Freeze Dried Food vs MREs
In 1963, the Department of Defense began developing the "Meal, Ready to Eat",
a ration that would rely on modern food preparation and packaging technology to
create a lighter replacement for the canned Meal, Combat, Individual ration.
Today, servicemembers can choose from up to 24 entrées, and more than 150
additional items. In 1992, a Flameless Ration Heater (FRH), a water-activated
exothermic reaction product that emits heat, allowed a servicemember in the
field to enjoy a hot meal.
Packaging requirements are strict. MREs must be able to withstand parachute
drops from 380 metres (1,250 ft), and non-parachute drops of 30 metres (98 ft).
The packaging is required to maintain a minimum shelf life of three and a half
years at 27 °C (81 °F), nine months at 38 °C (100 °F), and short durations from
-51 °C (-59.8 °F) to 49 °C (120 °F) must be sustainable.
Each MRE weighs 18 to 26 ounces (510 to 740 g), depending on the menu. Since
MREs contain water, they weigh more than freeze-dried meals providing equivalent