This was a 2017 Menu No. 4, lot code 7157. I hadn't planned to review this MRE, so forgive the lack of photos.
If you are in a hurry, I'll cut to the chase: Menu No 4 is edible, but a pretty disappointing MRE overall.
If you have a moment, let me explain: I came in from shoveling snow in -4ºF weather for a couple of hours and thought a hot lunch might be nice. "An MRE!" Now, usually hard work and cold weather makes anything taste better, so my expectations were a bit high. After all, this would be a 'fresh' MRE, only a few months old. I was sure it'd be tasty and filling. I would be reminded that, when it comes to MRE's, keeping one's expectations well regulated is always a good idea.
As a reminder, I'm a US military vet and had my share of MRE's back in the 80's & 90's & even a few in the 00's. I have a certain fondness for MRE's, but usually have a realistic expectation of them. However, I've been excited to learn about and try the new and 'improved' MRE's. Now, I'm not so sure....
The main course was noodles and beef in a tomato sauce. The instant I opened the hot pouch I was hit with the relatively unappetizing smell of 'Parmesan' 'cheese' and sweetness. Sure enough, the dish was overwhelmed by the sour taste of the 'cheese' and the cloying sweetness of the sauce. There was a nice ratio of beef bits to the rest of the dish, but as a whole it was significantly worse than the spaghetti with meat sauce that you had in the lunchroom after Mrs Murphy's 8th grade math class.
Let's see...how could it have been improved? Good question. I think some chile powder or red chile flakes would have helped. But none was included. Nor was there any black pepper or hot sauce. I'm calling this a FAIL.
The menu came with a nice package of raisins. Just plain "Raisins", not "Raisins, osmotic." Could this be an improvement? I thought they were pretty good, my wife tried a couple and thought they had a "chemically taste". For me these were actually the best part of the ration.
Also included was a multigrain snack bread, blackberry jam, and peanut butter. These were all good items and played well together. I was impressed by the good flavor of the blackberry jam--made with real sugar, bonus points there. I kinda miss the old hardtack crackers; my wife expressed a preference for the multigrain bread.
A genuine Brown Sugar Poptart was included, presumably as a snack or desert. It was in good shape, not broken, and was as tasty as I remember (overly sweet, but nice cinnamon flavor).
The beverages included were a Milk Chocolate Cocoa Beverage powder contained in it's own bag and a small package of Beverage Base, Lemonade mix. I used hot water to make the Cocoa. Naturally this was difficult to do without burning my hands. I found the bag required the use of both hands to drink from without risking spillage. The taste was nice, sort of like some Swiss Miss Cocoa mix. Since I used hot water, the components mixed well.
I didn't bother with the lemonade mix. There are no nutrients in the lemonade powder and it seems like a poor idea to consume useless chemicals. Moreover, the MRE did not include a beverage bag. I think this is the first MRE I've ever had that did not include a beverage bag. Other items not included were: a pack of matches, coffee (a major FAIL), creamer, or sugar.
I found myself missing more items than those that were included.
In summary, a lame MRE. The entree was edible but bordered on foul. The side items were fairly good but everything was on the sweet side of the flavor spectrum. I think a salty snack would have balanced things out a bit. A sachet of red pepper flakes might have made a big difference for me. The bag claims that this menu is "Warfighter approved", I'd like to meet the soldier who thought this one was a good idea.
Reviews and taste-tests of any MREs from 1981-present
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