Whether you want to live off the grid or save some money on electricity, you might want to adopt some new methods on how to cook without using power. You will also never know if or when an EMP attack might be heading your way. There is also nothing wrong with trying to live more independent of electricity.
In this guide, I am going to show you 13 ways on how to cook with wood, gas, charcoal and also solar heat. I even have a section on how to prepare a meal with the help of your car. Either way, this list will give you a broader range of options which will make you more independent.
Let’s start with the first method which is a gas stove top:
1. Gas stove top
If you do not want to be dependent electricity but still want to cook in comfort, then using gas is a great alternative. Gas stove tops are a great way to prepare your food with the help of gas. The pan or pot you use will also get hotter quicker than an electric stove because it makes use of an open flame.
All you need to make use of it are matches and gas. If you have a stove oven (with a stovetop), then you need to connect it to a gas tank to work. Here is how you can use it:
a) Turn on the gas line
There will be a pipe that connects your gas stove with one of the gas bottles. There will also be a small knob that you should turn until it is parallel to the gas line. This knob is a safety feature to prevent gas from leaking from your stove.
b) Select a stove top burner
Most gas stoves will either have 2 or 4 stove tops burners that you can choose from. Choose the burner that you want to use and try to locate the dial that will control the flow of gas into the burner.
c) Turn on the stove top burner
Now that you know which burner to use, and you have also found its dial, it is time to open the gas. You can do this by turning the gas dial to the left (counter-clockwise). Once you hear a hissing noise, then you will know that the gas is moving out of the burner.
d) Light the burner
Once you hear the hissing noise that comes from the burner, you can now light it up with a lighter. You can light it up by using matches or a lighter. Once your lighter or match is burning, you need to quickly move it to the burner and then move it away once small blue flames are protruding out of the burner.
e) Adjusting the flame
You can adjust the flame by turning the gas dial. If you want a smaller flame, you should set the dial to the right. If you want a larger flame, you should then turn it to the left. Cook as normal.
f) Turn off the stove top
Once you are finished cooking, you can start by turning the dial to the right until the flame dies. It is also crucial to switch off the gas line as you did in step 1.
2. Solar Oven
If you are into green and renewable energy, then solar ovens are for you. You can even build your oven from scratch if you want to. Solar ovens use the power of solar energy that originates from the sun. This energy is renewable and does not cost you a penny to maintain. Most self-built stoves can only warm up your meals but will not cook them.
If you want to have a fully functional solar oven, you need it to be able to move into the direction of the sun, cover a large surface area and also to concentrate the sun rays.
You will notice from the video above that the solar oven comes in a dish-shaped form. This shape allows you to capture a larger surface area of sunlight and then reflect the sun rays onto a smaller surface area which will produce enough heat to cook your dish. For added efficiency, you can use a black colored pressure cooker which retains the heat for effectively.
The only drawdown of this method is that you need to have access to sunlight which will not be available at night.
3. Coal or wood-fueled stove
If you have ever lived in a house where there is an Aga stove, then you will know about the warm atmosphere it brings into a home. These stoves are not powered by electricity and mainly uses coal or wood as fuel. There are many other coal and wood stoves that you can turn to if your house does not have an Aga stove.
The only drawdown about these particular stoves is that it takes time for enough heat to build up to cook your food. They also come in various sizes and works great at heating your kitchen during the cold winter months. These stoves also require some skill on how to get the fire started especially when making use of coal.
4. BBQ grill
If you love your Sunday BBQ grills then why not use your grill to save power or to cook food while the power is out? You get various types of grills such as those powered by wood, coal and also gas. There are also a ton of delicious recipes that you can try out on your grill next time.
The size of the grill will be dependent on the number of people in your household or the number of which you are to serve. You can also choose between the different types of cooking grates such as your standard steel wired grates or the porcelain enameled cast iron grate.
Some BBQ grills come with fully enclosed carts that give you some storage space and also a grease cup. Depending on the price, resources available and also preference, you can choose gas grills or open fire grills.
5. Dutch Oven
A Dutch oven is a cast iron pot that enables you to cook and bake anything from bread to stews. You also get 2 types of dutch ovens which include indoor and outdoor (camping) Dutch ovens. The outdoor version has 3 short legs at the bottom of the oven and also a flat lid.
Indoor ovens have a flat bottom and a domed lid. The flat bottom makes it perfect for use on the stove. The camping version enables you to place hot coals below and also on top of the lid to provide heat to the oven.
They come in various sizes and shapes. You also need additional accessories along with the Dutch oven such as a lifter. A lifter is a tool that you can use to lift the lid from the oven without touching it with your hand. The process of using this oven is by making a fire on the side until you have glowing red coals. You then place the coals below the oven for cooking or on the lid for baking purposes.
6. The Wonder Oven
The wonder oven is not used to cook food, but to save energy. I thought that this type of oven would make a great addition along with any of the other ones listed. What this oven does, it keeps food hot and cooking. It is almost a perfect insulator. This oven almost looks like a large beanie bag but is filled with Polystyrene beads which are excellent insulators. You can read this article on how to make your own.
First, you need to take a sealable pot and then bring the water to boil. Then place the food that you want to cook inside the pot and then put this hot pot inside of the wonder oven. The wonder oven will keep the heat insulated which means that the pot will keep cooking without having to add more heat to the pot.
This means that you will save a ton of energy in the process. Whether this energy is in the form of electricity, gas or coals, it does not matter. As long as it can bring up the heat inside of the pot up and then the wonder oven will do the rest.
7. Use your fireplace
I can still remember the first time I grilled a giant T-bone steak on my fireplace. What I like about this method is that you are warming up your living room and cooking at the same time. It is like hitting 2 birds with 1 stone. You do not need to spend any extra fuel or electricity on preparing your food.
If you already have a grill, then you can use that to grill yourself some chicken, steak or fish. You can also put a cast iron pot on top if you want to make some stew. You will need to make use of a tripod or grid to give you some space between the coals and your meat. If you are handy at welding, then you can make your custom grid or stand that will fit perfectly inside of your fireplace.
The only drawdown of using a fireplace is the cleaning process. You can make a huge mess in your house if you do not know what you are doing. Your fireplace also needs to be open and should give you enough space to work with. You should also make sure that your chimney is not blocked in any way.
8. Using your car
Yes, you heard right. You can use your car to cook yourself a nice meal. You can do this by wrapping food in aluminum foil several times and then place it on your engine. The engine will provide enough heat to cook your food. You can also go ahead and ask any truck driver if they have ever prepared something nice on their truck’s engine.
You should also make sure that your food is fixed or stationary on the engine so that it does not fall off while you drive. It is also important not to use food that has lot’s of liquids as you do not want to make a huge mess. You should also remember to place the food on your engine while it is turned off. You should also allow for some airflow to regulate the generated heat.
I have once talked to a truck driver that wrapped potatoes and sausages in aluminum foil and then enjoyed it after a long trip. You can also use your car’s cigarette lighter to plug in a portable stove. Take a look at this guide on how to cook food on your engine along with some recipes.
9. Alcohol Stove
Alcohol stoves are very small burners that make use of 100% pure alcohol. What I also liked about this stove is that you can DIY your own. All you need are cans, cutter, and pure alcohol. You can buy your alcohol stove as they are very inexpensive.
The only thing lacking is some safety aspects. These types of stoves are not stable and can easily leak alcohol. It is because of this why I would not recommend using them indoors as you do not want to burn your house down. If you have access to pure alcohol and want to use or built something inexpensive, then this type of stove is for you.
You can also make this stove out of almost any type of can available. You need to take a can and cut a couple of holes on the side or on top. Make sure to cut the holes above the alcohol level to prevent any alcohol from leaking. The purpose of the holes is for the flames to leach out off.
10. Using candles
Most people think that candles can only provide light and is not suitable for cooking. If you know how to use them, then they can be an excellent source of heat to cook your food. You need to make sure that there is enough distance between the candles and your pot.
The best type of candles to use is tea light candles because they do not take up that much space than regular candles. You should also use at least 4 candles; otherwise, it will take too long to boil the water or to cook the food.
11. Earth Oven
An Earth Oven is merely a pit in the ground that is being used to trap heat and to cook your food. There are also other types of earth ovens that you can build above the ground. The one I am going to focus on today is the cooking pit version. Watch video below for more info:
Let’s start with the first step:
a) Make a hole
Because earth ovens are below the ground, your first step would be to make a hole at least 1-1.5 feet deep. The width of this hole will depend on the amount of food that you wish to cook.
b) Place some rocks
The purpose of the rocks is to provide a foundation for the fire that you would like to make. It is best to only place 1 layer of rocks inside of your pit. This will prevent the fire from tumbling down.
c) Make a fire
Once your rocks are places, you can start the fire on them. You can either use dried wood or charcoal. Use enough fuel and wait for the wood to turn into coals. You should also not underestimate the number of coals needed.
d) Prepare your dish
You can either cook meat or vegetables inside this pit. It is also imperative to use fresh green leaves that are large enough to cover the meat entirely. It is essential to cover the dish in leaves thoroughly; otherwise, it will be spoiled with sand. Spice the meat the way you want and then cover it with several layers of leaves. Do not use dried leaves as it is brittle and will take flame.
e) Cooking your dish
Remove all of the large rocks beneath the hot coals and then place them on the side (remember not to touch them with your bare hands as they will be very hot). Place abundant fresh leaves on top of the coals as bedding and then place the prepared dish (spice and leaves) on top of it. Take the large hot rocks and put them on top of your meal. Place another layer of leaves on top of the stones and then cover it with sand.
f) Eating the dish
Now that the heat is well insulated and your meat is starting to cook, you then need to wait from 90 up to 120 minutes tops. Carefully remove the sand, bedding, and rocks to reach your food covered in leaves.
12. Open fire
Cooking over an open fire is one of the oldest and most primitive methods for preparing a nice hot meal. For grilling purposes, you might want to get yourself a grid. You can also use a pan or pot which you can place on top of the fire. This method is also the most versatile as you can almost cook everything imaginable.
This is also an excellent opportunity to wrap potatoes and sweet potatoes in aluminum foil and then placing them inside the fire
13. Volcano stoves
Volcano stoves are one of the easiest methods to cook food without using power. Most volcano stoves are small and easy to set up. Some can also be folded which makes them great for travel. These stoves can make use of propane gas, wood, and even charcoal.
You can fry your food, use it along with a dutch oven and even barbecue your meat. This oven can be used in a very versatile manner. You can also fit almost anything on top such as dutch ovens, cast iron pots, griddles and more.
These stoves also have holes on the side to help with ventilation and to keep the fire burning.
I have tried some of the methods listed above, and all of them work wonders at saving power. One of my favorite ways was making use of a solar oven which is the ultimate when it comes to neweable energy. Which method is your favorite?