Make A “Prepper Dinner” Once A Month

Here’s and idea… Say, once a month, make a “prepper dinner”.

What do I mean by that?

Make A Dinner From Your Long Term Food Storage

Practice your survival skills. Make a dinner whereby you only use your food preps, your “deep pantry” and/or “long term food storage”. AND DO IT WITH NO ELECTRICITY.

Challenge yourself. Don’t just grab an MRE or a Mountain House Pouch.

Rather, be creative. Utilize some of your deep storage staple foods. Make some things from scratch. Try to put together a meal with a variety of foods, as though you’re making a meal to impress.

This way you’ll be more likely to discover holes in your process, or learn a few more things than otherwise.

Maybe you will find that you need a particular manually-operated appliance. Or a specific food item that you don’t have. Or a indoor-safe portable stove!

Related article: Single Burner Butane Stove – Safer For Cooking Indoors

Shut Off The Power

Go down to the breaker panel and flip them all off. A dark house. No working appliances.

Why? Because this will realistically resemble what could happen, and force you to deal with the variety of consequences and challenges.

And you know what? It’s fun!

In fact our pal, NRP, suggests doing a “lights out weekend” every once in awhile.

But starting with a “prepper dinner” might be a good place to start…

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34 Comments

  1. This is what I am doing now, only its daily not monthly for me. I haven’t walked a grocery store aisle now in months. I have learned that I prefer fresh eggs over freeze dried. I really miss that runny yolk which you just can’t get with freeze dried. So as a result, I don’t eat as much eggs, maybe once a week. The rest of the week it’s oatmeal and occasionally pancakes. I miss fresh vegetables. Speaking of fresh vegetables, I have one onion left. I have been careful checking it to make sure its still good. I plan of slicing it up and frying it in butter and using it to smother a grilled burger this weekend. Then I will be completely out of fresh vegetables. At some point I will sprout some seeds for some fresh sprouts.

    1. Very Lonely Peanut: This sounds more like a hardship case, not an example of successful well thought out prepping. Where can we send our care package? You need to reach out for help.

        1. yeah, he’s not doing anything.
          Okay, seriously, a lot of well-meaning folk mention the go fund me idea. I looked into it for such an idea and it isn’t quite what people think it is.

        2. Go Fund Me tends to be a bit of a scam from what I hear, however if folks can send Ken donations maybe Ken might (and I don’t blame him if he said No) allow a Christmas collection for Peanut. At least we know her from posting over the years. Not a What Happened to Compromise sort.

      1. Thank you Chevy, but I am not as destitute as it may sound. I have roughly a two year supply of food. I just lack fresh fruits and vegetables. My house is paid for with only taxes to worry about. What income I receive pays the utilities, taxes and insurance, with very little left over for gas for the car and groceries. I have chosen not to spend my grocery allowance until the tax bill comes out. The tax bill is four months late because the voters have rejected the budget four times now. The town is getting desperate and looking for ways to by-pass the voters wishes. Last years jump in taxes was enough to piss off the voters to soundly reject every budget presented.

        1. You mention eggs; I have found that pickling eggs is a really good way to have an egg on the fly. Very, very easy and very good. The peeled hardboiled egg’s (eleven will fit into a quart mason jar) are covered with a brine of white vinegar and salt and whatever spices you like and age in the refrigerator for a week. Curiously there is only a faint vinegar flavor to them.

          1. I did an experiment a couple of years ago where I coated eggs in food grade mineral oil and stored them in the basement without refrigeration. I did several dozen at the time. Every few days I would cook one or two to see how well they held up. After about four months they were getting less desirable. I had actually stopped storing eggs as my daughter keeps chickens, and keeps me well supplied with eggs. However this has been a bad year for her as she lost several chickens through predation. She barely gets enough eggs for her household.

        2. Lonely Peanut

          I visit the green grocers/farm markets in town couple times a week to pick up scraps for the pigs. Am always surprised by the amount of salvageable food in the boxes. Often heads of lettuce where the outer leaves are soft from freezing, melons bruised in one spot, broccoli trimmings, oranges with a soft spot, etc. There’s always onions and peppers. They all have a stack of boxes of scraps for animals that anyone can take. Saves them disposal costs.

          Perhaps you could pick up for daughter’s chickens or for garden compost and find good quality food under a not so pretty spot.

  2. Living in the mountains we end up doing this several times a year. Lost power for most of thanksgiving day. Switched the turkey to the barbecue and continued on. I regularly eat from my deep storage in the winter as I love ham and beans,split pea soup ect so I grab home canned ham and dried beans or peas or some canned chicken and flour for chicken and dumplings and in the pot they go. I don’t get into the freeze dried much except for the shredded potatoes for making hash browns as if needed I would mostly focus on using them for soups,stews,added to rice or beans for flavor. Now if I could just figure out how to cook cornbread on a stove top I would be good to go.

    1. Poorman,
      Go on YouTube and watch Corporals Corner… He makes breads/muffins, in a pot in coals. I bet you could adapt that to a stove top… Do you mean a gas stove top of a wood-stove stove top? Either way, I think this would work for you…

      1. JABBA
        I will look into it. I can do cornbread or bread or biscuits on coals as you just use a dutch oven and put coals on the top as well as them being under the pot which makes it an oven to itself but not sure how that would adapt on a gas burner

    2. The Coleman Stove Top Oven is the answer.It will bake any thing up to
      425 degrees.It has a thermometer in door and a small adjustable rack.
      Flame is needed so if your stove is electric you can use a propane camp
      stove.Watch the temperature closely.It can over heat quickly.
      Another option is the Camp Chef two burner stove with a really nice oven
      below.
      Betty Crocker has cornbread mix in a pouch,all you need is one egg and water.Jiffy has a drop biscuit mix that requires water.
      A wind storm the day before Thanksgiving took out the power for six hours.The storm thought it would stop our bisquits and gravy.Not!

      1. I have looked at the Coleman oven just never bought one. Never thought about using it on top of my interior gas range though. Guess I’ll just have to buy one as they aren’t very expensive and get good reviews. I had the same problem with power loss on Thanksgiving so had to finish the turkey on the barbecue and of course power cam back on in time to bake the biscuits, yams and stuffing LOL. As for the biscuits and gravy try the mountain house brand freeze dried. They are not as good as mine but at least as good as what you get in a restaurant. They are a little pricey at 7.00 a pack but you get 2 cups worth out of each package. ( they call that 2 servings but its one for me )

    3. Hush puppies – corn meal, a little flour, onion bits, some garlic powder, salt, pepper, a little baking powder/soda (not sure which) and some buttermilk/milk/water/beer. Leave the mixture sorta thick and drop spoonfuls into hot oil. Deep fry until golden brown.

      Or, you could make polenta (I.e., grits)

    4. Poorman, all you need to make cornbread on a stove top is a skillet and a tight fitting glass lid. your same ingredients and a little oil
      Make up batter like would make it for the oven , just slightly thinner. heat skillet, grease lightly make corn pones in any size you desire… i usually make 4 to a skillet.. cook with lid on,, when appear half done, flip and re-cover with lid. try about half flame if using gas stove top…after the skillet is fully heated. sometimes have to add a sm. amt oil as you flip them… You will get the hang of it.!..

  3. I often serve a meal made from just my prep storage.

    Tho I don’t go off-grid to do it (hubby doesn’t think that’s much fun).

    Just ran across a homemade recipe for corn flakes. Gonna try it today:

    1 1/4 cup cornmeal
    1 1/2 cup cold water
    1 Tbs sugar
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    Combine ingredients and whisk until smooth. You may need to add a bit more water. You want a thin pancake-like batter consistency. Pour the batter onto four cookie sheets lined with parchment paper (not wax paper or foil). The batter needs to be in a very thin layer on the cookie sheets to bake up nice and crispy.

    Cornmeal to sprinkle on top of batter:
    1/2 to 3/4 c cornmeal
    Just enough water to whisk into a crumbly texture (like parmesan cheese)
    Sprinkle this liberally on top of batter in pans

    Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool a bit.

    Break apart into cornflake sized pieces.

    Bake again at 250 for 20 more minutes.

    Allow “flakes” to cool. Serve in bowl with milk (and sugar if desired)

    I grow my own heirloom corn, dry it, and then grind it into cornmeal. I’m excited to think I could go from seed, to corn, to ground meal, to corn flakes. Though I am wondering how I would produce the cornflakes in a grid down situation as the cookie sheets might be too big for a solar oven.

    1. Thank you Grandee. I will likely try this in the future. I am also looking for cracker recipes. Do you have any to share?

      1. Peanut – I’ve made the following from time to time and they are always great, especially crumbling them into homemade tomato soup. I can’t remember who gave me this recipe though… Roll the dough as thinly as you can.

        YIELD:about 2 cookie sheets of crackers

        INGREDIENTS

        2 teaspoons active dry yeast
        2/3 cup warm water
        1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
        1/2 teaspoon salt
        1/2 teaspoon baking soda
        Kosher salt

        DIRECTIONS
        In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water; stir to dissolve and let stand for 5 minutes.
        In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt and baking soda. Add the yeast mixture and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon to blend. If the dough is sticky, add sprinkles of flour until a soft dough forms.
        Knead the dough until it is soft and has an elastic consistency, about 5 minutes. Add sprinkles of flour to control the stickiness. If using a mixer or a food processor, the dough will form a soft ball around the revolving dough hook and clean the sides of the bowl. Add flour, if necessary, to firm up the dough.

        Drop the dough into a buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to rest for at least 1 hour and up to 18 hours (the longer the better.)
        Arrange the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
        With a heavy rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle about 18 by 6 inches and no thicker than 1/8-inch. Fold the dough from the short ends, brushing off the excess flour, to make 2 or 3 layers for extra flaky crackers. Roll again using the rolling pin.
        Prick the dough with the tines of a fork to help cook evenly. Evenly cut the dough along the edge of a ruler or yardstick with a pizza or cookie cutter into desired shapes.
        Place the crackers close together on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with salt from 12-inches above the crackers to distribute evenly.

        Bake until lightly browned and crisp, 9 to 14 minutes, depending on the thickness of the crackers. Check the crackers several times during the baking period to make certain those on the outer edge of the baking sheet are not getting too brown. If so, switch the ones on the outside with the ones in the middle.

        Sesame-Onion Crackers: Add to the dough, with the dry ingredients, 4 teaspoons each sesame seeds and grated onion.

        Herb Crackers: Add to the dough, with the dry ingredients, 4 teaspoons each chopped fresh parsley and chives and 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed.

        Poppy Seed Crackers: Add to the dough, with the dry ingredients, 2 teaspoons poppy seeds.

          1. If we are talking about a “lights out”meal with soup try making
            Hard Tack or Pilot Crackers.They are nearly the same thing and good when when soaked in soup or any liquid.
            There are a lot answers to your questions and problems in print and on the net.Roll up your sleeves and “getter done”.
            There are a lot of folks that feel sorry for you and want to help.
            That may not always be the case.

    2. To those trying the cornflake recipe–

      The cornmeal needs to be finely ground to make a “flake”.

      What I had this am was too coarse, but… was very good.

  4. I think I read an article here about cooking a meal, or keeping it hot all day in a pot inside of a box full of insulation. Can’t remember what it was called.

    1. Chevy it’s call the thermal crock pot or straw box cooker. Works very well. Name of the article? I wish I knew as I know many excellent articles I’ve read here but cannot for the life of me find again as I don’t remember the key words.

      A well built solar cooker, a rocket stove when the sun isn’t available and a Strawbox can do excellent work keeping you fed when the microwave is EMP fried.

      But like everything else a Learning Curve and BEST learned BEFORE you have to use it. That way you know IF your Solar Cooker has big enough reflectors (at best 1000 watts power per square meter of mirror reflector into your insulated cooking area) to gather the needed sun power (Pizza Box cookers are worse than a joke, maybe warm a hot dog..) and the technique of moving a pot of HOT Food into the Straw Pot with out burning yourself.

      1. Chevy I just typed in thermal cooker into search and found a couple of article worthwhile.

        Maybe someone else can find closer to what you were seeking?

        1. You’ve got it, that’s what I was thinking. A cast iron pot will keep warm a long time and even the sun will preheat one. I’ve made insulated boxes with cardboard and 1″ foam insulation which works very good.

    2. chevy
      I have read several articles on doing this. One way is to heat the pot to boiling ( soup or stew) then use a cooler to keep it warm. you would put the pot in the cooler with blankets stuffed in around it to keep it going you might want to use an emergency blanket (mylar ) around it first. Basically like a crock pot. The only problem is making sure you don’t drop below 140-160 degrees. There are several versions you can buy that do the same thing but IMHO they cost more than I am willing to pay at this point. Saratoga Jacks is supposed to be one of the best but runs at about 115.00 before tax.
      Here is a review Ken did on one Thermal Slow Cooker by Thermos

  5. Chevy and Poorman I have a friend that has the Thermos Thermal Cooker it’s excellent but pricy. Seems the inner pot is designed to be used on an standard stove then placed into the Thermal Cooker to finish. I *think* there is some online recipes for it…..

    My experiences using the Strawbox thermal cooker: You have to bring the cook pot to boiling as the thermal pot only retains heat acting like a sort of slow cooker effect. Anything you can cook in a slow cooker can be done just takes practice. Even Bread I can say! Start with good slow cooker recipes and try it.

    The Strawbox or thermal cooker is simply an insulated box that will not melt or catch fire when using it with boiling hot Dutch ovens (or other stew pots). The insulation can be as simple as dried grass (but be careful with hot coals sticking to your Dutch Oven, don’t ask me why I know this) wool blankets, high tech vacuum walls like Thermos etc. I did not find success with Styrofoam or polyester fleece as they melt and make a huge mess of your cook pot and ruin the taste of the food.

    Keeping the food at food safe temperatures around 160 degrees? Is a matter of practice. I have found you can boil up oatmeal or corn meal porridge late last night to have ready for eating in the morning before Deer Hunting.

    Moving a Boiling pot from the heat source to the Strawbox is the hard and somewhat risky part. When I was camping I used two tripods and a transfer rod between them. Then with a 3/8 inch rope and bit of plastic to act as a pulley and slider to smooth the side to side movement I could safely move the boiling Dutch oven from the fire to the Strawbox.

    I expect that the same procedure would work with solar cookers and rocket stoves sized properly for the family cook pot used. A parabolic or barrel style solar cooker can boil and even fry foods because it has enough mirror finished focused sunlight to work. Be careful of your eyes though as it can blind you fast.

    When camping or cooking post SHTF three things you Don’t want #1 To injure your back using bad body mechanics lifting and moving that screaming hot pot. #2 Burning yourself with the boiling contents. #3 wasting valuable food AND attracting scavengers thusly.

    Nothing says “Come here tonight wild dog pack” like spilled beef stew, eh?

    Useful items for making your Prepper Dinner with the power turned off.

    1. me2 it appears a lot people would be cooking outdoors in survival mode. Animals are a concern. When I grill outdoors the neighborhood dogs will pay a visit. Always amuses me how many campers want to cook inside their popup with scraps of food all over or around the campfire and table.

      1. Chevy,

        Cooking with a twig burning rocket stove indoors might get my sweet woman on the warpath you know. That an with out Air Conditioning a LOT of folks will be going to the outdoor “Harvest Kitchen” to prevent heat stroke while canning.

        Ken’s article about 3 weeks after the blackout speaks about the hazards of once domesticated NOW Wild Dog packs. Worth a rereading.

        Scraps of food laying about is more than a fly nuisance. Sanitation includes not attracting vermin to include Meth Heads and Wild Dog packs.

      2. If campers in my neck of the woods leave scraps of food around their tents or tables they get visits from bears at night. Not a good idea at anytime but need to pay attention to the wildlife in the area.

  6. To me2 and chevy:
    The concept of keeping hot food hot within a cooking container after the heat is turned off has also been referred to as a: “cozy” which is to insulate the cooking container on all sides with insulation to allow meat and vegetables to continue cooking as you go to work etc. I found this concept mentioned in one book: Expedition Canoeing by Cliff Jacobson ( 3rd edition, Globe Pequot Press )

    This is very handy cooking method when in an area that has extreme cold temperatures and/or there is constant wind that will draw away all the heat due to convection. I have had to use this when on high ridges above timberline. Most of the book on Expedition Canoeing is written as an advanced primer for those venturing north of the Arctic Circle during the summer.

    To Lonely Peanut: Do you like cabbage? How do you feel about sauerkraut? This time of year, I have found eggplant, winter squash, sweet potatoes and cauliflower all available for free. I guess people just get tired of eating them or they walk right by them in the store. Talking to the produce manager, they may tell you if and when something is about to be removed from the shelves.
    ( Peppers and onions are also targets of opportunity though they usually get snapped up pretty quickly by other food foragers.)

    I do not know where you live but I am hoping you can get together with a neighbor or your daughter in order to purchase or find some of the above vegetables because these are among the cheapest ones available all winter long. Making sauerkraut from cabbage can be work just like the folks that process a deer or make their own sausage. Having a number of jars filled with cut cabbage submerged in pickling solution in a cold garage or basement can carry you through the winter as a source of vitamin C, A and a source of carotene.

    I hope your situation improves soon. I am sorry to hear of your limited options at this time. I learned how to make eggplant parmesan when I was in college and working seasonally. I found eggplants at the side of the road at the conclusion of the Sat Farmer’s Market in the town I lived in. That winter, we ate a lot of it and I got better at making it with practice.

    Later, I found the farmer that was growing the eggplant and reloaded some ammunition for his deer rifle. ( he grew a lot of it and was good at producing eggplants. unfortunately, there were not many people around willing to buy what he grew so he and his wife switched to another crop the following year )

    Sorry for the long story. Just goes to show that a lot of produce grown actually never makes it to the market shelves in our society. Even when it does make it to the store shelves, much of it goes un-purchased. For me, a survival trait is to overcome being a finicky eater and learning to cook what I have on hand.

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