14 June 2012

The Vocabulary of Self-Reliance: MRE and HDR

MRE: Stands for Meal, Ready-to-Eat. MREs are self-contained, individual field rations used by the United States military for service members in conditions where organized food facilities are not available. They are also purchased by some people as a part of their preparedness planning. Some people question the legality of civilians buying actual military MREs, but equivalent MREs and emergency meals are also readily available online.

Each MRE provides about 1,200 Calories. They are only intended to be eaten for a maximum of 21 days (the assumption is that logistics units can provide superior rations by then), and have a shelf life of three years (depending on storage conditions). They are packaged to maintain a minimum shelf life of 3½ years at 80°F (27°C) or cooler (higher temperatures result in shorter shelf life). In addition to having a shorter shelf life than dehydrated or freeze-dried foods, MREs weigh more, ranging from 18–26 oz. (510–740 g). (Read more about MREs.)

MRE No. 23 (cropped)
Typical MRE Contents (image by Heptarch, via Wikimedia Commons)

HDR: Humanitarian Daily Rations are food rations somewhat similar to MREs, but primarily intended for humanitarian crises. Each HDR is intended to serve as a single person's full daily food supply, containing around 2,200 calories or more. They have shelf-lives of about 3 years at 80°F (27°C) or cooler. Another difference from MREs is that the contents of HDRs are designed to be acceptable to a variety of religious and ethnic groups. (Read more about HDRs.)

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