Homemade MRE’s and Convenience Mixes

Quick Tip: Stock your pantry or your backpack.

MRE’s are “meals that are ready to eat” and are usually self-contained, individual meals in lightweight packaging, very popular with backpackers and people who travel or do not have full kitchen facilities (like dorm rooms). Even us Moms like a break every once in awhile and these single serving packages are great to stock in the pantry for quick meals.

My MREs02These packets originally started with the military and have become very fashionable. BUT they are expensive to buy, so I make my own.

I also make convenience mixes like cake mixes, baking, mixes, and bread mixes. Seasoning mixes and homemade herb/spice blends round out my pantry. These mixes allow me to have the convenience of a store bought mix without all the preservatives and chemicals contained in those foods.

I package just about everything: vegetables, side dishes, and full-course meals with freeze-dried meats. My hubby, who travels, and my son, who is at college, both appreciate the convenience of these just-add-water meals. When you can combine a pouch of macaroni & cheese, some dehydrated vegetables, and a can of tuna, stick it in the microwave for 3-5 minutes, and eat within 10 minutes, life is good! I am currently writing a book with all my recipes for these homemade products.

These are usually made one of two ways;
1) either the whole meal, i.e. spaghetti marinara, is dehydrated, or
2) the individual ingredients are dehydrated and then mixed together.
I prefer to dehydrate individual ingredients and mix in the pouches that I then vacuum seal. Since different ingredients require different temperatures and times to dehydrate, I feel this is the safest and healthiest way to do it.

My MREs01Also, if you have a product with a shorter shelf-life you can package separately. If it goes bad or rancid, you can pull it off and replace that ingredient without sacrificing the whole meal.

When looking at the shelf life of dry mixes that you make yourself, you need to look at the individual ingredients within the mix. Whatever has the lesser shelf life is going to be your point of reference for shelf life. What I do is take the shorter shelf life items (like meats) and package them separately, attaching the bags together. If they do go bad before the meal is prepared, just replace that item.

To understand more about processing foods for the pantry/backpacking, read our articles, Don’t Mix Sweet & Savory and 5 Steps to Creating Homemade Convenience Foods.

For recipes, visit our Homemade Convenience Foods Recipe Hacks Directory which lists over 400 recipes, many incorporating dehydrated foods.

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