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By January 21, 2013 Read More →

Making Your Own MRE’s Can Be Satisfying and Cheaper


Size difference

Have you ever considered making your own MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat) as opposed to buying them?  They can be used for more than a BOB.  We use them as quick on the go meals and they come in especially handy for that forgotten field trip your child needs a packed lunch for.

In this article I am going to show you how simple it can be and provide a meal or two that we make ourselves.  After gathering everything we want to put in the meal, we will put it in a freezer bag, squeeze the air out of it as much as we can and add a small Oxygen absorber to it.  The other method we use is vacuum sealing.  However, if you do this, make sure that nothing you add in there that is in a package has air in it, otherwise you have a big bulge of air in the meal.  If you’re adding an emergency water pack to the meal then tape it to the outside of the package.  You can also put the vacuum sealed meal in a freezer Ziploc and add the emergency water package in there.  After we have a bunch of them made we put them all in a bucket or in a storage tote.  (This is the vacuum sealer we use.  You can also buy attachments to seal dried foods in mason jars.

Note:  One thing to remember when making a shopping list for this project is to buy things that can be eaten raw or only requires water to be prepared.  Technically speaking, an MRE is a meal that is ready to eat cold because you may not always be able to prepare (heat) the meal and some of the things listed below do not fit in that category but will still work as a meal.  Meals that need to be heated have a trioxane bar included to heat without the use of fire.  (link below)

MRE 2Breakfast #1 – I love breakfast, it is literally my favorite meal of the day so I am going to start with the morning meals I put together.  A big hit in my house is oatmeal.  We will take 1-2 of the instant flavored oatmeal packs, 1 sugar packet, 1 powdered butter packet, and one powdered milk packet. (We pre-measure the butter to our taste and the milk according to package directions) We then add one pouch of dehydrated water.  (Kidding!) We add 1 emergency water packet to reconstitute the milk and butter. (You can also purchase a 5 gallon bucket with gamma lid of powdered milk here if you’re looking for long-term storage for milk.  I am also including a link to this awesome package deal I found.) If you want to, you can also add dehydrated fruit to add to your oatmeal.  Hot cocoa drink mix or a yoo-hoo single drink packet..  (These are used when the weather is cooler.)

Breakfast #2 –  This one is simple.  Dehydrated sausage and either powdered eggs or crystallized eggs.  1-2 salt/pepper packets.  If you want cheese on it then you can also pre-measure powdered or freeze-dried cheese.  Once it is re-hydrated, mix together for a sausage and egg breakfast scramble.  Single kool-aid mix drink packet.  (One man from the comments below adds a hot sauce packet to the meal to add on his eggs.)

Now that you get the idea, you can make a grocery list of things to purchase to put your meals together.  We try to stick with simple things that don’t require much to eat them or make them.  The breakfast listed above require some cooking, but in my opinion it is still a ready to make/eat meal.  Below is a list of some of the things we use in our homemade MRE’s.MRE 2  Make sure to write the date it was made on the outside of the package for rotation purposes.

  • Prepackaged meats such as on the to-go tuna, spam, and chicken.  Pay attention to the dates though because these don’t last 20 years.
  • Dehydrated meals that are already prepared and you simply add hot water.  Example dinner. Example breakfast.
  • Prepackaged crackers like we buy for our kids or out of vending machines.  You can purchase these at any store or in bulk at Sam’s or Costco.
  • Instant drink mix packs.  We purchase the on the go ones because they are pre-measured in single packets for a bottle of water.  You can even buy instant coffee now by Folgers that looks like a tea bag.  You simply add it to a cup of hot water for a few minutes.  Add sugar and cream packets and have a great cup of coffee.
  • Instant oatmeal packs
  • Salt/pepper packs and sugar packets that we save from fast food restaurants.  When you go through a drive through just ask for some along with extra napkins and utensils.  You can use all of them in your home-made MRE’s.
  • Bouillon cubes or home-made spice packets.  Here is an awesome video on how you can make your own packets.
  • Trail mixes, nuts, raisins.
  • Energy bars
  • Dried fruit like banana or apple slices.  We love dried pomegranate.
  • Canned Tuna, chicken, sardines etc.  Although this is a little more added weight than the on the go packs.
  • Dehydrated meats. Just like with noodles, powdered eggs etc, you must have water to reconstitute the meat.
  • Candy; preferably some that won’t melt.  We like weathers originals.
  • Rice side dishes, like the Lipton rice or Rice-A-Roni.
  • Individual camper meals.
  • Instant rice with an added bouillon cube or sugar/butter makes a tasty meal.
  • Plastic eating utensils and a napkin if needed.  A lot of people carry these in their bags, but if your meals are going to be eaten as a quick-lunch you may need them.
  • A single pack wet wipe to clean your face and hands to save on water.  This is especially good if you have young children.
  • You can add a piece of heavy-duty tin foil to fashion a bowl for oatmeal or other hot meals.
  • A pack of matches to heat the food if you need to and have some sort of pocket stove in your pack.  If you wanted to go a step further then you can purchase trioxane bars to add to your MRE.  (That is the heating source used in the original MRE’s)
  • To top it off, add a piece of gum to get the food out of your teeth and freshen your breath.  (Who wants fish breath, yuck!)
  • Daily vitamin wrapped in a piece of tin foil with a piece of dental floss included for when your meal is done.  (Some people can’t chew gum.)

These are just a few things you can use to build your own MRE’s.  Use your imagination and make something you will enjoy eating!!  Please leave your ideas for others in our comments section below.

Keepin It Spicy,

Jalapeño Gal

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About the Author:

Cari is an editor and author for American Preppers Network. Her family currently live in Georgia. Cari spends her free time gardening, canning, testing products for review, helping others prepare and going to the gym. She believes preparedness is about love and taking care of your family. Cari also has her own website where she shares all of her preparedness articles and her recipes for canning, dehydrating, juicing, basic cooking. To have a look and hopefully follow her: Click Here! Please Join My New Blog!

11 Comments on "Making Your Own MRE’s Can Be Satisfying and Cheaper"

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  1. Another wonderful post, JalapenoGal77! I’d been wondering about DIY MREs. I’m wondering, though: How many calories would you recommend each of these contain?

    • DJL says:

      I made a set of 10 of these a while back – I call them day packs. Each 1 quart freezer bag contains 2 meals, a lot of mid-day snacks (I figure I’ll be moving/working at mid-day), drinks and vitamins. The grand total for calories was 1600-1700 each. I could eat two a day if I thought resupply likely, or I could stick to one a day if not. Now 1600 calories isn’t going to keep me happy, but it will keep me alive and mobile.

      BTW, 10 day packs in 1 quart freezer bags fits nicely into a reusable Walmart shopping bag. Keeps it convenient and ready to roll.

    • Smitty says:

      Some years back when my wife had a girl scout troop, I made up a number of these for her with a can of vienna sausages or beans and weenies,etc crackers or melba toast, small bottle of water, individual kool aid pack, couple pieces of candy, snack bar or granola bar, spoon, napkins, etc. with an easy vac seal, certain items individually vac packed (crackers, water, etc)
      Enought that one would be a meal and a half or so. Saved things many a time when they went to g/s camp and everybody was supposed to eat before hand on Friday night, the mess hall was not open yet and somebody had not…………..

  2. Deb Fitz says:

    Hadn’t thought of adding packets of butter powder … thanks!

  3. i talked about this quite a while back but i use lipton noddle,rice packs and hamburger helper as the the main meals.

  4. Joel says:

    Another tip, from a veteran that has eaten entirely too many MRE’s, hot sauce goes a long way towards making foods more palatable.  In particular, powdered eggs come to mind.  Also, in terms of making your own, you can purchase the fast food/concession stand/picnic packs of plastic utensils (the ones with a napkin and usually salt and pepper packets) to add to the meal.  Personally, I prefer to have normal metal utensils, but those are a good backup (redundancy, remember?) to have in place.

  5. Cindy in Louisiana says:

    Great article! Thanks so much. I started making these DIY mre’s about a year ago. I think I’m a little overboard on some of them though. I have put a vitamin wrapped in foil, a baggie, and even dental floss in mine. I used to work for 2 oral surgeons so there you have it.

  6. Great Article. I have been putting together 72hr/BOB’s for my family and this really helps with the food portion I have not yet gathered.

  7. We packed that in our BOBS I have 7 to pack for and it would have been super expensive with our tight budget. I included hot chocolate, M&M’S, Starbucks VIA sample pkgs(get them free at Starbucks) I used my food saver to package it. Lots of things can be aquired for free like ketchup,mayo,mustard,salt,pepper pkgs. Also individual face wipes from a restaurant that serves chicken wings.

  8. We packed that in our BOBS I have 7 to pack for and it would have been super expensive with our tight budget. I included hot chocolate, M&M’S, Starbucks VIA sample pkgs(get them free at Starbucks) I used my food saver to package it. Lots of things can be aquired for free like ketchup,mayo,mustard,salt,pepper pkgs. Also individual face wipes from a restaurant that serves chicken wings.

  9. Nola Franzen says:

    I recommend that you read all directions before you include something in your home-made MREs.  I looked at some oatmeal that I love and found that it has to be nuked in order to cook.  Not handy.  I also found that some of the single serve drink additives have chemicals that I am allergic to.  Be sure to read ingredients, too.