When it comes to off-grid living, some daily tasks are easier than others. Living without the modern convenience of the grid means you have to get a little creative about how you go about your everyday activities. Cooking meals is a prime example.
Cooking a decent meal without gas or electricity is a real challenge. Anyone who’s tried to cook something besides a hotdog over their campfire knows that fact well. Nonetheless, it can be done. You just need a little know-how and patience to get reliably tasty meals from your off-grid cooking.
Here are five handy tips to give you a leg up the next time you try cooking without modern conveniences.
Stash an Instant-Read Thermometer in the Bugout Bag
The importance of food safety is multiplied ten fold in a survival situation. You’ve got enough to worry about with threats from the elements, predators, and potential enemies; the last thing you need is to get sick from an undercooked meal.
The problem is that you’ll often end up overcooking things just to guarantee they won’t make you sick, which is neither tasty or convenient.
But there’s one piece of technology well worth packing in your bugout bag that fixes your food temperature issues instantly. Enter the instant read thermometer.
Most of these thermometers take standard batteries that are probably already packed in your bag, and they give you an accurate reading of the internal temperature of any food in just seconds.
Just make a little reference card with the standard safe internal temperatures of meat, fish, chicken, and beef, then you’ll be all set!
Get Egg-Level Smoker Performance Without the Humongous Price Tag
Smoking is a fantastic method for slow cooking meats to juicy perfection. And even better, it doesn’t require any electricity whatsoever. Just plop a little natural charcoal into your smoking apparatus and let it do its thing.
The only tough part is getting a decent smoker. Popular models like the Big Green Egg or Kamado Joe will run you a small fortune, and most of us don’t have a big budget to dedicate for cooking instruments.
But what if you could make your own smoker for less than $30? With a couple clay pots and a few accessories, you can do just that.
Check it out in the video below.
Build a Stone Griddle
Do you rely heavily on your non-stick pans? It would probably be hard if you suddenly had to cook without them, wouldn’t it?
Unfortunately, cooking with nonstick coatings over an open fire isn’t the best idea. Excessive heat can destroy the coating, which would then end up in your food. Not good.
But if you find yourself pan-less in the wilderness, you don’t have to go hungry. You can actually build a stone griddle that acts similarly to a nonstick surface once you season it.
Watch how it’s done in the video below.
As a side note, bringing a couple well worn cast iron skillets with you during your time off the grid is another way to avoid the frustration of food getting stuck to your pans.
Bake Your Own Hardtack
Preserving food is one of the hardest tasks of survivalist food preparation. Without refrigeration, your options for storing food are pretty limited. Fermentation can be good for vegetables, and salting/curing is good for meats, but there’s no really good way to keep bread from going bad on you when you can’t bake or buy it fresh.
That’s why your ancestors used something called hardtack, a hard, unleavened bread-like puck with virtually indefinite shelf life. It was mainly sailors who used this interesting food, because they were stuck at sea for months on end with no way to keep bread fresh. Today, it’s mainly used by survivalists and traditional chefs.
It requires some rehydration when you want to use it, but it’ll keep for years. Learn the recipe for hardtack used all the way back in the Civil War at The American Table.
Make a Cinder Block “Rocket Stove”
Cooking over an open fire gets the job done, but it can never be quite the same as using a real stove. The tough part is that you’ll never be able to fully replicate your cooktop in the wilderness, so you’ll need to figure out some other way to get a consistent and reliable source of cooking heat aside from your campfire.
One way to create quality cooking heat is to build a DIY “rocket stove” from concrete block. It takes kindling as fuel, and it can get every bit as hot as your gas or electric range at home.
Watch how to do it below.
How Do You Cook Off-Grid?
What are your suggestions for cooking delicious meals off the grid? Maybe you’ve got a tried and true technique that should be on this list. Tell us in the comments!