Alternative and Backup Cooking Methods

Base Layer Cooking Backups

We added this biolite firepit to our 2ndary cooking preps last fall. It’s still in the box, waiting for the deck to clear of snow before we test it out. It’s our 2nd biolite stove. We have been impressed with the first, a Base Camp, which cooks very efficiently. It boils water fast - which means it’s good for boiling water and cooking one pot Dutch oven meals, of which we eat a lot anyhow - and it can cook a couple steaks in short order. Plus, because it has rocket stove tech it uses up all kinds of yard carbon debris: twigs, pine cones, wood splitting shavings, etc. (It will even burn dried dung, although we haven’t tried that.)
We’ve kitted our new biolite with the optional grill and cover. They will allow us to cook more for more people, if needed. An added feature: both of our biolites generate electricity and have UCB outlets to charge phones, cameras, and computers. More significantly to us, they will run strings of LED lights and can charge LED lanterns and head lamps that are also sold by biolite.
These are efficient wood burners. Less efficient will be the outdoor kitchen we’re going to construct in a couple phases, starting this summer. It will have propane features, and then added wood-fired features. We want to be able to process food in that kitchen from field to table, and from field to shelf-stable (smoked, dehydrated, or canned), whether vegetable or animal.


This is where Dutch ovens with legs are handy. They were (perhaps still are) very common in the South African countryside when I was a boy. I’ve seen them at Pioneer Days re-enactment camps here in the States, too.


Survival Is Being Outlawed

You could produce your alcohol for a stove during a long emergency. At the moment, it is illegal, of course, unless you at least have an ethanol permit.
what do people do when TPTB make all methods of self-sufficiency and survival illegal? they're now using "bird flu" to stop people raising their own poultry (they're using the same fraudulent PCR test), and they want to use other excuses to restrict seed distribution, even between friends. I think m/ethanol from home-grown potatoes/corn might become a regular thing.

Sun Oven Works

Sun Oven works very well. We have had one for several years. All you need is sunshine. Best for on pot meals.
Down side is you need sunshine, like solar panels. Also, high winds can tip it over.



No thermometer for your solar, wood/coal dutch or gas oven? Throw a small piece of paper in and check how long it takes to turn toasty. News print is good for more than fire starter and toilet paper, it can be a thermometer as well.


Sun Oven And More…

I hate that we go right to the buying of equipment rather than learning how to make these things ourselves and I would encourage people to try DIYs. But in truth, I find that I no longer have the time I used to devote to making my own and continually tweaking the designs.
With that in mind-- I just bought an EcoZoom rocket stove and am having a blast using it. (Snow on the deck and all!) I have made portable rocket stoves but this is just plain better and more durable. I have propane camping stoves but like to reserve those for bad weather when I want to mimic cooking indoors and well, camping. That fuel gets expensive and hard to find in a crisis. (Although you can use an adapter and fill small tanks from larger.)
Same with the solar oven, I made three before I gave in and bought my Sun Oven–their reflectors are superior in so many ways. I couldn’t get the same high temperature no matter what I used on my DIYs. In the spirit of full disclosure, many of my creations are still in use–just used differently (my best diy solar oven is used as a slow cooker/dehydrator).
So here are my tips for the SunOven:
Anchor it to a small rolling cart or table with some heft to it. I live by a mountain range and the winds can be wild-yet since I set it up that way a few years back I haven’t had an issue. (The first year though it went flying–repeatedly!)
Then get in the habit of setting it up (as well as closing it down) almost every sunny day that you or someone else will be around. When closed, I leave it outside much of the time with a waterproof cover. Set up, it costs nothing to have it heated and you’ll be amazed what you will think to put in it during the course of the day. It acts as a slow cooker if you don’t face it full on to the sun so dry beans are an easy first act. When I am home and can engage fully, I have made full meals–including rolls. I have hard cooked eggs for a meal as well as pasteurized egg shells for the calcium addition to homemade fertilizer. Rice and lentil casserole makes a no brainer meal on those days you’re not sure what will happen come dinner time. If something better comes up, I just pop it into the refrigerator for another night. Oh, and beets–I hate to cook beets on the stove–so much fuel wasted. Into the solar cooker with a little H2O. You get the idea.
Thinking out loud–in most people’s eyes I have way too many tools or “toys”, but I use them all and each one is one more option available when troubled times hit. (We lose power regularly and were without power once for two weeks, I was mostly prepared but took serious note of our weaknesses.)
Pay close attention to anything producing enough heat to cook food as fire can cook more than just dinner. But most of all, have fun becoming less dependent on gas and electric.


Slow Cooking & Alcohol Stove Multi-use Fuel

Excellent article, Samantha. I’ll throw in a few other tricks I’ve picked up over the years.
Wide mouth steel liner thermos bottles make decent slow cookers. Pre-measure water and rice, boil the water, dump it all in a thermos, and a couple of hours later it’s ready. It’s kind of the old “hay box” slow cooker idea, but it’s more convenient. Mobile too, if you’re having to drive or hike somewhere. Boiling the water doesn’t take much fuel, and is pretty fast. After that it’s just a matter of waiting.
With dried beans, it’s best to pre-soak them overnight before thermos cooking them. Figure on about four hours total. Pour out the cooled water half-way through and refill with fresh boiling water. It’s good to have two thermoses when cooking beans & rice.
I like Everclear for alcohol stove fuel. It’s relatively expensive, but it’s legal right now and it can be used for other things that denatured or methyl alcohols can’t. Cut 1:1 with water, it’s rubbing alcohol for disinfecting wounds. It’s literally dehydrated vodka, so use your imagination there. (Trail Margarita: everclear and lemon-lime gatorade, over ice if you’ve got it.) If you’re going into areas where drinking alcohol is prohibited, re-package it into stove fuel bottles and fly under the radar.
Anyway, thanks for the article. It shook off a few mental cobwebs around cooking, and gave me some new ideas.


I cook using a cast iron pot on an open fire, it’s simple and effective. Key is to dig a small hole and put the coals from the fire into the hole and sprinkle some coals on the lid for even heat. I use this type of fire (coals) as the cooking fire, then the main fire becomes about warmth and lighting. I have baked bread, cooked roasts and stews, all sorts. It is really simple and inexpensive and portable. And for breads you just let the dough rise near to the main fire before using the coal fire to bake.



We found canned butter and cheese labeled red feather…good thing to have.

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Googled Biolite and it says the firepit has been discontinued ?

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Olive Oil

Olive oil can be used as lamp oil fuel so if it goes rancid it has a second use.So you can’t lose with having too much of it. good skin lotion too.


Camping Cooking

Amazing timing. We were just going through a knapsack we bought in case we have to bug out. I am not a camper and the thought of making meals without appliances terrifies me. We have a number of things that were on lists but without knowing how to use them they are useless as pockets in underwear. So this summer we are going to learn. We are going to camp in the backyard one day, then a weekend, then at the end of the summer a week in Algonquin Park.
So for camp cooking, if we make a fire (which at this point looks like a miraculous event), put a raised metal platform on it, and our very cool collapsible pot. Would that work? My platform is the tripod trivet from my instant pot (4" high).

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Can I add hay box cooking?
Old crate or large sturdy bag, I lined mine with a silver emergency blanket.
Old duvet, blankets or pillows, basically anything that will keep the heat in.
Large saucepan that fits in the middle.
Cook whatever it is for 10 minutes then wang in the bag and snuggle it in well.
Works well for things that like long slow cooking.
I make stew in the morning and it’s done for evening meal.
I like rice pudding done overnight ?
You can buy a wonder bag which is the same principle but why spend money when you don’t have to!


Don’t wait until summer if you are new to these things. I personally do not feel like we have a whole lot of time to spare going forward - there is no time like the present! Starting now will also help you get used to having to live in colder & more adverse weather. Learning how to keep a fire going in the snow or rain is a must have skill!
Most of all though, try to have fun with learning these new skills - it can be a lot of fun as opposed to a lot of stress once you get more comfortable with it. Then you will truly be able to enjoy places like Algonquin Park!

I lined mine with a silver emergency blanket.
Awesome tip! Thank you!

suggest rancid cooking oil be used in free-wick lamps and not in lamps make for coal oil/kerosene lamps. These great tips and recommendations are giving me hope.

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Second that Jan. Hurry JR!

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Cooking Options

Don’t forget amish cook stoves, rocket stoves and brick ovens. We have an amish cookstove and even though we use wood it can’t be taken away since it is our cooking source. that’s a plus plus win …heat. food and no bills. just hard work cutting wood.


Butane Burners

Butane is safer than propane for indoor use. Still produces a little CO so don’t burn forever and have some ventilation. But often used indoors by caterers. And cheap. Here’s an example, although I try to avoid Walmart.

For The Adventuresome With Deep Pockets

Very spendy but you can DIY your natural gas.