MRE Taste Test: Bob Harvey


By  Bob Harvey (bobharvey1776@

From the Newsgroups: misc.survivalism, on November 22, 2002


Are you wondering how MREs perform in a food storage plan? Well, wonder no more! Here are some preliminary notes from an unintentional experiment in MRE longevity (of a 10 year old MRE).



Unheated shack, 15-100 deg, multiple cold-thaw cycles in winter. Less than ideal storage conditions. Predicted life according to the tables should be less than 2 years. (calculated by ‘integrating’ expected life at various temperatures over the average temperatures for each portion of a typical year.)



Nearly all entrees edible. A few have slightly ‘off’ flavors.

– Chicken A La King still tastes like Chicken A La king (unfortunately)
– Omelette w/ ham has a ‘whang’ to it, but still ok. Color has shifted somewhat darker. Had a funny flavor when new but has gotten more pronounced
– Corned Beef hash is fantastic Escalloped potatoes and ham is fairly good
– Ham slice is fantastic
– Frankfurters are unchanged. Good with MRE bread for a MRE hotdog
– Chicken stew is not too bad
– Spicy meatballs in bbq sauce is ok, good over rice
– Dehydrated pork patty (wow, that ought to be in a museum!) -actually was very good. Would have went well with an omelet.

Haven’t found any I couldn’t eat. The ones I would call ‘off’ are actually different than how I remember them, not really bad. In general textures didn’t change, but colors and tastes sometimes did.

(my scale goes from inedible -> eat if staving -> ok -> fairly good -> fantastic.)



– M&M’s turned to chocolate powder (edible)
– Some Tootsie rolls melted and stuck to wrapper. Other Tootsie rolls perfectly fine.
– Chocolate cookie bars and chocolate brownies are fine.
– Pound cakes are ok.
– Some hard candies melted to wrapper, but otherwise ok. not worth the bother scraping the wrapper off.



– Some Beverage powder mixes are crystalized and have a bad flavor, especially those packed in light brown wrappers. Green wrappers (polyester outer coat) are fine.
– All cocoa powder, type I are great (yipee!)


Side dishes

– Potatoes au gratin: fine applesauce: no good


Condiments and accessories

– creamer: no good
– sugar: fine
– coffee: not too good, but some are edible
– gum: fine
– TP: fine (still too small)
– tabasco: fine, unless seal broken (90% good) Also too small ;)
– salt: fine
– wet naps, spoons: fine
– peanut butter, jelly: AOK, PB needs kneading to recombine oil
– cheese spread: 90%+ nasty
– crackers: fair, but even the new ones taste a little stale to me.
– matches: fire up without fail



All work, some have spilled the chemical heating powders and are a little messy to use (heated retort packages have particles clinging to the outside that should be brushed aside before opening) perhaps not due to storage, probably were that way when new.

I have decided that these are at the end of their lifecycle and should be eaten up while they’re still good. Due to the uncertainty of the quality of product, I don’t use these in critical situations (camping, hiking, picnicking). When at home or at the office, if I encounter an unpalatable item I can discard it and open another one.

I honestly forgot about these (about 5 cases and a box of entrees), otherwise I would have rotated them out much earlier. But it has made for an interesting experiment. I am impressed at the longevity of the product! Much better than canning, freezing, or even drying. Perhaps the longer predicted life at cold winter temperatures made up for the short periods of intense summer heat.

I can’t comment on micronutrient content, but calories and acceptability have been adequate to maintain my weight. I have been doing a lot of endurance work and need an average about 3K calories per day to maintain energy. I have been eating about 5 meals/week for the past 2 months. I do take a vitamin pill daily. I have had no illness or digestive problems since the beginning of the ‘experiment’.