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Snow Day - Break Out The Ration Packs


So last week I was stuck at home for three days, because my "metro" train service into London is a big steaming pile of fail and couldn't cope if a pigeon farted in its general direction, let alone deal with the heavy snowfall we'd received.

Cabin fever was setting in, not least because husband and I were unused to being at home at the same time without it being a holiday.

Apart from working, we passed the time by yelling to each other to make a cup of tea. I invariably won because (a) I'm me and (b) he was nearer the kitchen.


Anyway, as I've mentioned before, I'm a survivalist at heart, so being snowed in was kinda thrilling as it provided the perfect excuse to break out the ration packs I'd kept stockpiled under the stairs.

Okay, not technically ration packs (though Lord knows I've tried to buy some genuine field rations off eBay), but camping meals made by Wayfayrer.

Pasta and meatballs, and chicken casserole - so far, so blah, but here's the exciting bit - these babies were self-heating.


Yeah, maybe those silver packets aren't particularly appealing, but SELF-HEATING goddammit. Do you hear me?

As the packs themselves say:


The blurb at the back says this:

"The HOT FOOD KIT combines the foil meal pouch with an innovative complete Heater System and a lightweight set of plastic cutlery. When water is added to the Heater System a reaction is triggered and the element gives off heat. The heat is transferred to the foil pack and thus to the pre-cooked food creating a hot meal within a matter of minutes. Perfect for outdoor enthusiasts who need to travel light"


Heigh-ho, I figured I'd better read the actual instructions as well.

Looks long-winded, but it turns out they're pretty much the same as fireworks - light fuse (or rather moisten flameless ration heater) and retreat to a safe distance.

Here is the chemical equation for the science nerds out there:

Mg + 2H2O → Mg(OH)2 + H2


At first nothing happened, and hubby and I thought I'd been sold a lemon. However, a few minutes later a noxious smell began to waft towards us, accompanied by an unholy fizzing noise which became louder and louder.

We contemplated the ignominy of death by ready meal and decided to leave the kitchen until the 12 minutes warming time was up.


And lo! the packets had stopped squealing and yes, they were sort of warm. We ripped open the foil and tipped the contents into bowls.

Looks vaguely edible, yes?


Sadly, although the heater packs themselves were scorchingly hot, they didn't quite manage to heat the food all the way through, so we ended up having to zap them in the microwave anyway.

But I could see that if I was up Ben Nevis, this would be as good as it gets and I'd be grateful for the warmth.

After the blitzing, we tucked in. The pasta was okay, the pasta sauce quite zingy, the meatballs strangely delicious with a satisfying bounce, though bearing no resemblance to meat. The chicken casserole was less successful - stringy chicken and tasteless veg, although the gravy was saltily good.

Heck, I'd buy 'em again, even if they were £4.99 each.

SELF-HEATING goddammit.


EDITED TO ADD: So it's snowing again. Hooray.

Also, I think I figured out why the MRE didn't heat all the way through - Wikipedia had a photo of some better instructions. Clearly it's because I failed to use a "rock or something":



Kavey said…
Oh so good to read your excitement at the self-heating aspect - a few years ago Pete and I (on Pete's insistence, I hasten to add) HAD to buy these individual cups of ready-made coffee he spotted in the supermarket because, in the same words as you used, they were self-heating, goddammit!

scandilicious said…
Brilliant! I love the resourcefulness of you and Mr Meemalee ;-)
meemalee said…
@Kavey - I'm a sucker for whizzy things - glad Pete is too ;)

@Scandilicious - Thank you for validating my silliness :p
actually, that chicken casserole looks like, well, vomit, really. Pasta/meatbally thing looks ok, though.

But what fun! what jolly japes!

BTW, had self-heating drinks in Japan a couple of years ago. You buy them from vending machines, in cans. Pull the tag open, and bingo - hot coffee or whatever. Brilliant idea.
meemalee said…
@aforkful - I couldn't fnd any of those cans in Japan though I did try:)

Years ago, I remember getting a self-heating coffee can in Tesco and about 90% of the can was made up of the gas used to heat the blasted thing. One tiny gulp and it was gone - and this was before espressos. I can see why it didn;t take off.
Dennis K. said…
I own two books on the history of military rations! Something really neat about them...
Hollow Legs said…
That. Is. Amazing.
meemalee said…
@Dennis K - There are books??? Want them - names please!

@Lizzie - It is pretty damn cool, isn't it :)
chumbles said…
Astonishing ;-) your alternative instructions seem some sort of dangerous religious practice. You light the heater end, put it in position on the rock and whilst it is fizzing and spluttering you knead it (presumably whilst kneeling).

It makes the old fashion primus stove seem marginally safer (although it must be admitted, the first time I lit one I did think - "This is like putting a wick in a petrol tank and setting fire to it.")
meemalee said…
@chumbles - I really want a primus stove ...
Greedy Diva said…
These look so wrong, but great party trick!
Ration packs said…
Hi nice post. I really appreciate the idea of yours. I am also gonna try it out.
meemalee said…
@Ration packs - With a username like yours, you should definitely try it - it's good fun :)
Anonymous said…
Food rations are designed to cover the nourishing needs of one person usually during 24 hours. Minimum order of 500 meals in cans and 2000 meals in pouches.Food today has been limited to ration packs, apparently the fruit cereal bars are very tasty. The amount of spray coming over the side of the boat makes it impossible to use the gas ring which is mounted outside on a bulkhead above where the life raft is stored.
Ration packs
I luv the self heating aspect! For that alone, I am willing to try them! =)