Energy is everything, be it in our current world or the one we will be faced with once the SHTF. In order to have energy and therefore an ability to keep going, your body needs food for fuel. It may be easy now to stop and grab a sandwich when pangs of hunger hit, but after TEOTWAWKI you will be forced to rely on yourself and the food plan you set up in advance. An option for emergency meals on the go are MRE's, or Meals Ready to Eat.
Photo: MRE Info
MRE's are a popular choice as a food source with both long term storage potential and easy preparation in mind. They are used in the military and are often distributed after natural disasters to feed people who have lost everything and cannot feed themselves by normal means. Each MRE provides about one-third of the daily calorie, vitamin, and mineral needs set forth by the military which comes in the form of an entre, side dish, desert, crackers or bread, candy, and a beverage that can be created by adding water. Also present is a heating mechanism as well as utensils and other miscellaneous items to enhance the meal such as salt, sugar, and seasoning.
Though MRE's can definitely cater to your energy needs while bugging out, they can also be pricy. Easily purchased online, MRE's hover in the area of about $6.00-$11.00 each by the time you factor in purchase cost and shipping. Although survival is priceless as is having access to food in a crisis, the cost of purchasing MRE's can be a bit steep in comparison with other meal options. When you factor in the amount of money you might spend on MRE's that may not even contain items you actually want to eat, it starts to make sense to instead make your own as a more financially feasible and palatable option.
Photo: Bison RMA
When taking the do it yourself approach to creating a meal ready to eat, there are some things to consider. First of all, the heat source can be tricky. Though you can buy flameless ration heaters, they are made for use with actually MRE packets which can make warming up a can of beef stew a little bit difficult. Depending on the items you choose for your DIY MRE's, applying heat may be require some additional thought or the selection of items that taste just fine without heat. Second of all, some water is necessary to activate heater packs to create the reaction that makes warm food possible. Access to water for this purpose is necessary as well as to utilize any drink mixes you select, be it water you carry or water you find and filter.
Photo: Armed Rogue
As you plan your DIY MRE's, there are some nutritional bases that need to be covered. Caloric needs are important as calories give you energy; each MRE should hover close to the military standard of 1,250 calories in order to be effective while you are utilizing energy. You also want to consider foods that have a long shelf life and can be carried easily. Some food items to consider are those sold in pouches as opposed to cans for easy storage, such as Campbell's Go Soup, Spam, and tuna. Also a good choice are meals that come in small bowls such as Hormel Compleats or Spaghettio's Micros. Canned goods are great as well, but could add unnecessary weight, bogging you down. Additionally, canned goods need to be purchased with pull tabs unless you plan on having constant access to a can opening device.
Photo: For the Mamas
Once you have an entre selected, you want to add other foods that can supplement your main meal and keep you going. Military MRE's have candy, but keep in mind that some candies are prone to melting in warm weather so select some that can go the distance. Don't forget about items such as granola bars, trail mix, nuts, crackers, applesauce, cookies, peanut butter, and beef jerky that are lightweight and easy to carry as well as great to munch on when your energy starts to drop. Add some drink mix if you choose, again planning for a water source, and your DIY MRE should be shaping up nicely. Add the necessary condiments, utensils, etc. then contain all of your items in the packaging of your choice, such as a Ziploc bag, and you should be good to go.
Photo: Eating Made Easy
If you have means or intend to buy vacuum sealer, freeze drier, or dehydrator, you can step up your MRE game that much more by creating your own meal options with the help of those devices. Simply prepare the foods you wish to have and seal in metalized Mylar bags. However, if you prefer to keep it simple, using shelf stable foods will get you through just fine.
Photo: Willow Haven Outdoor
Although the DIY MRE may lack some of the conveniences of a standard MRE and may not be a 'true' MRE, at least you know you'll be carrying something you actually want to eat. This is especially important in the case of those with food allergies who may not be able to take advantage of all the items contained in pre-packaged MRE's. When you mix and match ingredients to create a your own DIY MRE, however, you can ensure nothing goes to waste and save money at the same time, especially when shopping at places such as Sam's Club where you can buy in bulk. Before making a large investment in MRE goods, conduct a mathematical dry run and do the match for yourself, taking note of the areas where costs can be cut, making the necessary adjustments before you commit to an actual purchase. You may find that you are pleasantly surprised by the numbers you see.
Have you adopted a policy if making your own DIY MRE's? What food items do yours contain? Let us know in the comments!