely on the government when shit hits the fan. I was thinking about buying MRE's but ur idea sounds great. I had no idea that MRE's were bulky and heavy. Now that is something I have to think about. Thanks for all the great idea's.

    1. I have updated the contents a bit here and there. I dropped the Jolly Rancher's as they got sticky after awhile, and the crackers got stale and the cheese turned black. A few adjustments here and there such as adding spam singles and a retort pouch of Tuna or Salmon to add protein. Now they are good to go for another 5 or more years. Perhaps in the future I will buy a vacuum sealer and seal them up that way!

  18. old fashioned rock candy stores well. I get mine at an oriental grocery, cheap. it's the corn syrup in 'hard' candies that gets sticky.

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