How Many Calories In An MRE?

MRE’s are the best friend of any member of a nation’s armed forces or military.

They are the testament to the phrase: ‘An army marches on its stomach’ and when you are in the thick of combat situations or in hostile territory, having good food with you is one of the most comforting things.

How Many Calories In An MRE?

However, this does cause us some pause for thought, though.

When people go to hostile environments, whether that be environmental, climate, or a local population’s hostility, it is important to know how many calories your food supply has.

When people climb mountains, they often take the highly caloric Kendal Mint cake, as they want something that is small in size but has a lot of energy to give.

So, when service personnel are on tour, how sure are they that MRE’s will be what they need? And more importantly, how many calories does an MRE have?

In this article, we explore MRE’s and discover just how many calories a single pack contains.  

What Is An MRE?

MRE stands for Meal, Ready to Eat, and they are self-contained, individual meals that are designed for one person to eat.

These are the meals that are designed for military personnel to carry with them whenever they are on tour in a hostile environment.

They can be carried in a backpack, attached to a person in the field on a backpack, or – if the pockets are big enough – they can be stuffed into a pocket.

Some are designed for soldiers to eat as a hot meal, but many can be eaten cold or in stages as a snack.

MRE’s are designed to be lightweight, portable, durable, and convenient.

Each MRE is contained within a sealed pouch and each one generally contains: a main course, a side dish, a dessert (or snack), bread or crackers, spread, utensils (normally only a spoon), a flameless ration heater, a beverage mixing bag, and an accessory pack that might have a paper towel, a napkin, gum, seasoning, or freeze-dried coffee.

MRE’s are made up of a variety of foods and beverages that are nutritious and provide energy.

How Many Calories In An MRE?

Generally, an MRE will have between 1000 and 1500 calories in a single pack. This may seem like a lot, but you have to remember how and when these MRE’s are being used, or at how and when they are intended to be used.

When military personnel are on a tour of duty, they tend to have a base of operations or something to that ilk.

This is an area where the high command is based and where supply lines pass through, so it tends to be defended, organized, and well supplied.

Once a group of personnel leave on patrol or because of orders and enter hostile territory, they are cut off from the supply chain and now only have what they have with them to survive and follow their orders.

In hostile territory, you really don’t want to be caught by surprise. Two of the situations where you are most vulnerable are: when you are going to the toilet and when you are eating.

As such, you don’t want to break for food that often, at least not big breaks. So, MRE’s are packed with half of your daily intake to limit how often you need to stop for food, or at least that’s the theory.

Why Does The Military Use MRE’s?

Why Does The Military Use MRE's?

As we stated earlier, military personnel often find themselves on tour in a hostile environment. The environment could be as simple as an island in the middle of the ocean, or as complicated as an active war zone.

In both of these cases, it is important for the military personnel to have good food with them, but also food that won’t hinder them, slow them, or give away their position.

The reason why the military uses MRE’s is that they are a highly efficient way to provide nutrition to people in a way that is lightweight and easy to carry.

This means that military personnel can easily carry large amounts of food with them wherever they go, without becoming bogged down with the weight.

It also means that the military can transport more food – by caloric value – in these MRE’s, than you would be able to with fresh food.

Difference Between Military And Civilian MRE’s

The main difference between a military MRE and a civilian MRE is the amount of calories that are present in the latter, and the resale of military MRE’s.

Though both have the same amount of nutrition and similar amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and fats, the civilian MREs have a slightly lower amount of calories.

This is so civilians can consume more MRE’s without worrying about consuming too many calories, as the differences between a military and civilian lifestyle are quite different.

The other issue is resale. See, on the military MRE’s it will have a disclaimer saying: ‘U.S. Government property. Commercial resale is unlawful.’

Most nation states like to keep their militaries ready at a moment’s notice in case something happens that requires their action.

Reselling military equipment is not only unethical, but it also sets a bad precedent, even if it is just food.

People can escalate it in their mind and if they successfully argue about selling MRE’s lawfully, they may start demanding the resale of military clothes, then tools, then finally weapons, which nobody wants their neighbor to be pointing a former US military howitzer at their front door because of lawn disputes.


MRE’s have between 1000 and 1500 calories in them per packet, with military MRE’s tending to have slightly more calories than civilian ones.

The reason for the high amount of calories is that soldiering is a dangerous business, and you want to keep your military personnel fed and healthy, while they are in dangerous areas.

If you don’t, you risk morale and health issues, leading to your soldiers becoming unreliable, which is definitely not something you want on campaign.

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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