A friend in the Marines once sent me an MRE to try. It was such a fun little package, including a main dish, side dish, drink, snack, dessert, heater, and a tiny little bottle of hot sauce. I wanted to run out and buy a whole bunch! I thought having MREs on hand would be so fun and easy. I just had to figure out how to purchase MREs cheap online.
You can usually find single government-issued MREs on sale on eBay for a steep price. If you are looking to purchase MREs cheap online, you’ll want to look at websites such as amazon.com, The Ready Store, Meal Kit Supply, and The Epicenter. If these don’t work for you, you might want to consider some alternative meal ideas, such as ration bars and DIY MREs.
In this article, we’re going to talk about how to purchase MREs cheap online. But first, we’re going to go over some other details about MREs. For example, we’ll talk about what an MRE is, what’s really in an MRE, and whether or not civilians can purchase them.
We’ll take a look at how long MREs last in storage, how to store them properly, and why you would want to purchase some. We’ll talk about where you can get them and give you a couple of alternatives, too. Let’s get started.
What Is an MRE?
MRE stands for Meal, Ready to Eat. One MRE is a single, complete meal which was created by the government to sustain its military personnel. MREs are packaged to withstand harsh conditions. The government offers MREs to its military personnel to keep them well-fed and in great shape when they are working or living in bad conditions. They are well-balanced, nutritious meals with lots of calories.
The idea of an MRE started as far back as World War II with c-rations and k-rations. They developed into MCIs during the Korean and Vietnam wars, which stood for Meal, Combat, Individual. From there, they developed in the 1980s to the rations we are familiar with today.
What’s In an MRE?
Each MRE provides about 1300 calories (that’s one meal). So a full day would be considered three MREs. Each one has about 13% protein, 51% carbs, and 36% fat with 1/3 of the days vitamins and minerals. You’ll find something like this in each one:
- Main Entrée. This is the main course, such as spaghetti.
- Side Dish. The side dish could be fruit, corn, or mashed potatoes.
- Bread or Crackers.
- Spread. You may find peanut butter or cheese spread for your bread or crackers.
- Candy. You may find gum, M and Ms, or some other candy.
- Dessert. This might be cookies or cake.
- Seasoning. You may get hot sauce or some other seasonings or condiments.
Beverages. Beverages may include Gatorade, instant coffee, or even tea.
- Heater. This is a flameless heater that is used for your main entrée.
- Accessories needed for the meal (spoon, napkin, etc.).
Why Purchase MREs?
MREs are easy to store for long-term survival use. They are packaged to withstand rough conditions, and each one contains a high amount of calories, nutrition, and everything you need for that meal. You’ll have the main dish, side dishes, beverages, and usually something to heat the meal. You’ll also have things such as spoons, condiments, and napkins, too, giving you a complete meal.
They are handy for emergencies, prepping, camping, and to have on hand in a pinch. Also, because the meals are self-contained and packaged to withstand harsh conditions, they work well for bugging out. You can put a couple MREs in your bugout bag, your vehicle, or even your desk drawer at work. They are relatively small and compact.
How Long Do MREs Last?
MREs have an intended shelf life of three years when stored at 80 degrees Fahrenheit. However, storage conditions can shorten or lengthen the storage time. Some people find that MREs last much longer than the intended three years, especially if they’ve been kept in ideal conditions. You’ll have to use your judgment to decide if older food is still safe to eat.
How to Store MREs?
You should store MREs away from heat, light, humidity, and pests for the best results. Like any other long-term storage food, you should keep it in a cool, dry place as best you can. Although they are designed to withstand harsh conditions, the better conditions they are stored under, the longer they will last.
How Much Do MREs Cost?
MREs are not an inexpensive food. In fact, you’ll probably pay an average of $10 per meal or more for these self-contained meals, whether you purchase old ones or new ones.
Where to Purchase MREs Online?
If you are a civilian, it is not actually legal to purchase government MREs. In fact, you may see on the packaging that it states for government or military use only. However, many MRE suppliers also make a similar civilian-oriented MRE that you can purchase legally.
Where to Purchase MREs Cheap Online
If you know where to look, you can find Government Issued MREs on ebay.com for anywhere from $7 to $15 per meal plus shipping. You may also find them at gun shows and army surplus stores. You might even be able to get MREs from a friend who is in the military. They sell some MREs like these on Amazon.
However, this is an expensive (not to mention illegal) means of prepping, and there are better, cheaper ways to go about it.
According to thereadystore.com, civilian MREs are just as nutritious and calorie dense as military MREs. The difference is in the packaging. Also, civilian MREs may have different accessories, and some brands do not include the flameless heater.
Here are a few places you can purchase civilian MREs. Keep in mind there may also be shipping charges for each of these suppliers.
- Meal Kit Supply. Meal Kit Supply offers MREs with 1100 – 1200 calories per meal. Each meal comes with a flameless heater. They state that their meals are tastier than government rations and last for five years in storage. You can purchase a 12-pack for around $190.
- Amazon.com. Amazon sells Sure-Pak MREs with flameless heaters. A 12-pack will cost around $150 with a five-year shelf-life.
- The Ready Store. The Ready Store offers cases of MREs with 12 servings, including flameless heaters, for about $110. You can also purchase several months’ supply at a time.
- The Epicenter. The Epicenter sells 12 packs of MREs for around $120, including their flameless heaters.
Alternatives to MREs
If you can’t purchase MREs or don’t want to spend the cash on these expensive meals, there are other options to consider.
Wise Company Meal Kits. Wise Company offers long-term storage food in kits. These are five-gallon buckets with handles and contain everything you need for your meals (depending on which kits you purchase). It might be difficult to bug out with these large kits, but they are great for prepping and survival if you don’t have to carry them by hand.
Emergency Ration Bars. You can purchase emergency ration bars like these. Emergency ration bars are better for bugging out than MREs. These bars are smaller and easier to carry and are more calorie-dense than MREs.
Mountain House Adventure Meals. Mountain House offers self-contained, freeze-dried meals that will last for years. They work equally well for survival situations, camping, and backpacking.
DIY MREs. You actually could make your own MREs. Survival Sullivan gives you an idea of how to make your own DIY MREs if you have a vacuum sealer and food items with a long shelf life, such as Ramen noodles and beef or chicken jerky. DIY MREs may be more practical because you can tailor them to your own dietary needs and preferences and the cost will be lower since you are making them yourself.
Final Thoughts on How to Purchase MRE’s Cheap Online
If you are looking for military-issue MREs, you probably are going to have a hard time finding them online or in person. And if you do, they’ll be expensive and, of course, illegal. However, plenty of companies offer similar civilian MREs at more reasonable costs, as we listed above.
MREs are expensive and don’t have the longest shelf life. However, they may be invaluable for bugging out, bugging in, camping, and making meals when you don’t have access to water or heat.
Where can I buy MREs in person?
If you are looking to purchase MREs in person, you might search at places such as gun shows, flea markets, and military surplus stores. However, if you do find actual government-issued MREs, they may be old, and they may not have been stored correctly.
How do I know if My MREs are legal or not?
It is considered to be illegal to purchase government-issued or military MREs. You’ll know because it will state on the box that these are for government use only. If it doesn’t note that, they are considered civilian MREs.
How long are MREs good for?
Government-issued MREs have a technical use by date of 3 years. However, civilian MREs are actually designed to last longer and may have a use-by date of 5 years or more. Check with your manufacturer on the actual use-by date of your brand of MREs.