Survival Cooking When The Electricity Goes Out
Alternative Ways To Cook Food Without Power
Most people rely on a electric stove for cooking at home. For the sake of preparedness (without electricity), you might consider other “survival cooking” methods.
Not all foods require cooking. For example, commercially and home “canned foods” can be safely eaten without cooking because the canning process has eliminated harmful bacteria.
Pro Tip: “Not all foods require cooking.” In fact you should think about that when diversifying your preparedness food storage!
However for today’s topic, lets consider so called “survival cooking” (as in, without electricity).
Cooking with Natural Gas Fuel Source
For those of you who have natural gas to your home, you probably have a gas stove in your kitchen. The majority of typical or most likely disaster scenarios will not interrupt the natural gas supply. Given the workings of the natural gas pipeline distribution systems, the likelihood of losing gas pressure is very low (unless purposely shut off).
Natural gas to your home will ensure the ability to cook, even without electricity, because most gas stove-top burners will light with a match, although the oven might not light due to modern electronics even in gas stoves. Still, have a backup plan for cooking.
Cooking With LP (Liquid Propane) Gas Stove
Most who live in rural areas have a medium or large propane tank supplying LP gas for appliances such as stoves, heating systems, hot water heaters, and even clothes dryers. During a power outage you will still be able to cook, assuming you have a gas LP equipped gas stove.
At my home, we have a buried 1,000 gallon LP tank. It lasts a long time! Gas stove, furnace, hot water, and clothes dryer appliances.
Lets not forget the good ‘ol barbecue grill. Charcoal fired or with it’s 20 pound propane tank. If the power’s out, and your fridge/freezer is thawing, sounds like a good excuse to bbq some of those steaks! Or whatever else.
How To Tell How Full or Empty Your BBQ Propane Tank Is
How To Know Your Freezer Lost Power While You Were Away
Cooking With A Portable “Camp” Stove
A portable burner or “camp stove” is an excellent preparedness appliance. They use a variety of fuel sources including propane, butane, “Coleman” fuel (or white gas), alcohol, wood, twigs…
A portable stove (e.g. camp stove) is the easiest way to deal with having a backup plan for cooking when the power goes out.
There are a bazillion camp stoves to choose from these days. They are not expensive and may be worth your while in case of an emergency. (Browse availability here)
Off the top of my head, I’ve got a Coleman dual-fuel model (white gas, gasoline), a butane single burner countertop model, and a SOLO Stove (rocket stove, wood fueled).
Related article: Butane Stove | Safer For Cooking Indoors
How Much Coleman Fuel Do I Need?
Fire Pit | Open Fire Cooking
Of course I could always cook over a fire outside. I do have a fire pit (ring of bricks). I have a few different size grates, and also have a tripod to hang a Dutch Oven over the fire.
It would be a challenge during bad weather, but it’s an option.
How To Start A Fire With Wet Wood
Yes, I know, the sun has to be shining for this to work. But guess what? It works! I do have a solar oven, and use it occasionally. I’ve written lots of articles on solar ovens (search our articles). You could even build you own…
Cooking Without Electricity – Solar Oven Cooker
Cooking in a Fireplace or on Wood Stove
Another option is using your indoor fireplace for cooking, especially if it’s during winter. Burn the fire down to a bed of coals and place a dutch oven there.
Cooking on top of a wood stove is a no brainer. I would think that most people who heat with a wood stove already do this to an extent!
The Key Takeaway…
An important consideration for survival cooking is to have a backup plan in case the power goes out for more than just a few hours.
There are a number of fuel sources and stoves to consider for emergency cooking. Chances are that you’re already set in this department, given that you who are reading this are mostly preparedness-minded / preppers.
But lets throw out some thoughts and ideas in the comment section below. Especially if you’ve ever had to use your backup plan under forced real-life circumstances.
SAFETY TIP: Avoid cooking indoors with a camp stove. Perhaps better out on your porch. Carbon Monoxide could be a problem.
My ultimate goal is to have a pavilion w/ fireplace – cook area across one entire end that way you could cook In just about any weather except maybe a blizzard and it would be great for summer cooking and not heating up the house
Coincidentally we just experienced a backup failure (butane stove caught fire) and so I just recently, yesterday in fact, bought the Coleman dual-fuel single burner stove. I use to have one of the single fuel/white gas variety and sold it for some stupid reason. For us, this is the best choice not only for emergencies but for camping also as you don’t have to pull out and set up the double burner camp stove.
That article on Cast Iron Cooking Tips is a damn good one too!
Thats why one or two of them kerocene stoves from st paul mercantile is a good investment, not as volatile, much easier to source after the ball goes up and pops
Never commented before in years of reading, I noticed a few mention 2 burner kerosene stoves & Coleman fuel camp stoves, for what its worth…Lehman’s sells Oven that fits both these stove types and They Work Well! Smaller Oven fits on 1 of 2 burner gas stove & temp regulated 2-600dgrs by adjusting flame height, Much larger close to full size Oven for 2 burner Kerosene stove bit trickier but doable temp regulation with practice/experience and multiple dishes can be cooked at same time. Saw Kerosene Heater cooking mentioned too, also Very doable, have done many pan,pot types meals on 1 and biscuits in a pot w/lid by removing top cover & lowering pot bottom 3″ish into heater, makes a very hot fast dutch oven type cooker so stay right on top of it or you get charcoal briquettes instead of biscuits. This is on the round type 20-22,000ish but kerosene heater. An adjustable height grill like cook top can be easily homemade to move cook surface higher/lower to increase/decrease heat to pan/pot being used. For what its worth.
I appreciate that you have been hear for ‘years’. Thank you. And welcome to the comment section. Thanks for your input.
Hahaha -I like your self-promoting plug for your ‘dutch oven’ guest article that I linked above ;) Yep, lots of good tips there!
As my high school gym teacher use to say, “don’t stand short”.
– The butane stoves were really intended for cooking indoors, very common in oriental homes. Mine works quite well in that mode. Prices are all over the place, as I got mine for ten dollars at an Ace hardware store, found it for still less at an oriental food store, then found the same one for nearly fifty dollars at a big box store.
I have used my two burner propane indoors as well as a back-up when the power went out. I have even loaned it to both my in-laws and also to my oldest daughter when their power went out. It’s as easy as using a gas stove. In fact, I told my daughter to just keep it and I bought a newer Coleman. I have it and a older Coleman gasoline 2-burner. I would prefer not to try to use the gasoline stove indoors, as it has been known to flare up when being lit.
I have, and have used, both propane and gasoline Coleman lanterns for light. If I were to suggest what to get for the first-timer, I would say go with the propane for simplicity. Same for the stove, along with fuel availability.
It’s also easy to get the adapter hose for a 20-pound tank to connect to a canister-type stove for a longer period of use.
I have used cast iron for cooking ever since I was fourteen years of age. An early mentor was one of the last trail herd cooks, who lost his father to illness on a trail drive when he was along as his father’s swamper (cook’s helper) when he was about 9 years old. He was one of the last trail and round-up cooks still alive, back in the sixties.
Cookie took pity on me at a Boy Scout Exposition, when I was supposed to be preparing biscuits in a (new-to-me) Dutch Oven at one of the outdoor exhibits. He not only was kind enough to tell me what I was doing wrong, he stayed and talked to me for over an hour about Dutch oven cooking. at the time, he was writing a book, which is now out of print. I learned a lot in that hour.
I learned still more from a friend’s mother, who grew up poor on a Kiowa reservation. Wood was cheaper to collect with an axe than propane or butane, which they used for heat during the winter. She taught both her sons and daughter, and me, how to cook on a campfire at the same time.
Now my DW complains that I cook as well as anyone so long as it is on a campfire, and better than she can. Worse yet, cooking is a hobby of hers. She can turn out anything she wishes in her kitchen. She has had friends from all over the world (ex-military spouse) give her recipes and teach her how to cook their specialties.
I have used a Dutch oven as well as other means, to cook in our fireplace more than once during a power outage. It’s not much different than cooking on a campfire, except you can’t dig a hole and bury the pot in the coals. Living at the end of a long powerline, winter outages are not uncommon, and it is a good way to stay in practice.
– Papa S.
– I also have a very nice, large outdoor barbecue grill made of heavy gauge steel, and just a couple of months ago I was teaching grand boys how to use a sixteen brick rocket stove. There’s a fire pit here as well.
The rocket stoves are pretty handy, forgot about that, i copied the design of that one you see online on these sites, made from a couple pieces of steel tubing, pretty easy to get going too.
– Misspoke above. Started learning with Mom’s cast iron at age nine. Started getting my own cast iron at age fourteen.
Good piece Ken, food for thought,,
I do have propane camp stoves, my favorite by far is a 2 burner kerosene stove i got from St Paul Mercantile, just another good backup, i am a fan of using wood too though, is readily available and renewable, and we have a good supply of it all around our property. My home made BBQ is a wood burner, and is an easy way to cook, is big enough to use for cooking most stuff and i have a cast iron griddle that fits nicely over the grill for cooking dinners or breakfast etc,,, i also made a big steel fire pit, sits up off the ground, has a pipe welded to one side to accept an arm that has a grill on it and a hook to hang the big dutch oven off of,
IMHO its good to have options, am looking to get a wood cook stove from Lehmans if i cant find an old decent one locally, or possibly fabricate one, the shipping is a killer over here, but i have and can get steel plate redily and have the capability to fab whatever i want, the biggest challenge will be the pattern but i think a good project, was actually eyeballing a stack of 1/4″ stainless cut offs at the steel place a few weeks ago, but $ is sorta tight.
We have our all propane stove which doesn’t require any electricity to ignite the oven or the top burners — think Amish style stove.
We also have a wood cookstove, a Vintage-era model.
Our other back-ups are the rocket stove, open-fire cooking w/ either the tripod or grills using cast iron cookware, grill (using either wood or charcoal), dual-burner Coleman, and our regular wood stove.
Those who are searching for backups to their main method of cooking should practice what they buy. And be aware that some of these lesser methods require some understanding and vigilance. For example, a basic charcoal grill can be used to cook your food with wood, but you need to learn how to work with fired-up wood, or with the coals that will form — same for open fire cooking. And of course, you need a good supply of dry wood. We have stored 10 large stick bundles that hang from a shed rafters just to cook wood. (No different than having dry kindling to start a basic fire…)
Propane kitchen stove, grills, (propane and charcoal), woos stove, fire pit and portable and brick rocket stove.
Set up well with the wood stoves for cooking but for the quick pot of coffee or smaller portion cooked meal, the rocket stoves are amazing. Use a minimal amount of fuel (several sticks) and heat very quickly.
We have a coleman single burner camp stove that we keep in our survival pack. That pack goes with us any time we leave home over night. We have used it many times to cook breakfast. We also have several rocket stoves that we made. One mourning my grandson and I made one from tin cans and cooked breakfast on it. Those are good times. We also have 2 charcoal grilles that I love to cook on. I am wanting to build a fire pit with an adjustable grate to do canning outside but haven’t had the time or money lately.
After losing too many charcoal grills to rust I finally got one that I should get a lot of mileage out of. It is the hub of a wheel with a layer of lava rock on the ground and sits on a couple of bricks for air flow. My 20″ grill salvaged from previous grills sits on top. I did chicken on it last week and pork ribs yesterday.
The legs rusted off of one of our charcoal grilles. I have a forge made from a brake drum that I use as a base for that grille. The ability to adapt and improvise are very important to survival and every day life.
If you use a hose adaptor that goes into the 20 lb tank, check the O-ring to make sure it hasn’t corroded and always have spares on hand. That little 19c piece of rubber was all it took to shut us down when we were camping at Custer park in the Black Hills.
Chevy, yes it is a good idea to always have spare O-rings on hand. I (now always) keep a few in my repair kit. I have used lip balm on a cracked O-ring as a (very) temporary fix. The other thing I’ve used successfully is some Vaseline from cotton ball fire starter.
Neighbor: (an alias I was once considering) wouldn’t the Vaseline corrupt the rubber? For a short term fix, but I wouldn’t put it on a good ring.
Chevy, I think it would be bad for the rubber long-term. In this instance, the rubber was already cracked and I needed a quick fix to stop the gas leak. Once I was home I cleaned off all of the Vaseline and replaced the ring with a fresh one.
Cooking when the lights go out? Least of my worries (not that it doesn’t need to be addressed). Much of my coking preps came about by necessity.
First, anyone who has done primitive camping should already have the skills necessary to revert back if the need arises. While cast iron works best, any modern pot, pan, or skillet can be pressed into service over an open fire. Don’t have a metal grate? Stacked rocks adjacent to the fire to make a makeshift support for cooking utensils and a small shovel to place coals underneath works well (and easier to moderate cooking temps).
While I have the primitive skills, I don’t depend on them alone. I have several propane stoves and grills. I insisted on a propane cooking range and a propane auxiliary wall heater when we built our home. Yes, we still have modern HVAC.
One of our cabins, adjacent to our home, has a small 4 burner w/oven, pilot light operated “apartment size” kitchen range. Any baking can be done here.
We also have a fairly large smoker/grill capable of being wood fired. Anything that can be cooked over an open fire can be cooked using this (including bread/biscuits inside a covered pot if you close the top of the grill…might have a smoky taste which I like anyway).
I know a lot of folks tout solar cooking, and that’s great, but not for me unless all other methods are unfeasible. Sorry, that’s just me.
A tip when depending on propane after a potentially long term event…….conserve when possible. Fried your bacon? Turn off the heat, the residual heat of the skillet should be enough to fry the eggs. Think of other ways to preserve and stretch a fuel you may not be able to replace.
I bought the kerosene stove from St. Paul Mercantile and have been buying kerosene every few weeks. For my one kilowatt solar system, which will do the house lighting and kitchen outlets, I have an induction cooktop, slow cooker, and the usual tea kettle coffe pot etc. The solar will be hooked up within a month and then I will start testing. I also have an Ecozoom Plancha for wood cooking. The Kelly Kettle heats two cups of water to boiling in three minutes using three cotton balls soaked in Vaseline. I haven’t found the wood stove, a Defiant from Vermont Castings, to be good for cooking but it does a great job of heating the house.
Strawbox or retained heat cooking saves fuel. Fuel use and the resulting smells-smoke can be reduced.
I just Googled Strawbox cooker plenty of good free information available.
To use a Strawbox cooker bring your pot to boiling temperature. Lid it, carefully transfer from heat source into the insulated box, cover and like a Slow Cooker in a few hours dinner is ready.
Saves fuel, gives you time to do other things while waiting for dinner and you can NEVER Burn it in the Strawbox unless you burnt it bringing it up to boil.
At the Deer Camp, I’ve use a Strawbox in the morning so dinner was waiting when we returned and then put the still boiling breakfast in it for our early hot breakfast. As I used a cast iron Dutch oven the temperatures stayed above 140 degrees even overnight but then again I also used extra wool blankets for really chilly nights.
For real fun look up parabolic solar cookers, you cook from behind them using a cut out as the glare and heat is not safe to be in front of it. Those solar stoves are like a Burner on HIGH so don’t walk away from your cooking. Home builds are easy, plenty of plans. I’ve used a Wok and stir-fried on it as well as solar grilled steaks on a iron plate.
– I have used the old Kero-Sun style heaters to cook/make coffee on. I just don’t happen to have one around the house. I’ll undoubtedly remedy that before too long, they are just too handy. Only a couple of places to buy kerosene in the immediate area since our gas station quit carrying it. I have been told they will burn diesel, but will stink you out of the house. Haven’t tried it.
Have used a diesel drip Yukon stove while in Germany, had a Sergeant-Major who absolutely despised being cold. I can remember that thing glowing red-hot all the way back to the chimney. Made a fresh pot of coffee in about 5 minutes, LOL.
I have also piddled about with 2 or three different solar cookers, all worked, couldn’t get food to burn with any of them. My homebuilt cardboard box oven that resembled the All-American Sun Oven you can find in the sidebar was my favorite, although the sun funnel made from a reflective windshield shade, a scavenged round charcoal grill, a five-gallon bucket and a couple of butterfly clips took high marks for convenience.
In my GHB that lives in the ‘veryback’ of my vehicle, there is a little penny stove that works pretty well for boiling water. Wouldn’t want to try to cook Thanksgiving dinner with it, though.
– Papa S.
Papa Smurf why an I NOT Surprised you built a solar cooker? Wish I knew how to make a Laughing Face.
A well build parabolic is a powerful tool. Around 300 watts per square meter with near perfect reflectivity and that is focused on the bottom of your cooking pan. I have used those flexible aluminum plates that printers use and recycle today as reflectors. Pretty cheap (I “Paid” a 6 pack of beer for a lot of them) and they are long lasting/easy to polish back up for next seasons use. I recycled an old Satellite Dish for mine. Smoked a couple of old aluminum pots before figuring out the proper focal point.
DO operate it from behind and rotate it facing the earth when not in use, safer and saves weathering of the aluminum plate reflectors.
Take a look at GoSun webpage for a portable version using Borosilicate Glass Evacuated tube technology. A Thermos with a solar reflector heating it up.
With a good parabolic and a Strawbox retained heat cooker you’d only need 10-15 minutes of good sunshine to boil that pot and get the “Slow Cooker” effect going.
Or we COULD use the Original Solar Collector “Trees” and Burn that “Saved” Solar Energy in our Rocket Stoves and such. However what do they say about heating with wood? Warms you twice? Add to that cutting trees with out a gasoline chainsaw, hauling that wood to your home and splitting etc.
I plan to be very thrifty with my firewood supplies. A LOT of Work building up those cords of firewood TODAY and I have a gasoline chainsaw and a gasoline pick up truck etc.
Actually, I have a satellite dish and some of those printers’ aluminum plates around, just haven’t put them together. I also have a couple of the large Fresnel lenses stashed around the house. Those seem to get pretty hot, too. One thing west Texas is not normally short of is sunlight.
What it is, is a way to keep an inquiring mind out of trouble. The Strawbox is a very effective way to keep heat in and turn whatever pot into a slow cooker. I will play with it at some time. Just haven’t yet. I do agree, firewood is too much work to use if not needed.
Evacuated glass tubes? I remember how attractive panes of plain old window glass are to rocks/slingshots/.22 bullets. I probably won’t spend that money anytime soon.
Wood stove in the house. Coleman both propane and gas. BBQ grill. Zoom Versa and a couple of hobo stoves made from #10 cans. Cooking off grid. Check
We use propane grill, year round. We also have propane stove/oven in the kitchen. We have an Ashley wood stove in the house. It easily heats the whole house. We have an Earth stove in the garage. I have cooked on the earth stove. Great for frying bacon, eggs, etc. A little bacon grease spatter won’t hurt the concrete floor in the garage.
I built a rocket stove from an old paint can and a vegetable can. I was quite impressed with the heat provided by the rocket stove and twigs. Definitely an outdoor activity. Lots of designs on line. Like many others, we use up a propane grill every 3 or 4 years. I have numerous spare burners on hand and don’t mind keeping them going. I have kept the grates from various grills, through the years. I have a pretty good selection for mounting above an open fire or even a homemade penny stove (alcohol stove). I encourage everyone to experiment with a penny stove. Total cost, 1 cent. I’m sure ya can build your first penny stove in less than 15 minutes. After the first one, maybe 3 minutes.
I have an electric stove in the house. Backup is generator to power stove, heater, refrigerator, freezer, lights. Backup to that is propane grill and burners. Backup to that is white gas stove. Backup to that is kerosene stove. Backup to that is fireplace with wood. Backup to that is rocket stove.
Though I now live in a state that has plenty of lumber, I still cook on natural gas in the home and I have propane as a back-up for both buddy heaters and back porch BBQ grill.
For me, lights out means we break out the small portable LED lanterns and use the LED headlamps when cooking and washing dishes. It is an inconvenience butt it is also a good time to assess your preps-in-place and determine what you may need more of in the future.
I still enjoy cooking on cast iron though my wife likes her thick aluminum nonstick clad cookware. ( there was no fight over this issue…she is addressed as She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed or simply as: “The Queen” within our home.)
For backpacking long distances over many days, I like to use White Gas ( Coleman Fuel) for my MSR stove. On the pro side: the stove and fuel used per BTU’s generated is quite high which means more heat to melt snow and boil water. The MSR stoves are very simple design and easy to replace parts periodically.
The con side of cooking and lighting with white gas: Refill and maintenance involves playing with open containers of volatile liquid fuel. Check the seals on stove and fuel storage bottles. ( I use Sigg fuel bottles.).
I still love to BBQ a cut of beef on the charcoal grill at home. My dog likes it too.
I have one of the first MSR Stoves, burned white gas, kerosene or diesel. Sounded like a jet plane taking off, I can see why the redesigned it. It did boil water quickly.
Currently a three propane camp stoves and 200 gallons of propane for them and the generator. Wood stove in the house.
Propane BBQ grill and an old cast aluminum propane grill, gutted it and now it burns wood.
Carpal tunnel currently kicking my butt. Won’t be contributing much until it’s dealt with. Can’t effectively use my left hand.
I remember my first MSR stove, had been using it a lot so decided to clean it out real good, something i did must have increased the size of the ports because it behaved more like a flame thrower or one of those burners for a turkey fryer, sorta scary, remember lighting it on the workbench testing it out and just about had to change my shorts, definitely had less eyebrow!
Propane stove, butane stove, Dutch oven, fire pit, camper stove/oven, propane grill, propane smoker, propane Turkey fryer, backpack stove and fireplace.
I like to eat
I just overhauled a 425 Coleman white gas stove. I’ve got 5 camp stoves now. Here is a resources for over-haulers: https://www.oldcolemanparts.com/home.php
A couple of years ago, there was a leak in the natural gas line coming into town. They had to shut down gas for our town and the next town over, about 5 miles away. To fix it, the utility had to shut down the line, everyone’s gas at the meter, fix the leak, and then go house to house, business to business, and turn on each meter and light pilots for everyone. This process took a few days.
Every restaurant closed.
It felt really good to have several alternative means for cooking and grilling (propane, charcoal, butane). It was also great to see people helping each other out and acting like a community, divisive arguments forgotten for a few days.
LP stove in house, used to have no issues without power till it got replaced.
new stove needs power to operate anything.
So I have a 50watt inverter for that particular problem.
Worse case there is the outdoor grill and a single lp burner I can use in house.
We also have 3 2 burner Coleman camp units 2 or 3 msr camp burners..
11 full lp tanks, 4 gallons coleman fuel plus 80 acres of forest for other options.
My LP stove/oven is similar. The stove top will light no problem without electricity. The oven though would require it. Good idea regarding the inverter (12v battery converted to 120VAC) for temporary use. Fortunately in my case I’ve got solar power to get me through.
I’m curious about the 50w inverter to heat the igniter on your range. Have you tested it to make sure it will handle the task? I ask, only because having replaced those igniters before, those I replaced were of much higher wattage than 50w. Not doubting it works on your particular range, but if you’ve not tested your plan, you might give it a try to make sure. No doubt 50w would handle the spark for the top burners, but the igniter on the oven burners doubles as a heater for the thermocouple that releases the gas and made of high resistance tungsten that gets cherry red hot to perform it’s task.
I was thinking about that too. I believe the ignitor coils in my oven draw a few hundred watts. FYI, a electricity usage meter (such as this one) is advisable for checking this sort of thing.
Related article: How to Measure Power Consumption
The average modern gas cooking range draws 3-4 amps while oven is operating. Watts= amps x voltage, or watts= 3 amps x 120 volts to watts = 4 amps x 120 volts or 360 watts to 480 watts to operate.
For what it’s worth when planning for grid down use of a modern gas range.
And it seems like crock pots use a lot of energy so I would not plug and play with those.
DAMedinNY thus my interest in Strawbox or Retained Heat Cooking. Bring that pot to a boil with a rocket stove and a few sticks, lid it, carefully transfer it to the thermal cooker and your NO extra Energy Slow Cooker does the rest.
As far a Bugs and Heat if you cook in a screened summer kitchen WITH a Grape Vines Lattice for shade and evaporative cooling it’s quite an improvement. Not quite like AC but pretty nice. Gazebo’s used to be Wealthy Peoples AC back then with vining plants providing shade and evaporative cooling just like being in a breezy clump of trees. With proper screens and hammocks I bet they would pass for a good bedroom.
First post here (I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this resource). Don’t forget about OpSec…. the smell of food travels a long way. I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir, though. Thanks for all of the wonderful and useful content!
Good reminder on traveling food odors. A lot of what we have set aside just needs warming not a prolonged cooking time .
With all the knowledge we share on this site can anybody chime in on HOW to Reduce Cooking Smells???
Could literally be a lifesaver
Cook downwind of your enemies. Post guards downwind from your cook fire in case you misjudged your friends.
Seriously, if its going to be a problem better to totally minimize with stuff you dont need to cook or that takes minimal heating,
An indoor wood stove helps to keep odors indoors. Kerosene cook stoves are designed to be used indoors. Canned soups, pork & beans, corned beef hash, etc. can be eaten cold or warmed up. Boiling water for Ramen soups or MRE’s doesn’t make much odor.
– If you must cook and have no other way to control odors:
Use instant coffee. Nothing will attract trouble like the smell of coffee brewing.
This is a good time to use canned goods. Peel the label, unless you like paper soup, place the unopened can in a pot of cold water deep enough to cover, or mostly cover, the can.
Heat the water with the can to boiling, remove the can carefully with tongs or whatever you need or have. Open and eat. Just assure that the can does not boil dry; a dry can on a fire will explode. If you are careful, the water can either be placed into your canteen or used for hot instant tea or coffee
Perfect? No, but it will reduce the smell of cooking to just that of the fire.
Hope this helps.
– Papa S.
– Or you can use the boiling water for preparing ramen and such.
pressure cooker would be one way to keep it down. As some have commented using a thermal cooker would at least keep it to a minimum. BBQ is really not a great idea and neither is a fire pit as both waste a lot of fuel and don’t work very efficient ( try boiling water on your grill). In a true long term grid down situation we will all be eating a lot of things like soup and stews so the thermal cooker sounds like the best option for that.
Thanks for posting. It’s good to think about “odor” opsec…
– cook indoors
Otherwise, a few thoughts include:
– cook lower temp vs. hot and smokey
– use pot with cover/lid when possible while avoiding excessive heat
– be aware of foods that will put off more odors than others (meats vs. veggies or simply heating pasta, etc.)
– be aware of wind direction
– don’t cook outdoors when nearby opsec is a particular concern
Love cooking dutch oven style over coals….wood or other….we have a 1000 gallon propane tank (only use about 250/year on ave.) so will last a while! Gas hot water, ovens, dryer and even a gas “fireplace” freestander in front living room (works great for the kettle!0
Use charcoal for grill…we have an “acorn” so can use it to bake as well. fun. also have all the usual camp gear. Cooking without electricity is NO PROBLEMO
We are closing on the new property (Deep South and near relatives) on Wednesday. One thing we are planning is an outdoor kitchen. We’ll build a pole barn, screen it in, add frig, freezer, deep sinks, tables, propane burners, smoker/grill, and fire pit outside. This article and accompanying comments are inspirational! Me2, I liked the Strawbox idea, too.
“We’ll build a pole barn, screen it in, add frig, freezer, deep sinks, tables, propane burners, smoker/grill, and fire pit outside.”
That sounds nice!
Don’t forget those screens to keep the “Deep South” skeeters and bugs out!
We have a propane range for cooking , but no power means no oven, with a 5 year propane supply. We have the usual camp stoves , bar-b -q’s and a volcano unit that uses wood , propane or briquets . Also have dutch oven cookware and our winter heat source is a wood stove that we can cook on as well.
Colman makes a propane oven. I have seen them but never seen one used. the only thing I would worry about baking would be bread and I can do that with a dutch oven
Poorman I’ve got a similar oven that just sets down on the stove. The kind I got ain’t made no more though.
It works great for biscuits and stuff. Never baked bread but don’t see why ya couldn’t.
You have to consider what you’re cooking; fried eggs/fish/ potatoes or rice, bacon or pasta. They all require different arrangements.
I hope I’ve learned not to post when I’m half awake; I have no idea what I was talking about there, it isn’t even my writing style using slashes instead of commas, spaces, sentence structure etc.
Probably the best training to maintain a clean kitchen and clean up after yourself is to live and cook in a kitchen within bear country. Black bears have a sense of smell better than that of most dogs.
In my cabin, I cleaned with ammonia or windex after cooking something that was sweet, gooey or savory like BBQ ribs and chocolate chip cookies. This step was in addition to washing with dishwashing soap and hot water. Garbage was in bags and taken out each night.
On trail patrol the following day (s) often meant eating leftovers for lunch on the first day out. ( teriyaki marinated flank steak with mash potatoes and green beans was popular.). I would cook for several days worth of meals when I did turn on the range, the oven and light up the grill. Trail lunches were typically no-fire/cold lunches.
I never was able to cut down on cooking smell if you are going to be slow roasting a big turkey or grilling a lot of meat. Our solution: Post others out there for guard duty while you do the cooking. I used to boost morale by serving the people on guard duty the longest first. Seconds are available after everybody got their first serving.
Working in the kitchen got me out of a lot of sh!t detail. I was always told to knock off work early so I could get dinner started.
Teriyaki with mashed potatoes?
Thats almost sacrilege,,
Rice,,,, nice sticky white rice!
It was a mixed heritage group of fire fighters so…they liked to mix it up a little. I was the only asian guy so I was referred to as “Hop Sing” by the white guys. (in reference to the old tv show: Bonanza) Over 1/2 the crew was of Mexican heritage so we actually ate a lot of Mexican food. Burritos filled with cold meats were a common trail food.
The most rice I have seen served within a firehouse was San Francisco Fire Dept where there were many 2nd generation Chinese working as firemen. I have been told that the New York Fire Department firehouses there is a lot of Italian food being served.
Wood burning stoves in house and barn. Inherited a dual fuel wood/propane cast iron stove when DFM upgraded off-grid cabin. Conserving fuel using retained heat method in a box of old blankets. Thinking building a well-insulated outdoor pizza oven might be prudent.
With pigs now am looking forward next year to cooking a whole pig in the ground. Wonder if that would work for other meats like fish or chicken.
We had out of town family here for a visit and dinner was at our home last night. The family absolutely loved the American Guinea Hog steaks and chops that we did on the grill! Served with that were gold potatoes dig s few weeks ago, corn on the cob and fresh veggies do sausage stuffing with banana peppers. Most everyone had seconds. The entire meal could have been cooked outside, but I opted to do some on the gas stove top and oven.
By the way, it was extremely hot and buggy – tons of them biting! Was grateful for the AC and thought about how tough it will be when things go sideways.
Once upon a time on a trip to Honduras I noticed that the traditional cooking platform was waist high, made of cinder block and filled with dirt. They would use wood pieces and/or briquets .They used small bricks and grates to elevate pots and pans above the heat. On one occasion the ladies cooked a 45# grouper on this platform . It was stuffed with rice and peppers and wrapped in large damp leaves. Coals were heaped on it . It was delicious.
Third world countries are a great place to look for creative ideas on a very small budget.
My favorite is the tandor cooker out of india, of course i wont be using dung as fuel but they are a great way to cook kebabs and stuff
Poorman you know you can bake in a Thermal Cooker? Details vary but look around. I’ve had good results with cornbread muffins (tasted great with the Chili also in that same Thermal Cooker). I’ve seen steamed bread recipes but have not tried them yet.
When things go sidewise time will be short with lots to do, fuel and food supplies limited. Learning how to do a few good Thermal Cooking Recipes can save you time, cooking fuel and you never can burn your food in them.
I will have to make a batch of chili and corn bread this weekend and smell to see if it’s OPSEC useful in reducing cooking smells. The Jalapenos in that Chili will tell (or should I say smell) the tale. :-)
Never really thought about baking in a thermal cooker but your right it should work fine. Guess I’m going to have to try it now. Damn like I didn’t have enough to do LOL
Sorry tired but forgot to mention a great way to reduce cooking time and thus fuel usage.
Add a pot skirt to your pots. A great way to use your Tin Snips and empty #10 cans. Think of it as a Chimney guiding ALL the heat from your stove around that pot. Found it in the Low Tech Magazine webpage. I think right now as new material gets added it’s page 5 or so back. Also talks about Thermal Cooking in that article. Warning Low Tech and it’s sister No Tech can be addictive especially for Papa Smurf I bet :-)
If you Google Pot Skirt you’ll find Ecozoom sells them for their excellent wood cookers. If you can use a tin snip with out harming yourself recycle your empty #10 cans. If you ask your favorite Restaurant I bet they would give you a few.
Goodnight all, may the peace of God fill your home with joy.
– To quote NRP, who is still out there somewhere lurking with Blue – Hey! I resemble that remark! LOLOL!
– Papa S.
Papa Smurf YES you DO! I wonder if we are somehow related friend.
Good Morning to all! Rejoice in what is good because all the nasty will show up with out you looking for it.
To keep this on topic subject is Summer Kitchens OR WHY you should buy screen repair-replacement material NOW. Pre-AC smart folks cooked outdoors and indeed Harvest Kitchens were best done outdoors due to vast amounts of processing and hot steam flooding the inside kitchen.
I can salvage wood and old nails but seldom do I find screen material salvageable to keep those darn bugs out.
THINK what our pre-AC forefathers would have LOVED to have. Screen materials, Plastic sheeting, duct tape, the list can grow. These things are CHEAP today.
Things I cannot make or make do with out once a LOUD Bang shatters my Pre-SHTF lifestyle AND my nice Windows.
Off to Lowes I go, have a blessed day! Oh Blue BE nice to NRP, he still loves ya! NRP your in my prayers.
Of course alternate fuel sources can be used to cook which is great, especially something that is replaceable like wood. Solar power can also be used as a 1000w stove eye or microwave oven. Solar ovens too. Renewable sources are the way too go for long term.
– One of the things that Texas Tech University has in Lubbock, Texas is the Ranching Heritage Center next door to the planetarium and the Art museum.
There a number of original ranch houses, along with some of the outbuildings, including a springhouse, representing ranch life for as far back as ranching in Texas goes. That’s almost 300 years. Most of the buildings moved there from their original sites had some provisions for outdoor cooking.
Others were specially adapted for such things as fighting off Indian raiders (One is two story, with the upper story hanging over the lower story and “murder holes” in the outer upper-level floor. Along with no lower-level windows).
Another is a “dog-run” cabin, really two small cabins joined with a covered breezeway, one of whose functions was as a covered semi-outdoor kitchen. It had facilities for an indoor kitchen as well, to use in colder weather. It’s interesting just to wander through there; better yet is to visit at a holiday time when they have reenactors playing the parts of the original residents, especially since one the more common tasks shown is preparing food.
– Papa S.
As I sit here in a restaurant waiting for my car to get fixed well on vacation I was reading your blog about cooking on alternative stoves. On vacation we always use our volcano stove. At the moment it is hot in our motorhome the cooler outside so all cooking is done on that stove. We can use wood, charcoal, or propane and it works fine. I wouldn’t want to have to run with it as it’s quite heavy but for stationary use it’s great.
I got my Coleman single burner stove today and was very disappointed that it was not the quality of the original 502 Sportster. Very cheap construction and yet very expensive. I should’ve paid twice as much on eBay for a used one.
Chevy that’s disappointing to hear on the stove. Any suggestions other than a used one like a different brand?
I have this handy dandy little thing called a Kelly Kettle, OR if you are in Europe it is called a Ghillie Kettle. It can boil water in 5 mins with twigs and sticks and you can cook on it too. I love it
Reading comments in Open Forum today got me remembering. Years ago a DFM purchased a house with a sweet little patio. DFM is happiest outside. Place was in a dry area that has four well-defined seasons. So I stopped by one of those roadside souvenir shops that are scattered across the West. Bought them a sturdy clay chimenea from Mexico. Just a one piece of a chimney over a round open burn chamber. Has worked well for years giving very pretty light, nice heat, and can take a little weight on top. Doesn’t use much wood. Am sure a well-supported grate set up would provide enough surface to cook a meal fairly quickly.