Military rations have come a long way in the past few decades. Back in the day you could sum up pretty much every MRE review as a D+, good enough to keep you alive but bad enough to not want to eat them if at all possible. But that has changed, we have tried several brands over the past couple years so let’s get to it and see how MRE Star does when compared with the rest.
Similar to A-Pack entrees, made by Ameriqual, the MRE Star MREs are made by a US military authorized manufacturer that also happens to make civilian rations. The official military MREs differ VERY little from the civilian models. Usually the only difference is a packet of hot sauce that comes in the military version and sometimes a stick of gum.
While MRE Star is similar to Ameriqual, the brand we are most familiar with, there are a variety of subtle differences. Namely packaging, completeness, and variety of sides. Let’s dig into the details and see how they shape up!
It is food after all right? Got to get the most important thing out of the way. Thankfully the two meals we tried (Chicken Noodle Stew & White Chicken and Rice) were similar in quality to the A-Pack meals we have been using for years. Those that haven’t tried either I’d tell them the food is similar to a canned entree you buy at the grocery store, like a Dinty Moore chili or a SpaghettiOs.
Again MREs have had a bad reputation over the years for meals but now they are pretty dang safe. I’d venture to say that a blind taste test would result in people assuming they were eating a canned meal from the store, not some gross military ration from Vietnam war stories.
EASE OF USE
MREs are popular because they are easy to heat up and have a decent shelf life (we’ll talk more about that later). A full meal such as these that we tested come with:
A.) 8 oz Entrée (6 varieties)
B.) 2 oz Dry Fruit (Banana, Pineapple, Papaya, etc)
C.) 2 oz Raisins & Nuts (Raisins, Peanuts, ect)
D.) 2 oz Sugar cookies
E.) Drink Mix (Flavors: Orange, Lemonade, ect)
F.) Accessory Pack (spoon, coffee, sugar, creamer, salt, pepper, napkin, moist towel)
G.) Flameless Heater
Because the pack has so many things there is a lot of variety and lots of calories. Good things in our books, but where the MRE Star suffered was in the comprehensiveness of their offering. Ameriqual full meals (also known as A-Pack) come with a small salt water packet that is used to activate the flameless heater which is used to heat the meal. The MRE Star full meal does not. This small and very inexpensive pouch of water is a great thing to have. You literally have EVERYTHING you need to heat up your A-Pack meal but with MRE Star you need to find water to activate the heater. Big downer for us. Small details can make all the difference.
Like other military rations the MRE Star boasts a 5 year shelf life in the right conditions. See the chart for the storage temperatures and what you should be able to expect. Needless to say this shelf life is typical for this type of preparedness food. Compared to freeze dried meals it doesn’t perform well for long periods but the MRE star product does when comparing them to other MRE meals.
Most companies selling the MRE Star full meal sell a case of 12 for around $80 with the MRE heaters. When you do the math that is $6.66 a meal. A good price for a full meal MRE. While we wish overall the price wouldn’t be as high all you can do is really compare similar products to each other and their price is very competitive with the rest of the market.
Like other MRE full meals we have tried the MRE Stay meals pack 1,100 to 1,300 calories. They do have higher levels of sodium than the average Joe needs. Again these are developed for the military and when you are active like our troops are you need higher levels of replenishment. If you want a more civilian designed product check out the Heater Meals product line we’ve reviewed before. Typically you are going to want to eat 2 of these a day if you are active.
MRE Star makes a good MRE. Taste was good, at least the two entrees we tried. The sides were acceptable and similar to what we’ve had before, and shelf life is on par with competitors. Our main complaint is that their full meal offering is not as comprehensive as others. The missing salt water activation packet can’t cost more than a few cents yet it provides a big benefit in not having to go out and get water. Some die-hard vets might suggest peeing in the flameless heater pouch to activate the heater but I’d rather use the moist towlet for cleaning my face after the meal and not my hands.
For similar pricing you can find other products that we think are as good tasting if not a little better AND provide a 100% self contained kit. Our MRE Star review concludes with a full fledge recommendation but we will probably keep ordering Ameriqual’s full meals instead.