Oct 16

5 MRE Tips for Newbies

There are typically two ways to eat MRE’s, at least in my experience.  The first method is much more relaxed and exists in an environment where time is not an issue, it also usually involves some heavy bartering for various MRE components.  You heat up your meal while sitting in the shade, working your way through the miscellaneous snacks and candies until the main course is ready.  Why not try the drink mix, you’ve got time!  In contrast the second method involves shoveling as much food into your mouth as possible, pretty much like an animal, with no time to taste much of anything (much less heat it up).  Bags are torn open and a spoon is optional, tear the top off of something and squeeze it into your mouth.  Eat it now, taste it later.

For the purpose of this post we’ll assume that the time exists to enjoy an MRE once you crack the case open.  I’m not going to get into MRE “recipes” but rather pass along some tips I’ve learned over the years which made my experience much better while digging into the bag.  I’m sure quite a few preppers out there have a case or two of MREs in their basement but really haven’t been exposed to them that much, so these tips are for you.

1: ALWAYS keep the spoon.  Your MRE spoon is only slightly less important than your weapon.  Always keep an extra MRE spoon tucked away in your gear, never throw it away.  Trust me on this one.

Sensitive Item

Sensitive Item

2: MRE Heater, DISREGARD instructions.  If you follow the instructions you’ll be placing the main meal INSIDE the heater bag.  Once the meal is heated this usually results in a slimy mess on the outside of your package, who wants that?  Place the water inside the heater to activate it but always place your other items on the OUTSIDE of the heater bag (see next tip).

Disregard Instructions

Disregard Instructions

3: Heat two items at once.  Utilizing your main meal cardboard container, place two items on either side of the activated MRE heater.  This will allow you to heat both simultaneously and won’t get any of the slimy goo on your packages.

Proper way to heat an MRE

Proper way to heat an MRE

4: Slice open main meal horizontally.  There are tear notches in the main meal package which indicate your should open your meal vertically, this is a rookie mistake.  Slice open your meal bag while it is horizontal, this will facilitate the addition of jalapeno cheese and crackers.

Slice open horizontally

Slice open horizontally

5: MRE bag and drink mix bags double as water resistant containers.  If you need an extra bag for your socks, utilize the MRE bag or one of the drink mix bags.  While not 100% waterproof they will work to some extent.

A good place for extra socks

A good place for extra socks

Have any other MRE tips?  Feel free to share them in the comment section below.



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    Good stuff to know. There are people out there like me who did not have the honor of serving and are at “rookie” level on the MRE scale.

    1. PJ


      We all have to start somewhere. Just be thankful you weren’t around for the older brown bag versions, the Chicken A La King looked like vomit and tasted only slightly less gross.

  2. dave

    Back when Alexandre Solzenitzin was in the Gulag- he fashioned a spoon out of a piece of metal, and scratched Utz Uzima on it, and he carried it in his sock.
    To the memory of him, I had a similar article in my bail-out bag, (they did not have a name for these, at the height of the ‘Cuban Missile Crisis’ in 1962.
    Some U.S. Airmen, (at the SAC Base in Goose Bay, Labrador, gave me some K-rations, (remember them)- I really liked the ‘pound cake’.
    There is a website out there, for people who actually collect these things, (they collect and trade them). There is a video on that site, of a guy in a kilt, (the full kit)- someone opens a can of poundcake- he pokes a sword into it-passes a chunk of it to another guy- who ATE it! Yum! That poundcake was around 40 years old!

    1. PJ


      Good stuff, thanks for sharing. I’ve never come to enjoy the pound cake, although if I needed a wheel chock in a pinch I’m sure a bag a pound cake would suffice.

  3. Sgt. Hamilton

    Ranger Cookie: Take 1 coffee creamer packe 1 packet of sugar
    Open both sugar and creamer packet. Add the sugar into the creamer packet, shake it thoroughly, and then fold it up together. Heat the packet over the book of matches until the contents have melted. Let it cool. You should have a caramelized cookie.

    To make Ranger pudding: Mix your cocoa powder, your creamer, and your sugar packet with some water in your canteen cup and presto chango Ranger pudding.

    This is always good when you have time to eat on a seat

  4. bill may

    i had eaten k rats and c rats in the 60’s -mre’s in 80’s,90’s and 2000’s.. i still have some of the long brown mre spoons. i always kept some hot sauce to help give bland entrees some flavor. used to crumble the pork patty mre really small and sprinkle some into others boots. as they walked around sweat would cause the crumblies to swell up making laces tighten up.to this day i turn foot wear upside down before putting on shoes or boots- it is not just to displace scorpions and other critters.the creamer made a good fuse also and putting heater granuals in a dry plastic soda bottle and adding 3/4″ or so water then capping it real tight-shake vigorishly-throw away from you made an “mre bomb”

    1. PJ

      I love the Pork Patty, easily one of my favorite meals.

  5. Brendan

    Our version of ranger pudding we would dump the sugar, creamer and instant coffee into the cocoa pouch with some water. Stir and eat directly from the pouch. It saves having to clean the canteen cup and you get that extra punch of caffeine along with it!

  6. Calvin

    Mild tear gas …Save a few Tobacco sauces and a heater. Then put the Tobasco into the heater as you would water. The more sauce the stronger the reaction. Slightly roll up the open end so it builds up. And after a few mins you will clear a tent, vehicle or any semi enclosed space.

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