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We are living in a time of uncertainties where an emergency can happen abruptly.

Finding survival food during an emergency or even accessing the store can be an arduous task, and this is why you should always have ready to eat food within easy reach.

In this post, we’ll answer the question: how long do MREs last? 

MREs can save you During emergencies

When emergencies occur, everything stops working right.

Roads could be rendered impassable which means you won’t be able to access the stores.

Depending on the type of emergency, power could be disrupted for many hours and sometimes days.

This means that any food you’ve stored in the fridge will spoil quickly.

If you don’t have ready to eat meals, you’ll have nothing to eat, and if emergency teams don’t respond fast, people could potentially starve to death.

This is where MREs come in handy.

They can help you and your family cope during times of uncertainties.

These ready to consume meals are ideal for civilians as well as military members, especially those that live in areas prone to earthquakes and hurricanes.

Understanding MRE

What does MRE stand for?

Meals Ready to Eat.

These are individually packed foods that; as the name suggests are ready to eat at just about a moment’s notice.

Often, the US Department of Defense utilizes Military MREs for servicemen and women when they’re out on a mission or training.

Still, you can take advantage of MREs for sale for yourself.

As the demand for ready to eat meals soars, there has been an influx of MRE manufacturers in the market.

These manufacturers are not only qualified, but they’re also licensed to produce good quality products.

Originally, different MRE types were made for military use.

Today, however, you can purchase civilian MRE from any reputable retailer shop in your locality, and store them for use in case of an emergency.

MREs come in tightly sealed, light packages that are resistant to the elements, and can last long when handled in the recommended manner.

You don’t have to refrigerate them.

Do you live in a disaster-prone area?

If you do, then you may want to buy MREs in bulk and store them in strategic and easy to reach places in your home or car. 

How long do MREs Last?

MREs can withstand extreme weather conditions.

However, this doesn’t mean they’re invincible.

The standard MRE shelf life is 5 years under 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

If they’re stored under cool weather conditions, MREs can last up to 10 years without going bad.

It’s worth mentioning that these ready to eat foods can hardly go past a month when stored under 120 degrees F.

Often, MREs come with both packed and inspection dates.

The latter usually falls three years after the lapse of the packed date. 

How Can MREs Last So Long – Video

What’s the MRE Inspection Expiration Date

The date indicated on an MRE is referred to as the inspection date as opposed to the expiry date.

As we’ve already mentioned, the inspection date is between three to five years after the packaging date.

It helps users know when they should conduct an MRE test to check for any signs of the food getting spoiled.

What then would you do if you’re faced with an emergency and the MRE expiration date is beyond five years?

All you need is to utilize your sense of smell and sight to decide whether or not the food is safe for human consumption.

Both military and civilian MRE for sale go through stringent testing procedures under both under extreme and combat situations to guarantee safety. 

Reading MRE Date Codes – Video

Quick Nutrition for Soldiers on the Go

MREs came from the k-rations and c-rations from World War II.

They would later develop into Meal Combat Individual (MCI) rations utilized in Vietnam and Korea. In 1980, meals ready to eat was innovated and are still used in the U.S. Army’s essential ration. 

What do MREs Contain?

  •         Entree. This is the main course. These can be; beef stew and spaghetti.
  •         Cracker or bread Side dish. This can be corn, rice, fruit, or mashed potatoes, etc.
  •         Spread such as; peanut butter, cheese spread, or jelly
  •         Dessert. Pound cakes and cookies 
  •         Candy including; Skittles, M&Ms, or Tootsie Rolls
  •         Beverages such as Gatorade-like mixes, dairy shakes, cocoa, coffee, tea
  •         Some MREs contain seasoning or hot sauce

Each MRE offers an average of 1,250 calories or: 36% fat, 13% protein, and 51% carbohydrates.

It also contains a third of the recommended military daily allowance of minerals and vitamins.

You’ll need at least three MREs to get an entire day’s worth of meals. 

You’ll also get:

  •         A flameless ration heater which you’ll use to heat the entree
  •         Accessories including; spoon, creamer, matches, sugar, chewing gum, salt, and toilet paper. 

Are there Foods that Last 25 years?

The shelf life of MRE is one of the main factors that you should consider when searching for long term food.

With some of the food manufacturing companies claiming that their meals last up to 25 years, there’s a rising concern with users seeking to understand how they can keep their meals safe and edible for that long. 

How do you Eat MRE?

The MRE meaning is: meal ready to eat.

It comes with a ration heater which you can use to heat your MRE.

You can also mix your powdered drinks with water.

You can eat your MRE both cold and hot inside the plastic utensils and wrappers provided.

MREs comes with instructions that tell users how to go about the heating process before pouring it on the food packet.

Once the preparation process is over, each meal should be opened carefully and eaten using a spoon or fork.

The MRE comes with one of these accessories.

MREs are meant to be eaten from anywhere at any time of the day.

Are there Vegetarian MREs?

Studies show that there are 240 million adults aged 18 years and older.

The studies further indicate that 8 million out of this number are vegetarians with 1 million being vegan.

Both vegans and vegetarians have varying needs when it comes to meals.

For instance, some prefer gluten-free, low sodium, gourmet, locally grown, and kosher.

Today, more companies are offering vegetarian MRE options finding the ideal manufacturer who caters to people with multiple needs can be a daunting task. 

Is there a Vegetarian MRE Expiration?

If you’re a vegetarian, opt for dried frozen vegetables available in individual assorted packets.

They can last long.

What are the Pros and Cons of MREs

Here are some of the pros and cons of MREs that you should be on the lookout for.  

The Pros

The advantages include:


Advanced MREs provide a wide range of food options unlike was the case in the past.

Today, both the military and civilians can choose MREs that contain various ingredients such as beef, chicken, pork, or beef as the main dish.

There is also a wide range of options that cater to the needs of vegetarians.

You can also choose different types of carbohydrates such as rice, pasta, applesauce, and oatmeal. 

Heating Equipment

Today, MREs come complete with heating equipment to help you heat your meals when you can’t access a stove.

It’s worth mentioning that when emergencies happen power goes off you may not have easy access to the stove and this is where the heating equipment comes in handy.

Military personnel who spent many days in the wilderness will also benefit from the heating equipment. 

Multiple Items

MREs come with various food items.

These include; the main dish, energy bars, side dishes, beverage flavoring powders, desserts, and instant coffee.

They also include pepper, salt, spoon, toilet pepper, Tabasco sauce, and chewing gum.

Remember, the components in each MRE vary and you won’t find two MREs containing similar items. 


MREs are light and individually packed making them portable.

You can stuff them in your backpack for easy transportation.

Each package of MREs contains the sufficient ingredients you need from a meal. 


If you’re wondering how long are MREs for? You should know that they can last up to between 5 to 10 years depending on the storage.

You may want to keep them under cool temperatures to prolong their shelf life. 

The Cons:

Just like everything else, MREs have some cons that you should beware of.

These include:


MREs are more costly compared to dried frozen meals and fresh foods. A single MRE costs between $8 and $10.

One case containing 12 MREs can cost between $80 and $100. 


When compared to dried frozen meals, MREs are heavier. 


While MREs are today becoming more popular, finding them in your local grocery store is still an arduous task.

Often, military personnel carry them when they go on training or a mission.

With the rising use of eCommerce online stores, you can now find MREs from various online retailers. 

Too Many Calories

MREs were originally made for soldiers in combat and one meal comes with a huge number of calories.

This makes it ideal for people engaging in strenuous outdoor activities as opposed to people with more sedentary lifestyles.

Ordinary civilians with more relaxed schedules shouldn’t consume an entire MRE in one sitting. 

How healthy are MREs?

MREs contain enough nutrients and energy sufficient to keep your body well-nourished.

However, it’s worth mentioning that different people react differently to MREs.

If you’re using MREs for the first time, be on the lookout for symptoms that include: a change in appetite, energy, digestion, stool, and urine.

While this shouldn’t raise an alarm, if you experience severe symptoms you may need to consult your medical practitioner.

If the symptoms are mild and you can cope, you can be guaranteed that your body will get used after using the MRE for some time. 

Can you Consume MRE Every day?

MREs are a survival food and, while you can take it every day, the recommended duration is a maximum of 21 days.

This is because often, they don’t contain sufficient fiber.

Prolonged consumption of fiber deficient foods can cause severe constipation.

As we’ve already mentioned, MREs are recommended for people who engage in strenuous physical activity that involves burning of calories and enhancing the digestion process. 

Eating excess MREs can hurt your body.

The symptoms may include: severe diarrhea increased levels of fatigue, and bloating.

This is attributed to the fact that MREs contain high sugar levels and increased nutritional content.

When taken in moderation, however, MREs are healthy. 

How to Consume MREs without getting Constipated

If you ever find yourself in a situation where you have no access to food or water, you may need to consume MREs more than the recommended period.

Consider the following tips to prevent the effects that may emanate from prolonged use of MREs. 

Monitor Your Portions

The MRE rations are meant to be consumed in one serving. However, you can split the serving.

This way, your body won’t have to struggle with digesting high calories. 

Take Lots of Vegetables

Consume a low-calorie vegetable after every meal. The vegetables reduce protein content in the body. 

Incorporate vitamins

Incorporating vitamins in your diet provides your body with the required nutrients that aren’t available in your diet.

You can use fiber pills instead of multivitamins.


Unlike in the past when MREs were a preserve of the military, civilians can access them today.

If you live in a disaster-prone region, consider storing ready to eat meals.

They will come in handy when you can hardly find something to eat and save your life and that of your loved ones before the emergency response team finally arrives. 


How long does MREs Last?

An MRE remains in good condition for 5 years under 75 degrees F. 

How long do MRES Last at Room Temperature?

When MREs are stored under room temperature, they can last up to approximately three years. 

How long do MRES Last after Inspection Date?

They can last up to three years

How long do MRES Last Frozen?

An MRE will often last for between 7 and 9 years with no freezing and more than 10 years while frozen. 

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