I do recommend MREs as a supplement to a well-rounded food storage program. Because they are fairly compact, lightweight, and require no cooking , they are ideal to pack in your “Get Out of Dodge” (G.O.O.D.) backpack (or “BOB“).
My old friend who has profile under the pseudonym Mr. Tango had a round of correspondence with the U.S. Army’s Natick Laboratories in Maryland, on the potential storage life of MREs. Like all other storage foods, MREs must be stored at low temperature to maximize their shelf life. The data that they sent him was surprising. Here is the gist of it:
Degrees F / Months of Storage (Years)
120 / 1 month
110 / 5 months
100 / 22 months (1.8 Years)
90 / 55 months (4.6 Years)
80 / 76 months (6.3 Years)
70 / 100 months (8.3 Years)
60 / 130 months (10.8 Years )
Note 1: The figures above are based on date of pack, rather than inspection date.
Note 2: MRE’s near the end of their shelf life are considered safe to eat if:
A.) They are palatable to the taste.
B.) They do not show any signs of spoilage (such as swelled pouches.)
C.) They have been stored at moderate temperatures. (70F or below.)
Note 3: Not enough data has yet been collected on storage below 60 degrees F. However, projections are that the 130-month figure will be extended.
Note 4: Time and temperature have a cumulative effect. For example: storage at 100 degrees F for 11 months and then moved to 70F, you would lose 1/2 of the 70F storage life.
Note 5: Avoid fluctuating temperatures in and out of freezing level.
JWR’s Comments on MREs: The above-cited figures are for palatability, not nutritive value. You should plan on storing vitamin supplements. Again, vitamins should be stored in a cool, very dark place for the longest shelf life. (Many tablets are light sensitive—this explains why they are usually packed in dark brown bottles rather than clear glass.) I recommend rotating your vitamins every two years. The bottom line is that most of the fat, carbohydrates, and protein will still be available in MREs, even after many years of storage, but the vitamins will not. Plan accordingly.
Because MREs and other emergency foods are relatively high in bulk and low in fiber, I also highly recommend storing a bulk fiber supplement with each case of MREs. Don’t overlook this precaution! Also, get yourself some sprouting supplies, and practice sprouting before The Crunch. Sprouts are an ideal source of vitamins and fiber!