Do It Yourself: How To Make Nutritious Homemade Meals-Ready-To-Eat (MRE’s)

by | Feb 23, 2016 | Headline News | 32 comments

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    Editor’s Note: Though often touted as the only meal you need to store, MRE’s (Meals-Ready-To-Eat) have serious drawbacks as highlighted in Here’s What Happens When You Eat Nothing but MREs. To be sure, there is a time and place for pre-packaged MRE’s and we certainly recommend having some in stock in case of an emergency. But eating MRE’s exclusively will obliterate your digestive system leading to symptoms like constipation,  inflammation, bloating, gas, fatigue, and diarrhea – not exactly the feelings you want to be experiencing in the middle of a disaster.

    The following article from The Prepper’s Blueprint author Tess Pennington was originally published at Ready Nutrition and aims to solve the problem of having shelf-stable, highly nutritious foods, while also resolving the unwanted symptoms that come with traditional MRE packs. 


    Meal planning for emergencies can be simplified if we adopted the same principles as the U.S. Military for making MREs. The meals are pre-planned, they are conveniently sealed and stored away for a later date. Granted, the lifespan of homemade MREs will not be comparable to the 10 year lifespan of government issued MRE’s, but they have a few advantages of their own. For one, making your own MREs is less expensive and they have fewer preservatives, thus causing fewer intestinal back ups. And, of course the most important advantage is they taste better.

    If you have certain food allergies or other dietary requirements, it would make more sense to make your own rather than gamble on an allergy flare up. With the homemade versions, you also have the benefit of having a re-usable bag, which can be used for carrying water, or being used to boil other foods.

    What You’ll Find With Pre-Assembled MREs

    As this site notes, MREs manufactured since 2005 are of equal quality and caloric value as military MREs.  They now average about 1,222 calories per meal. The typical MRE entrée has crackers (pilot bread), spread to put on the crackers, a side dish, dessert or snack, powdered beverage and an accessory pack with matches, gum, instant coffee, creamer, sugar, salt,  moist towelette and toilet paper. All of these contents are packed into a sealed heavy plastic bag.

    You can easily create a similar version by vacuum sealing your items or sealing them in a Mylar bag. With a little searching you can find most shelf stable foods in single serve packets. This also cuts down on the food enemies. To buy single serve packets in bulk, I went to where they have everything from packets of water and meats to packets of dehydrated vegetables.

    Keep Nutrition in Mind

    As with all emergency food supplies, you want to keep some basics in mind with the foods you decide to store. Find foods that are just add water meals or no cook meals to help you conserve your emergency supplies.

    • Shelf life (at least 6 months-1 year)
    • Calorie content (1200-2000 calories)
    • Nutritional needs
    • Protein content
    • Heating and preparation
    • Cost

    When you assemble your MREs, remember to make your meals calorie dense with lots of protein and healthy carbohydrates (preferably whole grains). Here is an easy equation to follow when packing your foods up:

    Protein + Carbohydrate + Fruit/Vegetable + Sweet snack + 4 ounce water pouch  = 1,200 calories

    Remember to purchase foods that are shelf stable and have a longer shelf life. Further, save those plastic utensil packages and condiments from your take out orders. In no time you will have an ample supply of them to use toward your homemade MREs. Purchasing these foods in bulk can save you some money in the long run.

    As mentioned previously, homemade MREs will not have a comparable shelf life to their commercial counterparts. But if you are resupplying your food pantry, you could easily rotate these in as meals. Some MRE food suggestions are below.






    Various condiments

    Pack It and Stack It

    Add meals to a vacuum sealed bag or Mylar bag. Flatten your assembled MRE’s as much as possible (without damaging the packaging) and seal them thoroughly. Ensure that you label the contents along with the packing date to stay organized. It would also be proactive to list the best by date.

    Making your own emergency meals is a convenient way to store a balanced amount of shelf stable foods for a rainy day. Keep the above suggestions in mind when you are planning your homemade MREs and you will have your emergency meals ready in no time.

    The Prepper's Blueprint

    Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

    Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

    Visit her web site at for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

    Also From Tess Pennington:

    Free Web Series52 Weeks to Preparedness: An Emergency Preparedness Plan For Surviving Virtually Any Disaster

    Preparedness 101

    Disaster Scenarios

    Going Rogue: 15 Ways to Detach From the System

    When the Trucks Stop Delivering, ‘The System’ Will Collapse


    It Took 22 Years to Get to This Point

    Gold has been the right asset with which to save your funds in this millennium that began 23 years ago.

    Free Exclusive Report
    The inevitable Breakout – The two w’s

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      1. Homemade beats military everytime…

        • EPPE
          You are correct. When you are hungry you will eat anything. Even military MRE’s. I like the little tabasco bottles.

          • I guess if I am starving I will find me some scum politicians and knock them on their heads. I’ll gag and tie them in my barn and when I get hungry I’ll go cut me a big ole steak from their thighs and fry it up. I bet that shit will hurt but I don’t give a damn. They have hurt us and not given a rats ass. Well, maybe I won’t eat them, but the dogs can.

            • Google ’22 after’ movie about after shtf.

              One guy was getting larger, and his girl thought he was eating people…

          • I miss the tabasco bottles. too bad they took em out in favor of the lightweight packets. those and the crackers made mre’s awesome

            • How do you do MARCUS,
              We still get the delightful little TABASCO bottles here in England. I shall throw half a dozen of them into the Irish sea labelled with your name. They should reach your east coast in approximately 28 years.
              Happy beach combing old bean!

        • you dont know what you are talking about.

          military mre corned beef hash has no equal and dont forget the rectangluar granola bar and peanut butter sure to stop you up 3 days minimum.

          • hell yeah. nothing worst than having to hit the head while being shot at. Theres a reason they work that way lol.

          • military corned beef….
            There’s a memory.. Used to slice them 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick, dunk ’em in a beer batter and then pan fry. Almost makes me want to eat some again.

          • I liked that “oatmeal cookie” that resembled a Corian countertop sample.

            I have a collection of the hot sauce bottles for barter.

          • It’s even worse than that — Syrian Jihadis Sell CIA-Supplied Weapons on Facebook


        • eppe : I did some reading on this awhile back. That along with some of my own experiments led me to make a dozen 10000 calorie MRE’s, with a shelf life of ten plus years. They are for two people. It sounds extreme, but they are only for if you go on the run ( walk in my case ). If you are at home or at a BOL, it should be forage and hunt first, grow second, and your stores last, and that would consist of beans, rise, canned food, etc. There should be some prepackaged ready to eat food in your stores, but that should only be for the days that it is not feasable to go outside or make any food prep odors. MRE’s should be for when you are on the move with no time for forage, and people underestimate the number of calories it takes to be on the move all day, with a load on.

      2. Thanks for the article.

        Last summer I put up 30, 5 day food supplies in 5 gal buckets. Three meals a day, so you could stretch it to 6 or 7 days.

        I did this 5 years ago (three buckets) and tried them last year and they were just the same as the day I made them.

        I think that they would last at least 10 years. There is a lot of other food that I have put away and have many packets of long life food stores set aside. DON’T FORGET THE WATER!


      3. I made a version of these where I don’t have to cook anything in them. The theory was that they could be used in a cold camp, or for extremely mobile situations in a bugout scenario.

      4. If you have the components already perhaps you wouldn’t necessarily need to pack them with all the packets of this and that so those things were not unnecessarily wasted if not used by the person eating it. Also MREs for pets? That’s something I’ve not seen much about but might prove beneficial for our four legged friends…

        • Face facts… When SHTF your four legged friend is a MRE.


      5. Aargh. Today is a lazy day. Let too much water out of the pool after a heavy rain last night. Hope it helped my fledgling garden. Need to clean out the fridge. Just wanna veg today. Might make some MREs tomorrow… just kidding:)

        Actually been reading a little vintage Selco today. Getting really tired of seeing people walk around with blinders in everyday life. Came back from a convention this weekend where people were not aware of the simplest news, like the 400K people who just got pension cuts. No matter what one thinks of it, one should be aware of that kind of thing.

        People around here just suffered a huge hailstorm and there are new roofs going on every other house. They are putting the same cheap sh@t asphalt shingles on again like they did 5 years ago and will do probably in another 5. Not willing to look into the future and get something better so they don’t have to pay a deductible 3x in the span of 15 years.

      6. Myself and hundreds of Marines ate nothing but MREs for 9 months. We had no problems. Except when we got a few that had gone bad. I’m heading out for another 60 days. I’ll eat MREs ,street food (which can be some scary sh$%) and Mountain House.
        Just saying.
        Have a good one people.

        • Thank you sir , God be with you.

      7. This site was on the Corbett Report yesterday:

        You can buy, trade, sell, or get for free locally grown produce. Pass it on!

        • This is a link to a site where you can find local produce that is free, for sale, or for trade.

          I was able to find one person in my area that is selling tomato seedlings for $2 each: heirloom and varietal, as well as fresh eggs, $4 / dozen, and fresh herbs: $2 a bunch.

          I am glad to see my link was posted. I am not a spammer. This is one of the best P2P (peer to peer) links I have seen or found. A great way to meet like minded people in your area.

      8. Thank you Miss Tess.

      9. My version of home made MREs is to can pints of food, the veggies and herbs are from the farm, the meat is whatever is on sale. I vary the recipes depending on the availability of the veggies and the price of meats. I, of course, do this in an All American Pressure Canner, strictly according to the “Ball Blue Book.”

        When I can tomato products or apples or pears I add some “Fruit Fresh” to the mix to boost the Vitamin C and the acidity if I’m doing water bath canning.

        We’ve some 2000 pints of home made MREs. And they are far tastier than store bought.

        If one boils home canned food in an open pot for 15 minutes you run NO risk of botulism. Clostridium botulinum is an obligate anerobe that requires a pH higher than 4.5. The toxin it makes has lots of cysteinyl residues that on boiling in air crosslink to form inactive toxin. Few folks know this…

        I’m a retired Ph.D. biophysical chemist who is expert in protein matters.

      10. Some good ideas , but a lot of unhealthy ones as well. Even in a real emergency you can eat much healthier and zero chemicals that are on your list of items.

        Actual MREs are very unhealthy and not really fit for anything except extreme hunger and only once or twice a week or so then ? A very good thing to do is become familiar with wild edibles and of course know how to grow your own food. Much better solutions even if only partial solutions. A simple can of fish, like salmon or mackeral will feed you for three days with some dried foods and wild edibles for greens. cheap and very easy as well and very long shelf life. Pretty simple stuff and I live it at times on long hikes, so I know it works.

      11. Mostly good except spam, ramen noodles ( VERY bad for you, ) and just that you don’t need so much “instant” stuff. All else good. I’d add WAY more water.


        Most preppers really need to starve themsleves for over 3 weeks to learn the effects of what lack of food does.

        The military MRE’s are pretty good. I lived of them for over a month, one every other day during the summer months of 2013, during my executive homeless street excursions for almost 18 months. My condition was bad. I was stinking everyday, sick while outside, got a stomoch virus. Figured that i needed to up the D3, and it solved a huge problem. So make sure that you guys have lost of vitamin C, D3, silver, and a good multivitamin supplements, get these in bulk, because you will need to boast your immune system and then you must leave the city to get way from the rotting decaying stinking dead bodies from the streets of civilians and combat soldiers.. On thing i learned about my situation, if you don’t have water, lots of it, a life straw, your dead. If you cant filter the water, your going to die fast. I can run on clean filtered water, lots of it and no food for 3 weeks before i get too weak. I did not eat for 3 weeks on time, it was brutal, but i am no pussy either. I have often wandered what would happend if i didn’t get to eat. Luckily i was able to find some fresh food at the dumbster at a back of a krogers. Expired stuff is still good to go if in a can, suddenly i was with the homeless eating with them and listening to some insane stories about homelessness. This could happen again, so i am not that arrogant, but this time, if if roads and supply chains are cut off i have multiple locations, with allies who i have helped out financially to gain trust who i even tested them to see if they would come and help me lying to them about running out of money to test the response, and was supprised that my friends came to me immediatly, so i am better off than most. I went two days without water and taught i was going to die, i tested it purposely without food and i can tell you that if you dont have water, your dead. I am in shape and could not go for anymore than two days, i started to have breating problems from my blood thinkening and unable to circulate properly, so it was bad, bad, bad, i had water and decided to drink up immedialtely. 97% of people are going to die in war and callapse, and those who like to come on here talk crap about me, critisize need to know where i am coming from. My scientist friend saw the real data, and women are in very big trouble. People with medication are in big trouble who rely on medication, diabetics are literally dead within a week for certain. And the govenment makes sure that you will not be able to stock pile you medicine, purposely to make sure that you die easily. So if you are in a callapse and soldiers are in you city killing and commiting crimes, you better get to that pharmacy and raid the phuck out of it to get your medication bacause you will die shortly. I am not advocating attacks on stores, i am merely dealing with facts. I dont need medication, because i have 100% health.

        You find out quickly whats good and whats no good. The MRE’s that is the military stuff that has the raisins, the figs, the meat packets, snacks, throw out the skittles, aspertame crap. Here are the negatives, the corn syrup might be GMO including some of the ingredients. Energy levels, good, much more strength and energy that Mountain House, which is good.

        Too much salt is not good for your body:

        The bad ones that are usless is Backpackers Retreat, which has too much salt, way too much, quality is bad, and you energy level is not good. Backpackers Retreat is one product that i don’t recommend. I was also tipped off by a source that One popular brand is all 100% GMO..

        Good ones for shtf:

        My Patriot Supply: Best of all the the survival food. Best quality. Once you consume this brand, you feel better. Protien content too low, but you can buy bulk meat packets to supplement the complex carbs. Without protien you will lack strength.

        Protien powders:
        Whey Protien-100% reliable.
        Labrada, the best i have ever taken, SUPER HIGH QUALITY FOR SHTF END OF THE WORLD CALLAPSE. TESTED AND PROVEN, WITH HIGH ENERGY, STRENGTH AND REQUIRES NO FOOD, YOU CAN LIVE OFF THIS ONE. Its not desigend for that, but i have tested it. Lee does make a good product.

        Optimum Nutrition 10Lbs bags. Dont get cheap sh…t whey like Dimatize. This is total garbage for protien. Dimatize is garbage and usless.

        Mountain House-protien content too low.
        Military MRE’s

        As a bodybuilder weight trainer type, i can tell you that they are the first to die off in a callapse, because of the high demand and they will get weak faster. So i have made preparations just incase.



        The worst of it will be coming to a city near you.

      13. Now this is a article I can sink me teeth into(sorry)! This and fresh water article yestarday give me some hope,more of these preparing type articles great,we know why we prep,articles with new ideas though help us prep better!

      14. I loved the article on water yesterday, thanks to all.
        MREs are inedible, emergency calories only. Young soldiers can eat anything for long periods without detriment. Those who are older have more trouble. I like the idea of making my own, because midwinter is not the easiest forage time. You may not want to be seen either. Another thing to add to my preps, homemade MREs.

      15. Heh these “MRE’s” are better than how I eat on a regular basis.

        Kinda explains how I keep my grocery bill so low… 9_9

      16. This article, I thought, was a complete waste of time. I wasn’t taught how to make a MRE and a shelf life of 1 year I can get at toys R us

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