MRE's are a good addition to any survival bag. They have a good shelf life, up to 5 years under ideal conditions, they have gotten better as far as taste goes over the years (for the most part anyway), they are compact, and offer a good caloric intake. Unfortunatly they are fairly expensive, usually running $79.99-$99.99 for a case of twelve meals depending on where you look, and there is no way of knowing how they were stored or handled and therefore no way of knowing how much "life" they have left.
The price of MRE's and the "not knowing for sure" got me to thinking, "Why not make my own MRE's?" I looked into freeze drying my own meats,fruits, etc. and even a small freeze drying set up was cost prohibitive for me.
So I started looking at foods I eat on a regular basis and their shelf life and came up with a simple DIY MRE that costs between $2.99-$4.00 a meal, depending on what you choose to add, that's $ 38.88-$48 a case, about half of what regular MRE's cost, and a lot better tasting!
Step 1: Getting Started
I was able to pick up everything in the pictures for $35.85 at the local Wal-Mart. The Kool-Aid, tea mix, peanut butter, salt, creamer, and gum will make 50-60 DIY MRE's. I buy the microwave Complete meals by the dozen, they come in 9 different flavors and cost $1.75 (at least where I live in Colorado). We buy enough boxes of cocoa mix, crakers, and pop-tarts to make a dozen DIY MRE's every other week if need be. The buillon cubes and coffee come 24 to a package so you can get 12-24 DIY MRE's out of them before they need to be replaced.
The main "cost" to the DIY MRE is the Microwave Completes meal, the rest of the "ingerdients" average $.04 each per meal, less if you can buy them in bulk or on sale.
One of the great things about the Microwave Complete Meals is they can be eaten cold (like a regular MRE), heated with an MRE heater (if you have them), by placing them in hot water, or by emptying the package into a canteen cup or mess kit and heating over the fire.