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Prepping For SHTF

MRE VS Freeze Dried: Which Is Better For Stockpiling

MRE VS Freeze Dried, which one do you stockpile for a long term SHTF / TEOTWAWKI survival situation?  Personally, I have uses for both.  My food stockpile contains an assortment of MREs, freze dried 7 year pouches and several #10 cans of Mountain House freeze dried food.

Mountain House freeze dried pouches

When my buddies and I go on our annual camping trip on the Angelia River, I usually bring 7 year pouches for my main entree, and a couple of MREs for assorted snacks.

Lets discuss the various good and bad points of both.  First, lets talk about MREs, and then freeze dried food.

MREs – Meals Ready to Eat

Something that is very important to my family and I is sodium content.  My wife has high blood pressure, and my dad has heart issues.  While stockpiling food, it is important to take special needs into consideration.

This is a partial list of sodium content to various MREs I have in my stockpile.

  • Beef ravioli in meat sauce – 1,080mg
  • Beef Stew – 850mg
  • Beverage Powder, Grape – 150mg
  • Beverage Base Powder, Lime Lime – 20mg – 150mg
  • Beverage Base Powder, Orange – 20mg – 150mg
  • Cappuccino, Mocha – 0mg
  • Cappuccino, French Vanilla – 0mg
  • Cinnamon Imperials – 12mg

For the full list, visit this article about sodium content in MREs.

There is a reason why MREs are called “Meals Ready to Eat”, because they can be eaten on the go. If you want to heat the meals up, use the included heater to warm up the main entree.

MREs are the perfect grab-and-go meal. Going on a hiking trip, don’t want to bring along a stove and noodles, grab an MRE and you are good to go. I dont know how many hiking, camping and fishing trips I bought MREs on.

When my son and I go fishing on the Angelina River, we will bring along some snacks, an ice chest for cold drinks and some MREs. Its the portability of the MRE that makes it so appealing.

One of the major drawbacks to MREs, their lifespan is drastically affected by heat. On the outside of each case there is a TTI (time and temperature indicator). The TTI is a red circle inside of a red circle. As the two circles get closer in color to each other, it is time to take an MRE out of the case and eat it.  If I remember correctly, 1 day above 100 degrees takes 1 month off the life expectancy of an MRE.  Because of this, MREs have to be stored in climate controlled conditions.

The average MRE contains:

Main entree and heater
Beverage powder
Spread for crackers – cheese spread or peanut butter for example
Accessory packet – candy, paper towel, matches, hot sauce, instant coffee,,,.

MRE Disadvantages

Price – they can get expensive. The average price I see on the internet is about $75 per case. With 12 meals per case, that gives an average price of $6.25 per meal. If your looking for a cheap camping / backpacking food, there are less expensive options out there.

Bulk / weight – MREs can get heavy, fast. After all, each package is probably 1.25 – 1.5 meals. A lot of times part of the MRE is left over for the next meal. If your looking for a lightweight camping / backpacking meal, your probably better off with some dehydrated stuff then with an MRE.

Sodium content – as already mentioned, MREs have a high sodium content. People with underlying health conditions need to keep this in mind. If you have high blood pressure, maybe 800mg of sodium in one meal is not for you.

Affected by heat – You do not want to store your MREs in the garage or storage building if temps can get above the 90s. The MREs lifespan is severely affected by high temps, and should be stored in climate controlled conditions.

MRE Advantages

Full meal in a sealed bag – main entree, side dish, snack, desert, heater, accessory pack all in a single pouch.

Military tested – when the military test and approves something, that tells me that I can put my faith in it.

Wide range of meals – everything from vegetarian to religious concerns have been addressed.  Each case contains a range of meals that should appeal to just about any taste.

Freeze Dried Food

Freeze dried comes in a wide range of products – #10 cans, pouches, buckets,,,,.  I am stockpiling pouches and #10 cans.

Why would anyone want to stockpile free dried food?  When stored in a climate controlled area, like in a closet or basement, #10 cans of freeze dried food have a shelf life of around 25 years.  The pouches use to have  rating of 7 years, but Mountain House extended that lifespan to 30 years.  So now the pouches and the #10 cans have the same lifespan.

Think of it like this:  #10 cans – family size portions; pouches – single sized portions.

Over the past few years I have started bringing Mountain House 7 year pouches on over night camping trips.  Boil half a canteen cup of water, pour into pouch, shake, wait 10 minutes and you will have a meal.

Freeze Dried Food Disadvantages

Expensive – #10 cans cost in the $20 – $30 price range. 7 year pouches can cost in the $5 – $7 price range.

Sodium content:

  • Mountain House #10 can – Scrambled eggs with bacon, 180 calories and 600mg of sodium per serving.
  • Mountain House #10 can – Chili mac with beef, 240 calories and 660mg of sodium per serving.
  • Mountain House #10 can – Spaghetti with meat and sauce, 230 calories and 920mg of sodium per serving.
  • Mountain House #10 can – Noodles and chicken, 230 calories and 1000mg of sodium per serving.
  • Mountain House #10 can – Beef stew, 210 calories and 850mg of sodium per serving.
  • Mountain House #10 can – Chicken teriyaki with rice, 250 calories and 690mg of sodium per serving.
  • Mountain House #10 can – Chicken a la king and noodles, 290 calories and 810mg of sodium per serving.
  • Mountain House 7 year pouch – Pasta primavera, 440 calories and 1200mg of sodium per serving.
  • Mountain House 7 year pouch – Chicken stew, 310 calories and 940mg of sodium per serving.
  • Mountain House 7 year pouch – Scrambled eggs with bacon, 320 calories and 1060mg of sodium per serving.
  • Mountain House 7 year pouch – Noodles and chicken, 270 calories and 1200mg of sodium per serving.
  • Mountain House 7 year pouch – Mac & cheese, 470 calories and 1260mg of sodium per serving.
  • Mountain House 7 year pouch – Turkey tetrazzini, 320 calories and 780mg of sodium per serving.
  • Mountain House 7 year pouch – – Rice & chicken, 560 calories and 2120mg of sodium per serving.

* All of the above listed nutrition information came from my personal stockpile of #10 cans and 7 year pouches. None of the above information was copied / pasted from other sites.

Water needed to reconstitute – in order to eat the freeze dried food, you will need boiling water to  reconstitute it.

Freeze Dried Food Advantages

Long term storage – There is almost nothing on the market that can touch the 25 year shelf life of freeze dried #10 cans.   Rice and beans stored in mylar bags and oxygen absorbers can reach 20 years.

Light weight – A single serving 7 year pouch weighs less then the main entree of the MRE.  #10 cans weigh less then equivalent non-freeze dried canned foods.  This means a shelving system will not be overloaded with stockpiling #10 cans.


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