Julia Tries ALL Of The Most Popular MREs | Delish

In a special camping edition of Julia Tries Everything, Julia tries all of the most popular MRE (Meal, Ready to eat) packages from two of the biggest brands on the market: AmeriQual APack and Sopakco Sure-Pak. If you haven't heard of these, they're U.S. military operational rations. That means each self-contained meal is meant to provide all the nutrition needed to sustain the armed forces—and during the pandemic sales for MREs have hit an all-time high. Now doomsday preppers and extreme campers are looking to get their hands on these rations.

Video Transcript

JULIA: Bow-wow. Acta Monica bonga zonga oopta-larry yoo-hoo.

[TONE]

I'm awake. I'm awake. I'm awake.

Good morning. Hello. We are at Letchworth State Park in upstate New York for a very, very special episode of Julia Tries Everything. We are trying all of the MREs.

If you don't know what an MRE is, it means meals ready to eat. And these are very common for US Armed Forces, campers, and then doomsday preppers, kind of all three of the trifecta.

If you've never had one, they are basically a meal in a box that can be served hot or cold. I'm very excited. We have two different brands to try today, and we will see how my stomach handles it.

Chelsea has me shooting my intro right next to the ditch down below, where if I just go three steps backward, it would be a really good video with lots of views. Unfortunately, I'm way too coordinated for that.

Gus. Wow. That's how this morning is going. All right, let's eat.

All right, we got two boxes here. This one is APack, and then we have this one, which is Sure-Pak. These are both companies that distribute to the military, so these are not going to be the exact ones that the military has, but they'll be pretty close.

Yep. Here we go.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

If you order the 12-package one, which is the most common, there are actually two of everything. So there's 12 in here, but we're only going to try six of them, because there's doubles.

We're going to start with the Sure-Pak boxes, round 1. And we're starting with cheese tortellini in tomato sauce.

One thing about the packaging is it's meant to withstand any type of weather condition. So it's extremely waterproof, and probably not fireproof, but pretty close.

So it's just a peelable seal. Everything's supposed to be able to just like rip it open quickly, eat, get on with your life. It's supposed to be easy, but that looks like a real peeling situation.

I have weak fingers. It says peelable, but it's meant to withstand very harsh conditions. Ah! She is strong.

Oh, another peelable seal. See, this stuff is like real packaged. OK. So do you think you just rip it? Yeah, you can just rip it.

Admittedly, we are using a lot of plastic today, probably not the best thing for the environment. But when you're typically eating these, this is your only thing that you have available to you. It's your only choice. So just keep that in mind.

We have cheese tortellini in tomato sauce, package. We have a cracker. We have a strawberry t/p, strawberry tart.

We have chunky peanut butter. Oh dear.

Beverage base, powdered grape. Hot sauce. I believe this is just a napkin. Is that right? Oh, this is the heater. This-- that's going to be fun for us to figure out.

And you get your little wet nap. I believe there's salt and pepper. You get your spoon, your napkin. Applesauce, yeah. OK.

And then-- oh, this is just the-- oh. This reminds me of like the Hot Pocket sleeves. Hot Pocket.

Oh it shows you all the ingredients in here.

I guess a fun fact, or just a fact about these. They are self-contained one meal. They have the perfect balance of proteins, fats, carbs to keep you going. So they are actually manufactured this way, very much to a science and on purpose.

In a typical day, you're supposed to eat three of these. So each one, I believe, is about 1,200 calories, 1,250 calories. So three of those in a day, good to go.

I'm going to [BLEEP] this up. One of the instructions says rock or something. There's a rock or something.

Tear here to use bag. OK. OK.

So there's the heater thing. I believe I'm putting this in here just as is. I'm not squeezing it and putting it in here. Putting it in bag.

Pour water into bag until it reaches a level between lines. What line? What line? Oh, these lines. And then you use this over it. I don't know if I do. OK.

Oh. Oh, [BLEEP] it says do not overfill, and I overfilled it.

I'm folding this, and then I'm putting this over it.

Every military person watching this is upset with me.

- I'll [BLEEP] double [BLEEP] you all until you [BLEEP].

JULIA: It's literally like a Hot Pocket. A big old Hot Pocket. OK. OK, and then I think I'm-- then I think I'm activating it.

Oh, it's getting warm. It's getting warm. OK. OK. And it says, wait for-- oh, it smells funky. It smells like burning plastic.

We're waiting for the main ingredient, which-- main ingredient, the main star, cheese tortellini and tomato sauce. So we're going to try the other things while we're waiting.

We have a strawberry T/P. Is this a [BLEEP] Pop Tart? Oh it's so squooshed. Oh, are these going to be, like-- [CHUCKLES] Oh my god. Oh no. [CHUCKLES]

- Is this-- it is a Pop Tart.

JULIA: They're stuck together. Oh no. Is that two Pop Tarts stuck together? That is.

Oh, that's dry. That's real dry. I don't like Pop Tarts, so-- and the sugar has melted off. I mean, you're eating this in-- in not the best conditions. Like, you're eating this because you need survival.

So we are doing the beverage base powder grape. [CHUCKLES] Grape-flavored.

- Something.

JULIA: Something of the sorts. So I'm supposed to just fill it up with water and shake it. I'm pretty sure this is just Kool-Aid, basically. I'm just going to--

[WATER TRICKLING]

I'm going to have to get more water. So here is our juice for the day, grape-flavored, no fruit juice, packaging. We're just going to shake, shake, shake. Oh my gosh. I don't-- ooh.

[CHORTLES]

I think I need to shake it more violently. It's like the Shake Weight commercials.

[VIDEO PLAYBACK]

- But Shake Weight harnesses the power of dynamic inertia.

[END PLAYBACK]

[SHAKING]

This is going to turn into a meme somehow. All right. [CHUCKLES] Maybe that's just how it's going to look. Oh no. Down the hatch. Mm. OK, it's scummy. Ooh. I think it's just because I brushed my teeth that it's a little tart. It tastes just like the purple Gatorade flavor. This is pretty good. I'm OK with that. I would drink that, yeah.

Let's try the applesauce snacks. So for this first meal, we're going to show you what the rest of the meals all come with. They're pretty similar. You're going to get some sort of liquid, you're going to get, like, a candy treat and then a cracker of some sort. You always get the hot sauce. And I'm pretty sure you always get the peanut butter as well. So we're just going to show you on the first one of these. And then, from there, you get the gist.

OK, we have our applesauce. Applesauce enhanced with maltodextrin for increased performance. I am performing. So that is fine.

- [CHUCKLES]

JULIA: Ooh, that's a texture. Oh, it's like-- one second. Let me do a little bit more. I don't want to do any more after this. It, like, spurted in my mouth. If you like pulp orange juice, you know, it's very pulpy tasting, like-- [CLICKING TEETH RAPIDLY] Oh, it's-- I mean, if-- I feel like when you're-- when you've been working out for-- for a long period time, you know, you're hiking or something like that, this sweetness is so-- like, it's going to feel like it's giving you like WD-40 in your bones. I feel like this is something that's that perfect amount of sweetness that you need to just replenish your body.

It also reminds me of baby food. And the way that you eat it feels very baby food-like. I don't like the texture at all. But the flavor is totally fine. It's just like a really tart applesauce, but much more of an apple juice than a sauce.

OK, let's do the cracker next. Oh, these look like the Pop Tarts. Are they really big saltines? [CHUCKLES] OK. Mm. It's crunchy peanut butter. That's a good thing. Dry as hell. Stuck to my mouth. Gluey peanut butter, dry cracker. Barely any salt on it. It's just going to stick to the lining of your stomach.

Let me try the peanut butter on its own. Here we go. I like that scrunchie. That's a nice thought.

This is not a really strong peanut butter flavor. I love the crunch, I love the texture, but the peanut butter itself is, like, almost watered down in a sense. Should we check on this and see if it's ready? It feels pretty hot. All right. What is nice is that this could kind of double as a hand warmer.

Cheese tortellini and tomato sauce. OK, ripping it open. Oh, (UNDERSTANDING) oh.

- (SURPRISED) Oh.

JULIA: Cheese tortellini.

- Wow.

JULIA: Let me open it for you. Wow, there is tortellini in here. It felt like it was just liquids. OK. It's a lot of oregano, [SNIFFING] basil. They add a lot of nutrients to this. Because remember, this must be a full, complete meal. So you've got to get all your vitamins in.

Wow, this has a lot of ingredients. We got ricotta cheese, bread crumbs in there, sugar, soybean oil, Parmesan, whole eggs, Asiago cheese, salt, egg whites, black pepper, nutmeg, tomato paste, food starch, onion and celery, spice-- garlic and onion. There's a lot of flavors going on in here. I'm excited. Let's see.

[CHUCKLES]

The sauce is so umptious and thick. Maybe gluey is going to be the word for the day. This is straight-up Chef Boyardee right here.

Considering how many spices they put in here, you don't taste too many of them. But you definitely are getting the salt, the pepper, and I guess it is the Asiago and Parm in here that you're tasting. You know, this is, as June would say, the perfect mush food. Very mushy. I think this would satisfy me.

If you loved Chef Boyardee as a kid and SpaghettiOs, this is exactly that same flavor. It's where the tomato is kind of an artificial, sugary tomato.

So I'm going to start opening all of them and heating them up. Since they take about 10 to 15 minutes to get them really hot. So I'm going to take them all out of their containers and inspect them, get them hot, and then we're going to look at what they all come with. So each MRE contains the following. You have your entree, side dish, which can be rice, corn, fruit, or mashed potatoes. You get cracker or you get bread. You have spread, which is like peanut butter, jelly, or a cheese spread. Then you have a dessert, which is cookies or a pound cake.

Then you have candy, which actually we don't have candy in ours. So, rude. But if you get candy, you'll have, like, M&M's, Snickers, Skittles, Tootsie Rolls.

Beverages, you're going to get Gatorade-like drink mixes, cocoa, dairy shakes, coffee, and tea. For your seasonings, you can get hot sauce and hot sauce. That's pretty much it. And then you get your flameless ration heater that heats up the entree. And then, of course, you have your accessories, as they call them-- a spoon, sometimes you get matches, creamer, sugar, salt, chewing gum, and sometimes even toilet paper.

All right, so let us show you what we got from our Sure-Pak. We unpacked them all. And there's some doubles of everything. So we have one pack of plain tortillas that came with the tuna and some fat-free mayonnaise. So you can make kind of like a tuna taco with tortillas, I guess.

You're going to get a Gatorade-like beverage. We-- we got more grape than anything else. And we got five grapes and one lemon-lime. You're going to get a jelly of some sort. You have grape or apple. We have cornbread that came in one of the packages. We got a cookie. We got pudding-- mm.

And then what else did we get? Oh, some really fun energy gels. If you've ever done, like, long-distance running or any kind of sports, it's probably got to be pretty similar to those. You just quickly take them with you on the go. They're not supposed to taste amazing. It's truly just for the energy. Then we have a honey barbecued chicken sandwich that has been shelf-stable for years. Mm. And then we have a brown sugar Pop Tart as well. So quite a selection of items that you can get in your pack.

We are doing chili and macaroni next, which is macaroni in a beef sauce. When I was a kid, my dad served in the Navy. And he would bring home some of the MREs for my brother and I to try. The chili macaroni one I remember being the best. Because macaroni and cheese, who doesn't love that? In this one container is 280 calories.

Hey, bud. How you doing in there? Ready to come out of your little plastic home?

[CHUCKLES]

The color-- look at that. Oh my goodness. OK, chili and macaroni. I want to show you how gluey it is. There we go. See? [CHUCKLES]

The pasta noodles look super thick and chewy al dente, like big old noods.

[SNIFFING]

Smells-- smells slightly different than the-- what did we have just before? The tortellini. This has more of a beef smell to it. Oh, it's kind of cold. Oh. It's fine. You can eat it cold.

The beef-- the beef is very important in this. Mm, it's getting that salty savoriness. I don't know, there's a little bit of a kick of spice somewhere in here. But if you look at the ingredients, let me see what-- there's nothing in here that's spicy.

Let's try the noodle by itself. I would say this is not a mac and cheese. I guess-- ooh, it's chili macaroni. It didn't say anywhere on it that it's mac and cheese. Wow, that's my own fault then. Macaroni in a beef sauce.

It is straight out of a can. Has a lot of-- a lot of flavors going on in here. It has, like, a red pepper going on. But I don't know where I'm getting that from. I like this better than the tortellini, just because the beef is adding more of a flavor. It's not so sweet. I feel like the tortellini was kind of that sweet Boyardee flavor, where this one is much more of that savory meatiness.

All right. Ooh, there's an aftertaste. It's like if you accidentally eat some soap. I don't know what's happening.

So this is Santa Fe style rice and beans. The rice and beans comes with the tuna package. So you do get something warm. This one is the worst looking out of all of them but smells the best.

[SNIFFING]

Oh. I'm glad that they call it Santa Fe style, because it's the corn and the beans, you have cheddar cheese in there and some peppers. It smells delicious. Does it look good? No.

This is good. This is-- that's not a good review. One second. [CHUCKLES] It's like a cheesy, beany burrito without your tortilla. Rice and beans comes with the tuna, which also comes with a tortilla. I thought that the tortilla was for the tuna, but I wonder if it's actually for this. Because this tastes like a delicious cheesy burrito. It's actually not that salty.

Looks gross, tastes delicious. Why do we care about the beauties of things? I think I've learned so far and this is that the prettier it is, the worse it tastes. So I should do the tortilla and the tuna next.

- What is--

JULIA: [CHUCKLES] It's an oxygen absorber. So it makes it so it doesn't get super soggy and wet in its packaging. MREs can last up to three years when it's in 80-degree weather. But you can find MREs out there, especially on eBay-- ooh, I just split one in half-- you can find MREs up to 10 years old. And depending on what the food is, it might still be OK to eat.

These tortillas, they look beautiful. They look like they-- like, they got some brown spots on them. They feel a little bit thicker than a traditional tortilla.

So I'm going to take the tuna-- this one does not need squeezing. Why am I so weak?

[BLEEP]

[MUTTERING]

[BLEEP]

OK, sorry. Ugh.

- It smells like--

JULIA: It smells like tuna. It smells like lemon peppery tuna and bits. Oh, and we have our low-fat mayo-- no, fat-free mayo. (FACETIOUS) Ooh, yummy. Can't wait to put this on my tortilla.

- It smells like cat food.

JULIA: Oh my god, it does.

- [CHUCKLES]

JULIA: There's no beauty for this. Very lemony and sweet. And it's not that dry thanks to the fat-free mayo. I'm so sorry it does not look good. But the mayo is making it so at least it has more moistness. It's like a candy lemon. I like fresh lemon, you know, where it's, like, zesty. But this lemon is more-- it's funky. It's kind of like sugary candy lemon in my tuna. Not a big fan.

But the tortilla-- I love the tortilla. I have nothing against a tortilla. Wow, yep, that's good. That's good on its own. I would just put jelly on my tortilla and call it a day.

OK, let's put some grape jelly on our tortilla. And oh, did I throw out the peanut butter? I might have already thrown it out. Because you could do, like, a peanut butter-jelly tortilla.

OK, grape jelly on our tortilla. Mm, that's good, mm-hmm. It tastes like when I was like 5 years old. It's a watery grape jelly. It's super sugary. It tastes like a little-kid PB&J.

I like it with the tortilla. That's good together.

Let's do halal lentils and masala sauce. Oh, why is it-- it's, like, cold on one side and warm on the other. Lots of lentils. This is going to fill you up. It'll be like a brick inside your body.

It-- it smells exactly like masala. That sweet [SNIFFING] turmeric [GROANING PLEASURABLY] garlicky, just slightly garlicky. Oh, it's cold. Ooh.

The bell pepper and the turmeric in here is just playing so lovely together. This is delicious and unexpected. Is this vegan? I think it is.

My dad cooks with lentils all the time. And I'm so lentiled out. But making it a masala lentil is wonderful. I feel like I'm at an Indian restaurant right now. Wow. I read the whole thing of this. All the other meals we've had have a strange sweetness and then a perfume aftertaste. This one is not giving me that. We have a halal lentil stew with lamb. And we have our tomato paste. It keeps coming back to us. We've got garlic, onion, lentils. What else did I say in here? I think that's kind of it. Ugh, god, these never-- these are never going to look gorgeous.

- Oh-- oh, wow.

JULIA: Oh, dear. Here, let me do a little-- how do I-- there's no way to zhuzh this. That's the thing is, like, you're not eating it for the beauty of it. All right. The amount of fiber in these-- I haven't been paying attention. 24% of my fiber intake.

[SAD CHUCKLE]

- Oh my god.

JULIA: Oh no. [CHUCKLES] All righty, let's have some lamb. Ooh, I actually have a chunk of Lamb right here. Do you see that? That's pretty. Look. That-- that feels substantial.

- (FLATLY) Real pretty.

JULIA: The lamb is very chewy. It's a jerky lamb. It's extremely chewy. I welcome it in this meal because I think it's kind of making it take longer to eat it. So you're enjoying your meal more because you're forced to. The rice is lovely and mushy. I'm really enjoying the mush today. It's just a texture that doesn't get enough credit.

It's just regular tuna. I guess I'll just put it on a cracker. Oh, ooh, crackers are intact. (EXCITED) Crackers are intact.

[ANGELIC CHORAL MUSIC]

Glorious. Ooh, and you can-- oh, that's where-- [CHUCKLES] oh, no. OK.

- You were doing so well.

JULIA: So that's where it goes wrong. Got it, understood. All right, so we're just going to take our tuna, break it apart in its package. That's at least what I like to do. I like it-- I don't like my tuna to be too chunky. I like it to be as smooth as possible.

I want it to mimic cat food. The last time I had tuna was when I was training my dog, Gus. Because tuna is considered a high-reward treat. So that's all I can think about when I eat it now.

OK, tuna on my-- Gus? No, he doesn't care. Tuna on my broken cracker. Technically, one of them did not come with the fat-free mayo. But we got so much of it, let's put it on there. Ooh. Yeah, babe, charcuterie. I'm not against it.

That lemon one, do not get the lemon tuna package. Uh-uh, get the regular tuna and then you can dress it up. Oh man, my mouth is dry.

We've got our cornbread with another Do Not Eat on it-- always reassuring. Ooh, it is moist. Oh, yeah, baby. This with the Santa Fe rice and beans and the cornbread. Oh-- [SNIFFING] oh, my friend has this corn-based rum, cachaca. It's from Brazil that she got it. [SNIFFING] It smells so much like it, just super, super-sweet corn. OK.

That's a corn cake. That's not cornbread, that's a cake. It's like a cupcake, a corn cupcake. I love that. I love the cornbread.

My traditional cornbread is cheesy and salty. But with the Santa Fe rice and beans, because that already had that peppery flavors, this would be perfect. It would kind of meld together.

Shelf-stable honey barbecue chicken sandwich. This has potential it smells like Slim Jims. It's a Slim Jim sweet potato bread Hot Pocket, but cold pocket. Oh, man, that is a salty Slim Jim. What the [BLEEP] did they do here? It's like brown sugar, vinegary, sugary, sweet, barbecued chicken in a mashed-up, like, sweet bun. That is-- that is a choice. It's like a tomato perfume honey barbecued chicken. You need to try a bite.

- No.

JULIA: Yes, yes, yes, you are trying a bit of this. She has a-- her face is actually like-- I can't even-- [CHUCKLES] you're just-- you're actually frowning. [CHUCKLES] Like, it's like a full-on-- like the emoji. So not your favorite.

- [GROANS]

JULIA: Someone out there enjoys this one. This has to be someone's favorite. But, like, (DUBIOUS) eh. Eh. Hmm. We're just going to move on. We're not going to talk about that anymore.

OK, we're going to move on to dessert because we need to. We have oatmeal chocolate chunk cookie "tfffff." It says TFF, "tfffff."

All right, an oatmeal chocolate chunk cookie. This is going to be very hard for them to do wrong, because it's just a cookie. Beautiful. Look at it. I can tell it's very light and feels very dry. It feels like one that's just going to crumble when we try to-- oh, it's-- it's a rock.

- Just do it.

JULIA: It's a rock. It's a rock. OK, we have a dehydrated chocolate cookie. But these look like big, chunky bits of chocolate in there. I hope it's kind of like chalky-- chalky chocolate. Do you know what I'm saying?

It's a stale Chips Ahoy. It's not even stale though. It truly is dehydrated. The chocolate chunks in there, that's delicious. It has, like, a coconut flavor to it. We're going to start with the cold pudding. Because I'm really upset with myself that I accidentally made one of the puddings hot.

Oh, no, I put the chocolate pudding in the heat. That was a mistake.

We have the vanilla pudding dessert powder. So what you're doing is pouring about 4 ounces or so-- I think I added probably 8-- almost 8 ounces. And just squeezin' and shaking' and gettin' your workout on. And then you got pudding.

Ugh. OK, there's a cupcake candle from Bath and Body Works or from Yankee Candle, I don't know. This smells like a cupcake candle. Oh no.

- Oh-- oh no.

JULIA: Oh.

- Oh no.

JULIA: It's a snotty texture. [RETCHING] I'm just trying to collect my words. Oh, man. It is phlegmy pudding. Tastes just like a cupcake. It's not even vanilla to me. It tastes like cake mix. It almost tastes like if you ever ate your cake batter as a kid, and then you added just a little bit of frosting into it. If you like tapioca pudding or anything like that, or, like, cottage cheese, I think you would love this texture. For me, it's extremely challenging to take down. Sugar, sweet cream, Dutch cocoa, mocha flavor, and then every single vitamin you could ever want.

A halal chocolate mocha pudding. This looks like a really lovely Snack Pack pudding. I have way higher hopes for this one. OK. That's it. Oh my gosh, the mocha in it. The texture is absolutely on point for pudding. Its luscious, it's creamy, it's like putting a little bit of coffee in your chocolate Snack Pack. The only thing that's missing is probably Bailey's. Like if you added a little bit of Bailey's into this, this would be a brunch dessert for me.

[INDIE ROCK MUSIC]

Look, it's an activity. I could sell that. Oh, god, the crackers, they really-- you are not supposed to break them apart.

Cheese bread with bacon. I don't see any bacon in there, so it must just be flavoring. I don't smell anything either.

[CHUCKLES]

It's like 1996 cheese. It's just that salty, artificial-- it's like not even cheese. Oh. I [BLEEP] with this. This is delicious. This is a great way to end round one. Can you believe this is only round one?

My favorite thing in this round, because this cheese, the Santa Fe style red beans with the cornbread is a delicious combo that you would not expect. Love that.

I love the lentils. And the masala-- I love the masala.

I'm extremely excited for this next round. I need to chug. So much water in between. I have so much sodium in my body right now.

Let's clean this up and let's do round two. We are on round two. We have our APack Ready Meal Self-heating Emergency Meal Kit.

[DOG GRUMBLING]

Gus.

- [CHUCKLES]

JULIA: Are you kidding me? One second.

[BARKING]

Are you done? You done? The main difference between the APack and the Sure-Pak.

[DOG WHINING]

[CHUCKLES]

[TAPPING FINGERNAILS]

OK. Can mommy do her job? Yeah? OK.

The main difference is that these came with crackers and sunflower butter instead of peanut butter, and then a smoothie. The smoothie is the exact same in all five packages that have a-- oh, no, all six have the same smoothie flavor of sweet potato grape, which sounds like baby smoothies. So we have a sweet potato grape smoothie, sunflower butter, and crackers.

And then, if you didn't get the crackers, you got a cranberry crisp protein and energy bar. So I guess we'll start with number one. Menu one is a southwestern style beans with rice and chicken. And we got the reduced sodium package. I didn't do that on purpose, it just kind of happened.

Ooh, it's really hot now. Hot, hot. OK. There is a way of eating this while keeping it in its packaging. We're just taking it all out. But if you were actually eating this, you can keep it in its little-- little holder and just rip it all off like that and eat it right out of the bag. OK.

[CHUCKLES]

I'm laughing at this point because they're all of the same color. We got beans, we got rice, we definitely have a tomato paste going on, and black pepper, garlic, salt. They don't really stray from that. No. This has absolutely no flavor. Sure-Pak ones, the beans and rice that we had, loaded the flavor, had the cheese going on. Ooh, it's a little-- [CLICKING TONGUE] there's some cayenne in there.

The red kidney beans are-- I mean, it's nice that they're actually still fully intact even though I squeezed the [BLEEP] out of this bag. But this is very-- it needs hot sauce. Wow, it's really sad.

What seasoning do they give us? We have salt packet-- salt packet, a pepper packet, and a sodium-free seasoning, gluten-free something something. OK, I'm going to try putting this on it. This has onion, garlic, and paprika. Let's try putting this in here.

This is-- this is really-- oh, this seasoning is-- OK. Ooh. Wow, no. OK, that's fine. Because we start low, we can only go high. Fine with me. Fine, fine, fine.

Let's just move to meal two. I don't really want to-- I don't want to hold on to the sadness of meal one. Menu two, from our APack Ready Meal is pork with sauce-- just "sauce"-- and rice.

I want to switch it up and be like, it's going to be a white, creamy sauce. But it's also-- it's going to be orange.

All right, this is an IBS girl's nightmare. Oh, man, this is a color. It kind of matches my outfit though.

- Yeah [BLEEP].

JULIA: They all look the same at this point. Like, look at this.

- Chic

JULIA: Chic. If you don't match your outfit to your food, what are you doing?

It is a sweet, sweet tomato paste. Oh, it's sickening sweet. OK, let's see. I'm going to get a pork bit in my rice. All right.

[SNIFFING]

No, no, no, no. I'm going to think of something nice to say. Oh my god, that is a bad flavor. OK, it is sickening sweet tomato paste. Oh god. It's so unfortunate. Because it's really a seasoning problem that we're having here. The texture itself, fine. If it was just seasoned differently.

That tomato paste that they are putting in everything is so sugary. And then they're adding it-- on this one, it has brown sugar. And it does not need brown sugar.

[SIGHS]

I would love for June to find a way of dressing this up and making it taste better.

- Lower your expectations to increase your happiness in life.

JULIA: Like if we made-- gave her all of these and she could find a way of actually making them, like-- like, they're just, like, a few steps away from being really good. This one, I-- I don't-- I'm not taking a second bite. 0 for 2. Is that how you say it? 0 for 2? Yeah.

I want something to taste good out of this brand. OK, so we're doing the sweet potato grape smoothie. So this is interesting. So I guess you kind of suck it out like a pouch. OK. I think-- I think I'll like this. I'm going to lick it.

Oh. [SLURPING] It's a little bit more thick and viscous than a smoothie would be, almost on the edge of a paste texture. I love the sweet potato and grape smoothie it's like there's like a citric acid-- little bit of a tartness going on. It's like a Granny Smith apple maybe with the sweet potato.

I enjoy this. This is actually a well-balanced, fruity-flavored thing. It-- it's coming out of package. It doesn't look pretty. But that's fine.

I could go down with this. Just take some of this, put it at the bottom of a mimosa cup, and add champagne. [CHUCKLES]

This would make a wonderful Bellini. Obviously people who are eating these are most likely not having champagne nearby and not making those type of decisions. But if you ever had the chance and brought these home, maybe you should try that.

I can already tell that this one is plain as heck. So I am adding all the flavoring in it before I even eat it. Because I want to give this one a fair shot. OK. Let me mix that together.

We got our homestyle vegetables in "sauce"-- they like to keep it mysterious for us-- with noodles and chicken. We got carrots and we got some peas. This looks similar to a dog food I made for Gus before. It's very pea-heavy.

Oh, man. Man, it's not good. It's-- it's not good. The sauce, I think, is just the mashed carrots and peas from heating it up. I think that's all the sauce is. I put in the salt and pepper and that random paprika-garlic seasoning that it comes with. And it's doing nothing. Like, it's still just peas and carrots.

This is an injustice. The noodles remind me of the chili mac from the first one. They're very dense and chewy and doughy, very doughy.

The thing that's a crime is that they don't pack hot sauce or anything in these packs. So you don't really have a way of dressing it up even. This is just baby food.

I-- I want to say something nice about it, but I can't. That is not nice to do. I think I have to switch it up and try their crackers and sunflower butter and see what this is about. I'm glad that they did sunflower butter instead of peanut butter. Because I mean, imagine if you're around people who have peanut allergies. You don't want that. I think these are the exact same crackers as the other place. Let me see. Yeah, this is the exact same as the other package. Let's see if these ones crack as well as soon as you try to-- (PLEASANT SURPRISE) oh. Whoa, that's a lot.

It's going to sound stupid, but, like, if you ever eat sunflower seeds and you just like to mesh it all in your mouth on one side, that's what sunflower butter tastes like. Sticking to my gut, sticking to my throat, all the way down, slow motion, don't hate it.

I welcome the sunflower instead of the peanut butter. I think-- I know it might be shocking, but sometimes I can get really bored and tired with peanut butter all the time. And sunflower's just something-- it's a nice switch-up. It's much more earthy.

Spaghetti with Italian-style sauce and meat. Looks like worms. Spaghetti is cut into maybe not even pinkie-sized little noods. They're very tiny. I said that they remind me of worms. That's fine. It's just what it reminds me. It's OK. Chef Boyardee.

We haven't had this texture yet, of spaghetti. Oh my god, that's sugar. Woo, that is a candied spaghetti. OK, we got a little baby meatball. It's like a soybean meatball. It's a step below spongy. It's a spongy, crumbly soybean meatball. That's what it tastes like. This one has the best flavor so far from the APack, but I don't know what that's saying.

This one could be very good. We have sweet and sour sauce with rice and chicken. We're going to have sugary, sweet, tangy, hopefully some savory going on. I'm-- I'm into this one.

Hmm. OK, this one-- thank you. Thank you, APack. 100% you can taste the ginger in there. It tastes actually kind of a fresh and clean change-up from everything else. This tastes like it wasn't prepackaged for many years. It tastes like it was packaged maybe for a few months. Sweet, slightly tangy, and the ginger, even though it's, like, one of the last ingredients on here, is, like, very loud in this dish.

I like this one the most so far. They've actually made a flavor that isn't tomato paste-based. It doesn't look beautiful, but that's fine. Now that I see that I had pineapple in it, I feel like that's what I'm tasting, a little bit like a tart tanginess in the chicken and rice. This one didn't need any extra spices added to it. Fine on its own. Would taste even better with salt, pepper, and the other mix.

I want to try the bar. Cranberry crisp protein energy bar. Feels severely flattened. [BLEEP] Why do these colors look like this?

- Is it orange again?

JULIA: No, it's just like a-- why is it this color? It looks like raw meat, like a raw meat bar.

- It's something.

JULIA: Oh no. [CHUCKLES]

- Oh no.

JULIA: Ew. Oh my God, my dentist is going to be mad. You can see my teeth marks. Wow. It's like putting fruit punch in a chewy Laffy Taffy bar-- extra chewy.

Oh, it's that aftertaste. I wish I could describe it correctly. It's not plasticky aftertaste, but all energy bars have this weird-- it's like protein powder, like shake, this flavor that it has after it. I just-- I wish the color wasn't the color of raw meat.

We'll just move on. Chelsea goes, (WHISPERING) let's move on.

I feel bad that I'm [BLEEP] on this stuff. I didn't mean to. I thought I was going to have, like, a really great, happy time.

Pasta with garden vegetables in a tomato sauce. Our final meal of the day is just like what we've had already, I think. And our garden vegetables appear to be kidney beans. And what else would it be? I don't see anything else in here. Is it just kidney beans? Dicks. It's literally just kidney beans. So it's pasta with kidney beans and tomato sauce, not garden vegetables.

We have that same kind of macaroni, thick noodle, a little doughy, a little chewy, and some kidney beans, and our favorite tomato paste in the whole wide world. I'm going to season this. And it's going to taste good. I think the one thing that we did wrong-- I don't think I purposely bought the reduced sodium packages. I think that's just what got sent to me. But that sodium, I know it's bad for you. But you need that in these meals. Because these are-- you know, they're meant to withstand hazardous conditions and last for years if stored properly. So they need to have flavor to them.

OK, out of the salt and pepper, I want this to just-- I just want it to be-- I want to end on a good note. Much better with the salt and pepper. Huge improvement. Ooh, I added a lot of salt in there. I welcome it. I welcome every piece of salt in this. That's really salty. [CHUCKLES]

I don't think you were supposed to add the whole salt packet. But it's covering up that super-sweet, sugary, candied tomato paste. This is as good as it gets, y'all. So I seasoned the other red packets with salt and pepper. And it didn't-- it didn't really improve it that much. But this one actually does feel slightly improved.

I think, from this round, my favorite is going to be the sweet and sour chicken and this last one, the garden vegetables and tomato sauce. Because the salt is actually helping it and bringing things out.

But I almost wonder if we got the worst of the six from APack and then the best of the six from the Sure-Pak. I'm not sure. But Sure-Pak wins for me, the brand as a whole, just because it came with more items and the flavors were much more, like, just diverse and plentiful. And it actually felt, like, a little bit more exciting.

These all were very much like-- if you took one bite from one to the next, I don't know how much you would notice a difference. I think, when you're getting these, you want them to be different enough so that you're excited about them. If they're all just pasta with red sauce, that's going to get very boring very quickly.

I think it's impressive that you can store food for many years and get it warm. And you can also eat it cold and it's not terrible. But the fact that you can just store it, heat it up with a little bit of water-- like, it's barely anything-- and to make something like this is very impressive. I wasn't expecting this to be like, pinkies-up [BLEEP]. But I am pleasantly surprised by one package. And I'm very-- this is on par with what I expected if that makes sense.

To all of you in the military who are eating these on a daily basis, that's a lot. [SIGHS] I need to chug so much water. I have more sodium in my body than I've ever had in my life. What else do I need, a nap? I don't even think I need a nap. I just need to, like, chug a gallon of water and then I'll feel fine.

All right y'all. Thank you so much for a wonderful episode of "Julia Tries Everything," MRE style. Gus was so excited to be our production assistant today. And he would like you guys to subscribe and comment below.

And if anyone has also eaten MREs, tell me which brand do you like the most and what flavors of things. I still didn't get my mac and cheese really. So let me know how I can get that one. Thanks, y'all.

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