Self-Reliance

How to Make DIY MREs for Your Bug Out Bag

Any dyed-in-the-wool prepper will tell you that preparing DIY MREs is the way to go. Commercial Meals Ready to Eat can be tough on the budget so the best option is to do it yourself. How? Read on.

RELATED: MRE (Meal, Ready To Eat) | What You Need To Know

DIY MREs for Beginners

A Brief History

The use of MREs dates as far back as ancient times. Roman soldiers carry with them provisions consisting of hard bread and wine. Though primitive by today’s modern standards, this basic dietary combo was enough to keep one going for days.

In modern times, MREs have become a part of the basic military arsenal. Freeze-dried and canned goods are as essential as guns and ammo in warfare. Without this rudimentary supply, a soldier’s chance of survival in combat is imperiled.

Modern MRE BasicsMilitary ready to eat meals are prepackaged self-contained individual field rations used in combats

A standard MRE provided by the government is a far cry from the rock-hard biscuit of ancient Rome. The state ensures that modern MREs are packed with the basic nutrients needed by the body to survive. A typical meal consists of calorie-packed food groups that passed the highest sanitary standards.

However, the only bad thing you can say about these meals is they can be bland. The challenge now for MRE producers is how to make the food palatable without sacrificing the health factor. In short, MREs shouldn’t have to taste like hospital food.

Make Your Own MREMilitary combat ration foods set-DIY MREs

A practical option for preppers who want their MREs to be nutritious but still taste good is to go DIY. There’s a lot of pros to preparing your own MRE. One is you can customize the food that you will include in your pack.

The trick is to maintain the balance between taste and good nutrition. Yet choosing a balanced meal amongst choices consisting of processed food can be a challenge. Fresh food is not an option because your MRE is intended to be stored for emergency use.

Short Term ConsumptionPhoto of soldier in camouflaged uniform and tactical gloves holding canned food MRE-DIY MREs

Since MREs are for emergency purposes, they are not best for long-term consumption. Some MREs may last up to five years or even longer under ideal storage conditions. But would you really care to eat food that has been in storage for that long?

Practically speaking, MREs are best used in emergencies such as hurricanes or any natural disaster. An MRE prepared for this purpose is designed to last for about a year. If within this time frame, no such emergencies occur, you can use it on your next hunting or camping trip.

RELATED: Homemade MRE’s for Preppers

4 Easy Tips in Preparing Your DIY MREDisplay of old Vietnam era military C-ration meals that the troops ate while in the field-DIY MREs

1. Choose the Right Food

First off, consider the food that should go into your MRE. Keep in mind that an ideal food pack consists of one main meal, beverage, snacks, and dessert. Even though your MRE would be for short-term use, it is imperative to consider proper nutritional balance.

Aside from considering nutritional value, also make sure that there is enough variety in your MRE. Eating the same type of food for days could take a toll on your palate. In short, keep it healthy but diverse.

2. Keep it Light

The whole point of preparing an MRE is to be able to carry it during an emergency. Packing tons of food enough to feed Africa defeats the purpose. So please keep your MRE lightweight.

A simple solution to the MRE weight problem is dehydrated food. There are various types of dehydrated vegetables, fruits, and meats that you can find in the market. These meals can be inexpensive and are easy to prepare and perfect for bugging out.

3. Make Use of What You Have

MREs can be quite expensive. But if you have the cash, why scrimp, right? For those who are working on a tight budget though, you can use the content of your stockpile. We sometimes tend to overlook what we already have.

For instance, those canned goods that have long been gathering dust on your shelf are the best. Since most canned food does not require cooking, they are perfect for your bug-out bag.

4. Invest in A Freeze-Drier

It may cost you some initially but in the long run, a freeze-drier is a good investment. More so, if you are living in a country where a regular influx of produce is a given, this device would be more optimum. Freeze-drying is the best way to preserve food for later consumption.

Freeze-dryer can also be used to preserve meat and poultry. The process reduces weight yet still capable of maintaining a good deal of nutrients. Besides, freeze-drying also solves the MRE weight problem that you will most likely dread when bugging out.

MRE Sample Checklist

Despite the considerations discussed earlier, what you will include in your MRE is really up to you. Putting together an MRE should not be a hassle though. But to get you started, below are some essential items you can put in your bug out bag:

  • Snack crackers
  • Instant coffee
  • Freeze-dried vegetables and meat
  • Peanut butter on a pouch
  • Protein smoothie
  • Energy drink
  • Electrolyte water
  • Instant ramen
  • Food supplement tablets
  • Trail mix
  • Instant mashed potatoes
  • Crackers and cheese
  • Protein bar
  • Instant rice
  • Hot chocolate packets Instant Tea
  • Salt and pepper

Note: Use a Ziplock bag to make sure that the content of your MRE doesn’t spill out inside your bug-out bag. A piece of vacuum-sealing equipment is also best if you have extra cash to spare.

MRE Essential ToolMilitary combat ration foods set-DIY MRE’S

Once everything is in place, time to prepare an important you will be needing with your MRE. You just can’t eat all the food with your hands, do you? Instead of using a regular fork and spoon that could poke holes in your Ziplock bags, you can use a wooden spork.

A wooden spork is easy to clean and has no sharp edges compared to regular metal forks. Plastic utensils are also not advisable. They easily break and could become potential pollutants in the wild.

Watch this video and learn how to make a DIY 24hr MRE:



Nothing beats a well-provisioned MRE during a protracted bug out or an emergency. With these simple yet practical DIY MRE preparation tips, you will be more prepared in the face of any unexpected event.

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What type of food items would you include in your DIY MRE? Feel free to share your ideas in the comment section below!

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