It can be easy to lose sight of the basics as a prepper. You get to worrying about how many beans and bullets you have, and it can be easy to forget about things like how you’ll cook those beans. Remember, most SHTF scenarios are things you can survive. Some will be short enough that you can skate through on meal replacement bars, canned fruit and water. For anything longer than a few days though, you’ll want to consider a way to cook some hot food. Cooking is crucial to our diets. It helps us digest food without expending huge amounts of energy. TEOTWAWKI is not the time for a raw diet.
Morale - Cooking a hot meal can also be a good morale booster. Whether it’s a simple pot of oatmeal or a soup full of dried veggies and meat, it doesn’t have to be complicated to raise spirits. I carry oatmeal makings in our bug out bags. Raisins and cinnamon already mixed in the measured out oats, just add boiling water. For bigger groups there are freeze-dried meals that can cover quite a crowd. I have one can that will feed 10 people spaghetti with meat sauce with the quick addition of boiling water.
Basic - Really basic, can you boil water? That should be your starting point for this one. Make sure you have a way to boil water. Bug out, bug in, power on or grid down. Hot drinks, safe drinking water, simple meals and the freeze dried ready-to-eat meals all need boiled water. You can get pretty far with just boiling water, days and days if you plan your food storage right. Think this one through carefully though. You may have to boil water in your house, basement bug in for radiation events come to mind. You may have to boil water in a temporary refugee type situation, maybe you’re camped out at a state park waiting for flood water to recede so you can go home. You may have to boil water for weeks on end with no warning, say your friendly local chemical dealer lets a couple of tanks leak into your county’s water supply. So you want something that can handle most of those situations, or maybe a couple of somethings that together can cover all the scenarios. My solution was a Kelly Kettle. It’s a basic rocket stove design. Very sturdy, very safe, light weight. Runs on twigs and pinecones, which I have a lot of. I don’t have to balance anything on top of it because the whole kettle fills with water.
Safe Meat -For longer SHTF type events you may need the ability to cook up meat. Hunting prizes or raised livestock or just freezer meat that has to be cooked before they rot because power is down. Of course a basic stick over a fire can get you some cooked meat, it’s not terribly efficient though. A grill or a way to bake the meat bbq style, either would work better. Meat can also go into the boiling water mentioned above, soups and stews are very efficient if you need to get every last calorie you can.
Vegetables – Even garden goodness occasionally needs some cooking to be at max nutritional value. Cooked carrots, spinach, mushrooms, asparagus, cabbage, peppers and many other vegetables supply more antioxidants, such as carotenoids, to the body than they do when raw. Boil or steam them for maximum benefits. Lycopene also increases in availability for us after cooking. Gentlemen, if you don’t know why you need Lycopene, give it a quick Google search.
Cooking for a crowd – The last thing I can think about to say on this one, is plan to cook meals to a bit bigger than normal. (And yes, I’m implying that your normal should be a cooked meal.) Whether you are feeding an elderly neighbor, or your brother-in-law is on your couch with his family in your guest bedroom, times of hardship will necessitate people coming together. Make sure you have a large pot and a couple of large pans. And that your cooking/stove setup can handle the weight of those.
What are your plans for grid down survival cooking? Do you get a lot of practice with it? Where do you think your weak spots are? Shout out in the comments!