Summer is a GREAT chance to practice cooking without power because the weather is nice, you can avoid heating up your kitchen, and your kids are around and can join in the fun. Most people do some form of outdoor cooking or camping throughout the summer, so why not use it as a chance to practice some important skills!
1. Use a Solar Oven: Nobody likes heating up their kitchen in the middle of a hot summer afternoon. Cook any of your regular foods outdoors using the power of the sun. We love practicing with our Sun Ovens, but if you don’t have one there are a couple of plans online to be able to make your own. This one is a little more like a real sun oven, and this one is a simple pizza box oven that will not get too hot but can be used sort of like a slow cooker.
2. Cook on Your Fire: If you are out camping, don’t just stick with the usual hot dogs and marshmallows. Experiment with making “food storage” meals. Boil water and make a “just add water” meal. Or use freeze dried eggs, sausage, and veggies to create your own omelets for breakfast.
3. Make a #10 Can Stove: Simply push some hangers through a #10 can and give it some ventilation and you can make a little outdoor stove that can use wood, charcoal, or InstaFire. This is great for boiling water or roasting hot dogs, and kids think it’s fun! Here is a tutorial we put together on how to make one.
4. Make a #10 Can Oven: We saw this idea on a forum and thought it looked like an awesome way to practice powerless cooking with a cheap oven. Lay the can on it’s side and stick a wire rack inside and put charcoal underneath. Then wire the lid back on and it makes a perfect mini oven. Here is the link to details about how to make one.
5. Make a #10 Can Grill: Who knew #10 cans could be so useful right? To make a perfect little grill you make slices in a #10 can and then bend the strips back, cover them with foil, place charcoal inside and a grill over top. We made a full tutorial with pictures and instructions at this link.
6. Do Your Canning Outdoors: I often think if there were a powerless emergency I would want to hurry and can a bunch of my freezer foods. Why not practice canning out on your barbecue grill or a camping stove or even a butane stove and see if it works. Practice getting your pressure right if you are pressure canning, and see how much fuel it uses as well. The added benefit to this is not heating up your kitchen!
7. Pull Out Your Dutch Oven: If you don’t have a dutch oven, check garage sales or second hand stores to try to get one for cheap. Dutch oven cooking can be a fun adventure and the food can be delicious! Practice now when you don’t HAVE to and then in a real emergency, you will have lots of ideas for things you can make. Here is a great blog by a lady who cooked with her Dutch Oven every day for a year!
8. Use Your Coleman (or other) Camping Stove: Most people who enjoy camping have some sort of propane or butane camping grill that they use. Don’t be afraid to pull out the grill at home even if you aren’t camping. Experiment with cooking some regular family meals on it as opposed to just usual camping food. Pay attention to fuel usage and make a plan for how much to store. You can learn a lot by simply practicing.
9. Make a Cardboard Box Oven: This is another fun idea to do with kids. This is a bigger oven than the #10 can one would be and can be used just like a regular oven with charcoal. If you make one and practice with it, then you can always keep it in your storage and have it ready to go in an emergency. Or just keep the materials on hand to whip out a new one should the need arise. Here is a tutorial we made on how to make this one.
10. Experiment With Fuels: Whatever stoves, ovens, grills, etc. you have, fuel is going to be your main concern in a powerless emergency. We did a whole series last February about different fuels. You may want to review it and try to pick up a few of the different fuels and experiment with them. Here is the link to the posts in that series.
-Jodi Weiss Schroeder