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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.