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Ready-to-eat meals: Nutritional comparison

Ready-to-eat meals were introduced to serve the needs of military men and women. They are invaluable for people who have no access to cooking facilities. They can also be used when out camping, or on a fishing trip. This article looks at ready-to-eat meals and compares their nutritional value.

Military ready-to-eat meals

Ready-to-eat food served in vacuum packs has been used for many years. During the war, soldiers were provided with army rations which may have been the beginning of the ready meals we see on the supermarket shelves today. In situations where proper cooking facilities are not available, military rations are provided. They are known as MRE meals, i.e. military ready-to-eat meals. Origin These meals were first produced in 1981 and have developed over the years to offer a wide variety of flavours and styles. They provide service men in the field with adequate nutrition to perform their duties. The MRE food packs provide a full meal comprising a main meal, side dish, dessert, drink and additional items such as salt, crackers and tea. They can be eaten cold although you can opt to place the main meal in hot water if preferred. Recent developments have seen the introduction of a flame-less heater so that food can still be heated where there are no facilities for water heating.

Other uses for ready-to-eat meals

Ready-to-eat meals are popular with those who spend long periods outdoor and where cooking facilities are limited or non-existent. There has been an increase in companies selling these meals, modelled on ration packs, due to the ease of use. The meals are heated via a self-heating mechanism inside the packets. These heating packs allow food to be heated without any other equipment. People who enjoy outdoor pursuits can do away with their primus stoves and buy ready-to-eat meals instead. These types of meals can also be invaluable for music festivals or on a day trip out. In times of human disaster, they are handed out by the emergency services.

Nutritional values

By 2010, there was a much wider choice of MRE meals available. MRE meals now meet the needs of vegetarian and Halal diets catering for the diverse group of individuals enrolled in the military forces. Military ready-to-eat meals contain around 1,200 calories. They are required to meet strict nutritional values and meet the tough demands of active servicemen and women. Other ready-to-eat meals may not have to meet these guidelines and will contain a different number of calories depending on the manufacturer and ingredients. You can buy these meals over the internet and from outdoor supply stores. The packs will give you details of the nutritional values so that you can compare them before making your choice.

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