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What are MRE Meals Made Of?

Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) are meals that the military provides for soldiers, and they are also used in emergency relief efforts. They are designed to provide a complete meal with minimal preparation. So what are MRE meals made of? Let's take a closer look.

The Components of an MRE

An MRE typically contains several components: an entree, a side dish, crackers, bread or other starch, spread, dessert, beverage base, and condiments. The exact contents can vary from country to country and even from producer to producer.


The entree is the main course of an MRE. It can be either a meat or vegetarian dish, but it must contain enough calories to keep a soldier energized throughout the day. Entrees may include beef brisket, chicken teriyaki, chili macaroni, pasta with vegetables, vegetable lasagna, and more. Some manufacturers offer vegan options as well.

Side Dishes

The side dishes are usually snacks or accompaniments to the entree. They may include instant mashed potatoes, rice, fruits, vegetables, nuts, or cheese spreads. These snacks provide an additional source of energy, vitamins, and minerals.

Crackers and Bread

Crackers, bread, and other starches are another component of an MRE. These items provide carbohydrates for energy. Crackers and bread come in various flavors and textures, such as wheat, rye, sourdough, and multigrain.

Spreads and Desserts

Most MREs also include spreads and desserts. Spreads are often peanut butter, jelly, or honey, while desserts can range from fudge brownies to pound cakes. Both spreads and desserts provide additional sources of nutrition and energy.

Beverage Base and Condiments

The final component of an MRE is the beverage base. This can be powdered milk, juice powder, coffee, tea, cocoa, or other hot drinks. It is intended to help replace lost electrolytes and provide a flavorful way to rehydrate after strenuous activity. In addition, many MREs will have condiments, such as salt, pepper, sugar, hot sauce, tabasco, and assorted spices.

Nutritional Considerations of MREs

MREs are designed to provide a complete and balanced meal. As such, they typically contain a decent amount of calories, protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Depending on the brand, some MREs may contain up to 2,000 calories per package! While this is beneficial for soldiers in the field, it may not be the best option for those looking for a healthy diet.

MREs also tend to be high in sodium, so they should be consumed in moderation. Most MREs are fortified with vitamins and minerals, but bear in mind that these supplements do not replace the nutritional value found in fresh foods.

MREs are convenient meals that provide all the nutrition and energy needed by a soldier in the field. They are composed of several components, including an entree, side dish, crackers, bread, spread, dessert, beverage base, and condiments. While MREs are nutritionally complete, they are often high in sodium and should be consumed in moderation.

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