There are plenty of survival or SHTF scenarios in which you could lose access to the grid. The gas to your home could be shut off, or the power could be cut.
Between heat waves, blizzards, hurricanes, and other nasty storms it is common to lose power for days or even weeks. I know people in TX that recently went three weeks without power, and people in Puerto Rico that went more than a year.
The four pillars of survival are food, water, fire, and shelter. If you want to be able to eat safely, you need to have the ability to cook foods to the proper temperature for consumption.
If you have no gas or electricity, this makes things difficult. In addition, during a survival scenario, you may not want other people to know you are in the home. Attracting attention to yourself in a survival scenario can be a death sentence.
In this article, we will cover different ways you can cook without gas or electricity from the grid.
Fireplace or Wood Stove
For survival purposes, I suggest that all homes have either a fireplace or wood stove if at all possible. For thousands of years, man has used fireplaces or wood stoves to heat their homes and cook their food inside their homes.
If your utilities are out, these are two of the best ways to cook in your home.
Fireplaces are designed to give you a safe place to start a wood fire inside your home. The bricks or rocks around the fireplace contain the embers so that the fire is safe.
The chimney helps pull in fresh air for the fire, and also pushes smoke out of the house.
Without this feature, you would inhale too much smoke and carbon monoxide for it to be functional.
The fire itself heats the home and provides flames and coals for cooking. In addition, the bricks or rocks used to build the fireplace will absorb heat and continue to stay hot for hours after the fire is out.
With some practice, you can cook anything in a fireplace that you would normally cook on the stove or in the oven.
Wood stoves are typically made of cast iron and can be installed anywhere in the home. They also contain the embers for safety and push smoke out of a metal tube that acts as a chimney.
One benefit is that wood stoves normally have spots on top to set pans for cooking.
This flat surface does make cooking easier than working with a fireplace.
The only downside to these options is that they put out a good amount of smoke. If you are trying to keep a low profile, this might not be the best option. People can see the smoke from your chimney at a good distance, and they would know you were home. This could potentially put your family in danger.
To keep smoke to a minimum, let your fire burn down to coals and then keep using the coals until they go out. Coals put out less smoke than flames. You can also resort to just using the fire after dark as smoke is harder to see at night.
Generators and Solar
One option that may be obvious is using a fuel or solar powered generator to power your electric cooking appliances.
If you are really prepared for this scenario, you will have one of these two set up at your home.
We have looked into solar and just have too much tree cover for it to work, but we did purchase a fuel powered generator.
If you have solar set up at your home, a power outage on the grid would not affect you.
If you have a generator and fuel, you would just need to switch it on once the power goes out. This would allow electric stoves, ovens, microwaves, and toasters to work fine.
While these options eliminate smoke as a concern, there is one potential issue. Most generators are pretty loud. The sound would be a dead giveaway that people were home and probably have supplies to steal.
While we would all prefer to cook inside, it doesn’t always work out that way. If you must cook outside, you could be seen by other people.
Propane powered cooking appliances are ideal for this scenario as they do not produce smoke.
We have a big propane grill, a propane flat top, and several small propane cook stoves.
With these we can cook just about anything we need.
You just have to keep plenty of propane tanks filled. We normally have four in storage.
Cooking on these is actually sometimes faster than cooking in a functional kitchen.
Charcoal or wood smokers and grills are another option. I have three different types of smokers that use both charcoal and wood. They produce a ton of smoke, so there is no good way to hide.
However, they produce some delicious food. You can set up a smoker first thing in the morning and let it run all day without having to worry about it.
If you don’t have any of these appliances, you can still use a fire pit or rocket stove. You can easily build these with bricks, or you can buy a portable one.
This would basically be like cooking in a fireplace, except that you must cook outdoors. If you have a variety of cast iron pots and pans, this method of cooking can work just fine.
Even for minor inconveniences, I like to have a variety of different ways to cook in our home.
In the last year we have had our stove top, our microwave, out toaster, and our instapot all crap out and need to be repaired or replaced. During the time that these appliances were down, we still got by just fine because of the other ways we could cook.
Just take the time to think about how you could add a few more options to your emergency cooking plan, and you will be that much more prepared.