Some consumers get confused between military grade Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) and actual MREs made for the military.

While there are MREs made for the military, civilians are not able to buy or sell them. It is illegal to buy or sell MREs explicitly made for the military.

The exterior packaging of military MREs will denote them as such and will state that they are not to be resold. Following Hurricane Katrina, a few members of the military were reported for trying to sell military MREs at a profit.

You may find people trying to sell what they call “military MREs” on places like eBay. Either these sellers are confusing the terms, or they have been misled as to the origin of these MREs, or they are breaking the law by selling real military MREs.

However, if the meals are listed as “military grade”, that may only mean that they are civilian meals that are made to the same specifications as the military MREs. This is completely legal.

In the case of military grade MREs, this should mean that the meal is made to the same specifications as the legitimate military MREs, and should contain the same items.

Items contained in real (full meal) military MREs are:

  • entree
  • side dish
  • crackers with a spread
  • dessert
  • electrolyte drink mix
  • coffee with creamer
  • an accessory pack
  • Tabasco sauce
  • a piece of gum
  • toilet paper
  • a water-activated heater

Similarly, items contained in a full meal civilian MRE usually are:

  • entree
  • side dish
  • crackers with a spread
  • dessert
  • electrolyte drink mix
  • coffee and creamer
  • an accessory pack containing a spoon, sugar, salt, pepper, a wet wipe, and a napkin

A water-activated heater may or may not be included in the MRE package, or it may be available as an optional purchase.

If any item typically included in a full meal is important to you, then be sure to inquire whether or not it is included, before purchasing any military grade MREs.