Food Preservation

How Long Does MRE Last? Does MRE Go Bad?

In this article, you will know the answer to the query “How Long Does MRE Last? Does MRE Go Bad?“.

MRE is an acronym for Meal, Ready-to-Eat, which is a lightweight, self-contained field ration that can be prepared quickly with boiling water or some other heating method.

Meals consist of meat or fish, fruit or vegetables, bread cereals, or pasta and cover all three major food groups.

The purpose of this blog post is to explain how long MRE lasts and how they can be stored safely without going bad.

What is MRE?

Rations designed for quick consumption are known as Ready-to-Eat (or Reheatable) meals.

Complete meals are preassembled, with the main course and side dish, ready to eat or require water for preparation.

First introduced in 1973, MREs were developed by the United States military as an improvement over previous canned thermal-stabilized containers (called CTSs) and became standard in 1981. MREs are not required at all times when tactical feeding is being used by the military.

Later versions incorporated more food types, but still had a limited menu, and the earliest versions had strict menus with relatively little variety.

A soldier always heats his or her own MRE in a personal field kitchen or with an MRE heater, a disposable heat pack containing solid fuel for use as a stovetop burner.

It may be necessary to prepare some versions of these rations before eating them, such as adding condensed milk to make powdered coffee.

There have been two general types of pre-cooked foods issued: “long shelf life” (LSL), which can be stored without refrigeration but has only about one year on average between production date and expiration date, and “short shelf life” (STR).

Meat products such as beef and chicken are typically served as the main course, with fruit or vegetables as the side dish.

How to Store MRE?

In contrast to standard food found in supermarkets, MRE manufacturers do not include expiration dates on their products.

There is still an expiration date on MREs, however.

The product is designed to be packaged so that it lasts for a long time, and this means there is no expiration date on the package.

Storing food always involves the risk of spoilage.

It has been researched and developed for MREs to be kept at the worst temperatures without spoiling, so you can rest assured that your case will last a few years before needing to be replaced.

MREs should be stored between 50°F (or lower) and no relative humidity for the best quality and shelf life.

Food should be kept away from heat sources such as stoves, ovens, microwaves, fireplaces, and sunny windows.

To maintain cooler temperatures, store the case inside another container that will protect it from moisture.

As long as they are airtight, you can store them in Tupperware, bread boxes, and more.

How Long Does MRE Last? Does MRE Go Bad?

There is no doubt that MREs are one of the most popular foods on military bases.

Its compact and self-contained design makes it possible to store the meals without refrigeration or heating for up to five years before they need to be disposed of.

If stored at 60 degrees Fahrenheit, MREs will last longer.

As the temperature rises, the duration of the process decreases.

MREs only last about three years if they are stored at average room temperature.

Keep them out of direct sunlight because it will cause degradation of some ingredients, such as fats and proteins, which can lead to spoilage after six months.

The longer an MRE sits in storage and ages, the worse its taste and nutrition will be.

Some people, however, have reported that they could eat MREs that were ten or more (sometimes almost twenty) years old, and the taste did not change.

Can You Freeze MRE?

It is not possible to freeze MREs, contrary to popular belief.

In a freezer, the coolant inside the plastic containers would freeze at a shallow temperature, causing them to crack from expansion.

Due to their special design for long-term storage, MREs are packed with enough water to keep them edible for years on end – but freezing them won’t work either.

Preserve your MREs at a cool temperature by storing them in an airtight container.

By doing this, you will be able to preserve its flavor and ensure that there are no bacteria growing on it.

How to Tell if MRE is Bad?

It doesn’t matter how long you store MREs, they’ll eventually go bad.

The following are some signs to look out for:

  • There is no longer a seal on the outer packaging.
  • There are visible mold spores or food particles on the outside of the package.
  • A sour smell emanates from the pack, even if it appears to be a fresh MRE. The temperature might have been too high or too low when you stored it.

Generally speaking, MREs have a shelf life of at least three years and as long as ten years, but as they age, their flavors will diminish.

The guidelines above can help determine whether an MRE has gone bad.

Before eating any potential spoiled goods, consult with your doctor first and err on the side of caution.

Despite the fact that most things can be determined by taste alone, there are many other factors that can influence this, so don’t risk getting sick unnecessarily.

It’s better to be safe than sorry.


Overall, it’s difficult to determine when MRE goes bad.

In order to determine if your bag is still valid, you should check its expiration date.

You shouldn’t eat it if it tastes like plastic, smells funny, and leaves a weird aftertaste.

If you store our meals for five years, you might be surprised by how good they taste.

It is possible to extend the life of these little packs by storing them properly and using some common sense usage habits from those who know better than us.

How Long Does MRE Last? Does MRE Go Bad? (Recipe)


15 minutes


15 minutes


30 minutes


  • MRE
  • Air-tight containers
  • Labels and markers


  • Read the guide thoroughly to learn how long it lasts.
  • Check the “Best-by-date” to know when it expires.
  • Make sure to store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place (pantry or fridge).
  • Always check for signs of spoilage before using.

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