Some kind of disaster has happened, you and your family have moved to the Bug Out Location, you open a #10 can of chili mac,,, and now what? What are your plans on cooking that the bug out location?
In other words, the SHTF, and now what? How do you plan on cooking at your bug out location?
You the time to stockpile hundreds of pounds of rice and beans in mylar bags, you have hundreds of #10 cans, but without a way to boil water and cook, all of those food preps are almost useless.
After Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Ike, one of my neighbors used their outdoor propane grill to cook with. In about a week, they had gone through several 20 pound propane bottles. While I was looking at the pile of propane bottles around my neighbors deck, I started wondering what they would do if the disaster lasted months, instead of a couple of weeks. After Hurricane Rita my family went 18 days without power. During that time we used a camp stove and my wood pit to cook with.
In this article we are going to be looking at was to cook during and after some kind of long term SHTF disaster. There is a difference in the power being out for a few days, like in most cases, and planning for power to be out for a couple of months. Hopefully we will be able to cover both short term and long term solutions in this article.
Wood Stoves and grills:
Wood stoves and grills come in a wide variety of sizes, features and prices. Just about any major retail outlet store will have a wood grill in stock during the summer months. Some of the grills designed for charcoal can be used with wood when charcoal is not available.
In an effort to prepare my family for a total collapse, I took the time to build myself a large pit with a built on smoker. The cooking surface of the main pit is 6 feet 9 inches long and 29 inches across.
The main reason for making a pit this large, is so that I can cook a whole hog, or a deer at a single time. Lets say that my family is running low on food, someone brings a hog into camp, we can cook the hog in a single sitting and everyone can have a feast.
My pit started out as a 250 gallon butane tank, and a 150 gallon air tank. The 150 gallon tank was cut into 2 sections – one section became the smoker, and one section became the firebox. The smoker has 2 trays which are 24 inches in diameter, the firebox is 2 feet 6 inches long and 24 inches in diameter.
Construction phases of the pit:
Not everyone wants to build themselves a large or portable pit. For those types of people, there are a number of grill options available – Fire rings with built on grills, table top grills, grills on a pedestal (not pictured) and grills that can be bought from just about any hardware / sporting goods store.
Fire rings not only provide the ability to cook, but they also provide people a place to sit around a fire and talk. During a stressful situation, its good to give people a place where they can communicate their feelings to others.
Construction of a fire ring can be simple or complex. Some rings are made of metal, some of rocks, some of fire resistant bricks. One fire ring that I saw was made out of a 2:1 elliptical head and had a cooking surface on it. The ring was about 4 – 5 feet in diameter, and was large enough to cook dozens of steaks at one time.
Table top grills are lightweight, portable, but not very much meat can be cooked at one time on them. The main purpose of these types of grills would be for cooking small game, such as rabbits and squirrels, hot dogs, and sausage.
Grills with a firebox can be found just about anywhere. Prices range from just a couple of hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. Unlike the other grills that have been listed, grills with a firebox can be used to smoke meat, make jerky, or even make sausage.
For meats that produce a lot of grease, like chicken, a grill with a side firebox would be better then cooking directly over the heat source. When the grease hits the heat source, sometimes the grease ignites and causes a grease fire.
Propane is a short term answer to a long term problem. Propane has several advantages – it stores well, it burns clean, and propane has multiple uses.
Two of the main reasons why I like propane – it stores well, and it has a multiple of uses. I can buy the 2 pack of 1 pound propane bottles, store them at the camp, and the fuel never expires. Then there are the wide range of attachments for the bottles – lanterns, stoves and space heaters.
When the weather gets cold, my brother takes a small space heater to his deer stand. Go back a year later and the stove still works.
When we need some light outside, get a propane lantern.
Need to warm up a meal, get the propane stove out and cook something up.
At the camp we have a 250 gallon propane tank which is used to fuel the furnace and the stove. When the power goes out, we can light a couple of the burners on the stove, and we are able to heat just about the whole house with just a couple of burners going.
A buddy of mine has a 500 gallon propane tank that he plans on using for his generator.
Besides 1 pound propane bottles, 250 gallon and 500 gallon propane tanks, there are the 20 pound propane bottles. Instead of using the 1 pound propane bottles, people can stockpile the 20 pound bottles, then get an adapter to power lanterns, stoves and other devices.
In this video we cook some breakfast on a Coleman PerfectFlow Insta Start Grill Stove.
At the deer camp I am a member of has something like a 250 gallon propane tank we use for the hot water heater, stove and oven. At one time we had a propane powered refrigerator to keep food cold, but the fridge stopped working for some reason.
Solar Oven – If you plan on using a wood grill, you need a good supply of firewood. For some people firewood may not be an issue, for others, firewood might be a serious issue. For people where firewood might be an issue, there is always a solar oven.
To build a solar oven you need some pieces of cardboard, glue, and aluminum foil.
Spread the glue over the cardboard, then put the foil over the glue.
Put a pot of food on a stand, put the pieces of cardboard around the pot so that the rays of the sun are reflected onto the pot.
Cooking and butchering tools:
To top off your cooking solutions, be sure to stock matches, eating utensils, butchering tools and carving knives at your bug out location.
During some kind of long term SHTF situation, wild hogs are going to be source of meat (besides livestock). The reason being, hogs breed faster then anything else, and they live off a wide range of food sources.
In November of 2009 I dropped by the deer camp to visit with some of the other members. One of the guys had some hog traps out and just happened to have caught a hog. When I arrived at the deer camp, the hog had already been killed, skinned, quartered and was in the process of being butchered.
To butcher the hog, the people were using 3 carving knives, a cleaver and a good sized bone saw.
The people a the deer camp were cutting parts of the hog into pork chops, and were cutting the ribs into sections. Some of the pork chops looked better then anything I ever saw at a grocery store. the meat had a very nice color to it and a nice fat layer.
After looking at the chunks of meat that were coming off of that hog, I am glad that I built myself a large pit. Just a couple of those pork chops would have filled up a table top grill.
When SHTF we will not be able to go down to the grocery store or butcher and buy a certain size cut of meat, we will have to take whatever becomes available. Do you “really” want to place the future of your family in the hands of a sheet metal grill?
And its not just cooking wild hogs or deer, what about raccoons, squirrels, rabbits and fish? Will you be able to cook whatever the hunters bring into the camp?
My personal plan is to have 2 pits that can be used to cook on – 1 large pit and 1 smaller pit, plus a propane stove. The smaller pit will have about a 3 foot long cooking surface, as compared to the 6 feet 9 inch long grill of the larger pit.
On top of the fireboxes of the pits will be a flat surface for pots. With the flat surface on top of the firebox, we can be cooking the meat inside the grill, and then cooking beans, greens, food out of mylar bags or #10 cans on top of the firebox.
Now for a video about stockpiling food, ammo and fishing supplies.