Backup Cooking Methods

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Part of hurricane preparedness is having backups for cooking methods in the event of an extended power failure.  During our last major hurricane, Hurricane Ike, some of my colleagues did not regain their electricity service for one to two weeks.  Some folks who had money to spare stayed in hotels for the entire period, but that may cause you to burn through your emergency cash pretty quickly.  Several friends dealt with the inconvenience by staying with family and friends who had power.  Eventually they had to return home and cope with the lack of electricity.  One comment I heard a lot was they were getting tired of eating crackers and tuna or crackers and peanut butter.  They then started cooking on the barbecue grill.

We have a few methods of cooking to rely on, in the event of a power outage.

1.  Barbecue grill – Our the apartment regulations prohibit using them on the patio.  Most tenants wheel them out to a space behind the garage, but that is also a driveway.  The disadvantage is everyone around will see what you are doing, and that is not really good for security.  But it’s a backup method, so we can do it if we have to.

2.  Propane stove – We have our handy dandy Coleman Fold and Go propane stove.  This  two grill stove is small enough to store in our apartment and has lasted through three hurricane seasons.  We used it substantially during Hurricane Ike and it is still my favorite backup.

3.  Backpacking stove – this was a recent addition to the supplies.  This would also be a stove to take in case we have to evacuate because it is very light weight.  It was still in the box so we decided to test it to make sure it works.

Next time I will post pictures of the backpacking stove test.

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  1. If you have access to free sticks and twigs, and can stack up 15 refractory bricks or so, almost anyone can make and use the simple and high performance Rocket Stove. Also anyone who lives where the sun shines, can make and use the simplest of solar cookers, such as a low cost (to make) solar box or reflector cooker. Plans on how to make and use, or even buy readymade, all of these items, are all over the internet.

  2. You might want to include an alcohol fueld stove as well. No parts to break down, quiet burning and can use several sources of fuel (with precautions). Mainly good for heating water or other liquids, not so much for cooking large amounts of fuel.

    If you have access to wood, a hibachi or DIY made Hobo stove are other options.

  3. I think my favorite back up is my charcoal grill, although I do live in a house. However, I think everyone should be aware that the smell of cooking food travels… and may be tracked by the hungry… I, personally, would like to go back to experimenting with a solar oven sitting in a sunny window…

  4. We just purchased a solar oven. They’re a little on the large side, so depending on how big your patio is, it may not be the best thing for you. Actually we received it, used it once, realized the glass door wasn’t sealing completely, and had to send it back for an exchange. But the one time we used it, it was awesome! We made baked potatoes; just wrapped them in cling wrap and put them in the oven for about two hours (it would have taken less time if we had positioned it right to begin with, and if the door had completely sealed). My SIL has one too and she loves it; made a roast complete with veggies the other night that fed four adults with leftovers. Once we get our replacement, I intend to use it a lot this summer, to get proficient with it. Can’t wait to make some sun-dried tomatoes!

  5. Ah – I have exactly two:

    * folding charcoal grill and 20 lbs of charcoal (for short term SHTF, such as power outages). Should have more than one bag, though – maybe two or three. Charcoal grills violate the heck out of the complex policies, but out on the porch away from flammables (with a very small amount of charcoal – it’s a beach grill that could cook maybe 3 hamburgers, and uses maybe a 3/4 pound wad of charcoal at a go.)

    * The fireplace, and roughly 1/8 cord of nice, dry wood (long-term SHTF, and I’ll burn whatever’s necessary in there, though up here in this part of Oregon, wood is stupid-easy to procure.) When the missus and I first lived together, she always laughed at my insistence on having a fireplace in my abode. After one power outage a couple years back kept electricity off for a couple days – in mid-winter, she stopped laughing, and became an even louder proponent of having one – we kept the place heated and ourselves fed pretty well with a tiny apartment fireplace. 🙂 Oh, and I insist on wood fireplaces, not gas. Gas could do in a pinch for most minor types of outage, but one good earthquake and you wouldn’t want to touch one. The last gas fireplace I had was when I was married to the ex. Hated the damned thing and its slow white-out fogging of the glass.

  6. Just a quick comment on the Fold and Go stove: It can be a real gas hog. The supports for pots are quiet far from the burners. I’ve used both the Fold and Go and older style Giant Green Beast (as my campers like to call it). The Beast cooks faster and therefore uses less gas. The problem: the beast isn’t portable.

    Love the blog! Keep up the good work!

  7. Anxious to see the pics of the backpacking stove! Which backpacking stove did you end up going with?

    Not sure if you’re referring to a conventional backpacking stove that takes fuel canisters, but if so, there is a 4th option to consider.

    Emergency stoves.

    That’s right, tablet burners like those made by Esbit or other hex stoves. Super small, and super efficient. Should definitely be included in the list.

  8. We have a 1890’s era wood burning stove in our kitchen, along with our propane powered range. That should cover us, though we have a barbecue, fireplace and a regular wood burning stove if need be. Of course, I plan to “die in place” before I go out on the road so I have nothing portable.

    1. Will have to check into the butane stoves-have not seen one at the camping supplies. Will need to visit a marine store.

  9. I have been looking at the Volcano stove. It seems pretty good, if the hype and reviews are to be believed.
    We were given a backpack stove a few years ago, a Q Grill. Made by Thane and very hard to find now, I think it may have been discontinued. We’ve used it a few times. I’m not keen on keeping propane cylinders around the apartment. But…. it’s proven very handy, very portable and if all we want is a couple of hot dogs (good food I know *sarcasm*), it’s great.
    I think that when the SHTF, something along these lines might make a difference when wood cannot be found or is too wet to light. However, I am known for my backup plans. I even have backup plans for my plans! Not sure what’s out there for related products but definitely worth looking into and trying out!

  10. I had a question about the Coleman Fold and Go stove and also about camp stoves in general.

    Can any of them be used *inside* an apartment? I live in one, do not have a barbeque pit or grill for outside, or any kind of “backup” cooking method. I’m really new at the idea of backup cooking.

    Any suggestions? Helpful hints?

    1. The only one I have used indoors as a backup was the Coleman Fold and Go stove-we used it after we lost power during the last hurricane. Since it works with a propane canister it does not give off odors. Definitely you’d still need to keep the windows open for ventilation though, and disassemble the propane canister from the unit immediately after use. Also most apartments have really sensitive fire alarms- any hint of smoke would set it off, so be careful about leaving anything that may burn or give off smoke while doing any cooking. I keep it for backup only and not for long term use.

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