The ability to feed yourself well during and after a crisis situation is without a doubt one of the most important things for survivalists to prepare for. Obviously, that starts with stockpiling shelf-stable foods and designing a system for acquiring a steady supply of macronutrients that doesn’t rely on the grid – things like hunting, gardening, and so on.
But frankly, making sure you have food items in-hand is only half the battle. Knowing how to prepare those food items correctly is just as important. You might be forced to feed yourself without the help of civilization, but you still want to enjoy your meals like you always have, right?
Well, if you’re going to do that, you’re going to need some tools. Cooking without the aid of electricity isn’t the easiest thing in the world, and having the right cooking utensils can be the difference between simply eating to stay alive and dining with pleasure.
On that note, here are a few of the most important things you’ll need to cook delicious off-grid delicacies.
1. Cast iron pots and pans
Remember that pan grandma used to cook with that weighed a ton? You probably wondered why she didn’t switch over to the featherlight, shiny, non-stick pans that we all use today, but there’s a good reason she didn’t. The old timers of the world who still cook with cast iron – not to mention the growing number of faithful cast iron fanatics who are rediscovering the amazing characteristics of this classic type of cookware – know something the rest of us don’t.
Cast iron never goes out of style for a couple very important reasons.
First of all, it retains heat wonderfully. That means you can cook over a variable heat source like a fire without worrying that your food will cook too slowly or quickly when the heat underneath it inevitably spikes or fades out.
Then there’s the durability. Cast iron is practically indestructible, and even pots/pans neglected for decades can still be re-seasoned and put back to use.
Those two reasons alone are more than enough justification for dubbing cast iron the official cookware material of the survivalist.
Get several types, sizes, and shapes of cast iron to accommodate different recipes; if you don’t know where to start, a good skillet and dutch oven should be your first purchases. Try browsing local garage sales, online auctions, and antique stores for budget cast iron finds.
Fun fact: older cast iron cookware from the early 1900s to the 50s and 60s is actually far superior to the cast iron on the shelf today. Back then, manufacturers used an extra step in the production process where they would machine the inside of their pans to make them smooth, which greatly enhances the non-stick qualities of the metal. Today’s manufacturers just cast the pans and sell them as-is.
2. Manual mixer
If you’re like most home bakers, you’re addicted to your electric mixer. It makes light work of many tasks that otherwise would be exhausting. Plus, it gives you the ability to get smooth consistencies that a whisk simply can’t provide.
While it’s an unfortunate fact that you can’t fully replace your electric mixer with an off-grid alternative, you can get relatively close. And that replacement comes in the form of a manual mixer.
You’ve probably seen them before in nostalgic displays like the ones in Cracker Barrel or in antique stores. The classic model is all metal, has two beaters, and is powered by a hand crank.
The traditional version is fine, but there are plenty of modern iterations of it that are easier on the arm and more convenient to clean.
3. Food mill
Do you stockpile wheat? Do you drink coffee? Do you want to make baby food?
All of these tasks require some kind of grinder or mill to be done correctly, but most of us only have electric grinders that can get the job done. So what happens when the power is gone and your electric grinder gets repurposed as a big paper weight?
The answer is the food mill. These are big hand grinders that can handle a variety of different materials, including coffee beans, grains, and wet items too.
Technically, a meat grinder would fall into this category too, but those need to be dedicated to the sole purpose of grinding meat to avoid cross contamination.
What else should every off-grid cook have?
There’s certainly more that could be added to this list. What are your off-grid cooking tool essentials?