Saturday, February 25, 2006

Camping food reviews: Meatloaf w/gravy

Today's MRE menu is Menu #24, Meatloaf with Gravy. My review of this one isn't quite as positive as for previous entries.

Opening the meal pouch, what you see is:

  • "Meatloaf w/Gravy" box and pouch
  • Mashed Potatoes box and pouch
  • crackers
  • cocoa drink
  • fig newtons
  • a brown pouch that says "tootsie rolls" on it
  • two tubes of grape jelly.
  • accessory pouch #2, with the iced tea and red pepper rather than with the coffee and Tabasco.
It appears that the white-smock guys in Natick ran out of ideas for meeting the 1200 calorie requirement for a MRE pouch, and tossed the grape jelly in there just to meet the calorie requirement. There's nothing in this meal that would go good with grape jelly. The fig newtons maybe, sort of, but certainly not *two* tubes of grape jelly. In addition, this grape jelly is completely empty calories. It doesn't even have vitamin C in it.

I ate the fig newtons and Tootsie Rolls as desert with lunch. They were fine. The Newtons were a bit squished, but still quite tasty. The Tootsie Rolls were, well, Tootsie Rolls -- once you removed the brown outer package, you find two commercially-packaged Tootsie Rolls in their normal brown-and-white wrappers.

For supper, I heated up the pouches of meatloaf and mashed potatos in boiling water, then decanted them upon a plate. I'm not quite sure how I'd do this in the field, since only one flameless heater is in the pouch. Probably decant them into my cooking pot and heat them up over a flame, resulting in a pot to wash.

The mashed potatoes tasted like potatoes and butter, and were somewhat yellowish with whatever artificial butter substitute was used. The crackers tasted like, well, crackers -- I don't know how they manage to make crackers uncrushable in that foil pouch, but it works. The "meat loaf", on the other hand, was about the same consistency as Friskies cat food. Now I know what those elderly cat ladies taste when they nibble on their cat's din-din. Finally, the chocolate drink tasted like, well, chocolate drink. Amazing, given that it has little resemblance to the commercially pakaged hot cocoa... it doesn't even have any milk in it! (Probably because the Army is increasingly brown and brown people are mostly lactose-intolerant).

Color me unimpressed. While certainly edible, in case of a natural disaster where folks are eating MRE's this is one I'd trade off for something else. I imagine white-bread boys from the Midwest would think it yummy, but this penguin prefers his food to not resemble his cat's food. Still, if it were the last MRE at the bottom of the case and I were hungry, you better bet I'd be eating it up! While not the tastiest thing on the block, it definitely isn't the rancid lard-tasting thing that would make me puke, so... (shrug).

- Badtux the Culinary Penguin


  1. Boo, hiss. Meatloaf and gravy is one of my favorites.

    Now, if you are deft of hand, you might, without ripping the bag, get both the mashed potatoes and the meatloaf in the flameless heater at once. However, my experience has been that this will leave both bags merely lukewarm no matter how long you leave them in there. Best to heat the smashers and just eat the meatloaf cold.

    If I could only duplicate you and take guys like you with me when I get deployed again, so I could trade you some chicken and salsa, or the foul vegetarian pasta and vegetables all day long for some more meatloaf.

    I disagree most vehemently about your assessment, sir, but at the same time you are definitely filling an information gap which people of all walks of life should no doubt take notice of.

  2. As a native Southerner, I'm accustomed to meatloaf that has some texture, not meatloaf that has the same consistency (and smell, even) as a fine catfood. The meatloaf I'm accustomed to is fortified with onion soup and tomato sauce and cracker crumbs in addition to brown gravy and is a crumbly thing with the texture of a good hamburger patty, not of some effete pate'.

    Still, it may be catfood, but it's a good quality catfood. More IAMS than Friskies, really. And if it's good enough for my pampered cats, surely it's good enough for soldiers in the field, or even for me if I'm hungry and it's all that's in my pack, right?

    - Badtux the Recipe Penguin

  3. Perhaps you could do snarky recipes... to help those of us going through withdrawal.

  4. I always ate my MREs cold in the field. Normally when in the field we were being too sneaky to actually have tijme to heat the MREs.

    Sound like I would trade that one, but it cannot be any worse than the Chicken al king from the early nineties. Blah!

  5. MRE's sound so much better than my C (MCI variety, precursor of the MRE's) rations ever tasted.

    The can opener was small and useful though.


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