11 September 2011

Prep30: Have alternate means of cooking and know how to use them

Hopefully, you're progressing on building your food supply as we've discussed in a previous Prep30 post. (If not, what are you waiting for?) So, you have the food, but how will you cook it in an emergency? Sure, some disasters will not impact you ability to cook normally, but some may. If your current stove becomes nonfunctional, you need to have a backup, so consider the following:
  1. Remember that a grill is a easy alternate method of cooking. Even a plain, basic charcoal grill gives you the ability grill food, heat up water and food, and even bake things. Some newer style of grills offer multiple cooking styles; I've recently seen a Char-Griller model that offered separate charcoal and propane grilling areas and a side gas burner for pots or pans. (They even have a similar model with a smoker attachment on the opposite end!) A plus is that there are tons of resources available to work on your grilling skills.

  2. Do you have a fire pit on your patio? If so, then you actually have a method to cook. This isn't nearly as easy as a grill, but you could at least heat thing up in a pinch. Actually cooking over an open fire is challenging, especially if you haven't done it before. You may have more luck (and control) by cooking with the coals left after the fire's died down. If you're really planning on this approach, or are interested in learning more about open-fire cooking, you'll want to check out Over the Open FireThe Scout's Outdoor Cookbook, or Campground Cookery.

  3. Speaking of campgrounds: if you're into camping or hiking, you may have something like a small portable stove, a larger camp stove, or even a rocket stove. Something like this would be a great backup. If you have one already, I assume you know something about using it. If not, you may want to ask around with people you know or read up on the options to find the unit that will best meet your needs. Many of the books linked above will help you with cooking on whatever portable stove you might buy.

  4. Of course, all of the above cooking methods require some kind of fuel source, be it wood, charcoal, propane, etc. If you've already got one of the above cooking units, then be sure to stock up on extra fuel of the appropriate type. If you're choosing one for the first time, the fuel source's cost and ongoing availability should be part of your assessment.

  5. If you're rather not have to rely on stocking a fuel source, you may want to look at a solar oven. You can buy one premade or make one on your own. Either way, using a solar oven is a different way of cooking, so you'll want to learn how to do it. Try The Solar Cookery Book.

  6. Now matter what type of alternate cooking source you choose, get one that you'll actually use. If you're going to rely on it for your cooking backup, you need to learn how to use it and practice, practice, practice.

  7. It you can swing it, it's actually a good idea to have multiple backup cooking sources, and to be proficient in using each of them. That way, you'll be less likely to be limited by a lack of fuel, inclement weather, and so on.

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