Do MREs Expire?

MREs, or Meals Ready-to-Eat, is the ultimate survivalist’s food. They are easy to store, require no cooking, and are proportionally rationed for every meal.

Primarily designed for military use, they are becoming increasingly popular with civilians for emergency preparedness. 

Do MREs Expire

You never know when an emergency is going to strike. That’s why it is always beneficial to have food that you can just grab and eat; without any other extra effort.

Whether this is a hurricane, an earthquake, or torrential rain, these events could trigger power and electricity outages, causing all your food in your refrigerator to go bad and limiting your supply of food over a long time. 

MREs are designed to withstand and survive intense impacts. In the right conditions, they can last for many years.

However, while they can persist through extreme conditions, that doesn’t mean they’re invincible. If you’re thinking of buying MREs, you may be wondering: Do MREs Expire? Read on to find out! 

How Long Do MREs Last?

Approximately, MRAs can last between five to ten years. However, just like any food, some factors can affect an MRAs shelf life.

Even though they are sealed shut and can withstand most conditions, the way MRAs are stored and preserved can shorten or lengthen an expiry date.

Factors such as water, air, and temperature can all have a detrimental effect on this. 

When stored at high temperatures or in direct sunlight at 100+ degrees Fahrenheit, your MRA may only last a few months. If stored at 75 degrees Fahrenheit, your MRA will typically last between three to five years.

If you’re looking to keep your MRA longer than 5 years, you should store it in a cool, dry place. 

You may be wondering: when do MRAs actually expire? In general, there are no expiration dates on an MRA.

There is, however, a date stamped onto the back of an MRA pack that indicates the specific day it was sealed. This will help determine whether the food is good to eat.

Although, you should always check for any damages before eating, as these would allow air or water to get inside the contents and potentially spoil the food. 

Therefore, it’s always important to check the environment your MRA pack is in, while considering any external factors that may affect the food.

If you’re starving and need to eat an MRA but are unsure if it’s expired, the best thing to do is check the packaging is in good condition with no tears or damage, then open the packet for any signs of discolored foods or mold, then, finally, ensure that the contents don’t produce a foul or rancid smell.

This would give you an indication of whether or not it’s safe to eat. 

How To Make MRAs Last Longer 

While the recommended use-by date is between five to ten years, ultimately, MRAs do not have an expiration date.

However, different factors will drastically decrease or increase your MRA shelf life. Let’s face it, if you leave an MRA in direct sunlight, it isn’t going to last long. 

Therefore, below, you will find different methods that will ensure your MRA lasts. 

Do MREs Expire 1

Keep It cool 

As previously mentioned, temperature plays an important role in the preservation of your MRA, with high temperatures being the main culprit of spoiled MRAs.

With this in mind, the best temperature to store an MRA is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. This could mean the difference between it lasting only a couple years to an entire decade, or even longer. 


You may think that the colder it is, the longer your MRA will last. While this is generally the case, there are some factors you should consider before freezing your MRA.

One of the main issues is that your freezer can lose electricity from power outages.

If this happens multiple times, your MRA will end up thawing and freezing over and over again, causing the integrity of the packing to disintegrate and the food to spoil quicker.

If you plan on freezing, keep them frozen until consumed.

Eat once opened 

MRAs can last a long time when in their sealed packaging. However, once opened, their shelf life is similar to any other foods.

Therefore, you should only open the package if you intend on eating it. This will ensure its freshness.


When storing your MRA, it’s best to keep it with other similar items.

Keeping it away from any sharp objects such as knives, scissors, or tools, will ensure that the packaging doesn’t rip or tear and spoil the inside contents.

Even the smallest tear can expose your food to damaging factors. Below, you will find other ways of storing your MRA for optimal longevity. 

Ways To Store MRAs

Storing your MRA doesn’t need to be a complicated process. However, if you have a stockpile of MRAs you may be wondering where the most convenient and beneficial places are to store them.

Below are some storage ideas. 


An alternative to freezing your MRA would be to keep them in the refrigerator. This keeps them out of direct sunlight, cool, and away from any pests.

The only downside is that they would take up a lot of space. 

Closet/ Pantry 

This is a great place to store your MRAs as it’s out of direct sunlight and within a controlled temperature. Although, make sure your stockpile is off the ground to prevent rodents from reaching it.

Garage/ Basement 

If you’re limited for space, using your garage or basement would also be a good option.

Firstly, make sure these areas are dry and cool to store your MRAs. Keeping them in a  secured plastic container would help prevent any rodents. 

Final Thoughts

MRAs are a great source of food in an emergency. If stored properly, they can last years, providing you with peace of mind.

Hopefully, this guide has helped inform you on an MRAs expiration and ways to prolong it. 

Matthew Osborn

Matt is an entrepreneur who has created and successfully exited multiple companies and brands. Now, he dedicates his time to Legionary, where he produces content on guns, family, and freedom.

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