Some troops subsist on Meals, Ready to Eat, or MREs, their whole tour. As such, it doesn’t take long to become a connoisseur.

Each MRE bag comes with a main dish, side dishes, some kind of powdered drink, crackers or a “wheatsnack” bread (which has been unanimously voted as perhaps some of the driest bread one will ever encounter), peanut butter or cheese spread, a desert-like pound cake, a snack of raisins or potato straws and a little packet filled with useful stuff like a spoon, instant coffee or tea, two pieces of terrible tasting gum, salt, sugar and, usually, a tiny bottle of Tabasco sauce.

My favorite was the beef stew. I also liked the vegetarian pasta dishes, which others seemed to not like so much since boxes of them were always lying around.

The most popular dish seemed to be the chicken fajitas. They came with the much sought after tortillas, which, actually, always bent over themselves in a pair of two, turned into four half moons no matter what one tried to do.

The most unpopular appeared to be the breakfast omelet with soy sausage. I tried it once and will never go there again. Don’t ask me who thought of putting an omelet in a bag. It doesn’t work. Bring on more chicken fajitas.

The most common solution to spicing up any of these is to take the crackers and hot sauce included in the bag and mixes them in with the beef stew.

Or, as many soldiers have learned to do, create your own concoctions.
But don’t take my word for it. There are several websites that offer MRE recipes: Survival Gear Source, Millennium-Ark and The Prepared, to name a few. A sampling of the delicacies on these sites include, Ranger Bread Pudding, Baghdad Chili and Field Birthday Cake.

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