How To Make Homemade MREs – Save Money By Making Them Yourself

Many times when we go camping, or hiking we would like to stay a little longer. However the main thing that usually forces us to leave is running out of food (assuming you’re not under a time constraint.

If you did manage to pack enough food for the trip much of it would not get eaten because it either spoiled due to heat, or when the ice melted in your cooler it got your food wet.

There is a solution to that problem, and it’s called MRE’s, or Meals Ready to Eat. In this post you will learn all about MRE’s such as why you should make them, things to consider when making MRE’s, what’s in a typical MRE, plus a whole lot more.


Why Should You Make Homemade MRE’s?

A lot of the time in the past when I went camping, the only thing that forced me to go back home was lack of food. We’d pack enough food for a few days and pop it in the cooler with some ice.

The problem was that half the food wouldn’t get eaten because it was either soggy from ice water or spoiled from the heat. This was back before I had any thoughts about making my own MREs. I wanted normal cookout food – hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, and other delicious goodness that could be cooked on a grill or over a campfire.

Things to consider when making your homemade MREs

Choose foods that have a long shelf life. The shorter the shelf life, the faster the item will need to be replaced or remade.

Freeze dried foods are usually your best bet. Choose foods that are light weight. Heaver foods mean more bulk in your bag and the less you can carry. Again, freeze dried foods weigh little to nothing in your pack.

You can also opt to include some dehydrated foods, too. While I might buy freeze dried foods, I would probably want to dehydrate my own. You can get a really nice kitchen model dehydrator, or you can go more primitive with an eco-friendly one that won’t run up your power bill – both of which would do the job.

One may take a little longer, but it’s still going to get the job done. Choose foods that are high in calories. You might have to ration your food, but you can’t necessarily ration your energy.

High calorie foods keep your energy up. Each MRE should ideally have approximately 1,200 calories. Mix some nuts, granola and dried fruits to make a high calorie trail mix that’s also light-weight.

What are in typical military MRE’s:

  • Entree –the main course, such as Spaghetti or Beef Stew
  • Side dish – rice, corn, fruit, or mashed potatoes, etc.
  • Cracker or Bread 
  • Spread – peanut butter, jelly, or cheese spread
  • Dessert – cookies or pound cakes
  • Candy – M&Ms, Skittles, or Tootsie Rolls Beverages –
  • Gatorade-like drink mixes, cocoa, dairy shakes, coffee, tea
  • Hot sauce or seasoning – in some MREs
  • Flameless Ration Heater – to heat up the entree
  • Accessories – spoon, matches, creamer, sugar, salt, chewing gum, toilet paper, etc.

To read the rest of this article and to learn some sample MRE contents,  possible substitutions, and homemade MRE ideas for packaging please go to the full article at:



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1 Comment

  • Juan

    Great idea. I would add the same amount of items per person in the group or that it can be divided and shared. I do mention this because you have a meal for five or more, the single ones, two spoons, vitamins for I do not know how many and more. Still a great way to start something that may save your live. Never throw away the packaging bag, use it to collect, process or storing water or to protect items exposed to the elements. Keep it going.

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