5 worst mre's

The 5 Worst MRE’s in the Military

MRE’s.  Meals Ready to Eat. Not one word of the name of this food item isn’t a lie. They are not meals, they are not ready, and they are definitely not to eat. All of us who served and who have spent any time deployed or away from regular facilities have had to endure MRE’s. There are recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation trying to find ways to make the food more palatable. In most cases, even the best field chef can only get an MRE up to the level of “meh, ok, if there is absolutely nothing else available, I’ll eat it”. It’s certainly not ever going to be fine-dining quality, but it beats starving to death (barely).

We here at Grunt Style have over 60 veteran employees in the company. We did a bit of an informal survey asking our veterans what they thought were the worst MRE’s they had to eat. Here are the 5 worst MRE’s in the military according to our highly scientific and very formal survey of Grunt Style veterans.

#5 Jambalaya with Shrimp

This is one of those items that when you hear the name, you think, “that sounds pretty good”. It sounds like it’s something you would order if you were out at a restaurant or that your mom might have made at home back when you were a kid. It just sounds good. The reality though is anything but.

#4 Chicken Fajita

Again, the name sounds so appetizing. It’s like you are out at your favorite restaurant and you say to your waiter, “I’ll have the chicken fajitas please.” What you think about in your mind when you think about chicken fajitas is a hot sizzling skillet being delivered to you full of chicken and onions and peppers. The first time you get handed a menu number 16, you might have that image in your head. You might have laughed at your buddies because you won the MRE lottery for the day. You were on top of the world. For a brief moment. It certainly wasn’t the first time you were lied to in your military career, and probably not the last, but it was painful none the less.

#3 Ham Slice

This one comes from my era. I’m one of the oldest people here at Grunt Style and my time in the Army was back in the 90s. The ham slice doesn’t even sound appetizing just in the name. There was nothing good about the ham slice from the main entree to the accessory pack. If you got the ham slice, you were going to be hungry. If you got the ham slice in any kind of colder weather? You weren’t going to be hungry anymore because you were going to be throwing up seeing what happens to a cold ham slice. If you never saw, trust me, it wasn’t good.

#2 The Veggie Omelet

Anytime your nickname is “vomelet” it probably isn’t going to be for good reasons. Other than the #1 item on our list, the veggie omelet was the most universally despised MRE that anyone of our veterans ever encountered while serving. The military is not the first place that I think of when I think vegetarian-friendly. I get the idea that they were trying to be healthy, well, healthier, but vegetarian? No. Just no.

#1 The Rat Fu*ked MRE

5 worst mre's

You know that one. It’s the one you get when you were out in the field and the pog’s in the rear tore through all the MRE’s taking out the ones they wanted along with any good accessory’s from all the MRE’s so that by the time they reached you way down the line, all of the worst stuff was left for you to pick through. You could spot a case of rat fu*ked MRE’s coming your way because there was usually a large blue falcon high above the case informing all who can see and hear far and wide that the people who are about to receive these MRE’s have in fact been buddy fu*ked by people who aren’t even their buddies. With the rat fu*cked MRE’s you knew that you were going to get nothing but veggie omelets. At least with the real cases, you stood a chance of getting something else. There was hope. Remember Red, hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies. The guy who said that quote may have been living a miserable life inside a prison serving time for a crime he didn’t commit, but he never had to eat a rat fu*cked MRE. If he had, he would have lost hope too.

Those are the 5 worst MRE’s in the military according to our very scientific and formal survey of Grunt Style veterans. These are just 5 though. There are so much more than we could have chosen from and I’m sure you all out there have good choices that could have made this list. Be sure to tell us which was your least favorite MRE’s and the lengths you would go to avoid having to ever eat one.


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62 thoughts on “The 5 Worst MRE’s in the Military”

  1. Avatar

    Re: worst MREs – Chicken a la King, Tuna with Noodles, and Omelet with Ham. At the end of any exercise, there were piles of those left and every swingin’ dick was living off Chewels candies, dry-assed oatmeal cookie bars, and crackers and MRE cheese.

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    Anyone who believes that the Chicken a la King was not THE WORST MRE entree ever is out of his mind. I’d take the ham slice over it any day.

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      The secret to the Chicken a la King was to heat it ( if you could) and crush MRE crackers into it. That made it enough better that I’d trade for it if I knew I was gonna be able to heat it.

  3. Avatar

    You should do the worst MRES in military history. I’m sure the beef slide in bbq sauce and the dehydrated beef and pork patties will hold a fee of those positions. 🙂

  4. Avatar

    I was in the Marines from 91-95. Back then it was the #4 omlete with ham aka (at that time) was called abortion in a bag. If you got that one you did everything you could to trade it out. When you got it you were fucked

  5. Avatar

    Missed some of the worst, from 1st Generation MREs, dehydrated beef and dehydrated pork patties have a special place in MRE history, followed closely by Ham and Chicken loaf (Horse and Pigeon) I swear I once got one with a beak in it.

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    You have obviously not gone old school, Ham slice, Pork patty, dehydrated beef patty?. And the MRE that actually killed soldiers in the 80’s The five fingers of death Beef franks.

  7. Avatar

    As I started reading this, I was thinking “Ham slice better be on there.” I don’t even think it was ham. More like pressed roadkill.

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    best thing to come out of an MRE in the early and mid 90’s , was the oatmeal cookie bar . sustained you , always had a few on hand , and best trading material . wish they were still around

  9. Avatar

    I would place the omelet at #1. Used almost a full bottle of hot sauce and still couldn’t get the first bite down.

    1. Avatar

      No shit I got stuck with the veggie omelet and only the veggie omelet every time my first year in the army. Hated it, would have starved if not for trading the whole thing for the snack bread and cheese. Some people like the crackers and jam… I ate one in 2011 before I got out, they changed it, best thing on the menu now…

  10. Avatar
    David Ghizzoni

    04 Omelet with Ham
    12 Escalloped Potatoes with Ham
    circa 93-94

    I loved 92’s 06 Chicken Ala King and 10 Tuna with Noodles

  11. Avatar

    I remember getting handed the beef frankfurters. We always refered to them as “the four fingers of death”. They were just as unappitizing warm as they were cold. They always seemed to be covered in that yellowish jelly that in an emergency could be used to lube the bolt of your crew served weapon. That was one meal you never wanted anyone in your squad to eat before a low level helo ride…nuff said about that.

  12. Avatar

    I guess i was just lucky and had c-rats all the time. Green eggs and ham sam i am , beanie weanies, spaghetti and meat balls. You boys can have those MRE’s not for me for sure.

  13. Avatar

    Mid 90’s Still had beef franks in AK (Ick), Chick’n ala king, Tuna noodle, and (drum roll please) Chicken snatch atorie.

  14. Avatar

    For some odd reason, my kids loved the MRE leftovers from every FX No one wanted them, so I always took home a case or three. Personally, after a day or two having to eat those things, I’d start looking for ways to secretly trap and cook local wild game……

  15. Avatar

    You haven’t tasted freedom until you’ve eaten “T” rations or “C” rations purple pork anyone?

  16. Avatar

    All of y’all are wrong … The worst was the C Rations green eggs and ham , so nasty I think the EPA declared them hazardous waste and if you were in the same tent with the poor sob that ate them everyone suffered
    US Army 71- 87

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    I remember my first MRE in boot camp, at Ft. Lost in the Woods, MO, back in ’93. I was given the ham slice. I promptly gave it to a kid in my platoon in exchange for nothing–I was not particularly hungry after seeing the selection. My 1st Sgt was pissed off that I gave someone my food and forced me to accept another MRE. He complained that the very expensive meal was now being wasted on a kid who didn’t deserve to have 2 meals. I don’t remember what the second meal was, but I do remember the dehydrated peaches that were in it…and some unrecognizable stuff. I got to eat my meal as we marched (the previous meal was when we were taking a meal break), needless to say, there were probably some dead forest creatures trailing behind the company because I left plenty of that meal along the way.

  18. Avatar

    I was in the 82nd ABN from 78-84 and we had C rations and Lurps (long range patrol rations). The fruit cake was the worst followed by spiced beef slices and aprcots (baby heads) and John Wayne bars. Silver foil wrapped crunch bars that tasted like xLax and you had to be John Wayne to eat one.
    They were good for throwing at people.

  19. Avatar
    Infantry Corporal

    Bullshit. The author apparently wasn’t around when they were still serving up Country Captain Cyanide, aka Country Captain Chicken. It is the only choice for worst MRE for those serving in 2001-2002. And by the way, MREs improved dramatically in 2003.

  20. Avatar

    You kids these days…I was in the C rat Army and boy we had some winners then too. The candy bar and the smokes were pretty useful, also they had P38s in them. Some of the packing dates on the boxes were mid to late 50s, we were eating them 20 years later.

    1. Avatar

      I was in in the early 80’s. We still got c-tats from time yo time and we would fight for them. Dehydrated beef, pork, potato patties, dehydrated strawberries and peaches is what we got most of the time. I was happy as hell if I got the horrible chicken ala king. We would get weak and badly constipated eating that dehydrated food. We would even mix the coffee creamer and sugar and melt over a sterno to make a sugar cookie just to have something to eat. I buy MREs and keep in the vehicles for emergencies and eat some from time to time on hunting or fishing trips. People complaining today have no idea how bad things used to be. The 80’s were real bad.

  21. Avatar

    guys with all due respect to your ages, please know i retired with 22 years service in 04. so i was around for the last of the C rats and LRRP meals (which personally i prefer over either c rats of mres). but you never had to deal with the dam dehydrated pork or beef bars, and at least now they include hot sauce in the acc. pack.
    so where i do agree that these 5 all suck dead donkey dick, the first generation mre was way worse. the best one back then was chicken ala king and it sucked too…

    great story though and once again well done.

  22. Avatar

    Am I the only one who remembers Country captains chicken? That thing was wretched. I think the only one that beats it in my time in the vomlet

  23. Avatar

    Vomelet, that is freakin awesome. Never heard that before. First time I zipped that bad boy open it grew out of the pouch like yellow gray silly putty. Oh hell no. Kid next to me said it was his favorite and snatched it up. Have at it Shipmate.

  24. Avatar

    88-92 chicken al a king was killing guys and dehydrated pork and beef was like shoe string potatoes. Thank God for a field kitchens from Sembach

  25. Avatar

    I’d take the old C-rats over the MRE’s (Meals Rejected by Ethiopians) any day. I do keeps some MRE’s around for emergency situations. I also have some in my vehicle so that if I ever break down out on the road I will have something available.

  26. Avatar

    I agree with all said, my stint was from 88-96 and I ate all that. thank you all that have brought back good, but mostly bad suppressed memories that is now it back to counseling. Seriously the dehydrated beef and pork was one of the worst but anything that had BBQ sauce in it there was no hope for. You knew you had been screwed.
    But winners were in the assessory pack. The days of mocha on a fox hole, oh yes. ATWA!

  27. Avatar

    The original chicken Ala barf was extra nasty and the beef spew, I had those soo many times in desert storm I actually mixed them with the peanut butter to give it a different taste because I was tired of them. The sad part was it made them better

  28. Avatar

    Oh dear lord it was the five fingers of death…. ie beef frankfurters. Nastiest things I ever tastest ! Wow this all brings back the memories though!

  29. Avatar

    I’d need to test with you here. Which is not something I normally do! I take pleasure in reading a post that may make folks think. Also, thanks for permitting me to remark!

  30. Avatar

    Well I served in the 82nd in the 80’s and early 90’s and the worst for me was pork slice in bbq sauce and the dehydrated pork patty. I loved the ham slice, ham & potatoes, and Chicken ala King, just crush up your crackers and put it in, then add your cheese packet and hot sauce and heat. Oh the good old days.

  31. Avatar

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  32. Avatar

    The c-rations were just worlds better than the mre’s. Not many c-rations that weren’t at least edible – must admit there were very mre’s that were. Freeze-dried crap pretty much sums up the mre menu.

  33. Avatar

    Being in the Marines 88-92 we were on the end of a long supply chain. Went to NTC to act as the OPFOR and got some of the next Gen MREs. Heaven

  34. Avatar

    Chicken ala King was pretty bad, and no one wanted that. I do remember getting the ‘5 fingers of death’ beef franks when I was in basic back in ’89. A warm ham slice was actually not that bad. Get some cheese and one of those tasteless hunks of bread.

  35. Avatar

    The worst MRE I’ve eaten would have to be the biscuits and gravy(sausage and gravy). I’m not sure if it’s better when it’s heated up, I’ve only eaten it cold. The gravy is clumped up and left my mouth with a horrible taste.
    My advice is to exchange this MRE as soon as you can!

  36. Avatar

    I ended up with the Maple Sausage five times in a row. Ended up an SME on that MRE.

    By the end of it, I was happy to take any MRE, no matter how bad its reputation. I just didn’t want it to taste like cheap maple syrup and congealed, gelatinous pork-fat.

  37. Avatar

    I was in the Navy 68-72, so our experience with C and K rations was only on long general quarters drills or NBC drills, which was to me kinda dumb.

    Most of it was the little green tins of different stuff. I liked the cinnamon roll, if you could get it out of the can. We were not given real meals, only the tide you over stuff until GQ was secured and you could get down to the mess decks.
    I once drank a can of water in a gray can with “water” stenciled on the side and the date of packing was 1948, the year I was born. It tasted fine, a bit musty, but good enough to stay alive if needed.

  38. Avatar

    wow I never heard of MREs being that bad my dad’s been in the service and he’s told me that he’s had to take them dozens of times but I have yet to hear of rat f***** meals and water dating back to 1948. Holy mary mother of god you all must have iron clad stomach lining to take that mess. If it was me i would lose both of my lungs.

    1. Avatar

      The only MRE I would eat was #4 Omlette (Army 93-98). I never had a problem finding it in the box or someone willing me to trade for it it. We would get a field kitchen breakfast during field exercises so I would always say a few slices of bread, jam, and the peanut better packet for a PB&J for lunch.

  39. Avatar

    The beef patty and the pork patties were the very worst MRE’s ever. I don’t think they would every rehydrate I don’t care what you did them. So guys would eat them dry! Yuck. I did not like the Chicken Ala King either but everyone else seemed to think it was the best. For some reason I can’t remember having a favorite MRE. Anybody ever had the MORES? Meals operational ready to eat. They were the first time I ever saw an MRE heater and the shelf stable bread. I think they were short lived. Also the C-Rat grits, “Want a slice of grits?” The MRE cheese and ramen noodles keep me going.

  40. Avatar
    Joel Halprin

    Oh Please. Back in the Day of C-Rations ( C-Rats), it was different. The best part was the can of Fruit Cake or Date pudding or even Pound cake. Beans and meatballs, when cold they had an orange layer of FAT them. Also the was an EXTREME lack of fiber in all the meals. I’ll leave it at that.
    Cheers and thanks you for your service.

  41. Avatar

    You had the ham…we had the four fingers of death…or commonly called hot dogs. Cardboard flavored and textured and I ratfucked whenever possible…RHIP

  42. Avatar

    Oh jeez. I wasn’t in the military but we used to buy real surplus MREs. Guess the government won’t well any to the public as surplus for very logical reasons now. But I “liked” the ham slice, get lucky and get a pound cake to! This was kid 90’s…. The other stuff on this list? Never had it, sounds nasty to start with. MR E omelet? That has to be hideous. Any MR E with shrimp in it has to be sh*t. I love shrimp, but no, that MR E has to suck. If we still used muskets you could probably use one of those shrimp as a projectile in a emergency.

  43. Avatar
    Retired Navy Chief

    I loved the ham slice MRE. But then I started on C Rats in the 70s. You people ain’t seen anything nasty until you had the ham and eggs C ration.

  44. Avatar

    Gawd, I thought we had it bad in the 70s; even K- and C-rats sound better than that MRE stuff. Never had one of those new feedbags, but I salute you guys for enduring them. Thanks for your service, friends!

  45. Avatar

    Boys the best and the worse MRE’ was the chicken al king mixed with a beef stew. I was pissed at the platoon daddy so I ate both of them and stopped drinking water for the 3 hours. The morning bus ride back from JRTC was memory. Everyone was asleep and I was in my own way. Then the farts came and came and came. At first platoon Sgt was looking around and then asked the bus driver “did you hit a dead skunk”?. Then about 20 min later I let another barrage of creeping death. Finally the bus driver Sgt stopped looked around the bus and determined that the toilet was out of blue water, so they took a bucket of that royal blue liquid and started to fill the bus toilet. Yep, I was able to stop a bus full of soldiers with the chicken al king and beef stew. Both are good in many ways.

  46. Avatar

    So many bad MRE memories, but the dehydrated pork patty was the worst. Like eating dirt.

    You could make a decent dessert out of dehydrated peaches, some water and coffee creamer. And the knock-off Kool-Aid packs made the desalinated water in KSA easier to drink. But most of those MREs weren’t fit to feed starving orphans.

  47. Avatar

    The beef slice in bbq sauce…that was the worst. It was like a fucking boot sole in spicy, rotten ketchup. Pretty sure it’s responsible for my acid reflux to this day. Felt bad for my platoon Sgt……he always picked last, and got stuck with nit. That or the meatballs and rice in that same shit bbq sauce.

  48. Avatar

    Having served through the 90’s and in to the 2002 time period, the egg omelet was the absolute worst. Didn’t help I was allergic to egg. I spent a six week field exercise getting two egg omelets a day, supply thought it was funny. Said trade it off. Almost nobody would trade for the thing. The ones that did traded tuna and ham, which I gained a fond liking for. Tabasco was needed for the tuna, heat and two bread loaves were needed for the ham slab.


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