Can you make your own MRE accessory packet? MRE stands for Meal, Ready-to-Eat. The MRE is the replacement field ration for the older C and K-rations from the Korean War and Vietnam War eras. MREs come in a box containing twelve different individual meals. The individual meals have an accessory packet that has various items such as salt that help make the consumption of the meal more pleasant. The concept behind the accessory packet is a good one, as one considers spending extended periods outdoors.

There are three different versions of the MRE accessory packet marked as A, B, or C. The accessory packet has twelve items in various combinations among the accessory packets. For example, one packet may have instant coffee while another may have a drink mix. The following twelve items can be part of your own meal accessory packet that you can create for your next outdoor adventure, home emergency kit, Bug Out Bag, or EDC loadout.

1. Coffee

Coffee is part of the MRE accessory packet A. Modern advances in science and manufacturing bring instant coffee to the outdoorsman’s list of food considerations. Another consideration for carrying coffee is the coffee bags. Furthermore, coffee is a favorite drink of choice for many backpackers. Many thru-hikers and multi-day hikers carry some ability to make coffee.

There are two kinds of instant coffee available on the market, regular coffee and gourmet. For example, Maxwell House® instant coffee and General Foods® International Coffee are an example of these categories of coffee. Folgers® and Starbucks® make the most popular forms of instant coffee that can be carried in your MRE accessory packet.

The best instant coffee packaging to carry in an MRE accessory packet is the slender tubular ones. Folgers and Starbucks sell this kind of instant coffee, and they can be purchased in most grocery stores. Folgers® sells both regular and decaf instant coffee in the tubular packets. Another way to carry coffee in your accessory packet is in the form of an individual coffee bag.

2. Tea

Some of the older versions of the MRE accessory packets would have a tea bag instead of coffee. The tea would be in accessory packet B. However, in recent years, the tea has been replaced with a drink mix. If you are not a coffee drinker, then a tea bag or two is a great option when making your MRE accessory packet. Additionally, there are many kinds of teas to consider, such as medicinal or therapeutic teas.

3. Drink Mix

Energy drink powders are a popular item to carry by many people. The last few years have seen the availability of energy drink powders and flavored drink powders in the singular tubular packaging similar to the instant coffee packaging. The best energy drink powders available in this kind of packaging are the Propel™ drink mixes made by Gatorade®. Wyler’s®, Crystal Lite®, and Hawaiian Punch® also make drink mixes in the single, tubular packaging.

4. Non-Dairy Powdered Creamer

Non-dairy creamer is part of the MRE accessory packet contents. The A and C accessory packets contain non-dairy powdered creamer. Some people like to have creamer with their coffee. Others want to stir it into their instant oatmeal. Still, other people want to put creamer in their hot tea.

Nevertheless, non-dairy creamer can be used in several different ways when eating food in the field. The best non-dairy powdered creamer on the market is Coffee Mate® by Nestle®. However, there are some other varieties of powdered creamer available such as organic creamer that can be part of your accessory packet. The best way to include non-dairy creamer into your accessory packet is as an individually wrapped packet or tube.

5. Sugar Packet

The consumption of sugar is a controversial topic among many people. However, the U.S. Army uses sugar in the MRE accessory packet for both quality of life considerations but also because it can be mixed with salt in a canteen of water to make a quick, field-expedient electrolyte drink. Sugar can be part of your accessory packet by using the individually wrapped packet or tube.

There are two kinds of sugar to consider for your accessory packet: refined and raw. Organic sugar can be either refined or raw. Refined sugar is also known as white sugar. Raw sugar is sometimes called dark or brownish sugar. The best raw sugar to consider for your packet is Sugar In The Raw® that comes in the individually wrapped packs. Refined sugar packets are more widely available and can be obtained almost anywhere.

6. Sugar Substitute

A sugar substitute is a popular alternative to regular sugar. Some people cannot consume sugar for medical reasons. A sugar substitute alleviates the concerns for those needing to limit their sugar intake. As with regular sugar, sugar substitutes come in many forms. Some examples of sugar substitutes are Sweet-n-Low®, Splenda®, and Stevia®. These also can found in packets that are similar to that of regular sugar.

7. Salt

The most ancient type of food accessory carried by humanity is salt. Salt is considered a commodity and was once used as money when trading with others in the ancient market places. Frontiersman and the pioneers of the old west carried salt as one of the staple items next to flour and sugar. Therefore, it is no surprise that current U.S. military MREs have salt in their accessory packets. A packet of salt combined with a pack of sugar mixed with one liter of water in a military canteen makes a quick electrolyte drink.

Salt helps the human body retain water. Thus, when salt is sprinkled over one’s food from an MRE, it will be both more pleasant to eat but also puts a vital nutrient back into the body. The consumption of salt also increases thirst, and therefore one will drink more water to alleviate the thirst created by eating salt.

8. Hot Sauce

The MREs that I consumed while in the U.S. Army had a miniature bottle of Tabasco® Hot Sauce in the accessory packet. I later learned that red pepper and cayenne pepper has health benefits. Hot Sauce is not part of the current MREs at this time. The newer MREs have a packet of red pepper flakes for a seasoning item. However, as you consider what to put in your MRE accessory packet, a miniature bottle of Tabasco® Hot Sauce would make a great addition.

9. Chewing Gum or Hard Candy

MRE accessory packets usually contained some type of chewing gum or hard candy. The candy’s purpose was to provide some level of quality of life in the field and keep morale high. The most common chewing gum was Chicklets®, and the most common hard candy was Charms®. The newer MREs no longer have these particular brands but offer similar gum or candy, in general, like Tootsie Rolls®, M&M®, or Skittles®. If you do not like gum or candy of any kind, then do not include them in your packet. You may want to add a more healthy food choice.

10. Toilet Paper

The toilet tissue paper that has been part of the MRE accessory packet was not intended to be used after a person defecated in the field. The more likely purpose was for drying hands after using the moist towelette or tinder to make a fire in the field.

11. Moist Towelette

The moist towelette has been part of the MRE from the beginning. The towelette helps to clean the hands before or after eating. The best towelette that you can place in your accessory packet is the Purell® hand sanitizing wipe.

12. Matches

The military MREs have always carried a book of paper matches in the accessory packets. Like other items, a book of matches is not present in some accessory packets in the newer MREs. The MRE matches were included during a time when cigarette smoking was more common among servicemembers.

MRE matches were not very consistent in giving a flame. Yet, during my time serving in Operation Desert Storm, one of our scout teams got lost during a practice maneuver. They used their MRE matches and toilet tissue to start a fire to keep warm before they were found. Consequently, our commanders required us to carry these two items on us at all times.  By contrast, you may not want to include the traditional book of paper matches in your MRE accessory packet. A good alternative would be to add five stormproof matches taped together with clear tape.

Final Thoughts

You can make your own MRE accessory packet from the twelve items discussed in this article. Your packet does not need to contain all twelve items. Once you have collected the items for your accessory packet, then you can vacuum seal them with a standard food sealer. Many people will use substitute items for their accessory packets. If your preferences in life are of an organic or holistic nature, there are comparable items on the market that meet that need. Therefore, have some fun putting together your MRE accessory packet.

Burnweed as Food

American Burnweed is an underrated and unappreciated wild edible. Although Burnweed has no history as a food source here in America, everywhere else in the world that it grows it is eaten. It’s a common food in all of Asia and most of Europe. It is a strong flavored plant, but the flavor is good in my opinion. It is somewhat comparable to mint and tarragonThe younger leaves are milder than the older ones and can be eaten raw. The leaves, young and old, can be cooked as a green and are really tasty. My method for cooking them is really simple. Heat some butter in a frying pan. Throw in a handful of leaves and fry for a few minutes. When all the leaves are wilted and covered in butter they are ready to eat.
The stems of the plant are traditionally pickled and are delicious. Making them is simple as well. Cut young stems into 6 inch sections and stick in a jar. Pour in pickling spices and cover the whole mess with apple cider vinegar and a little bit of water. Let that sit for a couple weeks and you have a real treat.

Burnweed as Medicine

Although this plant was not used as a food in native America, it was used as a medicine. One of the common names of this plant is Pilewort. That’s because it was used to get rid of piles, which, nowadays we call hemorrhoids. Oil was extracted from this plant and applied directly to affected area. Apparently it was very soothing.
Algonquin peoples made a strong decoction from this plant to treat Poison Ivy and Poison Sumac. I haven’t tried this myself but I will in the future. A number of early North American sources indicate medicinal uses of the plant in treatment for hemorrhage, wounds, skin diseases, dysentery, and cholera, but note that it may cause nausea. In fact the oil was used to purposefully cause nausea as it’s listed as a purgative and emetic.Have you used this plant as a food or medicine? I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments. Also i would be glad to answer any questions. If you would like to learn more about this and other great plant foods and medicines, come spend a day training with us at our Plant Identification course. If you REALLY want to learn more spend a few days with us at our Wildcrafter course.


Corriente Cattle for SHTF

In the recent years, I have done a ton of research on the best cattle for shtf. I have a couple of priorities that stick out the most when choosing these breeds. They must be cattle that are optimal for tough living conditions, and that means cows that can make it on their own without needing feed, perfect weather, and premier grass to eat. In my mind, the best cow is the one that requires the least maintenance, is the cheapest to raise, and tastes the best. Now personally I like leaner meat and I believe most cows have way too much fat and I prefer the leaner cuts. So when picking the cows, I wanted to make sure they were not only hardy, but also need to be a lean meat that was really tasty.

There are several breeds to choose from that fit the bill for a long term SHTF scenario and the three top cows I came up for the best cattle for shtf included: The Scottish Highlander, Texas Longhorns, and Corriente’s. These cows are known to be the toughest of all the American breeds and for very good reason. For centuries they have been bred to survive in tough conditions with very little maintenance. They require very little to no feed, other than for training them and moving them where you want.

The Corriente’s are a small framed cow that is very light and agile, that has imposing horns, and are usually very quick on their hoofs. They are the number one breed for roping cows in rodeo’s in the south, because they are such an athletic breed. They also can be quite ornery from reports I have read, so they are the least easy to work with of all the breeds mentioned. This is my least favorite breed of the three even though they are great cows with really lean meat. Very good hot weather breed and shouldn’t be overlooked. These are typically the cheapest of the breeds so you could find some really good deals. But make sure you have a good fence, these can be tougher to keep in than other breeds.

The Texas longhorn is well known for its huge horns and ability to live on really tough land down here in the south. They are a taller breed, with large horns, and tend to be very good cattle. Even though they have imposing horns, many longhorns are known to be quite easy to work with. Very good in hot weather as well. If little shade is available, then this would be my number one pick. In fact, SIGMA has plans to purchase some longhorns as well in the future.
The Scottish Highlander is less well known breed in the US because no to many ranchers use them. But from all my research these are just about the toughest cows you can get. They can live on just about anything and in any weather conditions. They do amazing in cold weather staying in down to -50 degree temps with very little shelter. They also do okay in the heat because they shed their shaggy hair as temp increase. And they grow it back for the cold winters. Because of this shaggy coat, they have to produce less fat to stay warm and this breed produces a very lean meat. This is the preferred meat of choice from the Queen of England, as she has this meat flown in specifically for dinners. It truly is one of the best tasting breeds available. They also have almost no issues with calving due to their frame size and the length of their legs. And don’t let the long hair run you off on the breed, it protects them from flys and bugs better than the other breeds. Plus they tend to not have any of the health issues that most breeds encounter.

Scottish Highlanders require very little work as long as they have enough to eat. And they can live on just about any kind of land. They really love the woods and will clean up brush like no other breed can. Since they are lower to the ground then most cows, they do really well in thick brush. I’ve seen these cows move through brush faster than a deer can and with their big horns they tend to create well worn paths through it. So if you need a cattle breed that will clean up your land or live on just about any pasture imaginable, then I think Scottish highland cows are your best best. Now if you live in very dry and hot regions, I would go with the Texas Longhorn. But all other areas in the US, the Highlander would be my first choice. We raise them here at the SIGMA 3 farm and have been very impressed with the usefulness of the breed. They can also be used as work oxen as well. The breed is extremely docile and works great with people. Just make sure you have a good fence for them, because they will go through fences that aren’t in good condition, especially when they get spooked or stressed. But once they are trained to take feed and come to you, then you won’t have any problems with that. So when you get them, make sure you really get them to warm up to you. Bring them treats and food and they will follow you anywhere.


The Scottish Highlander. Survival Cow Winner!

All in all, I like all 3 breeds but Scottish Highlander is definitely my top choice for the best cattle for shtf, with Texas Longhorn coming in a close second. So for the SIGMA 3 farms we are going to start with the Highlanders and then eventually also purchase some longhorns as well to cross breed to the two for our area. To get the best of both worlds for heat and being able to live in tough conditions. There is a cow breed for almost any situation you are looking for so do some research on these cows and figure out what works best for your area. Don’t rush it and buy the cattle when prices are down and demand is low for beef. That way you ensure you don’t spend to much on the cow and you can use that extra money for the things your cattle will need.


Making homemade dog food is so simple that your gonna slap yourself on the head, and say “why didn’t I think of that”. All you do is keep your leftover food from dinners, the trap line, and any other way that you have extra meat scrapes, rice, or vegetable leftovers. You blend them up and feed em to your pups! Now remember that there a lot of foods you don’t want to put in your dog’s food, and Almeda will explain those to you in the video below. Most dog foods bought from store don’t contain all the essential nutrients that your dogs need so we as responsible owners should do something to supplement their needs. In the dog food production industry, the factories will heavily boil all the protein and it will destroy the essential enzymes your dog needs. That is one of the many reasons that making your dog some supplemental food is so important. Corporate America isn’t going to look out for your pups, so you’re going to have to do that by getting educated on what your animal needs. And since most people have an excess of scraps from their kitchen that they are just going to throw out anyway, it’s a no brainer and a perfect answer to our dog’s needs.
Permaculture is the idea of permanent culture, to use the available resources that you have around you in abundance to meet all your sustainable living needs. Here at SIGMA 3, we are growing our company in a much greener way than many other corporations. We believe that it is important to leave less of a footprint here on earth so that we have less impact on the surrounding ecosytems. Not to get all bush hippy on you guys, but we all have to start changing our ways and learn to live in harmony with the land. Homesteading and permaculture is the future of a sustainable world and we need to all get educated on it. We have to use what we have and create very little waste. Creating closed loop systems is the key to securing a sustainable future for everyone. Essentially we should mimic nature and leave nothing to waste. And by using existing systems nature has created for us, we can lessen our work load and do more for the environment.
It is amazing to see some of the recent technology has been created through Bio Mimicry technology. Please google it and look at some of the amazing technological feats that have been accomplished from sampling learning techniques from nature. What the modern world is just now starting to figure out, is that nature already had the answers figured out long ago and all that we need is to have awareness of our surroundings. We must be aware of how everything works in nature and learn how those sustainable systems have been created, and then try to mimic it.
Creating your own home made dog food can be one way of helping your animals health and using permaculture to make an impact on your footprint. This may sound dramatic, but every little bit helps! So hopefully you will enjoy this video and start using your leftover scraps for your dog’s greater health. Tune in for more blogs to come on all kinds of topics to cover: permaculture, survival skills, upcoming school news, and much more! If you have an interest in learning these skills to improve your life, make sure to check out our instructor programs so that you can immerse yourself into these skills. Thanks again for your support. Please share this video and article with others!


Hey Everyone,

Well we wrapped up another TV shoot with another awesome organization, the Sportsman Channel. SIGMA 3 was recently featured in the new show called “America Unplugged” hosted by Cade Courtley. The show is about preppers and survivalists that are on the path to getting off the grid and it’s a well done documentary about our lifestyle here at SIGMA 3. The show focuses on our efforts to build a self reliant homestead. Each new episode will feature a new family or group of Off Grid Survivalists. If you hated Doomsday Preppers because of the Tin Foil crazies, then you will definitely like this well thought out documentary that skips the sensationalism and gets right to the heart of how important self reliance is to everyone. We did the shoot prior to the build out of many of our homestead projects and it was in the middle of winter, so the episode doesn’t display all the awesome progress we have made on the garden and survival camp. But it was still a great episode on the philosophy of self reliance and the necessity to unplug from the grid!
We have been in the process of building out several homestead projects over the last year and we are still in the beginning phases of building a permaculture based farming setup. Our goal is to reduce our waste to as little as possible, grow most of our food needs, supply our own electricity via solar, raise various types of cattle, and become as self reliant as we possibly can. We aren’t just about wilderness and urban survival, but also homesteading and permaculture based skills as well.

We are currently still building our the Urban Farming model here at the homestead. Our idea is to create an urban design that almost anyone can incorporate if they have even a small amount of space. We are going to show all the various urban gardening techniques, so that people can pick and choose what they need for their place. This project should be completed by the end of 2014 and we will keep blogging our updates so stay tuned for future projects.

The show also covers some our wilderness survival training and it outlines how important it is to not over emphasize your gear based preparations, and instead train your mind to create everything you need from minimal resources. It encompasses our philosophy of walking off onto the land with nothing but a knife and surviving indefinitely! Please check out this episode and share it in other survival forums so that we can spread the word about Self Reliance. These old school skills are the key to our future and lets share these truths with as many people as we can. So stop sitting on the sidelines and get active in pushing these skills to your friends. Because there might come a day when you are going to depend on these same people for your life and you want them to have the best training and education they can get. Whether it’s through SIGMA 3, home training, or some other organization; make sure you get prepared today by doing some training!






Rob Allen
SIGMA 3 Survival School


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