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How Long Does MRE Last? Does MRE Go Bad?

If you live alone, you surely know about MRE, which stands for meal ready to eat.

That is because it’s quite easy and quick to make as the pack only needs heating of food.

The only problem people face after buying it is storage as they are unaware of the time till which they can use it, so they think do MRE go bad?

These meals include fish, meat, cereals, pasta, vegetables, bread, and other food items, but they can still serve anyone for quite a long time.

However, if anyone has found a package of MRE lying in your pantry, do not eat it immediately without looking for the bad signs, as this can be harmful.

What is MRE?

This is a self-contained meal that is complete and ready to eat once heated.

One pack of MRE offers you an entire meal.

One can use any heating method to prepare a pack of MRE, like boiling, streaming, or any other.

These are manufactured in such a way that they can survive in rough and tough conditions.

One can get MRE packages in 24 different meals and menus, and they come with 2 cases that contain 12 packs in each case.

The package of MRE is a good source of gaining nutrients as it contains proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and a lot of other things.

One meal includes entrée, side dishes, dessert spreads, beverages, and much more, and these food items change daily to provide people with some variations in their daily meals.

How Long Does MRE Last? Does MRE Go Bad?

These are one of the common foods in the military as they do not have time to cook.

Therefore these are a more compact and good way to consume meals that they like and cannot prepare otherwise.

MRE meals can last for a more extended period, that is, for up to 3 years.

One does not have to freeze or keep it in the fridge to save it from spoilage, as it can retain its quality at room temperature for an extended period.

However, if you still store them in the fridge, then they can offer you a longer shelf life that ranges from a period of 3 to 5 years.

Because MREs have such a long life, thus people do not pay attention to their storage and go bad earlier than expected.

Therefore one needs to store their MRE in favorable storage conditions to retain its authentic quality.

Otherwise, the quality will degrade, and you will not get the flavor and taste you expect.

Also, it will contribute to the decline of the nutritional values of MRE.

No matter if you have stored MRE in good condition or not, you need to check whether they are safe to eat before consuming them after a long time.

How to Tell if MRE Have Gone Bad?

  • The Outer Layer is Damaged

Even though the package is made so that it can endure rough conditions, sometimes they get damaged.

However, once this happens, you need to avoid having that pack because they are exposed to air and moisture, which will develop bacteria and can cause various health issues.

So be sure that the outer layer is secured so that it will be sealed and the inside content will be safe.

  • Visibility of Mold

If the outer packaging of the meal is free from any holes or damage, then you can check the inside content to figure out if the meal is good or bad.

You can examine the box’s content and see if any mold or white spot is present.

Sometimes before excess moisture, the content develops molds, and once they enter, the whole food gets contaminated, and you should avoid eating it.

  • Sour or Foul Odor

When the content is packed, it has a flavorful and pleasant aroma, but this does not last long if moisture or bacteria enters the scenario.

Because of bacteria or prolonged storage, the scent fades away, and the pack develops a foul odor when bacteria enter.

Thus after opening the package, if it offers you a foul odor, you need to throw it out as it has gone bad.

How to Store MRE?

  • Store in Fridge

The MRE packs are designed so that you do not have to store them at a cool temperature.

Even if it’s not suggested by the manufacturer, keeping the meal in the fridge will help you to exceed its life for a more extended period.

You just need to store it at a stable temperature that should either be 50 degrees F or lower without exposing it to humidity.

  • Keep it Away From Sunlight

While storing the food, you should keep it away from sunlight because it exceeds the content’s temperature.

When content is exposed to heat or high temperature, it will surely go bad after some time, and you will not be able to stop its deterioration.

Thus avoid storage at places that are prone to sunlight and heat.

  • Use Airtight Container

When you are sure that you will not make the meal in a short span, then be sure to store it in an airtight container.

This will help you preserve them from moisture and air, increasing their shelf life.

Please do not remove the outer layering from the pack and store it in an airtight jar or Ziploc bag that will be enough to safeguard its contents.


When you are using a plastic bag, be sure it’s of good quality, as some of the bags release components that damage the quality of MRE.

One can also try to taste it if they do not find any of the signs mentioned above in the pack.

But do not consume a large amount of content as it can cause food poisoning if it’s bad.

How Long Does MRE Last? Does MRE Go Bad?

Considering the longevity of MREs? Explore our guide on how long MREs last and whether they're prone to spoilage.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Shelf Life
Servings 1 Serving


  • MRE
  • Air-tight containers or Ziplock bags
  • Labels and markers


  • Store your product in an labelled container in a cool, dark place like the pantry or fridge.
  • If your food is frozen, allow it to thaw in the fridge before cooking.
  • Make sure to look for signs that your food has gone bad before eating it.
Keyword How Long Does MRE Last
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