FAQs for MREs
Military MREs (Meal Ready to Eat) are a must-have in your emergency food storage. The U.S. Military relies on MREs to give them the nutrition and energy they need to survive in the most extreme conditions. Our fresh, first-run MREs are great for use during any disaster and are excellent for a “grab and go” emergency. I recommend that you stock up and make sure you have a fresh supply on hand.
Here are some of the most frequent questions that we get regarding MREs:
What are MREs?
MREs were brought into military use during the 1980s to replace heavy, bulky food supplies. The MREs are self-contained meals with a durable case that can withstand high drops. They typically have a shelf-life of about 5 years depending on storage conditions. You might want to read our article on the history of MREs.
Do we sell military MREs?
Yes and no. Our MREs are made by the same contractors who make MREs for the Department of Defense. They are made to military specifications the same way the military’s are made. The only difference is that the civilian MRE comes in a different packaging and doesn’t include chewing gum or hot sauce. It is against the law to sell military MREs.
How long will they store?
An MRE will store for bout 3 to 5 years, if stored at 75° F or less. The cooler the temperature, the longer they will store.
The hard part is that there is no expiration date stamped on an MRE package. However, unless the seal is broken on the packaging, MREs can last a very long time. MREs will lose taste and nutritional value after long periods of time. Use the sniff test to see if the food has gone rancid.
How do I read the manufacture date on my MREs?
MRE Manufacturers use a 4-digit modified Julian Date code to indicate the manufacture date.
This code is usually stamped on the MRE box and pouch. The location of the code can vary. The first digit represents the year, and the last three digits represent the day. So, for example, the cpde code 7304 would mean it was manufactured on the 304th day of 2007. Sometimes other letters representing batch numbers will be appended to the date code (i.e. 7304C).
You can see on the example on the right that code 1172 would mean that it was manufactured in 2011 on June 20th (the 172 day of the year).
The second MRE has a manufacture code of 1348. This would translate to Dec. 13, 2011.
The third MRE would have been manufactured on Nov. 1, 2011.
Since the official longevity of an MRE is no longer than 10 years, and the modified date code makes it impossible to determine the decade of manufacture, this calculator assumes that your MREs are not 10 years old or more.
We’ve prepared this Julian Date Converter Sheet that you can print off and keep with your MREs for future reference.
What is the difference between a “Full Meal MRE” and an MRE entrée?
A Full Meal MRE comes with the entrée plus cracker, peanut butter, chocolate or peanut, cookie, dairy shake, drink mix, condiments, flamless heater, and salt water pouch to activate the flamless heater. An MRE entrée is just the main dish entrée by itself.
If all you want is the entrée, don’t buy the Full Meal.
If you have any other questions, we’d be happy to try and answer them. You can read more MRE articles on our blog or write your question below.
Food Storage 101 – Where Do I Begin?