About MREs

Emergency Meals from Outer Space!

MREs were born on Earth, but grew up on Apollo flights to the moon. Then they served in Skylab floating workshops and on every US space Shuttle

flight from Enterprise to Challenger.

In the 1970’s, retort pouches (the popular name for thermostabilized, laminated food pouches named after the retort steam cooker) were put to their first real test by the U.S. Space Program.

NASA was looking for delicious, easy to prepare, “normal” food that wouldn’t increase human stress the way that freeze dried and “toothpaste tube food” sometimes did.

More than any other technology, retort pouches have satisfied the program’s needs.

And so, over 30 years ago, retort pouches found a home at NASA, where all their unusual characteristics were much appreciated. They have been successfully feeding astronauts on the moon and in flight ever since.

From the Moon to New Earthly Applications!


In the 1980’s, the US military research labs took the lead in the use and development of retort pouches.

The new pouches enabled the Defense Department to upgrade its entire field ration program to retort pouches, from the earlier less workable technologies of canning and freeze drying.

That is when MREs, an acronym for Meals Ready to Eat, were born!

Then, the same research labs which invented them have continually upgraded the taste and nutritional profile of the pouched meals in MREs.

Over the past 32 years, our military has come to depend on the MRE Full Meal kits for most of their operations.

They fed Desert Shield and Desert Storm operations in the 1990’s, and have become the mainstay of all U.S. offensive and definsive operations up to this very day. They continue to feed our troops, and those of allies, whereever they are deployed.


At the same time, over the last 10-15 years, the national News has been full of stories about these same MRE Full Meals being used for HUMANITARIAN DISASTER RELIEF….MREs, distributed when other food is not available, actually SAVE LIVES!

Television coverage of Hurricanes Katrina, Irene and Sandy have made ” MRE” a household word. After the disasters, Emergency Managers give summaries of how many “water bottles and MREs” have been distributed to victims.

MREs are made for Relief, of which there are many kinds. MREs are sent to Hurricane Relief, Flood Relief, Earthquake Relief, Volvano Relief, Hunger Relief, Refugee Relief, and Forest Fire Relief, to name just a few.

MREs also provide for Relief of another kind – Relief of worry about the future! That is why MREs have become so popular with Survivalists and other Self Reliant people.

MREs are the way to feed lots of people quickly with minimal resources! The food is ready to go (full moisture) and easy to prepare and ingest when all familiar resources are missing (easy tear pouch and flameless heater pouch).


MREs are made for outdoor activities. Many of our customers use them for Camping, Backpacking, Scientific Expeditions, Mining Expeditions, etc.- any activity where the need for food is high and where cooking facilities are minimal.


A Specialty Buffet for the Multi-Purpose MREs

Hundreds of millions of MRE Full Meals have been produced and eaten.

They have gone to every theatre of war and every theatre of relief of human misery imaginable.

Because they solve one of life’s most urgent issues – the constant need for food, MREs have become one of the most versitle products in human history!

Long Life Food Depot, operates an “MRE Buffet” or “MRE Smorgasbord” for all MRE pouches, MRE Full Meals, other MRE Kits and related products.. This wide selection of pouched products was started in 1983 by our predecessor company, Resourceful Foods Co.

Our “MRE Buffet”, which is constantly upgraded with new choices, features MRE components from a dozen manufacturers involved in the MRE Ration Program, as well as other retort pouched products and the very best of freeze dried pouches (WISE pouches).

This “MRE Buffet” brings direct access to the same MREs used for Military Feeding and Disaster Relief that you hear so much about, to EVERYONE!!!

Our Customers include Fire Fighters, Smoke Jumpers, Campers, Backpackers, Hunters, Coast Guard units, Geological Expeditions, Everest Climbers, Cities, States, Counties, Adventurers, Explorers, Scouts, Survivalists, Self Reliance Practitioners, Relief Agencies, FEMA, Red Cross, Church Relief Groups, and many more!

The Big Breakthrough was the Pouch!

Here is the breakdown of the breakthrough pouch:

OUTER LAYER: A tough polyester film which provides protection for the middle layers.

OUTER MIDDLE LAYER: The newer Nylon layer makes the pouch more durable. Adding strength to the pouch

INNER MIDDLE LAYER: The key to the pouch’s shelf stability, aluminum foil, the most effective and economical barrier to moisture, light and oxygen. The result: No refrigeration or freezing will ever be required.

INNER LAYER: Next to is a very special polypropylene film. It is compatible with the widest variety of foods so that no “canned” or other unwanted taste is added to the food. It also ensures an exceptionally strong heat seal.

MRE Shelf Life

A main concern in the development and testing of rations for our armed forces has always been SHELF LIFE. An amazing amount of research has been done in the development of the retort pouch and the MRE to determine the exact length of time and the exact conditions under which it is safe to store the entrees and the side dishes.

The main thing we have to work with is the shelf life chart (shown below) compiled by the Army’s Natick Research labs.  This gives a very good overview and summary of all the findings gathered from all the testing of MRE products. However, it leaves many questions unanswered. Here are additional facts and observations we have gathered about MRE shelf life:

  1. The shelf life ratings shown in the chart below were determined by taste panels, panels of “average” people, mostly office personnel at the Natick labs. Their opinions were combined to determine when a particular component or, in this case, the entire MRE ration, was no longer acceptable.

2) The shelf life determinations were made solely on the basis of taste, as it was discovered that acceptable nutritional content and basic product safety would extend way beyond the point where taste degradation would occur.  This means that MREs would be safe and give a high degree of food value long after the official expiration of the products as determined by taste.

3) MRE pouches have been tested and redesigned where necessary according to standards much more strict than for commercial food. They must be able to stand up to abuse tests such as obstacle course traversals in field clothing pockets, storage outdoors anywhere in the world, shipping under extremely rough circumstances, 100% survival of parachute drops, 75% survival of free-fall air drops, severe repetitive vibration (1 hour at 1 G vibration), 7,920 individual pouch drops from 20 inches, and individual pouches being subjected to a static load of 200 lbs for 3 minutes.

4) Freezing an MRE retort pouch does not destroy the food inside, but repeated freezing increases the chances that the stretching and stressing of the pouch will cause a break in a layer of the laminated pouch. These pouches are made to withstand 1,000 flexes, but repetitive freezing does increase the failure rate by a small fraction of a percent.

The Full Moisture Pouch is the Best Meal Time Solution for…

Ready to Eat individual serving pouches are the correct mealtime solution for Emergency Preparedness, Camping, Hunting and all outdoor activities! Our full moisture “flexible can” pouches won’t slow you down!

In 1980, the U.S. Military followed the lead of the U.S. Space program in recognizing the workability of a brand new technology.

They used it to overhaul their food rations with the main result of delicious, long-lasting Meat & Non-Meat dinners complete with moisture, gravy and sauce.  The big breakthrough was the POUCH. Its four special layers allow the food to be sealed and then cooked inside and never exposed to the air again until opened.

The resulting taste and texture beats the heck out of the LPR’s (Long Range Patrol Rations – dehydrated and freeze dried rations used during the Viet Nam era) and the C-rations (the famous canned rations from World War II).

The big difference is the TASTE. But look at what else the MRE pouches give:

  • Shelf Life of 3-10 years!
  • NOT FREEZE DRIED! Moisture, gravy and sauce are retained in natural form!
  • Ready to eat. Hot in 5 minutes with boiling water! (contaminated and/or dirty water has worked when it never touched the food).
  • The food can be eaten cold in an emergency (contents were fully cooked in the sealed pouch!).
  • Specially developed for maximum nutrition!
  • What comes in an MRE Full Meal Ration?
  • Long Life Food Depot Brand MRE Full Meals

MRE True Adventures

Many of our customers have written or called us with their experiences with MREs in life or death situations. Some of these emergencies were Nature-made and some were man-made.

One of our customers goes to Alaska every year and lives in a cave with MREs, just for the purpose of seeing if he can survive a week! One customer races down rushing rivers with MREs. Another customer, a 72 year old backpacker, takes MREs high into the Colarado mountains.

We believe these man-made emergency situations help prepare our custoemrs for the Nature-made ones! When unexpected emergencies and disasters arise, these customer know that MREs are the right food for the job.

We have all witnessed over and over, from Hurricane

Andrew to Katrina and from Earthquakes to Tsunamis, MREs have done an excellent job in saving thousands of lives around the United States and around the world! Whether your Emergency is a hurricane, tornado, flood or earthquake, or a self-created one like the hunt, the fishing trip or the sporting expedition, MREs will solve your emergency food needs like nothing else.

Convenient and long-lasting, MREs are always ready to go!

The production date is visible on all our entrees and on most side dishes, desserts, and other components. The production date is a four digit number (date code) printed on each item.

The first digit of the 4 digits represents the year, the last 3 digits represent the day of the year.

Example: “2156.” In this example, the “2” represents the year 2012 (a “3” would represent 2013, etc.), the “156” represents the 156th day of the year (about June 4). See the top of the individual box or look on pouch for the date code.

Example #2: “1221.” In this example, the “1” represents the year 2011, the 221 represents the 221st day of the year (about August 8).

First digit definitions:

0 = 2010
1 = 2011
2 = 2012
3 = 2013
4 = 2014
5 = 2015
6 = 2016