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Do you know how to cook without power? It’s a simple but important way of being more prepared for emergencies and power outages. Cooking without power should be one of the tools you have in your preparedness arsenal.
Of course, your emergency food storage should have at least a few meals that you don’t have to cook. But what about when those are gone? How will you cook if you don’t have power?
Some of the ways of cooking without power require small purchases. It’s a bit of an investment, but so important that you should try to include some of these in your budget.
Best ways of cooking without power
There are several ways of cooking without power, but here are our favorites.
Natural gas stove
If you have a natural gas stove in your home, you can use it for cooking without power. The gas will still run to your house in the event of a power outage. The automatic lighting mechanism probably won’t work, so you might have to light the top burner by hand.
To light the gas by hand, just put a lit match close to a burner, and turn the burner on. A gas stove is a very handy, familiar way of cooking without power.
Most families already have one of these, so I’m listing this first. A BBQ grill is a great way to cook without power. All you need is propane, or charcoal if it’s a charcoal grill. You can adjust the temperature more easily on a propane grill, so it’s a better option for cooking certain foods.
If you have a propane grill, make sure you have plenty of propane before an emergency. If it’s a charcoal grill, stock up on extra charcoal and keep it in a dry location, as moisture ruins charcoal.
If you heat your home with wood, you automatically have an alternative option for cooking without power. Using your wood stove to cook is as easy as using it to heat your home. It is definitely a learning experience to learn to regulate the temperature on your wood stove, though!
Make sure that if you have a wood stove, you have some wood stocked up, even if you don’t normally heat your home with wood. It may literally be a lifesaver if you are without power, and cold and hungry.
If you don’t have a wood stove, but have a fireplace, you can still use it to cook with. A fireplace can be good for keeping warm, and for cooking. You can cook hotdogs on sticks in the fireplace, or put in some tin foil hobo dinners when the fire starts to die down.
Make sure you have some wood stocked up, even if you don’t use the fireplace very often. You might find you need it in the event of an emergency!
Lots of people have fire pits in their yards. If you do, you can easily use it to cook in. You could buy a grill to put over it to set a pot on or cook meat on. Or you could buy or make a fire spit to rotisserie-style cook birds or small game. Another option is to put a big flat rock in the center of the fire to put a pot on.
You can cook nearly anything on or in a fire pit. You could even cook a pig! The temperature can be changed somewhat by moving your wood around to different spots, or even dousing with a little water. When you’re left with hot coals, you can use a dutch oven, or toss in some tin foil hobo dinners.
Again, if you have a fire pit, make sure you have some firewood stored up for emergencies.
This is a camping essential that is also a preparedness essential. Propane camp stoves are fairly small and portable, and only require the small propane canisters. Some are designed for outdoor use only, while others can be used inside as well. Keep this in mind when deciding which kind you should get.
They cook very similarly to gas stoves in houses, with the exception of not having a pilot light. This means you will have to light it with a match or a lighter. But they are very easy to use.
Make sure you stock up on a lot of the small propane canisters before an emergency strikes. These are usually the same canisters that are used for propane lanterns, so you should have multiple uses for them.
There are many different brands and varieties of the Sterno stove. They are very lightweight and compact, and can fit in nearly any size backpack. I suggest getting one for each family member’s bug out bag. These are also suitable for use indoors. They can’t support a lot of weight, though, so make sure you also have some small, lightweight aluminum pots, bowls, or cups to cook in.
If you are in a pretty hot area with lots of sun, a solar oven may be a good option for cooking without power. Since these are basically a mylar-lined bag, and don’t require any fuel, they are very compact. You can store it in your backpack until you need it. You could even use it as a bag itself, and keep your cooking utensils in it.
These will generally take much longer to cook something than with gas or fire. But if you’re concerned about situational safety and worried about smoke, these might be a better choice.
A reflector oven is basically a box with metal or mylar or tin foil inside. It is supposed to be set in front of a big fire. The heat from the fire heats the food that you put inside the box. The fire does need to be pretty big and hot in order for this to be effective, but it is an option that you can make yourself for really cheap.
If you’re going to make a big, roaring fire anyways, you might as well cook something with it!
A rocket stove is an efficient stove that allows you to cook with twigs and small sticks. It channels and insulates the heat from the bottom, up to the pot that you set on top. Rocket stoves take very little burnable material to cook.
I have a post and tutorial on making your own rocket stove out of cans and extra insulation from your attic. It takes just a little bit of work, but gives you an efficient stove for free!
Equipment needed for cooking without power
- Fire starters
- Charcoal lighter fluid
- Small aluminum pots
- Aluminum bowls
- Aluminum cups
- Plastic handled metal utensils
- Dutch oven
- Fire grill
- Fire spit
- Roasting sticks
How will you cook without power?
We all hope that we never have to use it, but knowing how to cook without power is a skill you just shouldn’t be without. Emergencies happen. Power outages happen every day. When your bunch is hungry, you’ve got to feed them, power or no power.
Are you prepared to cook for your family without power? What method will you use? Tell us in the comments!
This post may be shared on Family Homesteading and Off The Grid Blog Hop, Simple Homestead Blog Hop, Farm Fresh Tuesday, and Old Paths to New Homesteading & Self-Reliant Living.