Average Calories Per MRE
Flameless Ration Heater (FRH)?
Ready-to-eat meals or meal ready-to-eat, called MREs for short, are meals designed to be eaten in situations where it’s impossible to prepare a traditional meal. MREs are frequently used by the military and during non-military field operations, so the government is one of the primary consumers of MREs.
Private citizens can also buy MREs and many do, stockpiling these meals in case of an emergency. If you’ve considered creating an emergency stockpile of MREs, but you aren’t sure where to begin, this guide can help.
It should be noted that, even though MRE packages contain the warning “U.S. Government Property, Commercial Resale is Unlawful,” there are no laws that actually prohibit the sale of MREs to civilians, unless that sale is by military personnel.
MREs are a full, ready-to-eat meal that has been sealed in a waterproof pouch. They are designed to stay fresh for approximately five years, but some MREs last even longer than that. MREs provide the nutrition a person needs to survive when traditional meals and food is not available or cannot be prepared. It is possible to stay alive eating MREs for a significant period of time, as long as you also have access to clean water.
It’s not only possible to survive by eating MREs, but it’s also possible to enjoy the food you’re eating. Most people assume pre-packaged survival food isn’t going to taste good, but there are many MREs that provide nutrition and enjoyment. As long as you aren’t expecting a five-star seven-course dinner, MREs can provide enough variety to allow you to have some of your favorite foods, even during an emergency.
MREs are used by soldiers on a regular basis. The meals allow them to get the nutrition they need while in the field without having to carry a significant amount of food with them in their packs and without having to cook the food. Furthermore, those who work for the US Forestry Service use these meals when they are out in the field and need a convenient option for food, such as during the fighting of forest fires.
As a matter of fact, the US government is one of the primary consumers of MREs and many MRE manufacturers gear their products to the military and other government agencies.
MREs are also ideal during a natural disaster. If a hurricane, tornado, wildfire, or other natural event affects the food supply in an area, MREs can be lifesaving. These meals also make it possible to have nutritious food available when there is no gas or electricity for cooking or storing food properly. This is the key benefit that MREs provide over dehydrated food...what if you lack the water, heat source, or time to prepare dehydrated food? (See our article on dehydrated food for more information.)
Many people have also built a stockpile of MREs due to concerns of a future catastrophic event. For instance, they are concerned that in a serious terror attack the food supply and ability to prepare food could be affected. Having a supply of MREs available with a very long shelf life ensures that the family won’t have to go hungry while the government deals with the aftermath of an attack.
Whether you’ve chosen to invest in MREs because of concerns about a natural disaster or you want to have prep for a man-made event, it’s a good idea to become familiar with your options and know you are getting the best possible product. After all, if you’re going to be eating these meals for days, weeks, or months, they might as well be something you can enjoy that features high-quality foods you love.
We’ve put together this buying guide for MREs to help you make the best selection from the nearly endless variety of MRE options available.
Our pick for best MRE brand for the second year in a row is Genuine US Military Surplus MREs. Considering the military is one of the most frequent users of MREs, it should be no surprise that the companies that supply those meals offer the best product available.
These meals are manufactured for the military by Ameriqual, Sopakco, or Wornick, and all of them meet a high standard of quality. The meals come in waterproof pouches and are durable enough to withstand combat conditions.
We’ve found that the manufactures of civilian MREs tend to copy the military MREs, but fail to offer some of the additional features of military products, including waterproof matches and ration heaters. Essentially, you get more bang for your buck when you invest in military-style MREs. The fact that they contain waterproof matches is key in a survival scenario.
As they are packed under US military standards, they have the same shelf life as the Army and Marine supplies. Although the advised shelf life is five years, adequately stored food will not spoil for even longer than that.
Additionally, each MRE contains an accessory pack containing coffee, matches, seasoning, wet wipes, and even gum. The kit is supposed to get you out of any survival situation without unnecessary energy loss.
You’ll also get greater variety. Genuine US Military Surplus MREs offer 24 different meals (12 different meals in a box of 12), while civilian brands tend to only offer about a dozen different options.
In addition to making MREs for the military, Ameriqual, Wornick, and Sopakco also make civilian MREs. Many of these are great options even if we don’t consider them to be as good as the military grade meals made by the same companies. The runner-up picks below consist of great brands by other companies, as well.
Ameriqual’s APack meals are similar to their military meals food-wise, but they lack a few of the additional features. There are 12 total meal options to choose from and each features about 1000 to 1100 calories per meal.
According to Ameriqual, the APack Ready Meal is a “self-heating emergency meal”, since it includes a flameless ration heater. Survival experts recommend households have three full days of food and water in an emergency, and Ameriqual recommends one case of its MREs for every two people in a household.
Ameriqual APack Ready Meals feature:
Note: There is no accessory pack; the spoon, pepper, drink mix and moist towelette are separately packaged
Wornick, another manufacturer that provides meals to the military, also offers a selection of MREs designed for civilians. Wornick’s Eversafe meals are similar to their military product, but the civilian meals don’t come with gum, matches, or toilet paper.
Eversafe meals need to be purchased by the pallet if you buy directly from the company, but you can get smaller shipments if you purchase from other retailers, including Amazon.
WornickEversafe MREs feature:
There are 6 distinct menus, and each box of 12 contains 2 of each.
Meal Kit Supply MREs market their meals as being made by a US Department of Defense Contractor and claim all food components in their meals are “US military MRE ration components.”
Meal Kit Supply MREs feature three courses and contain 1200 calories per meal. Two-course meals contain 700 to 800 calories.
Meal Kit Supply 3-course MREs feature:
Meal Kit Supply 2-course MREs feature:
Each Meal Kit Supply case comes with 4 breakfasts and 8 lunch or dinner options.
Another affordable MRE option comes from Voodoo Tactical. These are tasty meals with most of the same features of a traditional military-style MRE. Each case includes 12 meals, six of each entrée.
Voodoo Tactical MRE feature:
Another manufacturer of official military MREs, Sopakco also offers civilian MREs.
Again, the civilian meals are quite similar to what they offer the military, with a few differences. According to Sopakco’s website, "Because MREs are strictly reserved for military use, SOPAKCO created SurePak-12 Meals for public consumption. We employ the same technologies we use to make the military meals."
Sopakco’s military MREs average 1250 calories per meal, while the civilian meals have about 900 to 1250 calories per meal. Civilian MREs also lack a few features of military meals, including gum, toilet paper, candy, and hot sauce.
Meals are available without or with a flameless ration heater for approximately $6 more.
Sopakco Sure-Pak MREs feature:
MREStar is the first civilian manufacturer on our list that does not also make meals for the US military. They have supplied MREs to US government agencies, including NASA, the FBI, and DHS, and their products are quite similar to military style meals.
A box of 12 MREStar meals comes with a flameless ration heater and sells for just under $110. A box of 12 meals without the heater sells for just under $100.
Boxes contain six different meal options, each of which averages about 1250 calories per meal.
MREStar MREs feature:
Meal options include cheese tortellini, beef stew, chicken noodle soup, chili, chicken with rice and vegetables, chicken gumbo, curry chicken, and more.
XMRE does not manufacturer MREs for the US military, but its meals are similar to military style meals and they do market to the government.
One of the things we love about XMRE is their flexible purchasing options.
There are multiple product lines available and you can purchase the meals individually or by the case. There are numerous meal options from XMRE in a variety of calorie counts ranging from 1000 to 3000, and the names of the meals reflect the calorie count. For instance, a 2200 XT meal has 2200 calories. Meals are available in calorie counts of:
The company also offers a line of halal MREs.
1300XT MREs feature:
XMRE offers 24 different meal options and each box of 12 contains 12 different meals that are sealed in a thick, durable, waterproof sealed plastic pouch.
That’s it for our 2019 Best MRE Brand buying guide! We still love many of the brands from last year, but we’ve added a few extra options to give you more choices. Whatever MRE brand you choose, we hope you always feel overprepared for whatever comes your way. And we invite you to share your thoughts and opinions on MREs in the comments below.