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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey folks!

I wanted to provide you with some of my findings on the homemade MREs that I experimented with over the weekend during a militia training session. My "MRE" was based on the YouTube video by a fellow Ohioan, JNasty4. Of course, most of the credit goes to our friend Josiah for his original homeade MRE video.

The meal consisted of a Starkist Lunch-To-Go kit, one package of Lance Cheese on Wheat crackers, Kroger brand peanut butter crackers, and Kroger brand no-sugar-added applesauce. I also found something called Ronzoni Bistro, which is a pre-made pasta/sauce/meat/veggie package similar to the Starkist pouches. They are a bit more expensive at $2.73 per package but they are absolutely delicious - even cold straight from the bag! After I ate the rotini with tomatoes and basil meal the night before, I wondered, "Should I have eaten that cold? Oh well...guess I'll find out later." But then I found the product information 1-800 number on the back and decided to call it. Turns out that they are a non-perishable food but they do have a "best by" date. No, I didn't get sick and yes, they taste good. You can read more about them here if interested

This section if first because it is the most important. After all, what's the point of eating food if it isn't going to provide our bodies with the nutrients it needs to function properly? This seemed like a very filling meal as I wasn't hungry even seven hours later when I went out to dinner for my Dad's birthday. It is well-rounded with a good variety of calories, good fat, low in sugar, and high in protein. If I could make an addition or substitution or two, I would like to add a half cup of cooked white rice, though I haven't figured out how to cook it then preserve it in a ready-to-eat form, nor have I seen anything like that in the grocery store. If I can find individual packages at a reasonable price, trail mix would be added as well. That should add some good carbs and protein to the meal and can be saved as a snack for later. Good morale booster too. One final addition would be a small package mixture of my favorite men's formula multi-vitamin with some additional immune system boosting herbs and possibly a couple fiber tablets, but I didn't add anything like that this time because it's just an experiment. Next month when I make the real thing, I'll include a vitamin pack.

Let's look at some numbers:

Starkit Lunch-To-Go
Serving size consists of one 2.6 oz. tuna in the StarKist Flavor Fresh Pouch, one Low-Cal Mayonnaise and Relish Packet, 6 Crackers (which I didn't eat,) one Mint (which was surprisingly good)
250 calories
10g fat
20g carbs
19g protein

Kroger brand peanut butter crackers
6 crackers, 1.38oz (39g)
200 calories
10g fat (2g saturated, 0 trans)
21g carbs (2g fiber, 3g sugars)
4g protein

Lance Cheese on Wheat crackers
same serving size as PB crackers
190 calories
9g fat (1.5g saturated, 0 trans)
24g carbs (2g fiber, 4g sugars)
4g protein

Kroger brand no-sugar-added applesauce
4oz (113g) serving size
50 calories
0g fat
12g carbs (2g fiber, 8g sugars)
0g protein

690 calories
29g fat (261 calories)
77g carbs (308 calories)
27g protein (108 calories)

For me, personally, this is a good meal. I'm 6ft, 150-160lbs, obviously with a high metabolism. I need a lot of calories to keep going, especially during training days and during the winter, and this meal provides that with a decent balance (38%-45%-16%.) I would like to see the fat a little lower and protein a bit higher but for a first experiment, these are respectable numbers. I think I can acheive a more balanced ratio by using just the tuna packages and not the full lunch kit. The peanut butter crackers could be substitued with the white rice, as I mentioned above - it's low fat, high complex carbs, and good plant-based protein.

Shelf life
The Starkist tuna packages are fantastic. Tuna is a great source of clean protein and as their website states, "All unopened StarKist® products have a recommended shelf life of up to three years, provided the product has been stored under normal conditions and the can or pouch appears normal and is not damaged." That's pretty darn good if you ask me. That shelf life can probably be increased if you are making your own vacuum sealed MREs with either a FoodSaver or Seal-A-Meal and use an oxygen absorber.

The Kroger brand peanut butter crackers had a printed date of March 2009. Not that long. I should call their 800 number and find out if it's a perishable food. Same goes for the Cheese on Wheat crackers made by Lance. The Kroger applesauce has a printed 'use by' date of September 2010, or two years. Pretty good for applesauce.

It would be good to know if the life of these foods can be extended by the vacuum sealing method I mentioned above.

For some, this is the main reason for making your own MREs. If you can buy in bulk, you'll get better results, but just browsing through the aisles at Krogers, I was able to put together an meal for relatively cheap. Here's how everything breaks down:

Starkist Lunch-To-Go kit.................$2.09 (1 unit)
Kroger peanut butter crackers..........$1.79 (8 units per pack, $0.22 per unit)
Lance Cheddar on Wheat crackers....$2.20 (8 units per pack, $0.28 per unit)
Kroger no-sugar-added applesauce...$1.58 (6 units per pack, $0.26 per unit)
Total purchase price......................$7.66 ($2.85 per meal)

Backpacker I Adventurer
1,031 Posts
Wow...that has to be one of the best posts I've see to date. Very imformative, and thank you for breaking it all down like that. Now 600+ calories is less then a standard MRE (as an MRE is suppose to give you enough calories for a full day), but I would be more then happy with what you got here, especially since it's easier to get (and possibly cheaper) then buying military grade MREs.

Again thanks for this great post. I look forward to making one myself and trying it out.

Accuracy is Final
638 Posts
This is what I did, not exactly an MRE but easy enough to fix in the field due to having included 2 MRE heaters.

1 cup lipton rice mix, 1/4 cup of lentils, 1/4 cup of barley...vacuum seal in a bag.
1/3 cup of trail mix...vacuum seal in a bag.
1 foil packet of tuna
1 energy bar
1 MRE cracker
1 MRE jelly packet
1 2oz packet of peanut butter
2 folgers coffee single serve bags
1 Propel drink mix, makes 17oz
1 Plastic spoon and fork and napkin
small amount of TP
2 MRE heaters

All items are vacuum sealed in a single larger bag with a line drawn on the large bag that represents the 2 and 1/4 cup of water needed for rice/bean/barley mix. This makes measuring easy. All items inside are individualy sealed so they can be saved and eaten later and an index card with cooking instructions for the mix is in the bag.

Gives a total of 1555 calories and 79 grams of protein in a light weight weatherproof package.

Premium Member
1,950 Posts
Josiah? Hey that is me!!! :D::D::D::D:

Starkist Lunch-To-Go kit? Ronzoni Bistro? Hmmmmmmm Sounds like I got to add somethings to the grocery list.

Wow! I so appreciate someone taking an idea and moving on with it and a great job your are doing. I agree with Potantsuem. Very informative and a generally good post. But this is what this forum is about. Sharing and bettering ideas so we are ALL better prepared.

I am trying to cut the "canned" food out of mine and switch to a Starkist pack or some kind of chicken pack. I am also kicking around just vacuum packed dehydrated jerky, hamburger meat and/or bacon. That's right, bacon. That is actually working out quite well so far and tastes GOOD. I got to prep a few packs for a trip that I am taking soon. Hopefully will get a vid out of that.

Senior Member
1,794 Posts
Nice writeup E-Rock (with appropriate credit to Josiah)!! Decided to get one of them new fangled vacuum sealers because of this information.

16 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Great post. Did you check the sodium content on The Ronzoni? It's kind of high. Might be a issue for people with high blood pressure.
Good point, I didn't think about that mainly because I figured if you were sweating a lot because of hiking/fighting/etc., you'd need the sodium to replenish what you've sweated out. nveagle did include one item I forgot - beverage mix. There are lots of brand-name and generic "Gatorade" type beverage mixes that come in individual pouches. I tend to just stick with water but if it's the dead of summer and you're going to be outside, the electrolytes they provide would be a wise addition.

Thanks for the kind words, folks. I'll keep working on this and will post up any new info I find. Still trying to figure out the rice storage...
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