How Can You Make Your Own MREs for Camping and Hiking?

Considering making your own MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) for your next outdoor adventure? Start by selecting ingredients that are both lightweight and non-perishable, yet high in calories and nutrients. Opt for dehydrated vegetables, instant rice, and protein-rich options like canned meats.

The success of your homemade MREs lies in effective assembly and packaging to ensure they stay fresh and are easy to prepare in the wilderness. Additionally, enhance your meals with thoughtful seasoning choices and employ smart packing techniques to maximize convenience and taste during your journey.

Selecting Suitable Ingredients

To create your own MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), start by selecting non-perishable and lightweight ingredients such as canned meats and dried fruits. These aren’t only long-lasting but also easy to carry, making them perfect for outdoor activities.

Opt for instant rice and dehydrated vegetables to keep your pack light and manageable.

For long-term freshness and protection from environmental factors, use a vacuum sealer to pack your ingredients in Mylar bags. The vacuum sealer extracts air, which helps preserve the food and extend its shelf life.

Mylar bags are beneficial due to their durability and resistance to punctures, ensuring your food stays protected in various outdoor conditions.

Assembling Nutritious Meals

When preparing your MREs, it’s crucial to include a balanced mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to maintain energy during your outdoor activities. Opt for high-protein dried meats such as beef jerky or freeze-dried chicken to aid in muscle repair after strenuous activities. Combine these with dehydrated vegetables to add essential vitamins and choose grains like rice or quinoa for carbohydrates that provide sustained energy.

To enhance the appeal of your MREs and prevent monotony, introduce a variety of flavors and textures. Utilizing different spices, herbs, and seasoning blends can significantly enhance the taste of your meals, ensuring they remain appealing and contributing to adequate energy intake. This approach helps maintain your interest in the food, supporting better nutritional outcomes during your adventures.

Packaging and Sealing Techniques

Packaging and Sealing Techniques

Ensure you utilize food-grade vacuum sealer bags to package your homemade MREs, thereby maintaining their freshness and extending their shelf life. By vacuum sealing your meals, you remove oxygen, significantly reducing the chances of mold growth and food spoilage. This process is crucial for preserving the safety and edibility of your homemade MREs over long periods.

To enhance their longevity further, consider double packaging your vacuum-sealed meals in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. Mylar bags offer an extra layer of protection against environmental factors such as light and moisture, which are detrimental to long-term food storage.

Below is a concise guide on how to effectively use these packaging materials:

Material Purpose Benefit
Vacuum Sealer Bags Remove air and seal food Extends shelf life, prevents spoilage
Mylar Bags Provide additional protection Shields against light and moisture
Oxygen Absorbers Absorb residual oxygen Reduces oxidation and preserves nutrients

Remember to label each pack with the contents and cooking instructions. This practice ensures ease of identification and facilitates smooth meal preparation during your activities, allowing you to enjoy your nutritious, homemade MRE as designed.

Cooking and Rehydration Tips

To properly prepare your homemade MREs outdoors, begin by boiling water using a camping stove or similar heat source. This is crucial for meals designed for long-term storage, as they typically need thorough rehydration.

Carefully pour the hot water into the Mylar bags containing your meals, adhering to the cooking instructions labeled on each package. These directions are essential to ensure that the meals rehydrate effectively and taste comparable or superior to commercial options.

Allow the meals to steep for 10-15 minutes, enabling the flavors to blend and the ingredients to soften adequately.

Be aware that different meals may require variations in rehydration time or water amounts. Feel free to tweak these factors to find the optimal settings for your meals. Fine-tuning the rehydration process can significantly enhance the texture and taste, optimizing your outdoor culinary experience.

Storage and Portability Solutions

Storage and Portability Solutions

To ensure your homemade MREs are compact and well-preserved, utilize food-grade vacuum sealer bags. These reduce bulk, making them more manageable in your backpack, and maintain freshness over extended periods.

For dehydrated meals, opt for Mylar bags coupled with oxygen absorbers, which excel in minimizing air and moisture exposure, thereby enhancing the shelf life of grains, beans, and legumes up to 20 years.

Clearly label each bag with its contents and cooking instructions to facilitate quick and efficient meal preparation, particularly in urgent situations.

For enhanced portability, store these sealed bags in a durable, lightweight container or backpack, and keep them in a cool, dry location to preserve food quality.

Include a small, resealable ziplock bag in your kit for essential seasonings or condiments, which offers a practical solution for carrying spices without occupying significant space.


Having learned how to make your own MREs for camping and hiking, begin by selecting appropriate ingredients to ensure nutritional balance and taste.

Use a vacuum sealer to extend the shelf life and protect your food. Remember to follow essential cooking and rehydration guidelines to enhance your outdoor dining experience.

With your meals compactly organized and portable, you’re well-prepared for your outdoor adventures. Enjoy the benefits of your custom-made MREs, and have a safe and enjoyable journey!