Being able to eat in a grid down or SHTF scenario is more complicated than just having your long-term food storage needs taking care of. There are quite a few other considerations preppers need to keep in mind.
How will you cook the food you have stored? How will you get rid of the trash in a disaster situation? And how will you avoid ringing the dinner bell for everyone in the neighborhood? Depending on the types of foods you have in your storage, these could all become issues.
While there are some aspects of prepping that is complicated, this can be easily remedied with a little foresight, planning, and operational security. Most people would not give a second thought to firing up the BBQ in a disaster, but as preppers, we know (or should know) the dangers that could bring.
We will cover some of the dangers and precautions we should take when cooking in a disaster scenario, and even some other cooking options along with the solar cooking option.
GRID DOWN COOKING DANGERS AND PRECAUTIONS
When it comes to a disaster or SHTF situation, there is more to think about when it comes to food than just food storage. Everything we do from preparing that food to removing the waste (including human) created by eating need to be considered.
Depending on what we are cooking and how we are cooking it, it’s going to be difficult to mask the fact that we have food, when others may not. Cooking a juicy steak in a SHTF situation may be delicious, but firing up the propane grill may ring the dinner bell for the neighbors.
A situation like this would also mean no running water, no sewage, and no trash removal. These days we don’t give these a second thought, but in a longer-term disaster, we need to have plans in place to combat these challenges.
As preppers, we should all be prepared for the dangers and precautions that come with cooking. everything listed above could be indicators to hungry people that we have food, while they are starving.
This is a bit of a double-edged sword because it’s not feasible to think that we can go it alone, but we do need to be careful about what you say, and who you say it to. I talk quite a bit to some people about prepping (more than I probably should), but one thing that never comes up is “how much” I have.
When I am asked how I can justify turning people away in a crisis, I simply tell them that my responsibility is protecting my family, that I don’t have any insider information, and anyone can do it if they choose to…including them.
Regardless of what you do, the odds are someone will be coming to your door depending on how bad the situation gets. It’s up to you how you handle these situations, but they do need to be talked about and planned for. Check out this article I wrote some time ago about this.
Post SHTF: What Will You Do When They Come? How Much Can You Give Away Before Putting Your Own Family In Danger?
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DID YOU SMELL THAT!?
We’ve all driven by a restaurant or walked in the house and said: “that smells amazing!” When you are the last one on the block with food, that’s the last thing you want to happen.
If you live in a rural area, and the wind is blowing in the right direction it might not be an as big problem, but if you live in an urban area, your neighbor is probably 20 feet away and can smell anything you cook.
Foods that only require boiling, low-fat foods and foods with very few spices are going to give off the least smell. When you grill a steak the juices runoff and create a mouthwatering smell, and when you bake a chicken covered in spices, it might taste fantastic, but that smell is likely to travel around the neighborhood.
Canned Food: Other than the trash buildup, canned food is a great idea because it can be heated easily, but doesn’t require heating. DIY canning and dehydration also fall into this category, but it needs to be done beforehand.
Long Term Food: Prepackaged food are also great because they give off very little smell and only require boiling water to prepare.
Uncooked Food: I’m not suggesting you eat a raw hamburger, but fruits and vegetables might be available initially, but won’t last long. If you have a garden that would be better, but that might also make you a target.
IT’S DINNER TIME!
Another precaution you can take is planning when you cook. Because most of us are active and eat during the day, you might want to do your cooking late at night, or very early in the morning.
You will also need to give extra consideration to security because you won’t be able to see if someone is on their way over at night, and people feel more embolden under the cover of darkness.
Our idea of what breakfast lunch and dinner are might (and probably will) change. If you look at what you have right now that doesn’t require refrigeration and think about how you would cook it, you will see how your diet will change. The odds are you won’t be grilling a lot of meat, you won’t have milk or all the condiments in your refrigerator door.
TRASH BUILDUP IS A RED FLAG
One last thing you need to keep in mind is what you are going to do with your trash after you are done the cooking. The odds are trash pickup will not be available, and as it begins to buildup you don’t want people seeing empty boxes of cereal and empty cans of food.
Burning it will probably not be an option, but burying it might be. At the very least, you can put it in black trash bags that are hidden…out of sight, out of mind.
THE “INCONVENIENT” TRUTH
There will be no more fast food, no more convenience stores or prepackaged frozen meals to cook. For most people, this is going to be a huge adjustment, but as preppers, we should be ready for this. Having food storage is one thing, knowing how to use it is another.
Below is a list of off the grid cooking options we might have available, but the most important part of this is knowing how to cook it. Knowing how to make bread, or knowing how to put together a soup is just as important as having these ingredients stored.
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EMERGENCY COOKING OPTIONS
Gas Generators: These might be an option early on, but most are really loud and require fuel storage. We have an 8,000 Watt generator which will be useful for power outages and natural disasters, but not a full-blown SHTF event. With proper ventilation, you could even run a generator from your basement.
Solar Generators: You can purchase a solar generator, but this would cost you thousands of dollars. A DIY solar generator like the one I am working on is a little more cost-effective, and will eventually turn into an all-out solar-powered battery bank.
Gas Stoves: If you have a gas-powered stove you are one of the lucky ones, we are not so lucky. These will operate even when to power grid goes down, although you will need to use a lighter to light the flame.
Wood Fire: A fireplace or wood-burning stove are great to have, but this is another method I would think twice about the long term because you are basically giving off smoke signals to the neighborhood. That being said, we are still looking to get a wood-burning stove insert for our fireplace.
Sun Ovens or Solar Cookers: We have a Sun Oven, and we love it! It gives off very little smell and can cook almost anything. The downside is that they need to be outside with plenty of light, and are hard to camouflage. There are plenty of DIY ideas for solar cookers, but they won’t be as efficient as an All American Sun Oven.
Propane Grill: Most of us have an outdoor grill, but the only part of that grill I will be using in a SHTF scenario are the side burners. This could be the biggest dinner bell you can ring because I always know when my neighbors are cooking hamburgers and ribs.
Coleman Grill: A good camp grill is a little better option because the fat and juices stay in the pan rather than getting burned off. These can also be used indoors in an emergency, although you do need proper ventilation…and a fire extinguisher just in case.
Hot Plate: The average hot plate takes about 1200 watts to run (that’s quite a bit) but you will need some way to generate power to use it. If you have a way to generate power these are a good option, if you don’t, there are plenty of other options.
Sterno Cooking: cooking with Sterno canisters might not be the most efficient, but it can be done indoors, just as caterers and restaurants do all the time. While these would take a while to boil water, they can be used to heat food up, and even heat yourself up.
Oil Lantern Cooker: A friend on Facebook mentioned an Oil Lantern Cooker which seems like a great idea because not only can you cook or heat something up, it’s also another source of light and heat.
DIY & Rocket Stoves: Whether you are talking about a folding camp stove or a DIY rocket stove, these are great because basically smaller fuel = smaller fire = less smell.
SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF
Whichever method of emergency cooking you decide on make sure you have everything else you need to get the job done. Make sure you have plenty of fuel, this includes wood, propane, gasoline and even sun for solar.
You should have these anyway, but make sure you have lighters and matches or you will be rubbing sticks together. Also, whatever you do, don’t forget to have a manual can opener, that fancy electric can opener will be useless if the power is out.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention safety one more time. Make sure you have fire extinguishers (certified) and proper ventilation if you plan on cooking inside, an accident could cause more problems than just eating dinner.
As I’ve said a couple of times, there is more to food storage for preppers than just having it. We need to take into account, how we are going to cook in, who we are altering, and how we are going to hide the fact that we have food when others don’t.
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