How Many Calories Are in an MRE? | Build a Stash

MREs can be valuable commodities during an emergency. If you’re thinking about buying MREs, you may want to know how many calories are in an MRE.

An MRE with a complete meal typically has between 1,100 to 1,300 calories. An MRE with a single food item like a dessert, side dish, or appetizer may have far fewer calories. Most of the calories in a standard MRE come from proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

When I prepare food for a long camping trip or future emergency, I often include MREs since they have secure and compact packaging that makes them easy to carry and store. Though I have spent quite a few dollars on MREs, I feel they are very valuable due to their high-calorie content.

Table of contents

HideShow

How Many Calories Does An MRE Have?

An MRE (Meal, Ready-to-Eat) is one of the best food resources I have when traveling to isolated areas or preparing for an emergency.

I have a big appetite that isn’t easy to satisfy, so I prefer having emergency food resources that can pack as many calories as possible.

Since adults generally need between 2,000 to 2,500 calories per day, I want to at least have that many calories at my disposal when disaster strikes.

There are usually between 1,100 to 1,300 calories in an MRE, so eating at least two of them per day is often enough to satisfy an adult’s calorie requirements.

MREs can consist of many different types of foods and portion sizes, so the calories included in them can widely vary.

Certain types of foods may have less calories than others, so you will have to check the packaging of a specific MRE to see exactly how many calories are in it.

The calorie count of an MRE doesn’t necessarily dictate how full it will make me feel.

I can often get full from an MRE that has fewer calories than other MREs.

Some lower-calorie MREs contain food items that can satisfy me more.

Before buying a large amount of MREs, it might be a good idea to first try one out to see how satisfied you are after eating it.

An MRE that might seem to have lower calories, such as an MRE with tuna, might actually have more calories than many other MREs.

On the other hand, a seemingly high-calorie MRE with thick cuts of beef might actually have less calories than other MREs.

Why Do MREs Have So Many Calories?

A significant amount of calories are often needed to sustain intense combat and survival-related activities.

Portability is an important component of an MRE, so manufacturers often try to pack as many calories as possible into as light and compact a container as possible.

MREs are largely known as highly durable and portable food rations that can withstand rough conditions during times of war, disasters, and other survival situations.

Since MREs contain a high amount of calories, it might be economical to eat only a portion of an MRE and save the rest for later consumption.

If you’re not in a highly strenuous predicament, you may not need the full amount of calories in an MRE.

Rationing the food in an MRE can be important when other sources of food are difficult to come by.

If an MRE is cracked or torn, the food inside may become spoiled, so you should wrap the leftover food as securely as possible to extend the amount of time you can safely store it.

MREs are often vacuum-sealed and packaged in a way that makes them very secure and protected from rough handling.

Simply wrapping the leftover MRE food may not be enough to secure it as well as its original packaging, but it should be better than not wrapping the food at all.

However, since MREs often have a considerable amount of salt and other preservatives, the food in an MRE will generally last much longer than many fresh foods such as fruits and vegetables.

Though the food in an MRE may contain loads of preservatives, it is best to consume the food as soon as possible after the MRE is opened.

If you can refrigerate or keep food cool in some way, that could go a long way to extend the life of the leftover food.

Compared to military MREs, some civilian MREs may be less focused on packing calories and more focused on simply providing secure storage for food.

A civilian MRE company might produce an MRE for a trendy meal or dessert even if the total calories are relatively low.

Regardless of the calorie content, a secure food pack that can be easily consumed can be valuable to hikers, campers, and others that may find themselves in secluded areas.

They don’t necessarily need MREs to survive several days or weeks, but rather just want a convenient and tasty food resource they can carry with them on a day trip.

What Types Of Calories Are In An MRE?

I like to buy MRE snacks, desserts, side dishes, bread packs, and complete breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals.

Regardless of what I eat, most of the calories in my MREs tend to come from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

Though MREs can help you survive when food options are scarce, they typically do not offer a well-balanced distribution of calories.

When trying to achieve a balanced diet, it's important to know that regularly eating MREs may not provide the range of calories needed for a healthy diet.

MREs commonly contain food items that are typical of hearty high-calorie meals such as chili, macaroni, stew, and pasta.

An MRE will often contain a limited amount of fiber, so you will need to obtain fiber from other sources such as vegetables, fruits, or supplements.

Since the MRE market is constantly expanding, there may be MREs in the future that can satisfy more nutritional needs.

Unless you can find MREs with more balanced offerings, you should avoid eating MREs alone unless it’s your only option.

What Are Some Other Durable High-Calorie Food Products?

An MRE can be quite expensive, so I try to mix up my emergency food options with other food products.

Other durable high-calorie food products include peanut butter, canned stews, and dried fruits, jerky, and nuts.

Like MREs, these food products are generally compact and easy to carry, store, and consume.

Many of these food products don’t require any special packaging to store for long periods of time.

The nature of the foods, preservatives, and preparation methods factor into the durability of the foods.

Since MREs often include set meals with items that cannot be mixed and matched, buying individual items for an emergency can help me to better customize my food resources.

If you plan to eat MREs for an extensive period of time, you should look to supplement your diet with other foods that contain fiber, probiotics, and critical nutrients your MREs may lack.

About THE AUTHOR

Mark Walker

Mark Walker

I have over a decade of experience in food and beverage management, including a ServSafe food safety qualification. As part of this qualification, I have been professionally trained in safe food storage.

Read More About Mark Walker