They may be the best thing to hit convenience foods since sliced bread. MREs, or Meals Ready to Eat, are portable meals originally developed for field soldiers far from the mess hall.
Each 24 MRE "menu" contains an entree, side dish, dessert, instant beverage, one of three accessory packs,and a flameless heater. Some also have candy. According to the Defense Logistics Agency, three MREs provide about 3,750 calories.
The military doesn't hesitate to feed soldiers an international diet. Italian and Mexican dishes share center stage with such all-American classics as meat loaf with mashed potatoes or pot roast with vegetables.
Beef ravioli, chicken pesto with pasta or meatballs with marinara sauce are great for Italian night. Spice things up with beef enchiladas and refried beans, chicken fajitas and tortillas or chili with beans and Mexican corn.
Like something from an upscale Sunday brunch, MRE Menu 3 offers a cheese-and-vegetable omelet, granola with blueberries, a toaster pastry, cracker and cinnamon scone, salsa for the omelet and apple butter for the cracker.
Wash it all down with French vanilla coffee and the apple cider in Accessory Packet C, where you'll find salt and a moist towelette.
Even the heartiest eater might tire of meat and potatoes. MRE Menu 12 is for just such an occasion, with its veggie burger in barbecue sauce and wheat bread. Dried fruit and a chocolate banana muffin top complete the meal, along with lemon tea and gum in Accessory Packet B.
Then there are penne with vegetarian sausage and spicy tomato sauce in Menu 13, and vegetable lasagna in Menu 11.
Where to Get MREs
Official military MREs are sold in 12-menu cases, but individual civilians can't buy them directly from the military. Look for them at Army surplus stores, and for similar but non-official versions at camping supply stores. Civilian MREs might not have flameless heaters.