9 Ways to Cook When the Grid Goes Down

9 Ways to Cook When the Grid Goes Down


                            9 Ways to Cook When the Grid Goes Down:

Among the many problems that we will all face in a grid-down situation is that of cooking our food. When you typically think of eating, as well as surviving, during a few days of no electricity or a longer term grid-down situation, the idea of having to cook anything at all is probably not first and foremost in your mind. Canned meats, peanut butter, crackers, nuts and dried fruits don’t take much preparation and certainly don’t need a heat source. But the beans, rice, oatmeal, and flour you you have are going to require a few utensils, along with boiling water, to prepare. And that means fire.

1. Outdoor grills:

You’ve probably started lots of fires on an outdoor grill. If you have a gas grill, a couple of spare tanks of gas are essential. For a charcoal grill, practice starting a fire with wood instead of charcoal. And attempt it without lighter fluid. It’s important to have a good supply of matches, including those that are longer than conventional matchbooks and also some that are waterproof. While you may be quite deft with a Bic or a Zippo lighter, there will be times when your combustible materials are better lit with tinder and matches.


For over a century after the United States was first colonized, the most common method of cooking was in a fireplace. Pots were either placed directly in the coals or suspended over the fire on a metal frame. Meats were broiled by putting them on a spit, much like we cook rotisserie chicken today.  

3.The wood-burning stove:

 This eventually replaced the fireplace as the most common cooking location and was still in use in the West even when most people in the East had stoves. The top of the stove is flat, intended for cooking on. If you have a wood-burning stove for emergency heating of your home, you have a ready cooking method for anytime the grid goes down.

4.Open campfire/fire pit:

There are a variety of methods when cooking on an  open campfire works well for vegetables or meat on a stick, while the burning coals of a fire pit provides direct heat for foil wrapped baked potatoes. For either scenario, a cast iron skillet is a necessity. For soups or stews, a good old-school cast iron Dutch Oven is best.

5.Keyhole campfire:

A keyhole campfire may provide the best mix of heat and fire for all your cooking needs. The keyhole concept provides both hot, direct flame heat, and, more controlled heat from hot coals – especially Dutch oven recipes. The Dutch oven was the way that colonists and pioneers baked. They would take their bread or pie and put it in the oven, which was cast iron, and place it in the coals of their fire. More coals would be piled on top. Surrounded by heat, the contents would then cook. This is also a good method for one-pot, casserole meals.

It’s advised to use have more than one cast iron skillet and pots with lids. If you’re not a camper it may be wise to begin collecting these items, along with a stash of wood for burning.

6.Camping stove:

Most camping stoves run off propane, although there is a Coleman camp stove that will use both propane and gasoline called a “dual-fuel stove.”

7.Solar Oven:

These can be a little tricky to use, but with practice you’ll begin to understand the reflecting power of the sun and the temperatures the oven will generate. It may be better to buy a professionally made solar oven, rather than attempting to build one, depending on your expertise.

8.Reflective box:

This is the most common. You can make your own or buy one commercially. The oven consists of a box with flaps. The inside of all surfaces is coated with something highly reflective so that sunlight can be reflected onto the pot when it’s placed inside the oven.

9.Solar Fresnel cooker:

A Fresnel lens is “the flat plastic magnifying glass [with] five concentric circles molded into the back side.” You might find a smaller one at a dollar store or extract a larger Fresnel lens from an old school television. You’ll need a few mechanical skills to remove it, or you might get lucky and find one online. You’ll need to mount the lens and then put your food about two feet below, right in front of the “focal point.” On a sunny day, the heat will do the rest.

To be prepared and ready is the key:

It’s a good idea to have more than one alternative cooking method available because anything can happen to render your primary method impossible to use. Be sure to prepare beforehand, both to make sure you have a workable system and to practice cooking with it. The last thing you need is to ruin a bunch of food when supplies are short. Better to make your mistakes when food is in abundant supply.

Be safe, take care. CJ.

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