Survival Basics

Cooking when the Grid Goes Down 

All that food in your survival stockpile isn’t going to do you the least bit of good if you can’t cook it. Most of us are so accustomed to just turning on our stoves and cooking, that we might not be ready for cooking if that stove doesn’t work. But if the grid goes down, an electric stove will definitely be out of the question and a gas stove might not work either. 

Fortunately, we humans have been cooking for millennia, long before electricity or natural gas were available. So if our ancestors were able to do so, it seems that we should be able to as well. All we need is to decide on what method we’re going to use, then make sure that we have what we need. 

There are actually quite a few options to choose from, depending on our personal circumstances. You may want to have more than one available, as cooking outside in the winter isn’t much fun and cooking inside can be awfully hot in the summertime. 

Cooking when the Grid Goes Down

Barbecue Grille or Fire Pit

Almost everyone has a barbecue grille of some sort or other. We already use them as an alternate means of cooking, so it only makes sense to use them for survival cooking as well. Wood can be used as fuel in any barbecue grille, although it might mess up the burner on gas grilles. That’s okay; they’re replaceable. 

The grille can be used for cooking with pots and pans as well. However, if pans with an enameled outer finish are used, there’s a good chance that it will become damaged by the fire. They can still be used; but they won’t look as nice. 

Wood-burning Stove

If you are going to use a wood-burning stove for heating your home, then make sure you buy one with a flat top, which you can cook on. Some newer models don’t have a flat top or the top is insulated, making it difficult to cook on. But if you’re buying it as a survival tool anyway, then it only makes sense to buy one that can be used to cook on as well. 


If you’re going to be heating with a fireplace, rather than a wood-burning stove, than you can use that for cooking as well. This was the standard way of cooking in many homes during the early years of our country. Pots were either set directly into the fire’s coals or suspended over the fire.

Adding a fireplace crane to the fireplace makes it possible to hang pots over the fire. This is a metal hook on a swivel arm. Attached to the front corner of the fireplace, the pots can be swung over the fire or swung out to gain access to them. The addition of a fireplace crane is an inexpensive way to make it easier to cook in the fireplace. 

The other thing to consider is a cast-iron dutch oven, the old-fashioned kind with feet and what looks like an inverted lid. The feet make it possible to set it down in the coals, while keeping it level. More coals can be piled on top, into the lid. This surrounds the food with heat, making it an oven. Great for breads and pies. 

Camping Stove

Most camping stoves today are made to use bottled propane. That makes them not very useful in a survival situation, as you would have to have a good stockpile of the propane bottles as well. But Coleman still makes their old “dual-fuel” camp stove, which will run off of their “white gas” or unleaded gasoline. While gasoline may not be as readily available after a disaster, it will still be around. People will siphon it out of cars and hoard it for various uses. 

Solar Oven

Finally, it’s a good idea to have a solar oven, unless you live somewhere with no sunshine. There are a number of different types of solar ovens made; but he most basic type is essentially a box, with reflectors. The reflectors mean that more sunlight gets into the box, which is then turned into heat. 

This sort of solar oven is a slow cooker, somewhat like cooking with a crockpot. Nevertheless, it will produce great meals, making it possible for you to cook things you might not otherwise be able to. 

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