Sterling Foods Menu 8 Vegetable Lasagna MRE Review
By Jason Wagner
MRE’s…This is like a whole new survival food frontier for me.
In this review, I’ll be focusing on the meal as a whole and not necessarily on any one item. If I were to do that, this MRE review would be way too long!
Taste – 9.9/10: This is a very good survival food. I’m going to break this off into mini sections.
The Lasagna: The pasta tasted authentic and good, the sauce was rich and flavorful, with all of the usual Italian herbs that one would expect, and as a rather clever touch to compensate for the lack of beef, they added large beans to the lasagna, which were very good!
The drink mixes included are an orange electrolyte mix, a pack of instant coffee and a cocoa drink mix. The orange one is delicious as long as it’s thoroughly mixed. The taste is light, yet very refreshing and satisfying. The instant coffee, with the included creamer pack and the two packs of sugar, was extremely good. In fact, I consider myself a slight coffee connoisseur, and while I often like my coffee black, this one tasted outrageously good with the included creamer and sugar. Finally, the cocoa drink mix; add six ounces of water and you’ve got yourself a real chocolate delight. The flavor can be summed up as similar to your typical chocolate drink mix, but I’d argue this one tastes better.
Crackers: Why do things like crackers always taste better in this format? The crackers are slightly harder than your average saltine. With that being said, they aren’t hard, they’re hardier than most, and they have a slightly (pleasantly) grainy and somewhat salty taste to them. Add the jam, which comes as part of the kit and you’ve got something great.
The Chocolate Chip Brownie: Whoa, this thing is more like a cross between a brownie and a piece of fudge. It’s amazing, the chocolate taste permeates throughout, there are plenty of chocolate chips and it pairs almost perfectly with the coffee and cocoa drink mixes.
Zapplesauce (AKA, Applesauce) Again, why do these things always taste superior? The Zapplesauce basically tastes like high-grade applesauce, what more is there to say? That it’s delicious? Yeah, it is and that is all there is to it.
Convenience – 10/10: I haven’t really had much experience with MRE’s in the past, but I do think I am right in saying that when it comes to many of the crucial factors in determining the quality of a survival food, such as convenience, that this MRE is basically a Rolls-Royce. Everything, right down to the spoon, moistened hand wipe and iodized salt is right there – you do not even have to have a cup for the drink mixes, or plates for the rest – it’s completely fine to eat everything right out of the packaging. The drink mixes are fantastically easy to mix too. All you do is add the water, close or zipper the top, depending on the drink, and shake a few times. Time to move on…wait, I should probably point out the single best thing about this MRE when it comes to convenience – the heater. Yes, the heater is basically a marvel of hot survival meals; all that is required is that you place the desired food in the bag, add a small amount of water (to the fill line) fold the bag and wait 10 minutes, or until you feel it’s hot enough. The heater gets nearly to the point of being scalding hot, so do exercise some caution.
Nutrition – 9.9/10: Like most survival foods, it’s kind of basic. I guess it makes sense that a meal designed for the heavy cavalry that is the modern US soldier would contain many more calories than other non-perishable survival foods. The official caloric total is 1180 calories, but if you were to add the creamer and sugar to the coffee, you’d have some extra calories going down the hatch, on top of that already impressive number. Nutritionally, beyond the calories, the news is very good, too. Most notably, you’ve got massive amounts of vitamin C, large amounts of Calcium, Iron, Vitamin A, even some iodine from the salt. And finally, you also get an ingredient-diverse meal with this MRE, which is definitely a good thing.
Man Portability – 9.0/10: The entire package is somewhere bulky, and you probably won’t be able to realistically carry more than three days’ worth of these MREs without seriously compromising your ability to carry other crucial items, but I think that’s a fair trade off given just how much is packed into each one of these.
Filling Factor – 9.9/10: Well, this is basically a large, multi-course meal. If there were to be an apocalypse, eating this would no doubt remind you of the good times when you’d order an appetizer, main course and dessert from a restaurant. It wouldn’t be the finest meal you ever had, but sometimes in an emergency (and triple that for an Armageddon) you’ve got to do things that are less than ideal. I can totally see two people, even people who frequently exert themselves, being able to split this without feeling like they’re dying of hunger or lack of nutrition.
Bulk/Weight – 9.9/10: These shine very well here. When stored in a static location (I mean, like in a house…not electrically charged) and properly stacked, it’s very easy to conceive that you could have a whole year’s worth of this survival food gold in a very small area, and I’m speaking of only a modestly sized house, too. Now that the storability and bulk score is out of the way, I suppose I should close this up with the weight – the weight is light, and when you consider just how expansive of a meal this is, the weight seems not only light, but a mere featherweight.
Shelf-Life – 8.0/10: Practically speaking, which of course means sub-optimal environments, you should be able to count on this MRE having all of its components edible, nutritionally the same and unaltered in any way for about three years. If stored in the best of environments, you should not see any decline for about 60 or so months.
OpSec (Operational Security) – 10/10: Ah yes, the good ol’ OpSec – these make it possible (compliments of the heater) to have hot meals with complete impunity. This entrée isn’t going to give you away, neither are the crackers, or the jelly pack, or the drink mixes, or even the brownie. The coffee is the only thing that asks for boiling water, but even that isn’t required. I’m pretty sure it’ll still be drinkable without the fuss, it’s sort of a situation where, if you can boil the water, then great, the coffee will taste better, but if you cannot, then it’s still tasty instant coffee. The only fear here is that somebody would somehow find you through sight (which wouldn’t be the product’s fault) and come over to your location, and kill you a horrible fit of culinary rage, angry that you were eating so good in an apocalypse.
Other – 10/10: Today, the ‘Other’ signifies Morale. And in giving the 10/10, I feeling strongly that to eat this, would really improve your feeling of being. Apocalypses are rarely enjoyable, and they’re never amusing, but I can easily see the consumption of delicious MRE’s like this as being amongst the brighter spots of apocalyptic living.
Final Review – 9.9/10: I know I had some complaints, which is why I refrained from awarding a 10/10…something doesn’t have to be a 10/10 to be amazing for what it’s for, and as far as Armageddon, Apocalypse or Emergency food goes, this is easily a top-tier item. Everything, from the taste, the convenience, the stealth, nutrition – the whole package is nothing but impressive. I do hope that when I try other MREs I can be as impressed and, maybe, just maybe – I can find something even better. As a finish to this survival food review: I, with no qualms, label this as a near-must buy for your emergency storage.