MREs have been improving ever since the Department of Defense started the project in 1963. While most servicemen would argue they haven’t come along fast enough and that they are nowhere where they need to be, there are some significant advancements that should have preparedness minded people and preparing servicemen excited for the future. One of those advancements is the Bridgford Ready to Eat Sandwiches.
Bridgford developed these sandwiches with a a few basic requirements from the US military, one of which was a three year shelf life. What they ended up with was a product that got rave reviews. When first tested by Natick (division of the U.S. Army that researches and manages food, clothing, shelters, and other support items for soldiers), the sandwiches received one of the highest acceptance scores of any new product introduction and as you’ll see in the video below there are plenty of soldier testimonials!
Naturally after learning about Bridgford’s product we had to test some for ourselves and see what all the fuss was about. First up is the Pepperoni stick sandwich. Like all of the other lunch or dinner offerings (Italian Style, BBQ Beef, BBQ Chicken, Pepperoni Stick, Bacon & Cheese, Sweet & Sour Soy) this was a real meat sandwich, a nice filling food packed with 10 grams of protein. And it was great for lunches or picnics, using a basket for organization of all food and other necessary things.
First off the first thing you notice when handling this MRE sandwich is the bread is soft and doughy. A pleasant surprise when it comes to normally hard crackers in an MRE meal. Back to the task at hand, we popped the food into the microwave and cooked it for 30 seconds (you can also heat it up inside the pouch on a engine block, on a hot rock next to a fire, ect).
First off the outer portion of the sandwich was amazing, even softer when warmed the bread tasted almost like a loaf coming out of the oven. The pepperoni stick inside was nothing exciting but gave good flavor to the rest of the sandwhich. I’ve had my fair share of MREs and I’ll say I’d rather eat these 2/3 of the time, I would still like the variety of having a beef stew or chicken tortellini but a breakfast sandwich like the Filled French Toast for breakfast and a meat sandwich for lunch would be a great way to start a day when MREs are what you’re packing.
Ease of Use
Like all MREs, the Bridgford Ready to Eat sandwiches do not require warming or cooking as you can eat it right out of the package. Though that makes it the ultimate in easy eating you will want to heat them up as they are exponentially better when warmed. In my opinions here is the order of cooking preferences if possible:
1. Oven; they taste great baked. While unpractical for most occasions it is the way to make them taste their best.
2. Toaster. Another really great way to add some crispness to the outer part of the bread.
3. Microwave. Take out of the pouch and pop in the microwave for 20-30 seconds.
4/5. MRE heater or boiling water. Eithe way it gets them warm. Taste is the same as the microwave just not as fast.
Whether you eat it cold or use one of the 5 methods above (or one of the many other ways to heat an MRE) these MRE sandwiches are super convenient. Convenience can’t be ignored when looking for emergency food, especially a type that requires no water at all.
Can also buy in 4 packs
The Bridgford MRE Sandwich line packs a punch from a sustenance standpoint. Averaging over 300 calories a pouch these meals beat out 1 cup of Mountain House meals by about 20 calories per serving. Aside from calories they have real meat (not the breakfast ones!) so they pack as high as 12 grams per sandwhich with even the breakfast ones averaging 6-7 grams.
Sodium on average is about 550 mg or 23% of your day’s sodium intake, so while they may not be officially classified as a low sodium food by the FDA they beat out ready made meals by 20-30%.
Like all MREs the Bridgford sandwiches are not the cheapest food storage option. Ranging from $2.75 to 3.75 when purchased individually you are looking at roughly the cost per serving range of a Mountain House serving of food. Compared to other MREs it holds its own. Most MRE entrees are between $2-3 and pack fewer calories and grams of food so overall they are a good value compared to the alternatives.
Like all MRE products the shelf life won’t soon be approaching freeze dried food which continues to show amazing ability to last more than 30 years when stored properly, but at 3 years these are a great option for the short to medium term storage options. The biggest knock on them is when compared to most other MREs that get 5 years life in storage.
While 3 is a tad on the short side the storage requirements of 80 degrees is pretty warm. Most product’s fine print these days states proper storage is around 60 degrees which is not very realistic for most people. Bridgford also states you will get a 6 month life if stored in 100 degree weather. So in the end the shelf life is a little short but at least the temps it requires are more realistic.
In the end, our review of the Bridgford MRE sandwiches opened our eyes to some tasty new options in the MRE space which most people agree could use some big improvements. We were not only happy with the taste and price we were pleased with how simple it was to prepare and eat. The only real drawback is a shorter shelf life of 3 years but for the right situation this MRE sandwich stands above the rest of the military rations out there.
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