Saturday, March 26, 2016

MRE Review

MRE stands for "meal, ready-to-eat". They're convenient and easy to use, and there are a wide variety of foods available, including main dishes, snacks, desserts and beverages. MREs are used as military rations, and packed with calories because they are meant to sustain soldiers in the field. They are a great option to add to emergency kits because of their portability and ease of use. But it's always a good idea to test out the products you store before you plan on using them. That's what my family decided to do this week. 

We learned a few things from our MRE dinner experience...
Rule #1-- Don't eat too much! My poor little 7-year-old enjoyed the Beef Ravioli a little too much, and became famous the next day when he puked it all over his first grade classroom. Lesson learned! There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. MREs are packed with calories, so they are super heavy for someone who isn't burning massive amounts of calories per day. It's a good idea to share an MRE or save some for another day(with proper refrigeration), if you live a more sedentary lifestyle. 
Rule #2-- Don't look at it! For anyone who has a problem with presentation, it's a good idea to open the MRE, take a spoonful without looking at it, and shove it in your mouth. They taste much better than they look! But because of the way they look, my extremely sensitive 10-year-old son would only tried one of them. He'd prefer to go hungry than have to eat an MRE because of the way they look. 
Rule #3-- Try it before you store it! The flavors I thought my kids would like were the flavors they hated, and vice versa. It's better to try a few to find some flavors you like, than to store a bunch of food your family hates and has to choke down during a stressful situation.
Here are the different kinds of MREs we tried and our opinions of them...

Ratatouille
The texture of this MRE was mushy. It wasn't spicy, but there was pepper in the sauce. Traditional ratatouille is made of only vegetables, but this MRE included penne pasta. My husband and I wouldn't pick it, but it was edible. My 12-year-old daughter thought it was good and said that she could eat it if she was hungry. My 10-year-old son and 7-year-old son wouldn't touch it. I've heard of others saying that this is their favorite kind of MRE, but it wasn't ours.

Beef Ravioli in Meat Sauce
This was our favorite! We felt that this MRE had the best overall texture, flavor and appearance. This is the MRE that my 7-year-old son ate almost single-handedly. This is the one we're putting in most of our emergency kits. The noodles were more firm and there was a good noodle to sauce ratio, and it wasn't too spicy. This MRE tasted the most to us like some of the foods we normally eat.

Chicken & Noodles with Vegetables in Sauce
Many MREs, to me, seem to be oversaturated in flavor. This one seemed more mild in flavor. It looked and tasted a little like a tuna noodle casserole, but it was made with chicken. The texture was mushy. It was not spicy. My husband and I thought it was edible, but we choose other flavors over this one. My daughter thought it was pretty good. She even thought it was better than the Beef Ravioli in Meat Sauce. Neither of my sons(7 & 10) would try it because it looked "like puke."

Chili & Macaroni
This was our second favorite MRE. The texture of the noodles were more firm than some of the others. It had a good noodle to sauce ration, but it was a little on the spicy side. My husband and I thought it had a decent taste, but felt that it was a little too spicy for our liking. This was the favorite MRE of our 12 year-old daughter. She liked it better than the Beef Ravioli. Overall, it was pretty good and it was a meal that we would all eat again if we had to.

 Cheese Tortellini
Overall, this is a pretty universal flavor. The texture and flavor was good, but the noodle-to-sauce ratio wasn't very good. It may have just been that we were unlucky and didn't get very many noodles in our package, but I wouldn't know unless we opened another one, which we didn't. There were only five tortellini noodles in our MRE, and way too much sauce. My husband said it was ok, but it was too saucy. I liked the portion with the noodles, but would discard the extra sauce. My daughter hated it. This was the only MRE that my 10-year old son would dare try, but he hated everything about it. My 7-year-old son said it was a little spicy and he would rather eat the rest of the Beef Ravioli (which he did).
Chicken & Rice
The consistency was good, but the chicken looked more like tuna. The first bite tasted good, but aftertaste was bad. We all agreed that if we were starving, this MRE would be edible, but if we had a choice, we'd pick something else.

Pasta & Vegetables with Sauce
This flavor was way too spicy. It tasted like a normal pasta sauce but if I ate more than a few bites, I would die from heart burn. The noodles were more firm than some of the other pastas, which we liked, but the vegetables and the rest of the sauce was a little mushy. I wouldn't want to eat this one again, simply because of the spiciness, but if you've got a strong gut, this one's pretty good!

Fudge Brownie
We thought this one would taste great, because who doesn't like chocolate, but we were a little disappointed. The consistency was very crumbly. It tasted more like a dark chocolate, and it was a little too chocolatey for our liking.

Vegetable Cracker
The cracker was a big hit! It was crispy like a cracker should be, and very fresh.

Cornbread
The cornbread was also a little crumbly, but tasted great.

Peanut Butter
Looked, smelled and tasted like the real thing-- think Jif or Skippy. This MRE was plain 'ol peanut butter goodness.

There are so many different kinds of MREs available, that we just barely scratched the surface. But hopefully this review will gives you a better idea about some of the basics that you could add to your emergency kits. 

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