Cooking Food During an Emergency

Cooking Food During an Emergency

Emergency Cooking Skills

Healthy survival cooking and survival nutrition during an emergency situation is different than regular cooking and nutrition we often strive to maintain. The goal of emergency cooking is to prepare enough calories for your family to the best of your ability in the given situation. In a powered-down situation, the best plan is to eat your perishable food first, and then frozen foods, before moving on to canned foods or emergency food, freeze dried/dehydrated packs. Pick easy to fix meals or foods that do not require cooking at all. There are lots of foods you can easily keep in your pantry that do not require any heating or water to prepare. In an emergency situation, eating cereal for each meal is not going to kill you, but you may want to keep the Fruit Loops and Cocoa Puffs for dessert.

The main goal that you have when faced with an emergency or natural disaster, is to remain calm and stress-free. There should be no stress involved with what you need to prepare to eat. If you eat dry cereal for breakfast, peanut butter crackers and dried fruits for lunch, then open a can of something for dinner, you will likely doing much better than the stressed-out, unprepared masses who are now struggling to survive. Meals may not be the balanced food pyramid full of delicious healthy meals you normally prepare for company, but your goal is survival, not gourmet meals! Not many people tend to eat well when thing go bad.

Nothing, and I mean nothing, beats the taste of seared cow flesh over an open fire with red hot coals. In the reality of a survival situation, you will likely raid your freezer first then eat like kings for the first few days as you and the family go through your frozen store of tasty animal bits and use up the last of your Kingsford brand charcoal. Most modern grills have the propane tank attached to some burners. If you are a grilling king, then you may even have a Big Green Egg. Any of these can prove to be a valuable asset for when the power goes off and you electric stove and oven will not be able to cook those thawing meats in your electric freezer. Each of these cooking options requires some type of consumable fuel source. Each of these options will easily serve their intended purpose over the short term during an disaster scenario or power outage. But, what do you do when your supply of gas and charcoal are gone? How do you now boil the water for that ton of dry beans and rice you have stocked?

There are several options that you can use to prepare the food to feed your family:


The BBQ Grill

The grill is the first and most obvious option. Hopefully you’ve stocked up on plenty of coal and/or extra tanks of propane. But if you don’t have a grill or are out of coal and propane, then read on.


Camping Stove

Acquiring a nice camping stove should be a top priority. Coleman makes a great 2-burner stove that is easily found on AMAZON.COM or at your local sporting good section of most any department store. These, too, should always be used outdoors. Make sure you have plenty of Coleman fuel! The fuel is easy to store and can be purchased in bulk supplies.



Try roasting hot dogs and other solid foods on sticks in your fireplace. You can also wrap meats, potatoes, and other vegetables in foil and place them in the fireplace to cook. If you equip your fireplace with a trammel or hanging arm, you can buy all kinds of cooking accessories to hang on it and to hang your cooking pots. A trammel with an adjustable arm is recommended so that you can easily adjust the cooking rate of your food.



Got wood? Plenty of wood? Not only are campfires perfect for roasting marshmallows and meat on a stick, they can be a great source of warmth on a cold night. Add a campfire tripod and you can hang a nice Dutch oven or other cooking pans above the flames and coals.


Dutch Oven

A Dutch oven is a cast iron pot that you can hang over a fire. It is the perfect solution for or making soups, stews, and hot drinks. A 4-quart Dutch will run around $50. To hang it over a campfire, you will need a fireplace crane or a campfire tripod. In a pinch, you can also use this directly on the hot coals, just be sure to rotate out the coals to keep the heat constant.


Sterno Stove

Sterno cans and stoves and are good for heating up drinks, canned foods. Weighing less than a pound, sternal stoves are ultra-portable. It is recommended to would get a good Sterno stove kit and lots of extra canned heat.


Kerosene Heater

Kerosene Heaters are normally used for the heating of rooms, but they also provide a great way to boil beans, pasta and other foods or make hot drinks. It is recommended to utilize a heater with a flat top, set a pot of water on the flat surface, and wait for it to boil. A good kerosene heater can cost over $100, but it can be an invaluable item to add your survival supplies, specifically if you live in a cold climate and especially in areas that are prone to power outages during the winter months.


Some final words of warning and advice:

  • Grills and camp stoves should always be used outdoors and a safe distance from your home or shelter. A carbon monoxide build-up in an enclosed space can be deadly.
  • It only takes a few stray sparks to start a fire, so be sure to keep you cooking area clear of loose and flammable items.
  • Prior to starting a fire in the fireplace, make sure the chimney flue is open and unobstructed.
  • Don’t use treated or painted wood for an open cooking fire.
  • Never use gasoline to get a fire going.
  • Make sure campfires and fire pits are confined and controlled with a metal or rock barrier surrounding the fire.
  • Never leave a fire or open flame (not even a candle) without an adult to provide supervision.
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