Powerless Cooking

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Powerless cooking is something that can be intimidating for many people. However, with a little practice and the right tools it can actually be quite enjoyable. Learning techniques such as dutch oven cooking or cooking with a solar oven can introduce you to a whole new world of delicious foods.

Key Points

  • When it comes to cooking without power, you have to have a fuel source. That fuel source may be in the form of the sun, propane, butane, Insta-fire, charcoal or a variety of other fuels.
  • We recommend working on building, and using a food storage in cases where you have power, then gradually start learning about, and implementing powerless cooking tools.
  • There are a variety of make-you-own cooking tools out there. They are good for short term emergencies, or to practice and get your feet wet if you have a smaller budget. As your able to allocate more of your budget to powerless cooking tools, we recommend getting more durable tools.
  • One thing to consider is that while there are many options for cooking outdoors, it may not always be feasible to do so (i.e. a huge snow storm). So make sure you have some back-up plans in place to cook indoors or have some meals that do not require cooking at all.

Powerless Cooking Class

Welcome to our Online Powerless Cooking Class. Make sure you watch the class now, print out the handouts, and add them to your Food Storage Made Easy Binder … (while you still have power)


There are a variety of fuels you can use and store. Knowing about the shelf-life and purposes of each of these fuels can help you make a plan for your storage needs.

Download our class handout on Emergency Cooking Fuels
Places to purchase some of the fuels mentioned in the video:
Insta-fire: Food Storage Made Easy
Butane: Amazon.com
Canned fuel: Emergency Essentials


These are the kinds of tools that you can make yourself, or purchase for little cost. These are tools that would probably help you get through a short-term powerless emergency, but may not be all that fun to use long term.

#10 Can Stove or Charcoal Starter

For a tutorial on how to make a #10 can stove, click here.
To purchase a charcoal chimney starter, click here

Cardboard Box Oven

For a tutorial on how to make a Cardboard Box Oven, click here


While these tools will also work for short-term situations, they are useful in situations where you may go without power for longer amounts of times. Some of these tools require more of an investment, however they can be used in everyday cooking, camping, and powerless situations.

All-American Sun Oven

To learn more about All-American Sun Ovens and purchase one online with free shipping click here

Volcano Collapsible Grill

To learn more about the Volcano Collapsible Grill and purchase one online with free shipping click here

HERC Tea-Light Candle Oven

To learn more about the HERC Tea-Light Candle Ovens and get an exclusive coupon code click here

Wonder Box Oven

For a tutorial on how to make your own Wonder Oven, click here

  • Alec Horne

    As for using wood for heat, everyone should be aware of and not to use treated wood. It is toxic. It can be identified by the perforations on all surfaces and that it has been dyed either a green or red-brown color. Also, be wary of termites in salvaged wood. Do not store it against a building. However, the termites can usually be taken care of by splitting the wood into convenient sized pieces and tossing it into your yard for 2 hours. Come back and the ants will have eaten them.

  • Charisse Tryon Merrill

    This is great! Esp for those who have been, and will be without power for a few weeks.

  • Qnberyl

    I have been looking for the foil tape.  I went to my local Home Depot.  They had the foil tape but it was only recommended for up to 325 degrees.  Would the tape work or do I need to keep looking for one that is recommended for at least 400 degrees?

    • I didn’t even read the label on mine. I think as long as it says Aluminum Foil Tape you should be fine!

    • greg dawson

      Go to your local Auto Supply Store, ask for “Muffler Tape”… very high temperature stuff. Bonds stronger with higher temperatures.

  • Wtreuhaft

    How much foil did you use to make the foil oven?

    • I bought a large tube of heavy duty foil and didn’t even use half of it.

  • Jackie

    How much is the price of the solar oven and where could we get one

  • Sarah Rachelle

    Thanks to your review of the volcano stove (which I had never heard of before I saw it on here), we got one during the Black Friday sale at Emergency Essentials. Boy, are we excited to try it out!!! I love, love, love the fact that I can use a variety of fuels and use a variety of cooking techniques and pans. We don’t care that it’s the winter – we’re going to bust it out and roast some marshmallows!

  • Annie

    Using your car is  great idea.  We do not even run the car but use solar power and a little planning ahead.

    Wrap your food in foil then lay in the dashboard window for several hours.  We do this to save money nearly every week by putting hot dogs, hamburgers or even small containers of leftovers in the front window of our van before church.  Two hours later–on a sunny day–we have a hot meal to eat on our way home! 

    In the summer this even works with frozen food–we grill extra food during the week, then wrap in foil and freeze for Sundays.  Pull the dogs or burgers out of the freezer as you are walking out the door, lay on the dash and lunch is ready by noon when services are over.

    Works great on big shopping days too without taking your kids out for fast food.  This has been a big money-saver and works when the power is out too.

  • Ray

    Another source for cooking is aluminum foil and your car.  You can wrap hamburgers, hot dogs etc in aluminum foil and put on the exhaust manifold of the car.  Just be careful because it will be hot.

  • Veronica Rush

    You two are amazing.  You have the most comprehensive website on emergency preparedness I have ever seen.  I appreciate your videos as well as your handouts and spreadsheets (I’m a spreadsheet queen too…).  Your website makes it so easy to find things and I love your monthly baby steps.  It makes this daunting process seem easy.  May God richly bless you for all you have done to help others prepare.  You rock!

  • Trish

    Loved your series on powerless cookers! I would love to get your input/review of:

    1. Rocket Stoves – which are supposed to be very efficient (w/ the ability to cook using coal, wood or any combustible). You can make your own but 2 commercial ones are the Stovetech Rocket Stove and the Grover Rocket Stove.

    2. Thermal Cookers – a variation on the wonder box cooker, but more portable/ less bulky. Brands include, Thermos, Tiger and Zojirushi.


  • Mable C.

    Lhorrorcks – please look into “rocket cookers” and “haybox cookers” — both things you can make, yourself, if you have limited/no fuel (and they both work!  Personal experience! 🙂 

  • Lhorrocks

    Last week, a 132 mile long tornado ripped through Alabama. Our neighborhood is unaffected, but we lived with no power for days and days. We listened sparingly to local news on our transister radio because we only had one battery for it. No gas, only an occasional store would open, no atm, and a curfew from dusk to dawn was instated. We discovered our beans and whole wheat we had felt secure with were useless. The beans would have taken too much fuel even with a pressure cooker, and I had no power to grind the whole wheat. We did have a little fuel, but used it to visit a friend in another state. This experience was a good eye opener. I always thought I could count on having electricity after a day, but never 4 to 5 days! Now I know I can’t count on it. We ned to have an alternative ways to cook.

    By the way, I think some families in Alabama affected by the tornado should be nominated for the Food Storage Makeover!

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