Is there a difference?
I first discovered meals-in-a-bag when I was doing searches for homemade DIY MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) on YouTube. My search eventually led to what is called homemade backpacking meals. I was so excited when I discovered these homemade backpacking meals! It didn't take but a moment to realize that these meals could be used for MREs. First of all, the MREs I had put together tended to be a little too heavy for putting very many in our backpacks. The backpacking meals that were made using a dehydrator were extremely light weight! Did I say I was excited? That really doesn't even begin to describe how I felt! Here, I'll give you a link to the first video I actually found on the backpacking meals. Dehydrating Food for Backpacking. Go ahead, click on the link and check it out. The link will open up in a new tab so you won't lose this page. Seeing this video will help you to understand why I was so excited!!
Note: When I refer to my/our MREs, I am actually talking about a vacuum sealed bag that has a day's worth of food in it, individually packed inside. For example, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two snacks, along with drink mixes, condiments, plastic silverware etc.
After watching dozens of these videos I decided to buy a dehydrator and try making them myself. I soon discovered that most of the backpacking meal recipes only had a shelf life of six months to one year. That was mostly due to the ingredients they were using. So, I resigned to the fact that I would just have rotate our MREs out every six months. It was worth that to me to have lighter, more nutritious, and more familiar type meals than the ones you can buy ready made.
After a few months in continuing my search for more (and more) backpacking recipes, I ran across these things called meals-in-a-jar recipes. I was so amazed at that concept! Meals-in-a-jar are very similar to backpack meals, except the foods are dehydrated separately and then mixed all together in a jar to make a meal to store for later use that you just had to add water to and cook. Then, I thought why couldn't I put these meals together in a vacuum sealed bag or a mylar bag? And guess what?!? I found some videos on doing just that!