When it comes to disaster planning, knowing how to cook your food is an important piece of the puzzle. If disaster strikes, you will likely have to adapt your methods used for meal preparation--and cooking is one of them.
Being able to feed your family will ensure that you stay healthy and strong in the face of adversity. But the fact of the matter is, many of us rely on electric stoves. If the power goes out for an extended period of time, you’ll want to have backup solutions at the ready.
On the other hand, it’s good to have a portable option or two for remote cooking if you evacuate your home, or if you find yourself lost or stranded while traveling. Keep in mind that being able to boil water not only enables you to prepare food, but it can also be used for sanitation and water purification purposes.
Luckily, there are a whole range of alternative cooking methods. And depending on your needs and circumstances, one method may be better than another. That’s why in this post, I’m going to give you an overview—the pros, cons, and everything in between—for various methods of survival cooking. Whether you’re looking to save money on fuel or need to cook indoors, by the end of this post you’ll have a better sense of your options depending on your specific needs.
Let’s dive in!
When you’re on the go, use a...
There are various models and designs you can choose from when it comes to portable camp stoves. For example, you can choose from…
- Canister stoves: These stoves use closed-fuel canisters containing isobutane and propane. You simply screw the valve portion of the stove into the canister, open the valve, and light it up.
- Biomass stoves: Unlike many of the other options on the market, rather than using liquid canister fuel, biomass stoves use twigs, leaves, pinecones, and wood. For example, the InstaFire Inferno Outdoor Biomass Stove is a terrific addition to your emergency camping gear or emergency food equipment.
- Denatured alcohol and solid fuel tablet stoves: Smokeless and quiet, these are a simple option ideal to use in the aftermath of a sudden crisis. Check out the Folding Camp Stove, a terrific option that folds flat for easy carrying.
It’s always helpful to have the kinds of stoves stored at home and in your car. However, there’s always the chance that you’ll find yourself in a situation without the items you stored in advance. Which brings me to my next point...
When you are stranded without equipment, use...
Open fire cooking: Open fire cooking has been practiced by humans since they first discovered fire. Whether you use a fire pit, open hearth, or campfire ring, there are a wide range of ways to cook over an open fire. That said, this method of cooking isn’t necessarily easy or safe. To do this:
- Fire Ban: First, you’ll need to make sure that the surrounding area isn't under a fire ban.
- Cleared: Be sure to clear the area of all debris that could catch fire before starting.
- Wood: You’ll need to source dry, seasoned wood
- Basic Skills: Know how to build a fire on your own if you don’t have matches or a lighter. Take the time now to learn and practice how to start a fire.
In fact, with a couple very basic supplies, absolutely anyone can start a fire—no training needed.
First, make sure you have a foolproof fire starter. My recommendation is always InstaFire's amazing granulated fire starter. It's made from volcanic rock coated in an oil and wax compound that is totally waterproof. I've seen a pile of it light up right on top of standing water. It will also light in 30 mph winds. It's cool stuff!
The best part is that it's easy. You just take a handful, pour it on the ground, and set a lighter to it. In few seconds you've got a 1,000° flame that you can boil water on without firewood. It's even better at building a fire. Because of its intense heat, it lights kindling and firewood very easily, even if they're wet.
When you want to save money on fuel, use a...
Solar oven: Though they can be expensive or difficult to transport, solar ovens are a good sustainable and fuel-free cooking option. Made of glass or metal, the oven generates heat by reflecting sunlight.
Therefore, you will need to make sure that wherever you are has a decent amount of sunlight—otherwise you won’t have an effective mechanism for generating a sufficient or safe amount of heat to properly cook food.
With solar ovens, you won’t need to store or spend money on fuel. You’ll also have the peace of mind knowing that food never burns in a solar cooker, and you also won’t have to worry about dangerous fumes. Before you use your solar stove, however, make sure to spend some time researching and practicing how to use it.
When you want to cook indoors, or more discreetly, use an...
Electric Stove: First things first, electric stoves or hot plates still require electricity, meaning you will need to have the ability to produce electricity off-grid if you plan to use one. If that is a possibility for you—great. Electric stoves are safe and flame-free, very efficient, and can be used indoors. They are also less likely to attract unwanted attention from thieves and other dangerous parties.
When you want to use something you may already have, use...
Grills and Smokers: If you’re a master griller or frequent host of barbeques, there’s a high likelihood you already own a grill or smoker. These cooking methods are great for preparing meat and vegetables, although boiling water is a bit trickier. Make sure you have a well-ventilated outdoor space if you’re going to use one, and be aware of attracting unwanted attention with the smoke produced.
Your ability to use an electric or gas stove can easily be interrupted by both natural disasters as well as man-made crises, such as civil unrest or an EMP. To prepare for a worst-case scenario, take the time now to conduct further research and stock up on alternatives. Keep in mind that when it comes to disaster planning, redundancy is key. Ideally, you choose more than one backup option from this list, so you have several options if one fails or is unavailable.
Stay alert, friends.
Preparedness Advisor, My Patriot Supply