Preparedness blog

What is the Shelf Life of MREs?

By Jeff and Amy Davis
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MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) shelf life is a little bit tricky. Like most shelf stable, long term food storage items, there are important things to know in order to store them properly. The most important concept to understand with MRE shelf life is:

MREs are temperature sensitive.
According to Temperature
What that means is the cooler the storage temperature, the longer the shelf life and inversely, the warmer the storage temperature the shorter the shelf life. It is quite possible that an MRE that is sent to the dessert in Iraq where the temperature is 120 degrees Fahrenheit will only stay fresh for a period of a few months. Whereas an MRE that is stored in a cool basement that is 65 degrees year round will store for a decade or so.

The Natick Army laboratory has done quite a bit of research on the shelf life of MREs and they have come up with this very handy chart to help you see how the long the MREs will store for based on temperature.

Here is the chart:

As you can see it is important in storing your MREs to maintain a constant temperature. That will help MREs store for longer.

We've had people tell us that they'll eat MREs that have been in their packs for 10+ years. Obviously, eat any MRE that has expired at your own risk.

Many of the MRE foods will lose their flavor, nutritional value, and coloring the longer they store. For example, apple sauce will turn from a soft yellow color to a darker brown. To avoid this problem, you'll just need to be on top of your MRE supply and make sure you don't have anything in your emergency supplies that is too old.

7 years ago
Comments
Robert Walker
7 years ago at 1:38 PM
Would it be advisable to Freeze MRE meals, or possible just keep them stored in a extra small refridge? Would freezing damage MRE meals taste?
Louise
7 years ago at 8:33 AM
I have military MREs that are a good 20 years old. Are they still usable or should they be trashed?
Mike
6 years ago at 7:27 AM
If the MRE Bag is Overly puffy, or Extremely vacuumed, something inside has went bad. I wouldn't open these bags... unless you want to lose the lunch you already ate. (Overly puffy = Look like they could burst, Vacuumed = look like they've been vacuum sealed... neither are an MRE's natural state)
survival food
6 years ago at 3:22 PM
It won't be the end of the world, but it is enough time to dehydrate, become malnourished, and raise the casualty counts. Although sprouts in general offer more nutritional value than any plant in its mature stage, alfalfa in particular blows the rest away. Some of their foods only require boiling water and after 12 to 15 minutes, your food will be ready.
Pat vanhoose
5 years ago at 10:32 AM
If the serving size is 1/2 cup freeze dried vegetables, how much will it make when it's fixed?
Dan
4 years ago at 1:39 PM
Not much more Pat on vegetables, a half cup of freeze dried will absorb about 3/4 of the water you add but will only puff out slightly so, maybe 5/6 of a cup after soaking in hot water and draining off the excess water. If your talking about beans or rice then it can become 2-3 times the amount if not cooked yet. If it's freeze dried rice that has been cooked first then freeze dried then less. Just dehydrated beans will increase 3 times after soaking and cooking. Really depends on the type of vegetable or grain and if it has been cooked prior to being freeze dried.
Bob
1 year ago at 10:32 AM
1/2 cup.
Denny Brunkhorst
4 years ago at 1:55 PM
Bathmate or Penomet Results
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