MREs or Meals Ready to Eat were once exclusively used by members of the military. But in recent decades, they have become increasingly popular among preppers, campers, and stockpilers. No matter how you plan to use them, it’s always good to have some shelf-stable meals on hand. These are our top recommendations for the best MREs!
1. Military Surplus Spaghetti With Beef And Sauce
When it comes to MREs, some people believe that nothing beats the options from the original experts — the military itself. This authentic MRE is guaranteed to be inspected as of January 2018 or more recently with an extra-long shelf life. This calorie-dense meal is made to sustain you during emergencies and harsh conditions. It is inspected twice to ensure safety, freshness, and long shelf life. This MRE has no expiration date, but you can expect it to last at least five years at room temperature, and much longer in a refrigerator. This is an affordable and nutritious MRE for any prepper or survivalist!
2. AllGo Outdoors Pepperoni Pizza
When you are truly hungry, nothing hits the spot and helps you rally like a hot slice of pizza. While the AllGo Outdoors brand doesn’t claim to be as good as a hot pizza pie fresh from the oven, it is definitely enough to help you pack in the calories. This two-piece MRE is guaranteed to last a minimum of five to 10 years if stored properly. With an inspection date of 2023 or later, you can depend on this meal lasting into the next decade. The meal is a total of 1250 calories with included sides, beverage powders, seasonings, and even a heating device for cooking.
3. ReadyWise Meal Kit
If you blink in surprise when you look at the price of the ReadyWise Meal Kit, you should know that it’s not like most MREs. This kit is packed with calorie-dense, nutritious food to help you during emergencies and in harsh conditions. It includes a total of eight meals, including breakfast foods, as well as heating devices to cook before serving. All you need to do is add water. With a 10- to 15-year shelf life, you may be able to use this meal kit long after you buy it. For so much food, the higher price is worth it!
4. Wild Zora Paleo Meal To Go
You probably don’t associate MREs with specialty diets like Paleo. But modern developments have made it possible for anyone to stick to their diets even if they are in lockdown or out in the wild. The Wild Zora Paleo Meal To Go features a calorie-dense, nutritious meal that is even good for you — something most MREs can’t claim. This freeze-dried meal only needs water and can be eaten from the pouch. Wild Zora meals have a shelf life of about nine months after their manufacture date. While this might not be as long as some, they are an affordable and healthy choice.
5. Peak Refuel Breakfast Skillet
Any good MRE stash should have some breakfast food, which is packed with calories and protein. Unfortunately, in its usual state, it doesn’t keep very long. The Peak Refuel Breakfast Skillet is the prime way to get breakfast food with a long shelf life! With 39 grams of protein, this nutrient-dense meal only needs water to be ready to eat. The included two servings are a total of 640 calories to give you plenty of energy on the trail — or wherever else you may be. This breakfast skillet includes scrambled eggs, sausage, bell peppers, and onions for a hearty and satisfying meal.
6. GOOD-TO-GO Thai Curry
Who said that MREs had to be boring meals with no flavor? In recent decades, it has become possible to find tasty ethnic cuisine in MRE form. GOOD-TO-GO Thai Curry is made by a small company that prioritizes healthy food, safe handling, and delicious flavors. It’s so good that it received the Backpacker Magazine Editors’ Choice Award in 2014! It is also gluten-free and pescatarian. If you love flavorful food, this coconut milk curry with jasmine rice will be a treat no matter where you are. It has a five-year shelf life and is a great choice for people with food sensitivities.
7. Mountain House Adventure Meals
If you are an adventurous eater who doesn’t have a severely restricted diet, you may enjoy Mountain House Adventure Meals. This three-day supply of emergency food includes 18 servings and makes it possible to consume a daily caloric intake of roughly 1700 calories for three days. You can even prepare them without power, using room-temperature water. With an extra-long shelf life, this meal kit is the perfect thing to keep on hand for emergencies. You’ll find options for all three meals, including options like beef stroganoff, biscuits and gravy, chicken-fried rice, and granola with milk and blueberries.
8. Bridgford Italian Sausage Sandwiches
Survival food can sometimes err on the side of being monotonous, and experienced survivalists or military members will tell you that there is a LOT of stew. Sometimes a bit of variety can really lift your spirits. These Bridgford Italian sausage sandwiches are a great example! They might remind you of Hot Pockets with their easy-to-grab design, but they pack a caloric punch at 330 calories per sandwich. Three sandwiches are included in the MRE for a grand total of close to 1,000 calories. If you need a quick and portable MRE on hand, this is a great thing to add to your supply.
9. Military Surplus Hawaii Prime
The Military Surplus Hawaii Prime MREs are some of the most highly-rated MREs you can find on the internet. This pack includes four meals, each providing roughly 1250 calories, so they really pack a nutritional punch! With a three- to five-year shelf life, the Military Surplus Hawaii Prime meals may last even longer if stored in a refrigerator. They include a heating element, so all you have to do is add water and they cook right in the pouch. Menu options themselves vary from pack to pack and each includes sides, snack, dessert, and drink mixes to help you reach that calorie count.
10. Legacy Premium Emergency Preparedness Meal Kit
If you want a kit on hand to provide emergency meals for a large group of people, Legacy Premium is your best choice. This fully-stocked meal kit includes 16 servings of various menu options for a grand total of 6,000 calories. It is the most affordable way to buy in bulk, which is a great option if you are creating an emergency stock for a family. All you need to prepare it is water, as it can be heated right in the pouch. It also has one of the longest shelf lives you’ll find for any MRE, at 25 years with proper storage.
11. Augason Farms 72 Hour Emergency Food Supply Kit
Providing a total of 8,000 calories, the Augason Farms 72-Hour Emergency Food Supply Kit really offers a bang for your buck. One kit is made for a single person to make it through three days with plenty of calories and prime nutrition. Most impressively, the Augason Farms has one of the longest shelf lives of any MRE brand you will find, at 25 years. The included meals and snacks include options for every time of the day and are easy to prepare. All you have to do is add water
12. Western Frontier Ultimate MRE Pack
The Western Frontier Ultimate MRE Pack offers a six-pack of meals, complete with sides, condiments, dessert, and beverage extras. This is a handy pack to take along if you are camping or want a stock for just a few days. Western Frontier keeps things simple: you won’t know what you are going to get until you open the box, though you can make special requests or note dietary considerations at the time of purchase. The box includes heating packs for all meals, though you can also use hot water. This is an excellent no-frills option for tasty food with long shelf life.
13. A-PACK Ready Meal 12 MRE Kit
A-PACK is a brand that is well-known among survivalists thanks to its tasty food, good shelf life, and ease of preparation. This kit offers a healthier option with reduced sodium, a common problem with classic MREs. It just goes to show that you can eat to survive without putting your health at risk! The kit includes sides, condiments, and other extras, as well as a heating unit, for a total of 12 meals and six different menu options. This brand is a solid and dependable one for staying nourished during emergencies. Once you try it, you’ll understand why it is rated so highly.
14. SOPACKO Military Surplus MREs
This SOPACKO MRE kit uses military surplus meals to package and ship out separately. SOPACKO is a well-known name in the survivalist community and you are bound to get good meals from them. They offer a wide variety of menu options for a total of 24 meals. Each meal also comes with sides, dessert, cutlery, coffee, a beverage mix, and a heating pack. What you see is what you get with this MRE kit: good meals, good variety, and good shelf life. There is a reason why SOPACKO is a well-trusted name by people who have eaten plenty of MREs in their lives!
15. XMRE Kit by Ozark Outdoors
This 12-meal MRE kit from Ozark Outdoors offers a variety of six menu options to help you stay nourished on the trail or in other survival situations. These calorie-dense meals have plenty of nutrition and extra-long shelf life so you know they are good to eat for many years to come. Additionally, the packs are waterproof and don’t need refrigeration (though they may last longer if you do choose to refrigerate). The shelf life is advertised as 5+ years with proper storage, so you may find that they last 10 years or even longer. If you need a solid, dependable MRE kit with plenty of calories, this one is a great choice.
What Is The Best Brand Of MREs?
It is tricky to say what the best brand of MRE is since “best” is a matter of opinion! Some of the most highly-rated brands, however, include Mountain House, Legacy Premium, GOOD TO-GO, XMRE, and MRE Surplus.
Are MREs Bad For You?
MREs are often said to be bad for you, and the answer is: yes and no. They are designed to provide calories and energy over a short period of time. In other words, the point is caloric intake rather than health. As long as you aren’t eating MREs every day for long periods, you should be fine. Additionally, in recent years, more MREs have been developed that are lower in sodium and use fewer preservatives. Some, including many on this list, include healthier options for those with dietary restrictions, including vegetarian, gluten-free, and paleo-friendly meals.
Are MREs Good After 20 Years?
The shelf life of an MRE varies widely depending on the brand and of course, how it is stored. For many brands, you can easily double the shelf life by storing it properly, usually in a refrigerator. However, most MREs have a shelf life of about five years even at room temperature. The upper end of the window is 10 to 15 years. It is very rare to find an MRE that can still be eaten after 20 years, with the exception of certain brands like Legacy Premium and Augason Farms, which have a shelf life of 25 years!
MREs for Prepping
Whether you like having a stock of shelf-stable food on hand for emergencies or love to explore the great outdoors, there are lots of good reasons to buy MREs. Just because food is made to keep doesn’t mean it has to taste bad. These delicious meals are nutritious and perfect for staying safe and healthy in whatever situation you find yourself in. Do you have a favorite MRE? Let us know in the comments!