Whether you have a whole case of MREs or just a single MRE, there are a number of ways to figure out how old they are.
Here are a couple of cases of MREs with the date packed: Sometimes you’ll have a nice date packed such “03/09/01” which you know to mean March 9, 2001.
However, some cases will use a different form such as “1068”.
In this case, the first number “1” stands for the year (2001) and the next three numbers indicate which day of the year (365 days in a year) it was packed.
So “068” would be day 68 of the year 2001…or March 9, 2001.
If you have your 4 digit date code you can use our MRE Date Code Checker to easily see what date is represented.
Before we get into dating whole MREs, it’d be easier to explain how to date individual MRE components.Almost every component that goes into an MRE has a date code stamped on it in the form “0132” (see above explanation).Everything from entrees, crackers, peanut butter, accessory packs, etc. If you can open up your MRE, you should be able to figure out how old each piece is.Here are some examples of date codes stamped on various MRE components: It can be more difficult to date individual unopened MREs because until 2003, date codes weren’t stamped on the actual MRE bags themselves.Without actually opening the MRE bag and looking at the MRE date codes stamped on the components, there are a few tricks you use.If the MRE bag is dark brown, that means your MRE is from 1995 or earlier.In 1996, they switched over to the tan-colored bags.To get a better idea of the MREs age, take a look at which MRE you have.If you have a #8 Ham Slice, you’re out of luck because that could have come from 1990-1995. However, if you have a brown #4 Chili Macaroni, you’re in luck – because that MRE was introduced in 1995 in a brown bag and every #4 Chili Macaroni after that (1996-2003) was packaged in a tan bag.Similarly, if you have a brown #6 Chicken Ala King, you can tell from the menu list that the last time that MRE was used was 1992 – so yours could be from 1992 or earlier.The same sort of theory works for the newer tan MREs.