Up for review is the civilian Sure-Pak MRE - Penne with Vegetable Sausage made by Sopakco. I bought a case of these civilian Sure-Pak MREs from the Epicenter, and the date code on the case reflected a packed-on date of March 2009 with an inspection date of 2012...so, these are the freshest civilian MREs I've seen so far.
Anyway, I had to go out of town on short-notice...so, I tossed this MRE into my luggage just in case I couldn't find anything to eat around the hotel late at night. If you've ever tried finding a place to eat late at night in a strange town...you'll know what I'm talking about. I got to my hotel near midnight so my options for a late night dinner was limited to Jack-in-the-box drive-thru or 7-11 hot dogs or mystery sandwiches. It was down right ugly...
Since I didn't feel like eating a half a bottle of Tums after a 7-11 dirty water dog, I reached into my bag and pulled out the trusty 'ol civi Sure-Pak MRE. I just grabbed an MRE out of the case and tossed it in my bag without looking, so I was kinda disappointed when I saw it was a vegetarian MRE. I thought...'crap! it's probably gonna taste like sh*t!' I've always avoided the vegetarian meals out of fear that they'd either taste like a cardboard box or some funky tofu concoction. Boy was I wrong...
I cracked open the civi Sure-Pak MRE and layed out the contents (click on the photo to enlarge it).
The Sure-Pak MRE contained the following:
1. Penne with Vegetable Sausage Crumbles in Spicy Tomato Sauce Entree
2. Mexican Style Corn side dish
4. Grape Jelly
5. Raspberry White Chip Cookie
6. Carbohydrate Electrolyte Beverage Mix - Orange
8. Taster's Choice coffee packet
9. Accessory Packet - brown military-style spoon, salt/pepper packets, napkin, wet nap, 2 sugar packets and creamer
Kinda interesting...this Sure-Pak MRE had the brown-colored military-style spoon, but several of the other MREs in the same case had larger, white colored spoons. I could care less either way, but the white spoon does seem to pick up more food since it has a larger spoon head.
CRACKERS AND GRAPE JELLY:
I slathered the crackers with the supplied grape jelly and wolfed them down pretty quick. Nothing says MRE like those crackers and the jelly makes them palatable enough to eat 'em without any water. The crackers were dry, but nice and crispy with a bit of bite to it. The jelly had good grape flavor, but it is pretty sweet.
While I was eating the crackers, I threw the entree pouch into the FRH; splashed a little water in there; shoved it back into the box; and then squeezed the side dish pouch right next to but outside of the folded FRH inside the entree box. It's a snug fit, but it's a great way to heat up both your entree and side-dish. I left both pouches in there for about 15 minutes. While you're eating your entree, put the side dish pouch directly in the FRH and toss it back in the entree box...there's plenty of heat left to keep your side dish above warm until you eat it. CAUTION: Just a word of caution, the FRH emits a by-product vapor that displaces oxygen...one FRH won't kill you but if you're using the FRH to heat your meal indoors, use common sense and crack a window open or something.
I tore the pouch open; saw the steam rising out of it; and just kinda stared at the vegetarian entree for a little while. It looked normal...it smelled normal...but what the hell are vegetable sausage crumbles? I told myself....'you're hungry, stop staring at the friggin thing and just eat the crappy veggie meal.' So, I shoved a spoonful in my mouth and kinda held my breath a little bit waiting for some foul, crappy vegetarian meat-substitute taste to come through. I started chewing...started taking some shallow breaths and WOW! Holy Crap! It registered in my thick melon that this stuff actually tasted GOOD...pretty damn good at that! The penne pasta was a little soft, but the veggie sausage crumbles in that spicy tomato sauce was killer! This dish actually had some kick to it...i.e. the spicy tomato sauce was actually spicy, and the sauce was perfectly seasoned...it didn't need any salt, pepper or tabasco sauce unlike most other entrees. I cleaned off the pasta and was actually wishing I had some more. Go figure.
The Mexican style corn looked a little watered down, but the mix of corn, bell peppers and some kind of buttery sauce was pretty tasty. It's got the texture of regular canned corn. This side dish definitely could've used some tabasco...but it wasn't included in this MRE. Whatever though, it was good and pretty filling.
The Raspberry White Chip Cookie is a hard-cookie, and although you can definitely see the white chocolate chips...I didn't see any raspberries. Either way, the cookie was really good...not too crumbly, but good flavor with tons of white chocolate chips and a very faint raspberry flavor at the end.
I didn't bother drinking the electrolyte drink or coffee, but you can use your imagination.
All in all, this vegetarian MRE really surprised the crap out of me. Who knew they could make vegetarian meals taste good? The entree of Penne Pasta with Vegetable Sausage was really outstanding...to the point that I'm actually going to see if I can buy some more of these specific individual MREs. These civilian Sure-Pak MREs are always a good alternative to the military MREs, and I can tell you from my experience that this civi Sure-Pak MRE tasted great and was pretty filling. TWO THUMBS UP!
Reviews of Civilian MREs (Sure-Pak, aPack, etc.) as well as other civilian ready-to-eat food
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