I remember living in Athens Georgia back in the early 80’s. I was in 3rd grade and an Aunt and Uncle of mine traveled from Massachusetts to visit and get away from the frigid North in December. Funny thing happened – a massive ice storm came through the day after they arrived, and power was lost for a little over a day.
So much for their warm welcome.
My farther was cooking a thick steak in the kitchen when the power was lost. It was smelling so delicious and we all thought dinner was lost. Rather – he simply brought the steak into the living room and cooked it in the fireplace. I remember that as well as several other instances resulting in alternative cooking methods due to power loss.
So, What Are The Best “Alternative” Cooking Methods?
Let’s first establish what I believe to be a “Preparedness Fact”: An alternative cooking method must be planned as part of any preparedness system.
OK – with that out of the way there are many methods of cooking without power and with redundancy in mind at least a couple should be included in planning.
Here are a few:
1. Grill (gas or charcoal)
This is grill which millions of people across America have on their patio, deck, and backyard. Whether it be charcoal fueled or gas – the grill is excellent for cooking without power. The issue is fuel must be available to get it to work.
Charcoal can be stored away in a shed or garage to protect it from the elements. A couple of large bags can provide many days of cooking. A can of lighter fluid should also be put back.
Propane grills also work exceptionally well. 20 pound canisters of propane can be stored outside as well as in a shed. I myself feel a bit unsafe storing canisters of propane in the house. A few canisters can provide several weeks worth of cooking.
2. Camp Stove
Many of you may have used these Coleman camp stoves while camping. Not much I enjoy more than eggs and bacon in the woods while camping. In an off-grid situation they can work well. There are types that run on small propane fuel bottles such as this one as well as some that can run on a variety of liquid fuels like this.
3. Wood Stove
When one says “wood stove” thoughts are likely to go toward the in-house large wood stoves that can be used to both cook and heat. These are fantastic and if the option is there – take it.
For the purpose of this article “wood stove” is referring to the device which utilizes wood to cook with outdoors and is somewhat portable. The Deadwood Stove is one excellent example of this type though there are others such as this. The stoves are easy to use with dry wood and tinder which is generally highly available. If area has recently rained then things get more difficult. Due to wood being an endless fuel supply these are excellent.
4. Backpacking Stove
These are very small stoves which attach to the top of a small gas canister and can cook/heat a single pot or pan. When I say small – they can be VERY small and portable. Lightweight and excellent on the trail.
Here are a few good ones that perform and are inexpensive as well.
5. Solar Cooker
Out of all the items in these lists this is the one I have zero experience with. Solar cookers use reflective materials to reflect the suns light and generate tremendous heat. Obviously the need for bright sunlight is one drawback.
6. Open Fire/Fire Pit
People have been cooking over open fire for hundreds of years – no reason to stop now. A simple fire pit can be made digging a shallow hole in the ground, and start a fire in it. Dutch ovens can be used to contain the food during the cooking process and many recipes are available to cook anything from stews to cakes.
When the power goes out – how will you be cooking?