Shelf life for MRE's

Bought a couple of MRE’s about 10 years ago and wonder how long they would be good for. Most of the time they were stored in my house execpt when they were on paddling trips with me. Thanks in advance.

That depends what you mean by "good…"
My husband’s a retired CPT and he’d say they’re past their shelf life before they reach the shelves…but they are good for about ten years if stored at 60 degrees F. Storage at higher temps shortens the shelf life. At 90 degrees F the shelf life is only about 4 years. And those are current figures–lots of advances in MREs in a decade (in fact, they’ve been partially replaced by something else now). Also, these figures are based on flavor, not food value, because frankly, the MRE can hold food value for some time after it becomes aesthetically inedible.

Another thing to know–ten years ago if you bought MREs, it’s possible they were surplus military meals that had already hit the 3-year storage life the military uses as a standard. It’s now illegal to sell MREs, at least the ones manufactured for and by Uncle Sam, and the pouches are stamped with a warning to that effect.

Here is a link

MRE shelf life
Hey, as an army captain still on active duty I have had many experiences with MRE’s…one stands out in my mind…in the summer of 1996 while at fort benning I opened up an MRE, and found that the pack of M&M’s inside with the slogan “Support the 1984 Olympics” printed on the wrapper of the M&Ms…ate the mre, no serious food poisoning (other than the normal gaseous reaction to any MRE)


This thread does not entice one to try MREs.

Any advantage over freeze-dried meals?

Yuck! I’v eaten that 100*f applesauce

– Last Updated: Mar-16-06 6:45 AM EST –

shown in the ageing foto. It was eatable, BUT YUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!

I almost always carry a few MREs on longer trips for emergencies, but very seldom actually eat them. YUCK!!! And this from someone that has eaten the even worse C-Rats many times during my 20 year military career. :^(

At $7 a meal they do provide economical, dependable emergency sustenance and supplies. :^) And besides they also provide additional flotation. ;^)

Bottom line is they will keep you alive a long, long time after you will want to eat them. That little bottle of hot sauce is in there for a reason; to hide the yuck factor! ;^)

Hummmmmmmmmmmmmmm, pass the Tabasco!!!

MREs need no water/heat to prep.
Open it up and eat. Trash accumulation is about the same as those Mountain House thingies, but prep time and fuel consumption is nil…unless you’re one of those people that like hot instant coffee. :wink:

There’s been a lot of good products coming out on the regular “grocery” market that sprouted from MRE technology too: ready-to-eat flavored rice in heatable bags, shelf stable chicken, tuna steaks, and salmon steaks in mylar pouches, shelf stable TV dinners with water activated heaters built in, and don’t forget about the instant oatmeals with freeze dried fruit and instant rice and pasta mixes. Any of these are as good or better than the MREs out now, and comparable in price.

Oh yeah, shelf life is way past the official recommendations. About 20 years ago, my friends and I found a C-rat buried in an older area of a military range (found M1 Garand clips in the same area for those in the know). Crackers and apple jelly. The seal was intact, and yes, we had to try it. Though debatable, we’re all still kickin’ and no worse for wear.


If its illegal to sell MRE’s
sombody should tell the national guard. A lot of Army/Navy stores buy them “by the case” from guardsman returning from maneuvers. They are generally near the end of the their shelf life by the time the guard gets them. If you paid less than $10 for your MRE’s, thats probably how the store got them. Wholesale price for new MRE’s works out to about $7 each and thats if you buy a bunch. I know that the military has come down hard on reselling other items, especially clothing, but I doubt that 4 year old MRE’s are on their hit list.

Civilian MREs
are specifically produced for the civillian market by the makers of the mil-spec ones. They usually have a lower calorie value than the military ones.

The French field ration is supposed to be much better, and I heard in Desert Storm the exchange rate to trade was 5 MREs for one French ration.

Taste Test This Weekend
on the oldest one and see how it is. Will let you know. Thanks for the replies.

I assure you that mine are totally legal
I buy what I need directly from the government. One of my BIG bennies of retirement from the military. Used to get them for $5, but inflation marched on!



BTW: Did you know the MRE heater can be used to make a bomb of sorts?