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!
However, these homemade MRE packets are great for camping or emergency supplies. If you add an oxygen absorber 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.
• Metalized Mylar Bags
• Freeze-dried food (or powdered drink mix)
• Heating element (hair straightener or non-steaming clothes iron)
• Vacuum sealer
• Measuring tape
1. Measure a square on the Mylar bag that is the size of homemade MRE that you desire. Below, I've made one that measures 6 inches by 11 inches.
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.
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.
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.
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.