Cooking Your Survival Food

So you need to crack into your survival food stockpile; for some people, this is not an appealing thought. When someone brings up the words ‘survivalism’ and ‘cooking’ in the same sentence, for many the image that springs to mind is of a group of people eating out of cold cans by candlelight.  I’ve always chuckled a little at the thought of survivalists living completely off of MRE’s and cans of tuna and peas.

The reality is, there are many different methods of cooking survival foods, both canned and fresh. It is easy to forget that our ancestors managed to make hearty, healthy meals without electricity or half of the advantages that a well-prepared survivalist will have in an emergency.  Let’s take a look at some of the options that are available to would-be survival gourmets.

Of course, the simplest method to use for cooking is an open flame.  Cooking over the campfire is a tradition that goes back a lot farther than
the Boy Scouts – the early settlers and Native Americans both roasted meat and vegetables over a burning pit of wood.  There are quite a few ways to harness the heat of a cooking fire. The most basic is to suspend the meat you are cooking over the flame with a stake or a spit.  A more controlled option is to use a metal skillet, which will give you better control over the amount of heat you are exposing your food too, and will also allow to boil and cook vegetables. If you have access to a steel drum, you can use it to create a makeshift oven.  By cutting a ‘door’ in the side of the drum, as well as air holes at the bottom and a few more at the top, you can cook on the top of the stove and benefit from the warmth that radiates from the sides.

Fires are not always practical, but if you live in a sunny climate, you have another option for cooking without electricity or gas.  Using a simple box oven, you can harness the power of the sun to cook even a large amount of food.  Solar ovens can be built out of survival supplies as simple as cardboard boxes, aluminum foil, an oven bag or piece of glass and glue.  The way the oven works is by concentrating the heat of the sun so as to focus it on the food you are attempting to cook with.  The greenhouse effect helps to trap the heat inside the boxes under the glass or plastic, and the double layer of box walls helps insulate the oven.  Using a basic solar oven you can cook at temperatures of around 300 degrees Fahrenheit, which is more than enough to cook almost anything thoroughly over a period of 5 hours or so.  There are many different plans for solar oven designs available on the internet, and they are inexpensive to experiment with until you find the one that works best for you.

Whether you choose to use fire or the sun to cook your food, make sure to first verify that your preferred method is practical given the climate you expect to find yourself in. It is almost impossible to cook with a fire in the rain unless you have a steel covering to protect the flames – so if you find yourself in a wet environment, fire might not be the best answer. Likewise, if it is winter, or if you are in an area with constant heavy cloud cover, a solar oven is probably not the best piece of survival equipment.  Be ready to adapt to the situations that present themselves to you and be willing to consider more than one cooking option.