This past week, I got together with some of my friends and we cooked up three MREs for review: Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, Beef Roast with Vegetables, and Cajun Rice, Beans, and Sausage. The results were very interesting, and well worth the effort. I’ve summarized our findings below, and I’ve even included a video review on youtube, in case you want proof that we did indeed eat all three MREs. Enjoy. 😉
General MRE Info:
All three of our MREs had common additions such as the condiments and utensils. Common additions included:
- Tabasco sauce
- Iodized Salt packet
- Moist Towelette
- Instant coffee granules
- Non-dairy creamer
- Chicklets-like gum
- Hot beverage pouch
- Beverage powder
All-in-all, not a bad selection of add-ons. The gum was not very good, but it was something to chew on after eating the rest of the meal (though it only lasted about a minute or so until it began to disintegrate), and we all agreed that the coffee SUCKS. Even with creamer and sugar, this is definitely *not* Starbucks coffee. The utensil is a brown GI spoon, for which all the meals have been prepared accordingly for ease of consumption, and it performed its duties as expected.
Each meal also contains a variety of sides, which are listed below according to Menu number:
#18: Cajun Rice, Beans, and Sausage
- Cheddar Cheese Pretzels (Combos)
- Peanut Butter
- Gen 2 Lemon-Lime Beverage Powder
#19: Beef Roast with Vegetables
- Dried Cranberries
- Chocolate Peanut Butter
- Steak Sauce
- Tropical Punch Beverage Powder
- Dessert: Vanilla Pound Cake
#20: Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
- Wheat Snack Bread
- Cheese Spread
- Potato Sticks
- Gen 1 Lemon-Lime Beverage Powder
- Dessert: Cherry Blueberry Cobbler
Note that the #18 menu didn’t come with a dessert. What. A. Ripoff. The one redeeming quality of this menu is that it comes with very tasty cheddar cheese pretzels that we civs would know by the brand name of “Combos.”
The cheese spread included with the #20 menu really is as good as they say it is, and the “wheat snack bread” was shaped to look like an actual slice of bread, which we found quite amusing, since it is actually very dense, and not like bread at all, though it does taste alright.
As for the other sides, there was nothing notably good or bad about them. The cranberries tasted like cranberries, the peanuts were like peanuts, and the potato sticks still tasted like salty cardboard, as they always do. I can see why these things get swapped and traded for other goodies out on the field – some of them are quite desirable in comparison to others.
Now, for the desserts. Of the two desserts we had, the cherry blueberry cobbler was voted the best. But when you add the cobbler (which was much like pie filling) to the pound cake – YUM! That made the pound cake delicious. Otherwise it was kinda dry, and the whole thing was like eating the crusty end of a pound cake loaf. Not as enjoyable as a moist, center slice of cake, so finding ways to improve the pound cake are recommended. Just don’t pour your MRE coffee on it. (pssst – the cake is a lie)
When it comes to beverages, I wouldn’t say that either the lemon-lime powder or the tropical fruit punch was necessarily better than the other, but I will say that Gen 2 of the lemon-lime powder is MUCH better than Gen 1. Gen 1 has a strong limey-ness to it, while Gen 2 just tastes like Gatorade. The coffee still sucks. A note about the Hot Beverage Pouch that is included for heating the coffee: all three of our beverage pouches leaked during some point of the coffee making process. Do not trust these bags! They either start out with a leak in them, or eventually spout liquid while being heated. Very messy, and not fun to clean up.
And now, the entrees! For heating, we first assembled the entree and other items to be heated (coffee, dessert if applicable, and sauces) in the heater bag, stuffed the whole bag into the cardboard box, and then added approximately an ounce and a half of water, shaking the package lightly to allow even distribution of the water in the heater pack. We propped our cardboard boxes up against coffee cups (but a rock or any other non-reactive surface will do), and allowed them to heat for approximately fifteen minutes. During that time, we tried out the other snack foods and drank our flavored beverages. Mmmm. Once the meals were fully heated, we *CAREFULLY* removed the hot food packs from the heater bag, opened them up, and had a taste. The Cajun rice, beans, and sausage was… bland, at best. Without the Tabasco sauce, this meal really doesn’t have much going for it. It’s not horribly bad like many other reviews make it out to be, however, so I would give it 3 out of 5 stars for MRE meals, and one of the stars is attributed to the tasty Combos pretzels that come with it. It loses a star for not having any dessert, and having too many peanut-y things included (peanuts AND peanut butter? Really?).
The Beef Roast and Vegetables is TASTY! This was by far our favorite meal. There is literally a slab of beef in the pouch, with a few veggie chunks surrounding it for flavor and texture. You can break apart the beef just using the included MRE spoon – it’s that tender. The steak sauce was like a blend of A-1 and Heinz 57. A decent compromise for flavor and a good addition to the meal. I give the Beef Roast and Vegetables 4 out of 5 stars. It loses half a star for the dry pound cake, and another half a star for lack of vegetables. There really should have been a few more veggie chunks for them to include it in the menu name. However, if I had to give up some of the roast to accommodate more veggies, I would just say forget it; I’ll take the beef over veggies any day.
Lastly, the Spaghetti with Meat Sauce; or should I say, Spaghetti with something that resembles a sauce. I couldn’t actually identify the flavor in this meal, but it was not of meat sauce. There was a hint of traditional Italian herbs, but not much to speak of in terms of actual sauce. The noodles were good though – not too mushy, and not too dry. If the sauce was a little better in this meal, it could easily have been a 4.5 star meal. However, it will remain a 4, mostly retaining its points because it comes with that delicious cheese sauce, and a very tasty dessert.
So there you have it folks! Three MREs and a boatload of calories! Special thanks to my buddies, Matt and Jon, and my husband Justin for their willingness to choke down questionable food products in front of a camera. Cheers to you, fellows!
Check out the video! MRE Review
Note: It may take a bit for the video to process on youtube. If the video does not work for you, try again later. Thanks!