Today’s Adventure: Me Making My Own MREs

Good Evening Everyone!
Back again for another round of abuse here. Today was a ‘sleep in a bit’ kind of morning as the week, (per usual) was high stress. Noting I couldn’t handle. Now… today’s activities revolved around getting Gretchen a pedicure, and while she got her feetz done, I did the grocery shopping.

Publix has a pretty good ‘buy-one-get-one’ thing going, and IF it’s something I’ve wanted/been on the lookout for, I stock up. In this case, it was those Hormel “Compleats” meals in a dish things that I’ve been wanting.

BOGO for $2.99!!!!!
Now, I learned about these in Iraq of all places. The PX had them and they made for an occasional change from either the DFAC chow, or God Forbid, an MRE. They were out of my favorite, the Chikin and Dumplings, but I’ll be going back this week to see if they restock, ‘cos I have a use for these over and above the normal “heat and eat”.

Specifically home-made MREs if you want to refer to them as that. About a year, year and a half ago during a visit to MomUnit, she gave me one of them Vacuum Air Sealer machines, and a box of bags for it.

She told me she could never get it to work right, so if I wanted it, it was mine. Now back in the day, I had one of them when I was at Fort Campbell. I used to vacuum seal my socks, drawers, t-shirts.. you name it when I was going to the field.

Made everything waterproof, and squished it down oh-so-nicely to make more room in the Ruck for Pogie Bait. The one MomUnit gave me is older, and a bit beat on, as she’d just move it from pile-to-pile in her house… In fact it’s been sitting around -here- doing the same thing for time here at the Casa.

Until today.

I saw a video on YewToob on guys making “Dollar Store MREs” and was like “Huh… that’s a good idea!” and figured at some point, I’d remember to actually try it out. The launch was when Sapper pointed out that the “heat and eat” meats were BOGO.

Then, it was figuring out -what else- I wanted in the meals, without breaking the bank and food budget. The final meal came out looking like this:

1 Hormel Meal at $2.99 per.
1 2oz Homemade packet of Planters Honey Salted Peanuts $.56 per pack
1 Special K Breakfast Bar $.32 per
1 Nekot Fudge Sammich Grahams $.55 per (and they were an 8 pack w/a BOGO too)
1 Lil Bites Blueberry Muffin $1.15 per (5 per box, BOGO as well)
3 Welches Fruit Snacks $.63 for all 3… (Bought the BIG box of 66 for $13.99 which works out to $.21 per)
The Hydrate and EMNT Fruit drinks, $1, $.50 a throw.
1 Coffee and 1 Espresso were like $.26 for both, $.13 per with both boxes going an 8 pack for $1.05!
1 Box of Wooden Matches, $.12 per
The Napkins (about 6) are double use for face/shitpaper as needed, and is already on hand, so no real cost. I also included a quart sized ziplock baggie for the incidentals like coffee/drinks etc, and the plastic spoon I snatched at Mickey D’s. Moar Freebies.

In total, about $8.08 cents for a Meal and a Half.

Call it Breakfast and dinner, with snackies.

The creamer, sugar, tea and other coffee were leftovers from some of the BritRats I’ve had in the past. I got a LOT of that laying around. And in some of the meals I put together, I also threw in and used some unused MRE drink mixes, as well as BritRat and FrogRat drink mixes too.

I’m particularly proud of the peanuts.
The individual packets (10 packs per) were like $6.50. I got the 16oz (1 pound) can of Honey Roasted for $4.50. I then cut and made my own measured 2oz packs, and vacuum sealed them. I got 8 packs out of it.

And because I could make the sealer bag whatever size I wanted, I chose to make it about as long as the inside of the final MRE pack, so it could sit either on the side, or at the bottom, and take up minimal space. YMMV if you decide to play around with this sort of thing.

The Final Product looks Good IMO:

Packed and dated.

The Hormel is good til June of 2025. Little over a year and a half +/- . All the other stuff is pretty much shelf stable and/or good forever, like the drink mixes. I’ve seen Steve at Steve1989MREinfo drink powders OJ from like 1944 on his YouTube Channel. I recommend his channel… he’s so laid back and chill, and finds some outrageously old MREs and MilRats to show and eat there…

It weights in (on average) as One Pound, One Ounce. It measures at about 11 inches by 11 inches, but is only as thick as the Hormel meal, which is about 1.75 inches. A bit bigger and bulkier than an MRE but hey… This isn’t a combat ration per se… more like a “Refugee Ration” or a “Grab and Go” Rat.

My next ones are going to be tuned a bit finer as well.

I realized since I’m making these for me, for use by Me, Myself and I, as well as Sapper and Gretchen, then a need to add some extras. One of which is going to be 4 tabs of 800mg Tylenol. God knows back int he day in the Infantry I think I would have killed to have some Tylenol to wash down with lunch, just for the regular aches and pains that one has… then another add on, that won’t take up too much space is a 5 or 8 hour Energy Drink

I mean why not?
I added the Instant Espresso specifically to ‘bump up’ and supercharge the instant coffee. Later in the day, something like this might be a lifesaver right?

One can add whatever one thinks you’d need. Tylenol, Naproxen, basic pain relievers… some energy boosters… things of that nature. Hell, some allergy meds or sinus stuff.

Also, sourcing the Machine: Gretchen is a BIG TIME penny pincher. One of her favorite things to do when we were dating, no shit, is dumpster diving at Retail Outlets. And believe it or not, she’s good at it. One time we went out, and hit a large-ish strip mall. We found, no shit, two complete Point Of Sale Computers… Dell Optiplexs no less. Seems that the Mattress Firm at that location had gone out of business, and Gretchen timed it that we were there the night of the ‘final night’. Wouldn’t you know it, we found the computers, intact, with monitors in their dumpster!!!!

The printer was there too, but it didn’t survive the trip to the trash. It was pretty thrashed. But the PCs? After I wiped and reformatted them, and reloaded a new OS? One we gave to a friend of ours who’s kid needed a PC for school, but couldn’t afford one (single Mom of 4) and the other is in the Kitchen still plugging away as the Kitchen PC.

Back to sourcing… sorry for the digression. One of Gretchen’s favorite places to go is the Goodwill. Now, keep in mind, the Goodwill needs to be in a good location. Going to the local “Hoodrat” Goodwill, you ain’t finding shit. HOWEVER: The Goodwill off of say, Kiawah Island in South Carolina? Yeeeeah… that’s where I found a new-in-the-box Keurig Latest Full Sized Coffeemaker for a no shit $10. That was on the last visit to MomUnit… (a very profitable visit now that I look at it). The other Goodwill we hit occasionally is in The Villages where Gretchen’s ‘rents live. Think “Rich Towns Full of Old Folks”.

There’s metaphoric Gold in those Goodwills. Mostly because someone dies, and they just clean the house out to Goodwill, and be done with it. Lots of very expensive shit to be found there for very little $$$.

So, might go over some poly-ticks tomorrow, as I’m just overwhelmed by The Stupid, and that it’s not going to change. There’s no voating our way out of this, and the other choices aren’t that good, hence why I’m moving forward with my own personal preps.

Got MREs and Ammo?
More Later
Big Country

20 thoughts on “Today’s Adventure: Me Making My Own MREs”

  1. Made a buncha these up too. Came out to about 4 bucks a pop, just over 1600 cals each & right at a pound in weight. Got stuck in a snowstorm on Thursday driving to Anchorage for a while, they came in pretty handy. I can shoot you the details if ya like. Found that the zon has multi packs of mylar bags in various sizes that’ll seal better than the vac-suck and are tougher all round.

  2. Hormel Completes are part of my food storage. I eat one for lunch at work every day so I can rotate my inventory before they go bad. They are OK out to about a year past their expiration date. After that, they start tasting rancid, and after a few more years they become inedible.

    I really like the idea of throwing a 5 Hour Energy bottle into the MRE.

  3. Home made ‘MRE’s like this are pretty cool – and being a DYI’er, I’m down with making my own like this, but have always run into the issue with: ‘how do you warm it when not near a microwave oven’ (or convenient radar dish/radome) – i.e.: Not at home and/or grid down.

      1. Not a problem, really. If I’m hungry enough, and/or I know it’s going to be a while until the next time I can consume calories, it’ll get eaten – even if I have to break pieces off because it’s frozen.

        I was considering the question to be answered more a ‘design exercise’: How could it be done?, not “Can’t/won’t eat it unless it’s warm”.

        FWIW – I suspect some of the ‘iron oxide’ style hand/foot warmers would do the job – either to thaw it if frozen, or warm it above ambient. Either could make eating this DIY MRE much more enjoyable, and thereby greatly improve morale during shitty times. Which is likely to be any time in the near future, unfortunately. :-/

        1. I think that in the context of collapse, everyone will be making cooking/heating fires. In a lot of situations, you’ll likely get away with being able to heat water and water bath it, or dump it into a small pot and cook it, or something similar. It’s nice to have the option though of being able to eat it cold if the situation dictates.
          I hate MREs. Those Mylar packs of smoked salmon are tits.

  4. If you want to go down a rabbit hole look up home made pemmican. There’s a ton of Putin’s vids. Some claim a 25 year shelf life.
    Long time lurker, first time commenter.


  5. The goodys headache powder stick packs are perfect for a homemade mre because they are already sealed and don’t have to be used instantly when you brake the seal on your main mre pack.

  6. As far as those 5 hour energy drinks (the name brand)…
    Check the dollar stores. They usually have the Stacker 2s for a buck a piece…pretty much the exact same thing as the 5 hours.
    Or if you feel like braving a Walfart…there are ones called Eternal Energy back in the pharmacy section. They come in a box of 6 and wind up being just under a buck a piece. Same effect as the others.

    We use our vacuum sealer all the time. I’ll dehydrate a bunch of fruits and veggies and vac seal some to store in 5 gallon buckets along side the buckets of vac sealed rices, beans, and pastas.
    As a side note, we plant small pots of both medicinal and edible herbs to both use and dehydrate. All the rice, beans and pastas in the world will taste like total shit without flavorings to put in them.
    Those heat-n-eat meals are pretty good. They quit making some a couple of decades ago that were friggin awesome. Can’t exactly remember what the flavor was but it had a good sized chicken breast in there with the pasta and sauce.

  7. Thanks man, I jumped on the ‘zon and went crazy. Your meals, canned soop, drink powder mix, spent way too much. I hope the end comes soon or I will be eating rancid crap forever.

  8. I made some recently and used the hormels as the base as well. Mine were more $$ because our economy up here sucks

  9. One thing I found out about recently on the saving with coupons front that wont help you too much being in Florida but might help out some others here. Kroger / Fred Meyers / every other store Kroger owns has their little rewards card and because they like being annoying most of their coupons now require you to go online or use their phone app and attach the coupon to your card. What some folks figured out is they don’t track the location you use the coupons vs. where you get them. So, for example, I downloaded a coupon from a Texas store for $8.99 for a 12 pack where the same coupon in my area was $12.99. From the folks I found this out from it can get even better. One guy had bogo ribs at his store (~4.99/lb) and found a coupon in another state for the same ribs at $1.77/lb. He bought 4 packs of ribs, was charged $1.77/lb each for the two largest then discounted $4.99/lb each for the bogo. If he wasn’t getting some other stuff his total would have been negative, not sure how the system would have handled that.

    I’ve also checked this with the Safeway / Carrs / whatever stores card but it doesn’t work the same way.

  10. I’ve tried to make the old C Rations with canned meat, canned peaches, fruit cocktail, etc. Tastes better to me from a can than freeze dried. I know cans take up more space and you can’t find the canned cheese,peanut butter, and cake like those had. I like the nostalgia of it.

    Home made mres are something to look into. Most the places around here selling the Army Surplus have very limited selection as most of their suppliers are sending it to the Kraine.

    Thanks for the tips BCE.

  11. Adds a little bulk but check out the Barocook. Guy on YouTube uses more heaters as well as the proprietary ones they sell.

    1. Nope. It is what is called ‘shelf stable’ – it’ll keep at room temperature for a *long* time (usually measured in years – but YMMV). Hence, ideal for making a DIY MRE. 😉

  12. Hey, BC. Cool deal on the rats. If I may add another idea-I got a 1/3 size plastic bucket and lid, took a metal foil bag and filled it with a couple pounds of beans and rice and squeezed out all the air I could, added some oxy absorbers, and impulse sealed it a few times to make sure it stays closed. I was still able to fit in a steel coffee can with some dry soup, a can of tomato paste, some spices, utensils, napkins, boullion, other quick food items, cooking oil, etc.

    The 1/3rd size bucket actually holds a lot of stuff and you carry it by the wire bail. I wrote the contents on the outside in permanent marker. If I don’t eat it, it might be a good handout for someone needy in the neighborhood. Who knows? It’s like a couple days worth of food with enough variety to please nearly anyone.

    FWIW- I tend to accumulate all the little sauce packets and free condiments from when I eat out. With the fast casual places, like the Noodles Company or Firehouse Subs, you can even get some pretty tasty stuff, like Sriracha Sauce packets or hot pepper BBQ sauce. Keep it and supplement your MRE-type foods with it. Why not, right?

    I saw some cool stuff at Wally I might suggest. 1 thing I saw- PB and J in little single-serve packets connected together in perforated little packets. You get a box. Not a bad idea for camping. Spam comes in single-serve packets now. Same as the tuna fish. Not too shabby. Some of the tuna fish they got in foil pouches now comes with exotic flavors. Pretty cool. British Spotted Dick-type sweet bread comes in a can. You might find it in your “international” section of the grocery store. I’ve seen utensil kits in bulk at Sams/Costco, so you can go that route or just collect them from fast fooderies. Some of the mom-and-pop type ones give you bagged utensil sets. I usually don’t open them, anyway, so that’s handy. I like to add a steel can item, like coffee, or a steel cup to my stuff so I got something that can double for cooking if I don’t have a full-on pot. The Wallyworld basic steel cups with folding handles are my go-to. They just happen to mate perfectly with the base of their Ozark Trail 32? ounce steel water bottles, which also fit really well in the generic “tactical molle” water bottle pockets you can see on Amazon and Ebay.

    Thank you.

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