A power outage can be stressful. If you have prolonged power outage, you will be glad for a hot meal. What do you have planned for cooking if you can’t use your stove? This month’s goal will help you be better prepared for power outages.
No power? No problem.
Here are some of the more popular off-grid cooking methods that you might want to try:
- Rocket Stove: A rocket stove is a small, hot burning stove that quickly heats to very high temperatures. The rocket stove burns fuel in a simple combustion chamber with an insulated chimney. (It’s kind of the same idea behind this portable pizza oven.) Because they are super hot, there is nearly complete combustion of the wood, meaning they burn clean and are very efficient. They can use wood typically considered too small to call firewood. A few scraps and twigs will produce enough heat for a meal. And best of all, they are easy to build from common materials, so they will cost you very little, if anything. Check out this link to plans for thirteen different models of a rocket stove. One of these is sure to inspire you to build one.
- Swedish Fire Log: This is a log that has been vertically cut and set on fire. The fire is self-feeding, so once it’s started you can pretty much forget about it. The log burns from the inside out and the fire can last 2-5 hours. I saw these on sale at Menard’s last week selling for about $8, but of course you can make your own pretty much for free.
- Dutch Oven Cooking: Dutch ovens use thermal mass so that you need less fuel to cook food. Once you’ve seen how tasty Dutch oven cooking is, you’ll want to cook with your Dutch oven all summer long.
- Volcano Grill: The Volcano Grill works pretty much like any other grill, but it is small, lightweight and collapses, so that it can be easily stored in your 72-hour emergency kit or just kept handy for emergencies. It can use propane, wood or charcoal fuel.
- Wonder Box or Wonder Oven: This is basically a non-electric slow cooker. It looks sort of like a bean bag. Bring your meal to a boil for a few minutes, long enough to ensure a consistent temperature throughout the food. When the food is hot enough, snuggle it into the insulated bag. Then put the insulated lid on it and forget about it for the next 4-8 hours. It’s easy to make and costs very little.
- Solar Cooking: The principle behind solar cooking is quite simple: capture sunlight, convert it to heat and retain the heat. You can make your own (like I did) for next to nothing. All it takes is a couple cardboard boxes, a roll of tin foil and a piece of glass or plexiglass to cover the box. Or you can buy any one of several commercial solar ovens available on the market. Solarcooking.org is the single best place to learn about solar cooking.
Remember: combustible fuels produce carbon monoxide, a deadly, odorless gas. All propane, wood or paper-burning stoves must be thoroughly vented at all times.
Don’t stop there
This really is just the beginning. There are lots more ways to cook without electricity.
- Here’s a link to cooking rice with 80% less energy.
- You’ll find 11 different ways to cook off-grid at this link
- Try this solar cooker using a Pringles can. It’s not really for serious cooking, but fun to do.
- How about cooking on the engine of your car? No? Yeah, maybe that is a little out there.
- Camp stove. Find a camp stove that fits your family’s needs, is portable and easy to use.
- Alcohol cook stove. This may not be your first choice if cooking for a family. But this may be a good choice for
your 72-hour kit, where all you need is something to heat up MRE’s or freeze-dried meals for one person.
- Besides being good for emergencies, this small (but very efficient) wood stove would have lots of practical applications.
- We really like our Newspaper Grill. It cooks the food quickly and who doesn’t have a lot of newspaper lying around to be taken to the recycle center?
- This site has lots of camping ideas, including hints for campfire cooking.
Kill two birds with one stone
Really, who wants to heat up their kitchen during these hot summer months? Lucky you! This month’s goal, is a “kill two birds with one stone” kind of goal. You get to keep your kitchen cool while learning to cook without electricity.
But you should also consider what kind of cooking you might use during the winter. That’s when power outages are more likely to occur. Don’t wait until you are in the middle of a power outage to try to figure out how you’re going to cook meals without electricity.
From Luther Krueger, who lives in Minneapolis and teaches solar cooking: “The newest thing in solar cooking and I think it is great, is the Sunplicity Libertad. I was able to order this and have an email conversation with Alain Bivas in France. It arrived and I immediately put it out on a snow bank and cooked pork chops and vegetables for two in a bit over an hour. It’s the most portable parabolic cooker out there, an ingenious design.”