Off-Grid Cooking Without Power
By Sally Keys
Thinking of going off-grid? Off-grid living is exciting, but can be scary at the same time. Incidents like storms and equipment malfunctions can occur with little warning and leave you without an electrical stove or oven for days, so having an alternative and electricity-free cooking method is the only way to truly be prepared for survival (plus it’s an excellent way to conserve energy and save money). And it’s easy – with a little practice, you can learn how to cook off-grid.
The camp stove is a flexible off-grid cooking method. Cooking on camp stoves is similar to cooking on a burner in your kitchen. The only difference is that these stoves use different fuels – and they’re portable. This helps you to save money and works well if you need something that doesn’t require lots of storage space. Some modern camp stoves even have charging outlets for your phone!
There are two main ways to use a camp stove to heat your food effectively: Either wrap your food in aluminum foil or place it on a grate above the burner.
Solar dehydrators are another popular way to harness the sun’s energy to cook. Food dehydration has been practiced for millennia, and works by covering raw food – such as meat, fruit, or vegetables – in salt or sugar to protect it from bacteria. While some foods like jerky or salt fish can then be heated by laying them out in the sun, most food is dehydrated using a solar dehydrator.
A solar dehydrator is comprised of two parts: A solar collector that catches the sun’s heat, and the drying cabinet, which is made up of wire racks upon which the food is stored and exposed to airflow. Solar dehydrators are simple to use and build, and can be used to preserve food for later use as well. It’s an inexpensive option and costs nothing to operate.
Solar ovens work like regular ovens except that instead of fuel, the source of heat is the sun. You can get a ready-made solar oven or make your own from boxes and foil.
The design of most solar ovens is basically an insulated box with reflectors that are attached to the lid, directing and concentrating the sun’s heat into the box. While relying on the sun’s heat to cook your food might take a little longer than when using a stove, you don’t have to worry about paying for or running out of fuel. Most solar ovens even work well under cloudy skies! Furthermore, they don’t produce any smoke.
The mention of a fire pit quickly takes you to those fun times when you’d build a fire in the backyard – or while camping – and have some barbecue. Although this is not a particularly efficient cooking method, it works. The problem is that you’ll have to deal with lots of smoke and consume a lot of fuel (wood). All you need is a hole that is six inches deep and surrounded by large rocks. You can then use a wire rack to place your pans and pots on – your indoor gas or electric oven’s rack can do the trick.
Rocket stoves are a compact and fuel-efficient choice for cooking food without power. These stoves rely heavily on air flow and use only small pieces of wood for fuel. They produce little smoke and nice, even heating. Rocket stoves are a great option if you’re looking for an off-grid cooking option that is efficient and inexpensive (you can DIY a rocket stove by upcycling some old tin cans).
These stoves can even be used for home heating in a pinch (here’s a great book on building your own rocket stove for home heating for under $100)!
Disasters and crises come when you’re least prepared. When they hit, you’ll need to be able to do some cooking, and these off-grid cooking options allow you to do just that. Choose a method that best works for you, practice it a bit, and you’ll have a plan in place.
Sally Keys is a professional freelance writer with many years of experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family, and traveling as much as possible.