What do you feed your kids when you are unpacking and don’t have time to cook?
I have to admit that yesterday was a busy day. We got more than 15 boxes emptied. Most of it went on the floor in various places (seeing as how this house has no linen closets and storage space is tight… but I’m not complaining!). Around lunch time, Morgan pulled an MRE out of one of our moving boxes. In case you haven’t heard of an MRE, it is a freeze-dried or air-tight meal provided by our government to the military and space workers (MEALS READY to EAT). She asked if she could eat it for lunch (because her lazy, unorganized mother was too busy unboxing things to feed her and she was hungry). I figured, WHY NOT? I pulled out the leftover breakfast tacos, the block of cheese that was beginning to darken at the edges of the plastic where it was exposed to air, the half-empty (or half-full if you are one of those optimistic types) bottle of Gatorade that was left over from moving day (last Thursday)… and the ancient MRE.
First of all, let me explain. Three years ago, my father-in-law bought this MRE at a garage sale for a dollar. He knew I was homeschooling and thought my kids would enjoy it. I SAVED it for our “military unit” (because everyone knows that you have to do things in order, right?). We did that unit at the beginning of the year we moved to Arkansas…. but alas, we were MOVING at the beginning of that school year, too… and the MRE was in storage. So it traveled with us to Arkansas and sat in my children’s closet for two years.
This MRE has seen brighter and less rotten days, mind you. It is probably a Desert STORM MRE and has reached the maximum shelf-life that these types of dehydrated and packaged foods can handle. How do I know this? Well, for starters, the TABASCO sauce smelled funny. It takes a long time for Tabasco to rot. I know this first hand because I just threw out a bottle I’ve had for ten years (and put some in my eggs right before I did it – it tasted fine). It wasn’t only the Tabasco that was hinting at ‘Desert Storm’, though. The pineapple was dark orange… okay, maybe golden brown? We threw that out. Even the candy bar was rotten. Of course, we didn’t eat it.
“Isn’t this what Pawpaw said was ‘Meals Refusing to Exit’? Isn’t that what MRE stands for?” – Morgan
However, there were some redeeming qualities about the experience. First of all, it was a quick meal for a busy bunch of unpackers. That would be #1 on the benefits list. Secondly, we all thought the vegetable pasta tasted OK. Just like a can of vegetable pasta soup (sortof). Morgan liked the bland crackers. Might as well have eaten the packaging as far as I’m concerned. She ate every bit of her Army peanut butter and pretzels, too. That kid loves peanut butter. Even if it is older than she is, it seems. We also tasted the drink mixes that came with the MRE and they were tolerable: Lemon Flavored Tea Mix and Spiced Apple Cider Drink. The apple cider had me worried, but Kaden insisted. He was the only one of us three that liked it. Morgan drank the tea. Afterwards, they ate some cheese and breakfast taco leftovers (since they needed some “safer” nutrition – just in case). They finished the meal off with a rock-hard piece of chewing gum. What a *treat! (*insert sarcasm here)
“Even the gum is bad, mom.” – Kaden
After making the comment that he figured they got at least half of the ingredients for the meal out of the garbage, Kaden said something even more funny:
“Well, I’ll tell you one thing… this experience has cured me from ever wanting to join the army. They don’t eat very well.”
I had to offer a slight defense for our defense department by assuring the kids that the more ‘recent’ and
not rotten updated MRES are probably better. Their dad ate quite a few that he said were “pretty good” in Baghdad a few years ago. I offered that we could see if I could find a way to get a current MRE for them to try so we could compare. Neither of them seemed too excited about the prospect. Would you blame them?
Today I think we’ll stick to baked potatoes.