These days we have the convenience of turning on a stove or grill and cooking a nice juicy steak, or turning on the oven at the flip of a switch and baking fresh bread for the family, but what would you do if that wasn’t an option?
Or worse yet, what would you do if it was an option, but the delicious smell it put off was ringing the dinner bell for unwanted guests?
While there are is no shortage of emergency cooking ideas (and I am going to list some here) and operational security is critical when you are cooking, and no one else in the neighborhood has food.
Unless you feel like opening up a SHTF soup kitchen, there are some things that need to be considered. This means we not only need to focus on different food storage ideas, we also need to pay attention to how and what you are cooking.
In this week’s show Lisa and I talked about some emergency cooking ideas, as well as how important operational security is in avoiding some of the risks involved.
Advertising and the Risks
If we are talking about some sort of emergency that is only going to last a few days, such as a natural disaster or manmade disaster that causes a power outage, cooking smells and where they travel might not be a huge issue.
Food in the grocery stores will only last a few days without resupply in normal times, that 3 days could be cut to 3 hours in an emergency. After as little as a week, or even a few days, people will start to get hungry and be looking for handouts.
Once they figure out that FEMA is not coming to the rescue, they might come knocking on your front door, and you would need start thinking about your safety, and how to minimize the risks.
Loose Lips Sink Ships
This is a bit of a double edged sward because it’s not feasible to think that we can go it alone, but we do need to be careful about what you say, and who you say it to. I talk quite a bit to some people about prepping (more than I probably should), but one thing that never comes up is “how much” I have.
I don’t hide the fact that I am a prepper from anyone who asks, mainly because with the website and the podcast they could find out anyway. When I am asked how I can justify turning people away in a crisis, I simply tell them that my responsibility is protecting my family, that I don’t have any insider information, and anyone can do it if they choose to…including them.
Regardless what you do, the odds are someone will be coming to your door depending on how bad the situation gets. It’s up to you how you handle these situations, but they do need to be talked about and planned for.
Did You Smell That!?
We’ve all driven by a restaurant or walked in the house and said “that smells amazing!” When you are the last one on the block with food, that’s the last thing you want to happen.
If you live in a rural area, and the wind is blowing in the right direction it might not be as big problem, but if you live in an urban area, your neighbor is probably 20 feet away, and can smell anything you cook.
Foods that only require boiling, low fat foods and foods with very few spices are going to give off the least smell. When you grill a steak the juices run off and create a mouthwatering smell, and when you bake a chicken covered in spices, it might taste fantastic, but that smell is likely to travel around the neighborhood.
Canned Food: Other than the trash buildup, canned food is a great idea because it can be heated easily, but doesn’t require heating. DIY canning and dehydration also falls into this category, but it needs to be done beforehand.
Long Term Food: Prepackaged food like the Legacy products we sell are also great because they give off very little smell and only require boiling water to prepare.
Uncooked Food: I’m not suggesting you eat raw hamburger, but fruits and vegetables might be available initially, but won’t last long. If you have a garden that would be better, but that might also make you a target.
It’s Dinner Time!
Another precaution you can take is planning when you cook. Because most of us are active and eat during the day, you might want to do your cooking late at night, or very early in the morning.
You will also need to give extra consideration to security because you won’t be able to see if someone is on their way over at night, and people feel more embolden under the cover of darkness.
Trash Buildup is a Red Flag
One last thing you need to keep in mind is what you are going to do with your trash after you are done cooking. The odds are trash pickup will not be available, and as it begins to buildup you don’t want people seeing empty boxes of cereal, and empty cans of food.
Burning it will probably not be an option, but burying it might be. At the very least, you can put it in black trash bags that are hidden…out of sight, out of mind.
Emergency Cooking Options
Gas Generators: These might be an option early on, but most are really loud, and require fuel storage. We have an 8,000 Watt generator which will be useful for power outages and natural disasters, but not a full blown SHTF event. With proper ventilation you could even run a generator from your basement.
Solar Generators: You can purchase a solar generator like the Goal Zero, but this would cost you thousands of dollars. A DIY solar generator like the one I am working on is a little more cost effective, and will eventually turn into an all-out solar powered battery bank.
Gas Stoves: If you have a gas powered stove you are one of the lucky ones, we are not so lucky. These will operate even when to power grid goes down, although you will need to use a lighter to light the flame.
Wood Fire: A fireplace or wood burning stove are great to have, but this is another method I would think twice about long term, because you are basically giving off smoke signals to the neighborhood. That being said, we are still looking to get a wood burning stove insert for our fireplace.
Sun Ovens or Solar Cookers: We have a Sun Oven, and we love it! It gives off very little smell, and can cook almost anything. The downside is that they need to be outside with plenty of light, and are hard to camouflage. There are plenty of DIY ideas for solar cookers, but they won’t be as efficient as an All American Sun Oven.
Propane Grill: Most of us have an outdoor grill, but the only part of that grill I will be using in a SHTF scenario are the side burners. This could be the biggest dinner bell you can ring, because I always know when my neighbors are cooking hamburgers and ribs.
Coleman Grill: A good camp grill is a little better option because the fat and juices stay in the pan rather than getting burned off. These can also be used indoors in an emergency, although you do need proper ventilation…and a fire extinguisher just in case.
Hot Plate: The average hot plate takes about 1200 watts to run (that’s quite a bit) but you will need some way to generate power to use it. If you have a way to generate power these are a good option, if you don’t, there are plenty of other options.
Sterno Cooking: cooking with Sterno canisters might not be the most efficient, but it can be done indoors, just as caterers and restaurants do all the time. While these would take a while to boil water, they can be used to heat food up, and even heat yourself up.
Oil Lantern Cooker: A friend on Facebook mentioned an Oil Lantern Cooker which seems like a great idea because not only can you cook or heat something up, it’s also another source of light and heat.
DIY & Rocket Stoves: Whether you are talking about a folding camp stove or a DIY rocket stove, these are great because basically smaller fuel = smaller fire = less smell.
Sweat the Small Stuff
Whichever method of emergency cooking you decide on make sure you have everything else you need to get the job done. Make sure you have plenty of fuel, this includes wood, propane, gasoline and even sun for solar.
You should have these anyway, but make sure you have lighters and matches or you will be rubbing sticks together. Also, whatever you do, don’t forget to have a manual can opener, that fancy electric can opener will be useless if the power is out.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention safety one more time. Make sure you have fire extinguishers (certified) and proper ventilation if you plan on cooking inside, an accident could cause more problems than just eating dinner.