Testing Our APack Ready Meals

We tested our Meals Ready to Eat (not the military version) last month and they were barely edible. I promptly ordered a case of APack Ready Meals and tonight they underwent a taste test. We each took an APack so that at least all six varieties were covered.

Every APack Ready Meal includes an entrée with self-heating unit, side dishes, beverage mix (bottled water not included), condiment, utensil and towelette. The individually durable packaged meals have an extended shelf life of up to five years depending on temperature. Meals are self-heating — the entrée is ready in 10 minutes.

How many APacks do we need per person per day? Each APack contains between 1,140 to 1,310 calories. Allowing 2,500 calories per day for men and 2,000 calories per day for women, one case (12 meals) is enough food for two people for 72 hours. We will probably add an extra APack a day for the men.

The APack Team

I assembled a discerning team of eight for the taste testing. If this crew is happy then APacks will go into our 72 hour kits. The long story is below. The short story is we liked the meals.

Each APack had these common items: entrée, heater, salt water for heater, cracker, pepper, raisins, and spoon. Items that varied are listed below.

Paul's pasta APack

Paul's said his pasta APack was the best.

PaulPasta With Garden Vegetables in Tomato Sauce 1,150 calories.
Common items plus raspberry beverage tube, peanut butter, fig bar, and shortbread cookie.

We sampled each other’s meals. Paul says that his was the best one. He only ate the entrée and saved the rest until later.

Sarah's tetrazzini APack

Sarah's tetrazzini APack

SarahCreamy Chicken Tetrazzini 1,140 calories.
Common items plus lemonade beverage tube, cheese spread, fig bar, and shortbread cookie.

Sarah found the crackers dry but were good with the cheese spread. She also mixed the cheese spread in with her entrée. She said the Chicken Tetrazzini was so-so but she would eat it again. It may have tasted better if it was warmer. The fig bars tasted just like fig newtons.

Jill's spaghetti APack

Jill's spaghetti APack was plenty for her.

JillSpaghetti with Italian Style Meat Sauce 1,310 calories.
Common items plus raspberry beverage tube, peanut butter, strawberry toaster pastry, and oatmeal cookie.

Jill did not like her raspberry drink but thought Sarah’s lemonade was fine. She didn’t eat all her spaghetti because she was full. I tried the spaghetti and it was tasty.

Adelaide's southwestern chicken APack

Adelaide observed that you need a knife to open the packages.

AdelaideSouthwestern Style Chicken with Black Beans & Rice 1,190 calories.
Common items plus raspberry beverage tube, cheese spread, fig bar, and shortbread cookie.

Adelaide pointed out that one needs a knife to open some of the packaging and that was duly noted. Even though she is pregnant she liked all her food, plus ours as well. The heaters were good and hot.

Steven's homestyle chicken APack

Steven did not get enough to eat.

StevenHomestyle Style Chicken Noodles with Vegatables 1,180 calories.
Common items plus lemonade beverage tube, cheese spread, fig bar, and shortbread cookie.

Steven traded his cheese spread for peanut butter. He said the food was not sufficient. There were some items left over from the rest of our meals that would have fed him if we were in the wilds somewhere.

Rick's beef stew APack

The beef stew was very agreeable.

Rick and DerekHearty Beef Stew 1,310 calories.
Common items plus lemonade beverage tube, peanut butter, strawberry toaster pastry, and oatmeal cookie.

Rick: No we didn’t share a meal, we each had our own beef stew. I tried all the meals and this was by far the best one. The gravy was really thick and there was proportionally a good amount of beef. The heaters cranked out plenty of BTUs to give us some very hot food. I liked the raisins as did everyone else. Both Derek and I traded or gave away our peanut butter. I personally cannot abide the stuff. The oatmeal cookie was dry but still tasty. The toaster pastry was just like a pop-tart.

Bryson's raisins APack

Bryson says the raisins were juicy.

Bryson

My job was to check out the raisins and the cheese spread on crackers. Very tasty indeed, better than the awful baby food I am used to. I really wanted my own entrée but I couldn’t reach as I was fastened in my high chair. My dad’s beef stew looked really good and he let me taste some of his.

Aurora no APack for you

Aurora, no APack for you!

Aurora

Do I ever get anything fun to eat? No. Really, they treat me like a little girl.

Production Date and Cost

There is not an expiration date on the cases or individual packs because the shelf life varies based upon storage conditions. However, each case and individual pack contains a production date code similar to “9048” that was marked on mine. The 9 represents the year (2009) and the “048” represents the day (48th). Thus, the meal’s date of production is the 48th day of 2009. So my APacks were nine months old when I received them.

I purchased my meals from the manufacturer in November at a cost of $69.95 for a case of twelve ($5.83 each). With shipping the total is $84.16 ($7.01 each). You have to buy the whole box. The Epicenter will sell half a case for $35 (plus $10.63 shipping) for a cost of $7.61 each. When I ordered a half case from The Epicenter the production date was one day earlier than from the manufacturer’s store.

Note that there are other manufacturers that make civilian MREs. I chose APacks because of good reviews and the pictures of the meals on their website made the food look tasty and I was hungry when I ordered.
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Testing Your 72 Hour Kit MREs

One area of preparedness we have neglected over the years is our 72 hour kits. We only have one full kit for one person. As I want to be able to take the kit with me in an emergency I decided long ago that it needed to be based on MREs (Meals Ready to Eat). MREs are lightweight and come with their own food warmer. For me the civilian MREs will do as they are easier to obtain. If you want to learn more about MREs I highly recommend the MRE Info website.

There were nine MREs in our kit which is three full meals per day for three days. The meals have snacks to supplement and boost the calorie count. We tried four of the menus:

  • Ham and Shrimp Jambalaya
  • Egg Omelet with Vegetables and Cheese
  • Breaded Chicken Breast Pattie with Rib Meat in Tomato Sauce with Pasta
  • Chicken Breast Strips with Chunky Salsa

The first two we did not like but the last two were OK. Later I googled online for the distributor of the MREs and found the corporate website at Ameriqual Foods. I didn’t see the meals that we tried in their A Pack Ready Meal self-heating emergency meals at the Ready Meal website. I ordered a box containing two each of the MREs to try them out. Alternatively a half case can be ordered from The Epicenter containing one each of the six menus.

Every APack Ready Meal includes an entrée with self-heating unit, side dishes, beverage mix (bottled water not included), condiment, utensil and towelette. As mentioned, the MREs we tried were very different from the APacks. When the APacks arrive I will check those out and report.

The food is already cooked and all you have to do is warm the MREs. We did this as part of our Family Home Evening on preparedness.

Jake, Rick, and Paul slip the food pouches into the supplied heaters.

Jake, Rick, and Paul slip the food pouches into the supplied heaters.

Paul filling the heater bag with a small amount of water.

Paul filling the heater bag with a small amount of water.

Paul and Jake put the heater and the food pouch back in the box.

Paul and Jake put the heater and the food pouch back in the box.

Find a handy "rock" to angle your MREs while they warm.

Find a handy "rock" to angle your MREs while they warm.

Partake of your MRE dessert or snack while your meal is warming.

Partake of your MRE dessert or snack while your meal is warming.

Jake's MRE was so gross no-one would eat it. The others were fine.

Jake's MRE was so gross no-one would eat it. The others were fine.

It is important that you try your emergency foods before you actually have to use them. In an evacuation you will no doubt be stressed so foods that you are familiar with and like will help to ensure you stay nourished.

Do you have an 72 Hour Kit and if so what kind of foods are in it? Do you use MREs? Have you ever had to evacuate your home?

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