Has anyone ever suggested that you look into MRE meals for sale? If so, they might have either learned how valuable these field rations can be in their own experience or life, or they might have seen a way that MREs could serve you well in your own life. It’s also very possible that both situations are happening at the same time. In either case, their comment likely got you thinking, otherwise, you wouldn’t be looking to learn more about it, which is likely what brought you to this article.
You might be new to MRE meals for sale entirely and still expanding your nascent knowledge, in which case this article can certainly help you out. It’s also possible that you’re a recently discharged or retired veteran who wants to maintain a supply of these rations but can no longer get them on the base. Also, you might even know all there is about MREs already but no longer have the source you relied on and are looking for a new place to get them from.
This article covers all that and more, including the history of the MRE, military versus civilian options, why you would buy them, where you can buy them, and what your options are when buying them.
If any of that sounds like information you’d like to know or brush up on, then, by all means, keep reading!
The History Of The MRE
Depending on how you look at it, the history of the MRE might be traced back to the canned field rations given to Civil War soldiers. Rations of the 20th century varied, often depending on the war or theater of conflict. Variations and revisions happened a lot as there were concerns about how much weight soldiers might carry with them in the field but also about how well certain rations would hold up in the various extreme environments service members of the military might serve in, ranging from frigid and dry arctic tundra to the heat and humidity of the tropics. The necessity of current rations that were light in weight, easy to carry and prepare, and full of the nutrition a person might need in terms of protein, carbs, fats, minerals, and vitamins became clearly established during the Korean and Vietnam wars as the rapid deployment of special forces became increasingly commonplace.
Modern MREs typically come in heavy plastic materials that can be stored in a cool, dry place and stay useful for many years to come, giving them tremendous shelf life. Military rations or military equivalents typically have an entree, a side, a snack, a beverage, some kind of spread, a napkin, a utensil, a desert, and a flameless ration heater all in one package. Civilian variations typically have many of these items but not the flameless ration heater included. These can be bought individually though.
Military Versus Civilian
While MREs started out as a field ration, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to find actual military rations for sale. If you know someone still in uniform serving on a base or other installation, they have access to such rations, either as part of their duties or through a commissary, and they can possibly sell some of them to you. Army/Navy surplus stores often wind up with them too, particularly in military areas. However, the department of defense forbids military stock to be sold commercially, so if you see them listed online or in a store, you might need to be wary of what you’re seeing.
The civilian MRE market is a very confused place, but it has so much more to offer than just looking for something that was created specifically for the military. Many makers of military MREs also make civilian equivalents using the same processes and equipment as they do for their military stock. There are also MREs more designed for civilians that might have more foods and flavors involved. You can even sometimes find foreign MREs on the market for import, which sometimes means you can buy MREs made for the militaries of other nations, but shipping charges combing with suspicious stockpiles to make this a serious roll of the dice, especially considering how much you might rely on MREs depending on the circumstances.
Why Would You Buy Them?
While the military designs MREs to serve as field rations for servicemembers in places that don’t yet have adequate nutritional facilities established, your reasons for using them could be quite varied. The following are 6 reasons that might apply to you, possibly more than one:
1) Disaster preparation: You’ve likely heard more than once that your home should have a gallon of water per person, per day for three days. You also need to have enough non-perishable food for each person to last that long without starving or suffering a nutritional deficiency. MREs makes this incredibly easy to do, since each meal should provide 1200 calories of nutrition and energy. Two or three of them plus snacks can keep a person full and healthy through a whole day, and you can usually just store them in a cabinet or closet until you need them. Then, if the power goes out due to a hurricane, blizzard, earthquake, or another natural disaster, you have a reliable source of food to get you through until you either have power restored, access to more food, or can relocate.
2) Emergency supplies: Disasters at home might not be your only reason for getting MREs as emergency supplies, as limited quantities of them can prove useful in more specific circumstances. For instance, if you ever do long-range travel in a car or truck and might face the possibility of being stranded overnight in a snowstorm or something, then a few packets in your trunk can prove very handy to have around to get you through until morning. Likewise, if you might get snowed in at work or can’t leave to get food, having one or two in your locker or desk can prove handy. Those who like to go boating can also use them for nutrition in the event their sailing goes awry.
3) Easy eating: If you’re an outdoors person of any kind, you might just want the simplicity that MREs provide. You usually have to do very little to get your meal ready except possibly open up all the various packets and prepare your meal. The beverage might need mixing together, and the entree will have to be heated. However, the flameless ration heater doesn’t have to be ignited and as the name implies, is not a dangerous source of fire. Cleaning up is also a cinch, since there no pots or pans involved that need cleaning, nor do you even have to carry a stove. Everything can just be stuffed into a garbage bag for you to recycle when you get back to civilization.
4) In case you don’t catch anything: If you like to go fishing or hunting, MREs can come in handy if you just happen to have a lousy day or if the things you catch just aren’t something you can prepare, enjoy, and eat that very day. While it’s great to catch fresh fish in a wild river and then cook them over the fire in camp that night, you might not wind up with one or enough to go around. Having field rations in your gear means you won’t starve on a slow day.
5) Weight loss: It’s not exactly a fad diet yet, but there are some enthusiasts who note the lack of extraneous fats in MREs. Given how precisely everything is manufactured and measured, military field rations make it very simple to track how many calories a person consumes throughout the day. Combined with how they are also designed to make sure a person gets all their macronutrients and many of their micronutrients, it helps to avoid and prevent compensatory binge-eating later to make up for a deficiency in something. MREs are not intended to be a long-term diet, even for military personnel, but consistent use over several weeks or months has been shown to instigate some healthy weight loss in civilian enthusiasts.
6) Dorm rooms or work lunches: Sometimes, the biggest appeal is the fact that MREs don’t require refrigeration for storage or a microwave, oven, or even hot water for preparation. College students in dorms sometimes keep a few of them on hand if they get the late-night munchies or oversleep and miss breakfast in the cafeteria. Many professionals who work jobs where there is no break room might use them to get a full meal in the middle of their shift, be they a construction worker or a park ranger.
Where Can You Purchase Them?
It used to be you were very limited in where you could get MREs for sale, but the modern economy has an incredible number of options. Here are 10:
1) The military: If you’re still in the service, then you should have relatively easy access to MREs. You might be provided them on a regular basis depending on your assignment or duties, and they might also be available to order through a commissary or on-base store. There might also be a bunch of them in storage here and there that you have free access to, although it’s always a good idea to make sure you have approval or permission first. Of course, just because you are in uniform doesn’t mean anything is stopping you from ordering on the civilian market to have enough at home for you and your family.
2) Someone you know in the military: If you were once in uniform, you probably still know plenty of people who are. It’s not good to expect a steady stream of MREs from them, and you never want to solicit them in the cold for them if they’ve never been a source of them before. While there is often a blind eye turned towards armed services personnel selling personal property, which can legally include MREs, the defense department does try and crack down on military surplus from making it to the civilian market.
3) Army/Navy surplus stores: These stores used to be in every town or city, but the Internet has really cut into their business. Still, there are a few here and there that collect what they can and sell it to those that are interested. The ones that are actually near military bases or even in an area highly populated by veterans are going to have a lot more stock on hand.
4) Sporting and outdoor goods stores: The selection of MREs is not going to be great in a brick and mortar store, but if you just need a few for an upcoming trip, then this is a quick and convenient way to put a few complete meals in your gear. Just make sure that you read the packaging of anything on the shelves. You don’t want to wind up with an incomplete meal that you only discover when in the actual woods, away from civilization. Nor do you want to buy a civilian variant not knowing you need a separate flameless ration heater to go with it.
5) Trade shows and expos: These can be extremely good places to go if you actually have some supplies already but they are incomplete, which can happen with combo cases. Any event that allows for buying, selling, and trading is a great chance to get together with other MRE fans and swap with one another to turn your excess or unwanted supplies into something you can actually use on your trips or just have well-rounded meals ready for emergencies.
6) Catalogs: Mail-order catalogs are not as numerous as they were before the Internet turned the world upside down, but there are still a few out there. Some MRE manufacturers put out annual catalogs to a dedicated base of clients where they can order select stock that might not be available anywhere else. In some cases, you can even put in orders that aren’t even manufactured yet, giving you the chance to get some stock out of a fresh run. You might have to wait several months to get your shipment, but when you do, you’ll have the maximum possible shelf life of that stock.
7) Amazon: Some sellers that operate brick and mortar stores or do the travel circuit also sell through this e-commerce giant. It appeals to sellers because they can list anything sitting in their storage once, and the page will sit on Amazon until someone comes along and buys it. That might take years, but most MREs are going to last years as is. Just be sure to thoroughly read the descriptions so you know exactly what you’re buying and how much life expectancy it has left. More pictures are better, and sellers that respond to questions are a good thing to see.
8) eBay: Sellers that just have individual lots they’re trying to unload might turn to eBay. This can actually be fun to hunt, as the listings change daily, and even hourly. So, you never actually know just what you might find here. Still, do your due diligence. Only buy from sellers that have clearly established themselves as reliable sellers from their feedback in dozens or more of previous transactions. Also go through descriptions with the same thoroughness you might on Amazon, as every little detail matters when buying something that might be your source of emergency food. Still, not only is the constantly changing selection fun, but so is the thrill of trying to outbid others without overpaying.
9) Online retailers: Quite a few retailers, such as XMRE, Meal Kit Supply, MRE Star or Eversafe MREs, have online presences where you can order straight from their website. This is hands down the best way to save money if you’re looking to buy in volume. Ordering a lot of them at once typically means you get better average prices per unit, and most of the time, you should qualify for free shipping and handling if your order hits a certain minimum price point. Ordering via the slowest shipping option is typically the cheapest, although your own address, ZIP code, and geographic region might matter if the distance covered is factored into the shipping price. One great thing about ordering directly from a website like this is that they aren’t losing part of their profit to eBay or Amazon, both of which take a cut of every sale. EBay even charges for auctions to be listed, whether they sell or not.
10) Liquidations and/or estate sales: This isn’t going to be a very common way to find them at a steady rate, but you can sometimes score good deals at such events. If a survivalist has an estate sale taking place, their lifetime stockpile might become available. Likewise, if a business that deals in such supplies winds up going under, everything they still have might suddenly come on the market at very good prices. Every once in a while, caches are discovered in warehouses that didn’t actually make it to the military and wind up flooding a local or regional market. It’s also possible to sometimes find these on the international market as freight accidents or logistical mishaps might make entire pallets never make it to their destinations.
What Are Your Options?
When it comes to buying MREs, you can do it in three different ways. First, you can buy combo cases. Second, you can get complete meals. Third, you can buy individual components to use by themselves or to combine together for your own menu.
Combo cases usually come with multiple boxes that have dozens of rations. The advantages here are threefold. First, you get serious bulk savings from just how much you buy for the money. Second, you can pick and choose the parts and pieces want. Third, you can just buy one and stick in storage if you’re looking for a good set of emergency supplies that are all ready to go as-is. Combo cases often come with many complete meals but might also have individual entrees, snacks, desserts, and beverages that you can choose from to customize your meals. The only real downside to combo cases is that you might rummage through the selections and then use about half of it, then getting stuck with the remaining pieces in a random assortment of things you just might not want to use. They can still serve as good emergency supplies though.
Complete meals are a great choice if you need easy meals for camping or outdoor outings. They take all the thinking out of the equation because the packages come with everything you need for your nutrition, be it for individual meals, a full day, or even a long weekend out in the wilderness. If you’re just looking for a few packages or packets to have for the convenience and you don’t really care what you’re going to eat or drink, this is a great way to go.
The last option of buying individual components is the way that you get full and total control over what’s involved in your diet. The civilian MRE market has plenty of parts and pieces you can use to come up with your own exact lineup of meals. It can get a little more expensive given that volume savings are not always there, but if a la carte eating is your preference, this is the way to do it. This is also a way you can possibly come up with combinations that use anything leftover in your combo case.
Now that you’ve read this article, you hopefully know more about MREs, what they are, why you would buy them, where you would buy them, and what your options are in terms of buying cases, meals, or parts and pieces. Hopefully, you can use this knowledge to create your own stockpile of nutritious meals that can keep you fed in the event of an emergency, make for easy eating, or just replace expiring stock you already have.