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Samantha Daly

Cooking Off The Grid

Cooking off the grid

Maybe the power is only out for a few hours during a storm, but maybe those hours turn into a few days, weeks, or even months. Do you know ways to cook your food when you’re forced to live and cook off the grid?

The situations for needing to cook off grid without power range from your run-of-the-mill thunderstorm all the way to full blown SHTF. If you have a gas camp stove, wood burning stove, or a gas stove (butane stove), cooking without power may seem easy, but after a while in a true disaster situation, you will not have any more propane stored away. What will you do then?

Here are 4 (relatively) easy ways to cook off the grid:

Dutch Oven. Cooking this way requires charcoal. If you have a bag of charcoal on hand, you can make a large amount of food by using this cooking technique. First, place tin foil over the ground you plan to cook over. Then, on top of the tin foil, light charcoal in a chimney (a tall, metal cylinder with open top and bottom). Then, once the charcoal is half black and half grey, use tongs to place 7-10 charcoal rocks on a new piece of the tin foil next to the chimney. Put your cast iron pot/Dutch oven full of food on top of the charcoal rocks, close the pot, and use tongs to put the rest of the charcoal on top of the pot (20-25 rocks). Depending on how much food you put in the pot, cooking times will vary, but 30 minutes is typically the average. Check the food after 20-30 minutes and periodically after that.

Open Fire. This is the most obvious option. While more labor intensive than a Dutch oven technique, all you need in order to cook outdoors over an open fire is wood and a cast iron skillet. One of the major mistakes made during open fire cooking is putting the food directly into a flaming fire. This only does one thing – burns the food. A good fire pit for cooking is primarily hot coals and only a few logs of burning wood. A new campfire tends to take 30-45 minutes to burn down to the right conditions. Then, place the skillet, or foods wrapped in tin foil, directly onto the coals to cook. Having a wood stove would give you an advantage in this cooking technique.

Wonder Oven. Wonder ovens look like bean bags, but instead of serving as a chair, they help cook the food without any fuel. If you can get your food up to temperature with standard cooking methods, such as over an open fire, you can transfer it to a wonder oven to continue cooking in order to save fuel. Although they are available to purchase, they are simple to make at home. Consider getting crafty and making a few of these to have on hand in a disaster situation.

Solar Cooking. Solar ovens or a "sun oven" work by redirecting sunlight to cook your food in dark colored pots. You can make your own solar oven using cardboard boxes, tin foil, and window glass. The pot will sit in the center of a series of tin foil covered box flaps, angled so that all of the sunlight is reflected onto the pot. It takes a few hours for food to cook thoroughly in solar oven, but they require no physical fuel source, making them a good backup option for cooking.

Cooking Off The Grid is Important

When the power goes out for an extended period, do you know ways to cook the food you have before it goes bad? Especially if SHTF, you are going to want to cook and eat any meat you have in your fridge/freezer ASAP, as it will be harder to find stores that have any meat or produce to sell. As a prepper, you should have food reserves stored away that do not need to be cooked before eating, but being able to cook your family a nice hot meal after a hunting trip will be a welcome break from freeze dried and canned foods.

Dutch ovens, open fires, wonder ovens, and solar ovens are all good ways to cook food without power. Dutch ovens will cook your food the fastest, but require charcoal, whereas open fires only require wood, and solar ovens do not need anything other than sunlight. Each cooking method works best in different situations, so knowing how to use each can be a huge asset when disaster strikes. Knowing how to cook off grid may save your life.

How do you plan to cook food off the grid? Share your strategies with other Battlboxers on our Facebook Members Only Page!

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