US Military MRE (Meal, Ready-to-Eat)

Corporal Nanzaro had been a member of the Royal Canadian Air Cadet for two years now. He enjoys the activities and signs up for almost every event organized. Just a few weeks ago he went to a spring survival camp called Spring Thaw in Golden Ears.

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I won’t even think about signing up for a camp where the day high temperature is zero degree Celsius … but he did … and he enjoyed it a lot. He brought back some of the rations that he had left over from the camp. So here it is … our blog about MRE’s.

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Canadian Forces calls their rations IMPs which stands for Individual Meal Packs. The US Military calls theirs MRE’s (Meals, Ready-to-Eat). The ones that Nanzaro had at the camp are the US Military version because they ran out of the Canadian Forces IMPs.

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The MREs are designed to feed an army personnel in battle or field conditions. Each day pack consisting of breakfast, lunch and dinner contains 3600 calories, sufficient for the energy needs of a soldier in active combat. The food are packaged into cardboard boxes.

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On the flip side of the cardboard box, they can even double up as a post card. I wonder how many soldiers actually make use of this.

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In each of the boxes are lightweight pouches. Normally, the boxes are discarded and it’s these tough pouches that are carried in backpacks. These pouches are designed to be resistant to punctures. These are good for at least one year.

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While the MREs may be eaten by itself, the proper way is to boil them so that it becomes a hot meal.

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There were many types of Entrees. The Mexican Rice was not too bad really — close to being good actually! We tried it and actually finished them. Arkensen said that it does not taste as good at home but remember that they were great during camps. I guess when you’re hungry anything tastes good.

We also tried the Lagsana Pasta too.

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This is what we liked best … Lemon Poppy Seed Cake.

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They are a lot more flatter than the normal ones we are used to. Other than that, it is simply one of the best we had … moist and flavorful.

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They even have dessert too.

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And Grape Jelly too.

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A bit too sweet. I guess it’s sugar rich for the extra energy. Generally, these are snack items that is consumed on the move.

I could use some of these in the office. They are small enough for my shirt pocket to carry it around. You know, sometimes when meetings get a bit too long and stretches over lunch hours, this will be perfect to stave off the hunger pangs for an hour or two.

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I wonder if we can buy these type of rations for camping. They are quite delicious and handy.

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  1. Whatever you do, don’t eat the gum they pack in the MRE’s.
    The food is designed to bind up soliders when they eat it, so they don’t have to go to the bathroom while on the move or in battle.

    The gum is supposed to contain a laxative.

    Other than that I love the Beefsteak MRE as well as the bean burrito MRE.

  2. I thought all was good until I read the comment above. lol!

    But definitely would come in handy for camping or keeping at the office for an emergency lunch.

  3. I have a good friend who is now in the Reserves. One time he gave me a few of their IMPs. I tried about 6 types of lunch/dinner over two weeks period. Better than I expected, but not something I’d “prefer” to eat while there are other options around. For camping/emerg. survival they would be serviceable for sure.

    On a sidenote, my friend said whenever they work with their American counterparts in joint exercises, they always ask the Canadians for any extra IMPs to replace their own MREs. Seems quite universal amongst the American troops that IMPs are superior to the MREs.

    Personally I think all frontline military personnel deserve the best possible meals that can be provided them. For what they have to do, satisfaction with meals goes a long way to lift low morale and spirit.

    1. Actually we Americans want to trade not neccessarily because one meal is superior to another but because after an extended deployment you tend to get “menu fatigue” and want a change. Also, it’s just in our nature to trade anything; rations, uniform items (great souveniers), unit patches, etc. That said, the imps are good.

      1. Canadian in uniform here….

        Having had chow from both sides of the border I can say that I actually prefer the US version b/c it comes with some items that ours don’t (especially the Tabasco sauce). Lots of other Canadians feel the same way.

        I second Dan’s comments about menu fatigue too. No matter how good it might taste the first time around, IMP Lasagna for the umteenth time is about appealing as dirt.

        Note: do NOT throw the boxes out!! Once you’ve heated your packet you still have to hold it to eat out of it (we don’t get the fancy bowls you used above). Instead rip off the top 1/3 or so of the box and now it’s a holder for your (hopefully) hot entree. Use the top 1/3 of the cardboard to light your next fire.

        Beyond all that IMPs are quite tasty for field food. A far cry from old-school army food that your grandpa used to have. Just remember the military versions are designed for soldiers in the field who burn a lot of calories. If you are taking these car camping or something equally immobile then don’t eat the whole thing or at least portion control throughout the day.

  4. Yes the grape jelly (like ALL jelly) is sweet but it’s not supposed to be eaten straight. You spread it on bread or crackers just like you do the same squeeze packs of jelly at resteraunts or the jelly in a jar in your fridge.

  5. Yes you can buy them commercially; at least you can buy a civilian immitation. In fact the meal pictured IS a civilian immitaion and not genuine issue. No we do NOT discard the cardboard boxes because you need them to re-heat the meal using the chemical “heat tabs” provided in the genuine issue MRE and some of the immitations.

    1. Hi Dan: You seems to know a lot about MREs. Are you serving in the military? Tell us more about MREs. Ben

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