Cooking without electricity is a great way to save money, be more sustainable, and learn new skills.
Most people rely on electricity to cook their meals. If the power goes out, cooking can become a challenge. Especially if you’re without power for several days.
That is why it’s important to learn how to cook without electricity.
In this article, I’ll share about 5 different ways to cook without electricity, from open-flame cooking, to solar ovens and more. You’ll never have to worry about cooking during a power outage or camping trip again!
Cooking Is An Essential Skill
Cooking is one of the most essential skills that individuals should learn. It’s not only a practical way of feeding oneself, but it’s also a way of expressing love.
After all, they say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and I tend to agree.
I remember being trapped in our homes from storm damage, after a hurricane went through. There was no electricity or water in our town for days. People were panicking because they didn’t know how to cook without power.
Now we live off-grid and we don’t have the electricity to provide for a conventional oven.
Cooking without electricity can seem intimidating at first, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be enjoyable and quite delicious.
5 Techniques To Cook Without Electricity
There is always more than one way to skin a cat, and cooking isn’t any different. Don’t worry, I won’t be sharing any cat recipes. ………. Yet.
Undoubtedly, you’ve heard me say a time or two: always have a backup plan. And a backup for your backup.
If your traditional method for cooking food is in an electric oven or, God forbid, a microwave oven, then you need a backup plan for that method. Especially in case of an emergency, or if you forgot to pay the electric bill. THEN you need a backup plan for your backup.
Think of it as the A, B, C’s of cooking. A is your main method. B is your plan B. And C is in Case A & B don’t work.
#1 Open Flame Cooking
One of the most familiar and widely used methods of cooking without electricity is open-flame cooking.
If you’ve ever roasted marshmallows over a campfire, that is open-flame cooking.
This method involves building a fire and cooking your food over it. You can cook outside in a fire pit, or inside in an open-hearth wood fireplace.
Directions To Start A Wood Fire
- Start a fire. Gather dry kindling, firewood, firestarter and matches.
- Stack your firewood in order, firestarter, kindling, and firewood. Make sure to cross the pieces of wood to allow for air flow.
- Once you have the fire going, and a good bed of coals, you can start cooking.
How To Start A Fire With Charcoal (Outside Use ONLY)
- Choose your Charcoal. There are two main types of charcoal; briquettes and lump charcoal. Briquettes are made from compressed sawdust and other materials, while lump charcoal is made from natural wood. Both types can be used to start a fire, but lump charcoal tends to burn hotter and faster.
- Arrange the charcoal in a pile, in the shape of a pyramid in your outdoor fire pit or grill. Leave enough space in the center of the pile for air to circulate.
- Create a small depression in the center of the pile to pour lighter fluid in the middle. Wait 5-10 minutes for the fluid to soak into the charcoal.
- Light the charcoal.
- Wait for the charcoal to heat up and make a good bed of coals. 10-20 mins. The charcoal will turn white or gray on the outside when it’s ready.
- Once the charcoal is heated up, use a long-handled grill tool to spread them out evenly in your grill or fire pit. This will help your food cook evenly.
Different Ways To Cook Over An Open Flame
There are several ways to cook over an open flame.
One way is to use a cast-iron skillet or a Dutch oven. We absolutely love our cast iron cookware and use it as our main cookware.
Cast iron is perfect for cooking over an open fire because it can withstand high temperatures and distributes heat evenly.
Another way to cook over an open flame is to use skewers for roasting sticks. This method is perfect for cooking meat and vegetables over an open fire. Just skewer your food, hold it over the flame, and rotate it every few minutes until it is cooked to your liking.
#2 Use The Sun To Cook Without Electricity
Another popular and ancient method of cooking without electricity is solar cooking.
Although it recently gained popularity during the last decade with the invention of solar ovens, people have been using the sun to cook food for thousands of years.
Solar cooking involves using the energy from the sun to cook your food. This method is ideal for sunny days and can be used to cook a variety of dishes, like rice, stews, and even baked goods.
We have a Sun Oven (pictured above), and we’ve made everything from brownies to squash casserole in it.
To cook with solar energy, you will need a solar cooker such as the Sun Oven, or you can make one yourself.
In order to cook food, simply place the solar cooker in the direct sun and let the rays do the rest.
It’s important to note that solar cooking may take longer than traditional cooking methods. Not to mention, you need to move the cooker with the sun.
#3 Propane Stoves Offer A Non-Electric Way To Cook
Propane stoves are another popular and widely used option for cooking without electricity.
These stoves use propane gas as a fuel source and can be used to cook pretty much any dish you can make with electricity.
Make sure to cook with propane in a well-ventilated area and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
You will need to purchase a propane tank, and it’s a good idea to have a spare on hand. The last thing you want to do is be in the middle of cooking ribs and have the propane run out.
#4 Cook Without Electricity In A Dutch Oven
Dutch ovens are a versatile cooking tool that can be used for both indoor and outdoor cooking.
Technically, you need another non-electric cooking method to use with the Dutch oven. But potato, potatoe.
To use a Dutch oven, simply place your ingredients inside the Dutch oven and put the Dutch oven inside one of the other cooking methods.
You can use a Dutch oven in a grill, on charcoal, over a fire, in a wood cook stove, or in a gas stove. They are very versatile. We’ve made bread, brownies (we cook a lot of brownies), venison roast, and even popcorn.
#5 Cook On A Wood-Cook Stove To Save On Electricity
If someone would have told me a decade ago that one day not only would I be cooking on a wood-cook stove full time, but I would actually prefer it to any other method, I’d be checking their drink for moonshine.
Wood-burning stoves were one of the first stoves invented. The kicker is that they never stopped working. They still bake, sauté, fry, and simmer just as well as they did the day they were invented.
Every stove is different, but the premise is the same. They have a wood box where you build a fire (see how to start a wood fire above), an oven box, and a cook surface that functions as the cooktop like an electric stove.
Another wonderful feature of wood-cook stoves is that they are made to last. The one we use as our everyday stove was made over 100 years ago. No electricity is needed, which saves us thousands in electric bills.
What Meals Can You Cook Without Electricity?
There are many meals that you can cook without electricity. Here are a few ideas:
- Breakfast: You can make oatmeal, eggs, pancakes, or waffles over an open fire, or on a camping stove.
- Lunch: You can make sandwiches, wraps, or salads. You can also cook soup or stew in a pot over an open fire, or on a camping stove.
- Dinner: You can make grilled chicken, fish, or vegetables. You can also cook pasta, rice, or potatoes.
- Dessert: You can make s’mores, banana bread, or apple crisp over an open fire, or on a camping stove.
For those that don’t want to cook or don’t have the ability to, we offer 3 delicious and easy non-cook recipes that are healthy.
Practical Ways To Cook Without Electricity
Whether you’re camping in the wilderness, experiencing a power outage, or just want to try something new, there are plenty of options for cooking without electricity.
It is important to be creative when cooking without electricity. There are many different ways to cook food without electricity, as I mentioned in the top 5, so experiment and find what works best for you. And remember, have a backup plan for your backup plan.
So, go ahead and try cooking without electricity—you might just be surprised at how delicious and satisfying it can be.