MRE’s or Meal Ready to Eat packs have revolutionised both military life and for civilians who want to prepare themselves for natural or manmade disasters.

But why are MRE’s such a boon for those who want to keep meals for a long period of time?

Firstly these meals provide the calorific content that will allow and adult to survive on them alone. If a ready supppy of water is available meals ready to eat can – for all intents and purposes supply all the necessary calories and trace vitamins and elements that are required to keep someone healthy even in the most adverse of circumstances.

But the question for those who want to invest in these easy to store supplies is just how long they actually remain shelf stable? Is it possible to keep MRE’s for years or should they be used in months?

It all depends on the type of MRE that is stored and what consitions they are stored in. Kept in a temperature controlled environment many of the more robust MRE packs can literally last for years – and in some cases decades.

However the recommended time period that most MRE’s will be fir for human consumption should be at the upper level about 5 years. Some will only last months.

When military style MRE’s were first released for civilian use they by and large had large numbers of components that were freeze dried. these baosted sheld lives of that upper limit of five years. however the newer versions of the MRE do not rely on freeze drying for a number of reasons – including the simple taste test. Freeze dried MRE components simply do not taste that good.

Most military grade MRE packs today will be good for between three and five years – but that is is they are stored in ideal temperature controlled conditions. This storage is not usually spossible under civilian conditions.

However there is one thing to remember about these specially prepared packs. If there is any tear or swelling then discard them immediately.

But they will usually be fine for up to that ten year period if stored correctly – not that this approach is recommended. however the official infomrmation is that this is perfectly fine. What will happen to the MRE during that period is that it will lose flavor and the apearance of the meal will not be as attractive as when it was first packaged – but it shoul still be fine to consume.

Some of the components last longer than others. Corned beef hash will last far longer than the cheese spread that is in some of the MRE packs. If you are in any sort of doubt about how long your MRE is healthy to eat then rather err on the side of caution.

These kits are readily available at reasonable prices – if you are going to be keeping them for extended periods of time then take a look at the storage instructions – and keep them stored in accordance with those.

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