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The Difference Between Civilian MREs & Military MREs

Military MRE Contents

We’ve received a lot of questions over the years about the differences between civilian and military MREs. Does one last longer than the other? Are they equally nutritious? Which should you stock your food storage with? To get started, let’s see the differences between civilian and military MREs.


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What’s The Difference?

In short, there’s not much of a difference. Both civilian and military MREs are made for use by the Department of Defense (DOD), and the most noticeable difference is their packaging. Military MREs also include a few additional accessories. Otherwise, civilian and military MREs are equally reliable and nutritious.

So, which should you be prepared with in the case of an emergency? Let’s start by looking at what each MRE contains:

5-Year Full Meal Civilian MRE Contents

  • Main dish entree
  • Side dish
  • Cracker with spread
  • Dessert
  • Electrolyte beverage mix
  • Coffee and creamer
  • Accessory pack includes:
    • Spoon
    • Salt
    • Pepper
    • Wet Wipes
    • Sugar
    • Napkins

5-Year Full Meal Military MRE Contents:

  • Main dish entree
  • Side dish
  • Cracker with spread
  • Dessert
  • Electrolyte beverage mix
  • Coffee and creamer
  • Standard accessory pack plus:
    • Tabasco sauce
    • Gum (1 piece)
    • Toilet paper

 

 

See a civilian MRE unpacked here

As you can see, civilian and military MRE contents are almost identical. Both types have 1,250 calories per meal on average, and they even use the same MRE heater. So, if the only difference is a few additional accessories in military MREs, why buy civilian MREs?

The Benefits of Civilian MREs

As we mentioned earlier, one of the main differences is the MREs packaging. DOD military MREs use very specific packaging that states it is specifically for U.S. Military use, and not for commercial resale. Although you may have seen “genuine military MREs” for sale, it is illegal to buy or sell military MREs.

Back in 2005, after Hurricane Katrina, military personnel were reported to have sold them with the intent of making a profit. Since military MREs can undergo more demanding treatment and temperature changes, its buyer may not be aware of its now shortened shelf life. As you’d imagine, this is problematic. When we count on a product for emergency preparedness, we should have a clear expectation of its lifetime.

When you buy an MRE from a dealer like The Ready Store, you can be confident it has been stored gently and trust the printed expiration date is accurate.

Now more than ever, being ready for anything just makes sense. Stocking your food storage with full meal MREs is a great way to ensure you and your family will have ample food available in the case of a disaster. They’re perfect for packing into a backpack on any outing, storing in a 72-hour kit, or simply eating at home if other food is unavailable.

 

Update: The Ready Store still has ample stock of MREs, with 1-12 month supplies available. Order your full meal MREs today.

13 thoughts on “The Difference Between Civilian MREs & Military MREs”

  • voice-city

    good information

    Reply
  • Tom

    DoD MRE's are non-restock items, meaning that once they are issued they need to be either consumed or disposed of; they cannot go back into the system for reissue. When you buy genuine DoD ones, you are literally getting ones that have been out already, so unless you know the Soldier directly you can't be sure of the true age or the temperature they were stored in. The "real deal" CAN be better than civilian ones, but it's also a gamble. With civilian ones such as this, they may not be quite the same, but they're still really good, and you can guarantee the date and how they were stored.

    Reply
  • Tom

    I have my doubts about the illegality of selling DoD ones though, since the on post Commissaries have been selling them for a little over $8 each for quite some time now, and DECA is a separate civilian agency (Defense Exchange Commissary Agency) not directly under the DoD.

    Reply
  • Joel Hillman

    Can you ship to Australia and what is the price for shipping

    Reply
  • Beverly Lohr

    There is a difference between civilian and military MRES we lived off of them after Katrina. And I promise there is a difference.

    Reply
  • Robbie

    Not if the writer has a restrictive creative license. You can't modify e-books, and because an ebook is sold directly from the writer or firm (if you don't sell directly then you're a fool) there isn't a resale. If a person copy-pastes then they are committing commercial plagiarism, which is a felony. The creative license protects from plagiarism, and suing (if someone who doesn't have a liscenes and attempts to sue a writer for using similar names or themes, then the sue will be dropped.) I am a writer, you can look all that up, and anyone who gives an 'ebook' for resale is an idiot. There shouldn't be a resale on electronic transactions.

    Reply
  • Paul

    I've used DoD military MREs and commercial MREs available at the Ready Store. They are both equivalent except with packaging differences. Those that have the ability to purchase DoD military MREs through DoD commissaries, should note that many of these MREs have had their storage life extended past their original period by health professionals, likely from the US Army's VETCOM. There is likely a documented relationship between appropriated and non-appropriated functions on military installations to use commissaries to recoup some of the sunk costs into older MREs that have not expired. I am not aware of limitations on personnel to re-sell DoD military MREs, if they were purchased them from an authorized source; I believe you should likely have the right to re-sell. If you were issued military MREs for training purposes and did not use them, they should not re-sell; that would be in the category of fraud, waste and abuse.

    Reply
  • Dani Bambei

    Under no circumstances would I want to purchase product that is close to being outdated if I were to purchase your product what guarantee what I have that your product is freshly produced?

    Reply
  • David

    Lets have a little common sense with these things. I had a bunch with expiration dates of 1993 which presumably means produced in 1988! As an experiment I decided to try them as opposed to throwing them away. First, the tobasco sauce looked a little dark so was canned. Second, inspection of the cheese spreads and jelly looked and smelled gross so were canned. Third, the crackers (hard little squares) were perfectly edible but had a slightly stale taste! Everything else was perfectly good. If the SHTF and your starving, your going to say NO!??? Be real! I think the early ones had MSG so if allergic to it be careful! Conclusion, they have a long long life unless grossly temperature mistreated.

    Reply
  • David

    P.S. forgot to mention calories. Each MRE contains about 1200 calories which are largely derived from carbs and sugar! If your diabetic go for the freeze dried or dehydrated foods and read the description very carefully before ordering! That will tell you the carb and sugar content, then choose wisely.

    Reply
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