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
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.
Step 2: Food Savers Are Your Friend
Step 3: Making the Pouches
I used 5 bags for this DIY MRE. The first bag was cut approx. 3 1/2 inches long, sealed along the bottom edge and then further divided into 4 compartments.
The next bag was also cut 3 1/2 inches long, seealed along the bottom, and divided into 3 compartments.
The next 2 bags were cut approx. 6 inches long, sealed along the bottom, and then a small compartment of approx 2 inches was seealed along one edge.
The bag was cut approx. 4 1/2 inches long, sealed along the bottom, and divided into 3 compartments.
Step 4: Adding the "extras"
In one of the 6 inch bags with 2 compartments carefully spoon peanut butter into the smaller compartment. If you get any peanut butter around the top of the bag (and you will) clean it off witha paper towel or you won't get a good seal. In this DIY MRE I placed 8 saltine crackers (the recomended serving size) into the largr compartment and then sealed it all up. In other DIY MRE's I have made I have used graham crackers, triskets, and Wheat-Thins use whatever yor taste buds say is good!
In one of the 3 compartment bags you made place a package of cocoa mix, 3 tsp of sugar, and a coffee single into the comaprtments and seal it up. I personally don't use the original package of cocoa mix because if you look, most of them have a small notch in them to make it easier to tear them open and it is not 100% air tight.
In the other 3 compartment bag I placed 2 tbls of coffee creamer, 2 tbls of Kool-Aid, and 2 tbls of iced tea mix and then, you guessed it, sealed it all up!
In the other 6 inch 2 compartment bag I placed 4 peices of chewing gum (Juicy Fruit), TP, and a box of water-proof matches and then sealed it up.
Step 5: The BIG Bag
Step 6: The End
Each of the DIY MRE's I have made have some sort of breakfast item (Pop-Tart, instant oatmeal, cereal bar, etc) a package of instant soup, and a main meal. Depending on what is in the different DIY MRE's you get between 1200-2000 calories in each package (based on the nutritional info on the various packages). Once sealed they are a good bit smaller, package wise, then standard MRE's so they take up less space and for about the same weight.
I base the "shelf life" on the shortest shelf life item placed in the bag. The Microwave Complate meal has a 16 month shelf life, based on the "use by" date on the package. Most everything else has a 2-3 year shelf life once vaccum sealed. I mark each DIY MRE with a "packaged date" and a "Use By" date that is one month less then the expected shelf life just to be on the safe side.
While not the 5 years a standard store bought MRE has these DIY MRE's will last 12-16 months just sitting in a pack, which is about what one of the more expensive MRE's will last. The 5 year shelf life on MRE's is based on keeping them at 37-40 degrees, out of sunlight, and away from rough handling. Something that isn't going to happen in your pack.
As always I look forward to reading your comments, questions, and suggestions!
Train to survive!