Cooking Under The Radar
Thankfully it appears Gridex 2 was nothing more than what it was claimed to be, a drill, or an exercise being carried out by our government to simulate a complete electrical grid collapse. And while I am extremely happy that it was just a drill, it gives a perfect example to all of those who are preparing for whatever, that there will always be something that we need to be preparing for.
But with that “little” drill now in the past, I began to think about the things that would happen after the power went out, and how everyday life would change.
For the first 3 days of a collapse, it would not be all too horrible, most people do have enough food in their homes that they could make it for 3 days if they had too. Many may not be happy about it, but they would make due, wither with their own food, or that of their neighbors and relatives to make it work. However from the fourth day forward that things would start to unravel a little more quickly.
Although we all should be planning for an extended event of being without electricity, the luxury of having bank cards that work, and a local grocery store many people are not ready for that.
For those that are prudent, and plan ahead by storing food, water, supplies and whatever else they may need will have the added peace of mind that they can, and will be able to provide for themselves and whoever else they were planning on having during a situation like this.
But by having the food, and gas, and all of the necessary supplies you might be a target for those who did not have the foresight to plan ahead.
So let’s say there’s a SHTF scenario, and you live in a rural area. Although you are a little freaked out at the situation, you methodically go through your supplies, see what you have, and feel a little bit better because you know you have enough of everything to keep you going for at least 18 months, and by that time your garden will have been harvested, and your baby chicks will producing eggs along with having enough livestock to butcher. Everything will be ok, or so you think.
Now let’s say it is the same SHTF scenario, and you live in a more suburban type area, not the city, but the suburbs. You too have been preparing, and have a close knit neighborhood. Your children all attend the same school, and as a group you have been discussing staying more prepared, but you don’t want your neighbors to think you are a complete nut job, so you don’t show them everything you have be stockpiling throughout your home. Just like the rural prepper, although a little shaken up that the crap has really happened, you feel a small it of relief knowing you will be ok and you will get through this.
And just one more scenario to think about. Same SHTF scenario, but you live in a big city. Although your apartment is small, you too have been stocking up on as much as you can, and finding very creative ways to store your preps. Through your careful planning and calculations, you have enough food water and other supplies to last you about 6 months in case you are not able to leave your apartment home. You also have a small patio which you have become a rather skilled gardener, creating multiple container gardens that you are able to harvest enough fruits and vegetables for your family, some of your neighbors, and even to do some canning, thus adding to your preps.
In each of the above scenarios, the people are well prepared, and have the necessary supplies to get through and extended amount of time if a SHTF scenario were to happen. But something that many preppers forget in their planning…cooking without detection.
Eating is something we all do. Everyone eats out of necessity, some for the sheer joy of eating, others for comfort. No matter how you look at it, we all need to eat. And when we go without food at first we just get hungry, but after you have been hungry for an extended amount of time, hunger can make you do things you wouldn’t normally do, or act in a way you wouldn’t normally act. This can be intensified in a group, or mob type situation.
Everything Smells Good When Your Hungry
So a week or so after the SHTF, people are going to be running out of food, getting desperate to feed their families and looking for food. While they are searching for food certain senses will be heightened. The largest impact will be the sense of smell. So if you are out cooking on your backyard grill, that smell will carry and may bring a lot of attention not only to the meal you are preparing, but also the thought that you probably have more food.
Even if you live in a semi-rural or rural area the smell of your cooking will carry very far, in some cases more than ½ a mile away.
So what do you do? You have to eat too. And after all, you and your family were the ones that were planning for this to happen all along. Why should you not be able to cook on your grill or backyard fire pit, right? Well, kind of. If you live in a community of like minded individuals, or have a very large group of people that can protect your property and your food supply at all times, you may be able to do it.
But why take that chance? There are things that you can do to cook incognito, or at least minimize the smells from lingering out to those who have run out of food.
Cook in Bags and Foil
There are cooking bags you can purchase that will hold the yummy aroma inside of whatever it is you are cooking. Nothing is completely scent-proof, but something is better than nothing.
You can also wrap whatever it is you are cooking in several layers of aluminum foil. The layers of the foil will help to trap the smell, but won’t make it invisible.
Freeze Dried Foods
If you are cooking freeze dried foods, all you have to do is add hot water in many instances, and you will have a hot meal, ready as soon as your water is prepared. This is another reason why it is so important to have an adequate water supply.
If you have no electricity and no way to cook other than a fire pit you have created, or your backyard grill, boiling a pot full of water is not going to carry a scent. Boil your water, and then take it inside to create your meal.
Although spices really add a lot to our cooking, keep the spices for inside. Spices have delicious scents that will make your mouth water even if you aren’t starving, think about what it would be like if you hadn’t eaten a real meal in a week? Save the spices until you bring your meal to your table inside your home, away from prying eyes, and noses.
The Time of Day
Instead of creating your meals in conventional times of breakfast, lunch and dinner, you may have to alter when you do your outside cooking. Try to do your cooking either late at night or really early in the morning when most people will be sleeping.
It is important to keep in mind with the type of cooking you will be doing as well. Remember, flames create light, which could peak interest of those who may be lurking, and along with the light from the fire, if you are cooking during the day the smell of smoke will travel. Keep these things in mind when you are planning your cooking.
Cooking Inside Your Home
If you have the capability to continue to cook inside of your home you still need to pay attention to all of the other points listed above. By keeping your situation as quiet as possible, you will help to keep what you have to yourself. Now that being said, do not, I repeat, DO NOT bring your outdoor grill, charcoal grill or fire pit into your home to cook! Not only do you run the risk of burning your house to the ground, your house will not be ventilated properly to be able to sustain the cooking method. So please, do not bring an outdoor cooking appliance into your home, it just isn’t worth the risk.
Where There’s Smoke There’s…Food.
If you have a wood burning stove and some foil or a Dutch oven, you could cook over your fire. But remember smoke travels, and if during the day someone sees smoke coming from a chimney, you will be announcing to your neighbors “Hey, I have the ability to make fire! My house is warm!” If you make a fire in the dark the smell of the smoke will carry, but it may be a little more challenging to determine which house it is coming from. And if you have done your homework and blacked out your windows so no light is escaping from your home you will be taking one added step to keeping your family safe, and hopefully go undetected.
There are indoor cooking items you can purchase, like a thermal cooker. A thermal cooker is basically a large thermos that you can fit a pot inside (they are sold with the inner pot) so you could start whatever you are creating for your meal outside on the grill or cook stove, and after it reaches a boiling temperature for about 10 minutes, bring it inside, add your other ingredients, and put the pot with the lid inside of the thermal container. It will continue to cook for 6-8 hours, it is completely sealed so the smell won’t permeate your home, or outside, and you can have a hot filling dinner, without anyone being the wiser.
Generating Sound And Smell
If you have the luxury of a generator, making you able to heat your home, run the lights, and your appliances, consider yourself very lucky, as well as a target. If you are using a gas generator, that sound will carry, possibly making your home a target for those who are not as fortunate as you. If you can, instead of investing in a gas generator, consider investing in a solar one.
A solar generator is quiet, and you would be able to hide or camouflage it if you had too. If you live in an environment that gets a lot of sunny days, buy the solar generator. Even if it’s a small one, you could charge it during the day, and bring it inside at night, plug in a hotplate and cook up a can of stew or chili.
Having left overs of previous meals, and the trash can alert others to what you have. Try to keep your meals small, so there is no food to go to waste. Also scraps could be made useful in other areas, including compost or pet food, depending on what you are eating for that meal.
Almost everything we consume can be reused in one way or another. Cardboard boxes can be used in composting, or for fire starting. Large metal cans can be used to create candle holders, or even hobo stoves. So strive to have minimal waste or trash.
Home recycle what you can (by reusing or repurposing) There won’t be any trash service, and waste that is left lying around can invite pests, which in turn can bring in bacteria, and sickness.
If you do have trash that you cannot reuse or re purpose have a designated area that the trash can be buried or burnt. But don’t let the garbage pile up.
Don’t Be The Soup Kitchen
These examples are just a few to keep in mind when considering how you are going to be able to cook after the SHTF. These aren’t just things to think about, but things you can and should be practicing now. By learning different skills, not only are you preparing your skills, but you are making yourself a valuable asset for your family or your group.
Play with the ideas, try cooking outside in foil, and see how far away the scent travels. Try alternative cooking methods, like a Dutch oven, a solar oven, or creating a fire pit.If you have a wood burning stove insert or free standing, cook on top of it, and even inside. Practice makes perfect, and the more practice you have, the better you will become.