Friday, August 26, 2016

Review: MRE review 1/2 day's rations

I had the opportunity to take a pile of Australian issue MRE components to work to test out, following on from a small selection of them falling in my lap from more than one undisclosed source. I will not be on-selling these, they're for my own entertainment and preparedness.

I wanted to give myself a good trial, so selected a full menu to replace what I would normally eat during the day at work. It is common to see "8,700kJ" as the average recommended intake and I have breakfast, lunch and two breaks at work, so I selected accordingly.

For breakfast I had a brown of muesli/porridge, which I mad with boiling water and a sachet of instant creamer. It made a solid, heavy and hearty porridge, which was flavoursome and had enough variety of ingredients to have a good and palatable consistency.

I had the "blueberry and apple" cereal bar for my mid-morning snack, it was again, dense and for all intents and purposes, could have come out of any kids

Interestingly when I looked up the nutritional content of current US issued MRE kits, they suggested that service-members (who were classified as highly active men between the ages of 18 and 30) typically use about 4,200 Calories a day. The conversion is  1 kJ = 0.2 Calories (Cals)or 1 Calorie = 4.2 kJ, giving a figure of 17,640 kJ a little over double the "average adult intake diet". Bear that in mind later.

Lunch was a bit more involved; a sachet of freeze-dried rice, beef and onion stew, a can of "diced two-fruits in syrup" with a sachet of tropical flavour Thorzt sports drink powder to drink.

The dehydrated rice was reconstituted with a canteen cup's worth of boiling water, and once ready, I simply upended it into a bowl, and added the cold stew to it. I could have tried reheating the stew, either by suspending its retort in a bowl of boiling water, or throwing it all in the microwave, but this would totally have been cheating.
It was a pretty decent meal, there were enough chunky bits of meat and onion to make it more than just thick gravy, but it was hardly a hefty chew. The stew itself was quite palatable cold, but a quick mix with the hot rice made it all the better.

Obviously you have to reconstitute the rice to make it in any way enjoyable, but it will reconstitute in cold water, if you don't have a source of heat, or are under restrictions.

I finished off my lunch with the can of fruit in syrup, which I popped open with my trusty EDC P-38 opener, and tucked into the just-as-off-the-shelf canned fruit. Nothing special to report there though.

For my afternoon break and to snack on in e afternoon, I had selected the chocolate drink, infamous canned cheese and even more infamous chocolate ration. Again, boiling water into the chocolate drink, which made a quite passable hot chocolate.

If I had wanted it to be extra creamy, I could have saved the instant creamer from breakfast and added it, but I think it didn't need it.

The Bega canned cheese, reported to me as a legendary constipation cause, appeared to be exactly the Kraft cheese stick cheese, in a can. It was firm but elastic, and "split" rather than crumbled. It was tasty enough, and reminded me of school-yard snack breaks for sure.

Lastly was the equally infamous legendarily laxative chocolate ration.  I don't actually enjoy milk chocolate, but I wanted the full experience, and even with all the food I'd included in my half-day's ration, I wanted to make a real showing of it.
I snacked on it throughout the afternoon and finished it just before going home, and suffered no ill effects.

Perhaps the cheese and chocolate battled each other into a stalemate, but I was the victor.

Adding up the constituents, I had had 8907kJ (2129Calories) in this selection, and this was just my daytime food.

All this, and I was pretty full, and certainly didn't feel that I had gone without. If anything, I felt I had wanted to eat the cheese or the chocolate, but not both.

It's also worth noting that this only made up a small portion of the full ADF ration-pack. Given that, and the full kJ load in that full pack, you could make one of these stretch a long way, or spread them out between a number of people to make a survival situation both more palatable, but also more secure.

If you can lay your hands on an MRE, you'd have to go a long way to find a better, more densely packed, supplied and readily consumable source of nutrition and energy than the ADF ration-pack. If you're in a position to lay hands on one, do it.

If you're in a field where you might be able to swap out, try swapping for an ADF rat-pack, you won't be disappointed.


  1. Wow! We don't have near that much stuff in an American MRE! Especially cans.

    1. Thanks Barry, I'll be covering the whole kit shortly, but I have to work up an appetite ....

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