One of my personal concerns as I collect my three-month storage is whether or not I'll have electricity to prepare those meals. A three month supply is an essential resource for many different situations in which I would have electricity. Job loss, trucking strikes, failed crops, financial crisis, or a pandemic are all examples of emergency situations where electricity might still be available. But there are some other emergencies, like inability to make power payments, snow storms, earthquakes, hurricanes, or war, where we might not be able to use our stoves, ovens or microwaves.
So how do I cook this stuff when there is no electricity? I tried to plan my three-month storage with the premise that we won't have power. Many of our planned meals could be prepared without cooking anything. Cold cereal, canned chili, oatmeal packets and refried beans are a few examples. You'd have to eat these items cold, but it wouldn't be terrible. For the rest of the meals a little bit of cooking/warming is still required. I would need a way to cook tortillas, bread, and pancakes. Here are some ideas for cooking when you don't have electricity:
1. Use a gas stove.
I had one of these when we lived back east and I loved it! We were always able to cook when the electricity was out. We had our own propane tank, so there was no problem if gas service went down as well. Obviously, this solution won't work for everyone. Many homes are not piped for gas service. Also, many cities won't allow personal tanks. You're lucky if this is a feasible resource.
2. Use your fireplace.
Often gas supply stays in service even if the electricity is out. You might loose the ability to power your fan, but you will likely be able to run a fire in your gas fireplace. Wood fireplaces are a sure bet for cooking in an emergency.
3. Use your wood stove.
Preparedness would be the main reason that I would consider buying a wood stove. It would be a great resource for both cooking and heat in an emergency.
4. Use your patio grill.
We keep three propane tanks filled for our grill. It's not hard to rotate this fuel because we often grill (even in the snow). A grill side-burner could make cooking some things more efficient, but pretty much you could cook anything using your grill - even bread.
5. Use a charcoal grill.
You can store charcoal in food storage buckets. You can lengthen the storage life of charcoal and increase the convenience of using it by sealing 8 or 9 pieces (equal to about 350 degrees) in food-saver bags and then putting those into your bucket.
6. Use your camp stove.
Some brands of camp stoves can be hooked up to the large propane tanks used for larger grills. We don't own a camp stove, but I'm seriously thinking of asking for one for Christmas. It would make cooking with propane, in some cases, more efficient.
7. Use your patio fireplace.
Do you have a decorative patio fireplace? If you keep even a small supply of wood around, you'd be able to cook foods using this fireplace.
8. Use/create a fire pit.
We'd like to create a fire pit in our backyard. It would make for fun family times, roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. In an emergency, it would also be a great resource for cooking. You could use either wood or charcoal. A grill rack could also be added to ease cooking.
Depending upon the severity of the emergency, you could also dig a fire pit in your yard and use it for cooking. You could extract old wood from your house, yard or surrounding areas (green wood would be difficult to burn).
9. Use a dutch oven.
You can make fantastic bread with a dutch oven and a few pieces of charcoal.
10. Create a cardboard-box oven.
I made one of these with the help of our ward food-storage coordinator. A great food storage blog, Safely Gathered In recently posted detailed instructions on how to make one of these. These boxes work a lot like a dutch oven with a few pieces of charcoal.
11. Use fondue pots.
You can use Sterno fuel under a fondue pot to cook almost anything that you usually cook in a sauce pot. This can be used indoors.
What other ideas do you have for cooking without electricity?