This is the research and development that goes into producing MREs

For decades, MREs have been a staple in military culture as troops have lived off the nourishment the bagged rations have provided.

At the U.S. Army Natick Labs in Massachusetts, top food scientists and chefs have researched and developed ways to improve the legendary military MRE.

Their work has contributed to making the meals tasty while keeping the ration’s shelf life up to three years at 80-degrees.

Related: 11 regional American foods we’d like to see in MREs

These researchers did everything from examining the molecules in the food matrix to reaching out to the troops themselves for input about the food they consume.

During the durability testing phase, MREs take a beating to prove they can hold up to intense environments —that’s before they’re even shipped off the troops who need them.

Developing each MRE requires plenty of time and careful construction to support operational habits like being dropped out of C-17 planes — sometimes at an altitude of 1,000 feet.

Meals Ready to Eat, MREs, KCET

These soldiers load up an MRE supply to transport them to troops stationed on the ground.

The chef’s mission is to create full individual meals to give that troop a sense of being home through their variety of entrees and sides.

Once the MREs reach the hands of hungry troops, the items within the pouch can be quickly heated up for a hot meal or negotiations can take place so that hungry service members can make their favorite blend.

Meals Ready to Eat, MREs, KCET

The Air Force takes a moment to chow down on their issued MREs.

On deployment, meals are rarely consumed in an individual setting, but in a supportive group — as troops use their mealtime as a way of reflecting on their life back home through a warm pouch of chili mac.

Also Read: Amazon could soon deliver its own version of MREs

Check out the very first full-episode of Meals Ready to Eat below to see how military cuisine is created and tested in high-tech kitchens then shipped to the troops on the front lines:

(Meals Ready to Eat, KCET)