Bug Out / Wilderness Food / Water Gear Reviews

First Strike Rations, Better Than MREs?

Almost a year ago now, I purchased an MRE-style meal for our bug out bags called First Strike Rations. Surprisingly, I’ve never heard of such a thing before, but apparently they’re intended for military special ops-type-folks who want a full meal plan but without unnecessary extras like MRE heaters.

And, even though I tend not to recommend large mealsin my bug out bag book–especially those that need a cookstove to heat them up–I also realize that my kids won’t be very happy if their little tummies aren’t completely full at all times of their waking lives. BTW, they’re almost 18 and 15, lol. So, I chose to go against my own bit of advice and purchase full meals.

And since I decided to go through our bug out bags among other prepping supplies while I was stuck at home a few months back, I thought it was finally time to add them. The thing is that they were more massive than I’d realized, taking up a considerable amount of space while weighing in at more than two-and-a-half pounds each. In fact, the one I chose to eat for this post was almost three pounds:

Because of that I decided to only add one meal to each bag when I’d originally intended to add two. Personally, as much food as I got out of a single MRE I could probably eat this over two days and be plenty satisfied. But, if you’re really exerting yourself then maybe a single meal per day is preferable.

There were a total of nine of these meals in a case; here’s the four that didn’t get added to a bug out bag as I’ve got five bags to supply:

There’s a pretty good variety of meals if you’re into eating meat. The meals shown above include BBQ pork, beef nacho sandwich, Mexican grilled wrap, tuna fish, and more; I can’t quite remember what was in the other meals. The meal I got into for this post was a honey BBQ chicken sandwich and included the following:

To save you the trouble of trying to read everything, here’s what’s included in this particular meal menu:

  • Nut raisin mix
  • Cinnamon toast pastry (like a pop tart)
  • Crackers
  • Filled French toast
  • Energy bar (sort of like taffy)
  • Lemon pepper tuna fish
  • Teriyaki beef stick
  • Applesauce
  • Drink mixes (orange and chocolate protein)
  • Assorted condiments (e.g., mayonnaise, peanut butter, mints)
  • Other supplies (e.g., towlettes, matches, spoon, bags for disposal)

The last two bullet points bring up a good question: if these are supposed to be stripped-down MREs, I don’t see how because they include everything that I can think of that comes with a traditional MRE except the heater. Of course, it’s been a long time since I’ve even looked at an MRE, so maybe I’m forgetting something.

As such, these meals don’t seem to be smaller, lighter, or even cheaper than a traditional MRE, for that matter. I think I paid about $150 for the case of nine meals (that’s over $16 per meal) which is more than the per-meal price in a case of 24 MREs, and is what this is really starting to look like!

Annoyances aside, how did it taste? Overall, pretty good. Not everything was great, but if you’re hungry I doubt you would complain. Anyway, I even asked my mother to be a second guinea pig / taste-tester along with me and, so, we ate the meal over the course of a few days last week and into this weekend. I’m also pleased to announce that neither of us got sick or spent the night on the toilet either. 🙂

We started with the lemon pepper tuna fish and ate it on the crackers. I know they included mayonnaise but I was being lazy, so I didn’t mix it in. But I was still pleasantly surprised at how tasty the tuna and crackers were:

Unfortunately, the crackers were all broken up despite feeling relatively sturdy inside their packaging, but no big deal, really. It wasn’t until later that day when I decided to brave eating the beef stick which comes packaged inside another wrapper for extra longevity, I assume:

What can I say about it? It’s a beef stick and tasted good! On the next I ate the French toast-filled “sandwich” and toasted pastry, I even took a bite out of each before snapping the photo:

In fact, the first few bites of the French toast (on the left) was pretty good. As I worked my way into more of it, though, I started to notice a chemically-taste. Not sure what, just a hint of something. Again, if I were even remotely hungry I wouldn’t have cared at all; I might not have even noticed. The pastry, on the other hand, was quite good and tasted exactly like what I remember pop tarts tasting like. Toss that into a toaster and I wouldn’t have known any different. But, to be authentic, I ate everything straight out of the wrapper.

I think the next day I got into the applesauce. I would’ve eaten it straight out of the package because that’s how it’s designed, but I wanted to see what it looked like and to snap a photo:

Overall, the applesauce was quite tasty. Next was the energy bar. I wasn’t sure what to expect and it turns out that “energy bar” means taffy, or something very similar to it. Since it looked like something that might pull a crown out, I only ate a few bites:

What I ate of the energy bar was good. The last day I got into the corn nuggets, BBQ chicken sandwich, and trail mix as shown below:

And now the BBQ sandwich (which looked an awful lot like the French toast but, thankfully, tasted quite different):

And, finally, the trail mix which was about fifty percent peanuts:

I didn’t bother to get into the drink mixes as they’re nothing more than the “add water” and mix variety, so I’ll assume they taste like orange fruit punch and a chocolate cocoa respectively. Maybe I’ll open them up later this week.

Personally, I sampled everything in the meal and, for the most part, I would’ve happily consumed any of it during a bug out. I think my mother sampled most everything too and seemed to like everything except for the BBQ sandwich. Not sure why. My wife tried a few things here and there but didn’t have much to say about it. She didn’t throw it back at me so I’ll assume it was all edible as far as she was concerned.

Really, the ultimate question is whether these first strike rations are better than a traditional MRE? Overall, I’d say probably not as far as cost or weight go, but maybe if you’re concerned about being able to stay on the move more easily or not having to mess with a MRE heater. If these first strike rations were more comparable in price to what I can buy a case of MREs for then I would probably say, yes, go for the first strike rations.

What about you? Any thoughts on these? Every try them before? I’d be happy to hear your thoughts below.

By Damian Brindle

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One reply on “First Strike Rations, Better Than MREs?”

From the info I’ve been able to find ( is one source) one FSR has about 2900 calories and the 3 MREs it’s supposed to replace has about 3800 calories. 900 calories less.

Once upon a time; many, many years ago; in a land far, far away I was fed MCI’s (Meal Combat Individual). What I remember was always being a bit hungry. Did some research and found out that under hard exertion calorie needs can go as high as 4000+ calories a day.

The following is opinion. Opinions are like posterior openings. Most ebber boty has one and sometimes they stink.

3800 is much closer to 4000+ than 2900. If possible I’d add a couple of Cliff Bars or similar to get the calories up on the FSR.

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