How to Make Your Own MREs

Written by Brandon Garrett

MREs have been feeding our military for decades and there is a lot of science and testing that goes into these Meals-Ready-to-Eat.

In fact, the military has a whole department that is in charge of development of these unique meals. These meals are scientifically designed and crafted to have a 5 year shelf life and be immediately edible at any time. The metalized bags are also a high enough quality that you can throw them on a heat source and it won’t melt the bag or leak onto the food.

So, while creating your own MREs, there are some limitations. While a typical MRE has prepared, wet food inside. These homemade MREs will contain freeze-dried food and include a packet of water. Most Mylar bags are able to handle hot liquids (like boiled water) but aren’t necessarily meant for cooking in. You’ll have to find a military-grade metal bag that is strong enough to cook on a direct heat source if you want to make a true MRE. When you’re ready to eat the food, just open up the homemade MRE, pour in the water and eat away!

- Read about Military Meals throughout our history - 

However, these homemade MRE packets are great for camping or emergency supplies. If you add an oxygen abosorber into the bag, you should be able to get a pretty long shelf life out of the packet and they could easily fit in the trunk of your car or in a 72-hour kit.

You’ll need:

• Metalized Mylar Bags
• Freeze-dried food (or powdered drink mix)
• Heating element (hair straightener or non-steaming clothes iron)
• Vacuum sealer
• Scissors
• Measuring tape

Directions:
1. Measure a square on the Mylar bag that is the size of homemade MRE that you desire. Below, I’ve made one that meaures 6 inches by 11 inches.

How big is an MRE

2. Use your heating element to seal the metal together along the measurement to create a metalized pouch (one side should be open). Make the seal outside of the square that you’ve drawn.

Seal your own MRE

3. Commercial MREs come with wet food inside and are specifically tailored to last inside of a metalized pouch. However, you can get a longer shelf life by using freeze-dried just-add-water meals. Add 1-2 cups of food into the metalized pouch that you’ve created. For an extended shelf life, you can also add an oxygen absorber inside the pouch – but remove it before you eat the contents.

Personalized MREs

4. Once the food is inside, use a vacuum sealer to suck the air out of the bag (if you desire) and use the heating element to securely seal the open end of the bag. After you seal the end, you are welcome to cut a half inch of the sealed bag off the corners to save on space in your pack.

5. Repeat this process with your other snacks and sides.
6. Bundle all of the homemade MRE bags and water pouches together inside of your pack.

How to make your own MRE

Eating the Homemade MRE
When you’re out camping or in an emergency situation, eating your homemade MRE is simple. Just rip open the MRE bag and pour the pouch of water inside. If you have a military-grade metal bag, you can use a MRE Flameless heater to heat the contents.

You might also be interested in these articles:

What to pack in a bug out bag
 What is a Julian Date?
8 Creative Ways to Heat an MRE

Updated January 25, 2013

27 Comments

  1. Freddie wrote:

    Interesting… not necessarily a TRUE Mre but still a very cool idea.

    January 25th, 2013 at 4:52 pm
  2. tom whyte wrote:

    where do i get mylar????

    January 26th, 2013 at 4:51 am
  3. Star Taylor wrote:

    I have made about 10 different recipes of the freeze dried meals in mylar bags.
    They are quite delicious, and the nutrition is much better than typical camping foods.
    I am making meals for my son and his wife, who live on a sailboat and will take them with on adventures.
    I use the heavy gauge mylar bags and seal them with my iron. I use an oxygen pack or two in each meal bag. Each of my meals feeds 5, and I can cut the recipe in half for smaller meals. I use Dymo labels to put the instructions for each meal on the outside of the bag, then shipping tape across the label to make it waterproof.
    If you use larger mylar, you can re-use the bigger bags to package smaller meals.

    January 26th, 2013 at 9:18 am
  4. Absolutely love this idea!!! wrote:

    My only question is, where can we purchase the Mylar to make these bags, & how would the Mylar come, in rolls, or sheets?

    January 26th, 2013 at 10:39 am
  5. katzcradul wrote:

    I love Discount Mylar Bags at discountmylarbags.com. Great company and a great product.

    January 26th, 2013 at 1:51 pm
  6. Sue Kendrick wrote:

    I have compared prices on all sites and mylarbagsdirect is the best. Also the best prices on oxygen absorbers.

    January 26th, 2013 at 3:07 pm
  7. Sue wrote:

    mylarbagsdirect.com is the best. I just got 100 qt. mylar bags with 100 300cc oxygen absorbers for $25. You can’t beat that deal. My only question is what mil is a “military” bag? mylarbagsdirect have 5.m and I think I’ve seen somewhere else 7 mil. What would be the best?

    January 26th, 2013 at 3:17 pm
  8. The Ready Store wrote:

    Hey everyone. You can get a 10 pack of Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers on our site under the food processing tab: http://www.thereadystore.com/diy-food-storage-mylar-bag-oxygen-absorber-kit-10-pack

    January 26th, 2013 at 4:27 pm
  9. Deb wrote:

    Any hints on what kinds of things to put in the bags? What works and what doesn’t….thanks!! I have a large amount of food allegies, so this would be a perfect solution.

    January 26th, 2013 at 5:08 pm
  10. katz cradul wrote:

    Discountmylarbags.com is my favorite place to buy mylar bags and oxygen absorbers.

    January 26th, 2013 at 9:05 pm
  11. Charley Bailey wrote:

    I see alot of people asking where they can find mylar, I have found it at the Tru-value store in my town.

    January 27th, 2013 at 8:11 am
  12. Gary wrote:

    You can get mylar bags and oxygen absorbers at any LDS cannery. Bags are 30 cents each and oxygen absorbers 10 cents each. No quantity requirements You don’t have to be a church member to buy there.

    January 27th, 2013 at 1:41 pm
  13. lee wrote:

    Perfect timeing! I was just wondering with all the dietary restrictions in our family could I do this with my own recipies. Thaks for the ideas.

    January 27th, 2013 at 6:03 pm
  14. jeanne wrote:

    Can someone share the types of meals they are making of their own mylar recipes with the oxygen absorbers ??

    thank you…we are goin on a camping trip this year and would like to prepare somethings ahead of time.

    January 27th, 2013 at 10:24 pm
  15. Susan wrote:

    I found a great book Prep N Store by Janice Paveglio Gunther. Ot has lots of recipes and preparing ideas. What I came away with by reading it is there are so many of our recipes we use weekly that can be made. Not all truly like a MRE but several are. She has them separated into a couple groups. She has several that are JAW (just add water) and she has several where you put all the dried goods (spices, beans, rice, pasta etc) and you label the outside just add (can of diced tomatoes, tuna, chicken, etc). How easy would that be? There are so many of our recipes where you can pre measure your spices and dry goods. Think of those spice packets at the store for chili, spaghetti, white gravy etc. These don’t have to be for prepping, how easy would it be to line up little bowls and go down the line adding one ingredient then another. At the end you might have 12 packs of spaghetti mixes. You can also use dried milk instead of “real” milk in these mixes and dried cheese if you recipe calls for it, just remember to add extra water for the cheese. I am not sure her book is out yet bc it is so new, but watch for it, it’s worth it!

    January 28th, 2013 at 9:23 am
  16. Mr. Prepper wrote:

    VERY GOOD INFORMATON. I WILL BE TRYING THIS VERY SOON.

    January 28th, 2013 at 10:46 am
  17. KirkG. wrote:

    One place to get mylar bags is from your local coffee place that sells coffee to go in the ready to pour boxes. Make friends with the bariesta and have them save you some.

    January 31st, 2013 at 2:21 pm
  18. JaneDoe wrote:

    It would be helpful if these “how to” articles were made available in .pdf form so they could be saved to an e-reader.

    January 31st, 2013 at 2:57 pm
  19. Robin wrote:

    Does anyone have any idea on the shelf life of a meal if prepared on my own. Of course the buckets and #10 cans are typically 20+ years, but I’m curious if this would mean the same for something I’d produce.
    Thank you for any assistance.

    February 1st, 2013 at 11:15 am
  20. The Ready Store wrote:

    @Robin, that depends on how “prepared” the meal is. If you’re adding water to the freeze-dried food, it’s just going to last as long as regular food. Part of the reason that freeze-dried food lasts so long, is because 99% of the moisture is extracted from the food preventing deterioration. If you were to create a wet MRE – it wouldn’t last for years like a real MRE.

    February 1st, 2013 at 12:31 pm
  21. Debbra W wrote:

    You can dehydrate a main dish, and the veggie, and the dessert. Pack it in separate mylar bags, and store in the freezer or root cellar. Try to buy Backpack Gourmet by Linda Frederick Yaffe or check out at the library to learn how to dehydrate the meals. The Ready Store does have mylar bags for sale. THANK YOU Ready Store for the storing dried foods in mylar article. I will use mylar meals plastic lined in cat sand buckets, sans cat sand (those buckets are reusable) to store my meals. Easy to grab if we have to bug out, come back, or stay put,starve, or whatever.

    March 11th, 2013 at 10:30 pm
  22. Heather wrote:

    Good info!

    June 6th, 2013 at 12:17 pm
  23. Ray White wrote:

    Jane Doe,

    Just cut and paste them into your word processor program. Works for me.

    July 10th, 2013 at 8:11 am
  24. Namesgb wrote:

    If you are using something like a Food Saver, it is impossible to use a mylar bag with it without going through a lot of effort. I’d stick with the oxygen removers.

    September 8th, 2013 at 11:56 am
  25. Kathy wrote:

    FYI using the mylar bags are great I use then in my prepping along with the oxygen absorbers, to seal that iron is not cheep, I used my hair flat iron and it worked GREAT..

    September 13th, 2013 at 8:25 am
  26. debbie e wrote:

    If you use a strip of the regular food saver type bag inside of the mylar it will vac out the air better. I also use cat litter buckets with heavyweight mylar bags not food grade but i clean them first and they stack great. Check your bags for punctures, and I do not recommend for bulk storage, it would be a lot of food to loose. Buy food grade for that. But bags of day mes for a weekend trip works great.

    March 19th, 2014 at 5:15 pm
  27. tamela wrote:

    are the bags food-grade safe for storing food in them and for so long a period of time?

    April 5th, 2014 at 12:38 pm

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