MRE for a Bug Out Bag


MRE for a Bug Out Bag

Are Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) suited for a Bug Out Bag?

The MRE was developed in the 1960s for use in the Vietnam conflict. Until then, soldiers had used canned rations. In 1986 the MRE became the standard military ration.

MREs are packaged in a cardboard case with various markings on the outside. The individual meals are sealed in an airtight, heavy polymer pouch.

MRE Calories and Sodium

The sodium content is important for people with certain sodium sensitive conditions, such as high blood pressure and heart disease.

For those who do not have MREs to look at, let’s take a few examples from my personal stockpile.  These are to show various calorie, serving size, and sodium content examples.

Chicken, noodles, vegetables in sauce:

  • Serving size: 8 ounces
  • Calories: 260
  • Sodium 230  mg

Chicken and dumplings:

  • Servings size: 8 ounces
  • Calories: 290
  • Sodium 820 mg

Cheese omelets with vegetables:

  • Servings size: 8 ounces
  • Calories: 360
  • Sodium: 1,210 mg

Chili with beans:

  • Serving size: 8 ounces
  • Calories: 290
  • Sodium: 630 mg

Preparing MREs

An MRE heater is included with every meal. Simply open the heater, add an ounce of water, insert the meal pouch, and set the heater on the ground.

The heater will get hot enough to burn flesh, so do not hold it.

In a few minutes the meal is ready to eat.

The MRE being a self-contained meal with a heater is very nice.

Heat Sensitive

MREs are heat sensitive. If I remember right, something like one day over 100 degrees takes one month off the life expectancy.

Sure as I post that, someone will make a comment how they ate MREs made in the 1960s and they were fine.

On each case of MREs there is a red indicator tag with a circle. As the colors inside and outside the circle get closer together, it is recommended that the case is opened and a meal is taste tested.

MREs are not suitable for long term exposure to extreme heat, such as in the trunk of a car.


A case of MREs is going to cost around $75.

A single meal is going to cost around $15 – $18.

There are various options, such as just buying the main entree or just buying just the side dishes.


Meals can weigh up to 26 ounces (1 pound 10 ounces).

The pouch can measure 12 inches long, seven inches across.and three inches thick. That is 252 cubic inches. In reality, the pouch tapers at each end so the total volume is going to be slightly less. For the sake of easy math, let’s round that down to 200 cubic inches per MRE.

Three meals would take up around 600 cubic inches in your bug out bag and would weigh around 4 pounds.

Complete meal

Something that I like about the MRE: it is a complete meal. Rarely am I able to eat the complete MRE in a single sitting. I usually end up saving the side entree, such as the crackers, for later.

The accessory pouch is a nice addition with the tissue, hot sauce and matches.

Over the decades I have taken the MRE on numerous camping and hiking trips. Over the past few years I have been eating more of the Mountain House freeze dried pouches, but I still keep a few cases of MREs in stock.

Final Thoughts

Over the past few years I have been gravitating away from MREs, mainly due to their weight and life span. For long term storage and weight, I feel there are better options out there,

However, if you want to hand someone a meal they can eat and not have to worry about boiling water, nothing beats an MRE.

Several years ago two of my oldest sons and I went one a three day camping trip. I grabbed a case of MREs, handed it to them and said “there is your food for the next three days.” Those types of meals are difficult to beat.



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Founder and owner of My blog - Hobbies include fishing, hiking, hunting, blogging, sharing his politically incorrect opinion, video blogging on youtube, survivalism and spending time with his family.

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