30-Day Grid-Down Emergency Cooking Challenge

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Power outages are increasing at an alarming rate. It makes sense to prepare to be able to live without electricity. We decided to test our level of preparedness and challenge our family to live for 30 days without using electricity to cook our food. This means that our stove, oven, microwave, slow cookers, rice pots, and other electric cooking devices just got quarantined!

What non-electric cooking options are available for cooking during a power outage? Non-electric alternative cooking methods include two basic categories; safe indoor and outdoor cooking devices. Cooking devices rated for indoor use may burn fuels such as alcohol, Safe Heat, butane, candles, or wood in an appropriately vented cookstove. Outdoor cooking options are more plentiful as you will see below.

I am confident that we have the cooking devices, fuel, and skills to be able to cook for 30 days without using electricity. However, I will dearly miss the convenience of my slow cooker, rice pot, microwave, and oven.

November is a cool month where we live with an average high of 52 and a low of 28 degrees. I am looking forward to taking advantage of the wonderful warmth from our wood-burning cookstove as we make our meals.

The Provident Preppers’ Cooking Device Arsenal

We have been prepping for years and have collected a variety of fun alternative energy cooking devices. During this challenge, we will use many of these options. Don’t feel like you need to buy all of these fun cooking toys.

You only need a few alternative cooking options that provide you with the ability to safely cook indoors, outdoors, and a portable cooking device along with the fuel to power each of them.

We will introduce you to our favorite alternative cooking devices during our weekly updates that will be posted on YouTube. We will share our successes and failures with you.

Rules of the 30-Day Grid Down Emergency Cooking Challenge

The rules for this challenge are incredibly simple:

  • The challenge will last for the entire month of November, including the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • No electricity may be used to heat, cook, or bake any food or to boil water for the entire duration of the challenge.
  • Best practices for safety must be strictly observed.
  • Fuel usage will be tracked and documented for calculating cooking fuel storage amounts.

Indoor Cooking Options

It is essential that you are prepared to safely cook indoors without producing dangerous carbon monoxide or burning down your home. Take time to carefully evaluate your personal situation and come up with a reasonable plan to cook inside your home when conditions do not permit you to cook outdoors.

Safety Precautions for Cooking Indoors During a Power Outage

A few simple steps can make all the difference when it comes to keeping your family safe as you cook indoors during an emergency.

  • Only use cooking devices that are rated for indoor use.
  • Only burn fuels that are recommended for safe indoor use and provide adequate ventilation as needed.
  • Keep a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector with a digital readout nearby to monitor the level of this dangerous gas. Do not take risks!
  • Keep a working fire extinguisher close by and make sure that every family member knows how to use it correctly.
  • For obvious reasons, use great caution with open flames.

Our Best Picks for Cooking Indoors During a Power Outage

Wood Burning Cookstove

A wood-burning cookstove is the ultimate prepper cooking and heating tool if you have the ability to install one. I love my stove during the cold months, but cooking on it in the summer is not a good option.

Make sure to have an alternative cooking device for emergency cooking outside during the summer.

Safe Heat

Safe Heat is a canned fuel that is typically used by caterers to keep foods warm. However, with a little bit of creativity, you can use it to cook food. Visit our post, Canned Heat – Safe Fuel for Indoor Emergency Cooking to learn more about cooking with Safe Heat.

Alcohol Burner/Stove

An alcohol burner is a small device that burns alcohol. It needs to be used inside of a little stove that will support the pot. Learn more about using an alcohol burner and which varieties of alcohol work best in our post, Best Alcohol Cooking Fuels for Campers and Preppers.

Kelly Kettle Hobo Stove

I am a huge fan of the Kelly Kettle. You can’t burn debris indoors but it is possible to use the Hobo stove that comes with the Kelly Kettle to support a pot. I put a little block of wood under the Safe Heat or the alcohol burner to bring the flame just a little closer to the pan. Works great for indoor cooking.

Butane Stove

A butane stove must be vented while using indoors according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. It does a great job of producing an instant hot flame. While it has its place in our cooking device arsenal, I am not a fan of storing large amounts of butane cartridges for safety reasons.

HERC Oven (Candle)

The HERC Oven is an ingenious, well-made device that uses simple tea lights to bake. It is a pretty impressive tool. Tea lights will store safely and indefinitely in a cool, dry location.

Thermal Cooking

Thermal cooker, hay box, retained heat cooker, or Wonder Oven are all different non-electric cooking devices that use the incredible power of conserved and retained heat to cook your food.

You must have a way to bring the food up to temperature, but then the process of thermal cooking finishes cooking the food without additional energy. Learn more about retained heat cooking techniques at Retained Heat Cooking: The Secret to Stretching Your Fuel Supplies.

Pressure Cooking

A stovetop pressure cooker can be your best friend when it comes to reducing the amount of fuel required to get the job done. Old dry beans will soften up in a matter of 10 minutes, allowing you to have them ready to eat in an hour.

Our Best Picks for Cooking Outdoors During a Power Outage

After years of practice and experimenting, we have settled on a few favorite devices for cooking outdoors during an emergency.

Bear River Rocket Stove

The first time I saw this stove I fell in love with it. The Bear River Rocket Stove is built to last forever. It uses rocket stove technology to burn small sticks, twigs or debris efficiently. With this stove, I have the ability to cook food for many people using very little fuel.

Stove Tec Rocket Stove

This little rocket stove will burn sticks or charcoal. The design is efficient. The drawback for me is that it has a small cooking surface and can only cook with one pot at a time. This may be advantageous if you aren’t cooking for a crowd.

Kelly Kettle

The Kelly Kettle is another brilliant design. It has a water jacket with rocket stove technology that makes boiling water fast and easy. The small stove at the bottom can be used with a small pot or pan to cook for a couple of people.

The best part is that the little Hobo stove can be used with canned heat or an alcohol burner to cook indoors. It is lightweight and portable. The Kelly Kettle is my favorite pick for emergency evacuation cooking.

Helius Rocket Stove

The Helius is a heavy rocket stove that is built to withstand just about anything. It has 3 sturdy legs that allow you to cook and stoke the fire in a comfortable position. It has the advantage of being able to burn sticks and debris to cook your food.

Dutch Ovens

Dutch ovens are a classic favorite. It takes a little bit of practice to perfect the skill, but fantastic meals can be created in these indestructible cast iron ovens.

Volcano Cookstove

A volcano cookstove can be used as a fire pit and is a great way to make stacked Dutch ovens more efficient. Some models can also be fueled with propane.

Cobb Cooker

The Cobb Cooker is a fun little portable charcoal cooker. It uses charcoal briquettes very efficiently.

Apple Box Reflector Oven (Charcoal)

An apple box reflector oven is an inexpensive oven created from an apple box and aluminum foil. Detailed instructions to build your own can be found here.

Paper Box Reflector Oven (Charcoal)

Similar to an apple box reflector oven, this is another inexpensive oven that you create from a box that held reams of paper. It is a little smaller and more energy-efficient than an apple box reflector oven. Build your own paper box reflector oven using these step-by-step instructions.

Camp Chef Propane Stove

Our Camp Chef propane stove is a fixture on our back patio all year long, and is especially used in the summer when I don’t want to heat up the house by cooking indoors. It is incredibly easy to use and the nice hot flame cooks evenly.

Camp Chef Camp Oven

This is a propane oven with two burners on the top of it. It is a great little tool that allows you to both cook and bake using propane.

Sun Oven

Solar cooking is an incredible emergency cooking technique when the conditions are right. Learn more about cooking with the sun at Solar Ovens: Cooking with the Sun During an Emergency (and Every Day).

Fire Pit

Don’t overlook the potential of a simple fire pit to cook food. An inexpensive rack can safely hold pots and pans above the fire or hot coals to cook food. Dutch ovens with legs can be used directly in a fire pit to strategically take advantage of hot coals.

What is the best emergency cooking device for emergency cooking in a disaster?

The best cooking devices for you are determined by your unique circumstances and preferences, along with the specific event. Prepare to be able to cook indoors, outdoors, and on the go in the event that you must evacuate.

Practice Makes Perfect

Our goal during our 30-day grid-down cooking challenge is to build our knowledge and skills as we cook our meals without electricity. We hope to learn which alternative cooking devices are really the most effective and track our fuel usage. These numbers will help us to realistically update our emergency cooking plan.

Join us on our journey this month. You don’t need to go as extreme as we are (or you can go more extreme). Design a challenge that is perfect for your situation. Perhaps go without electricity for just one Saturday or make a few meals a week with your favorite non-electric device. Share with us what you learn.

Thanks for being part of the solution!

Jonathan and Kylene Jones


Kylene Jones is a blogger, content creator, published author, motivational speaker, homesteader, prepper, mother, and grandmother. She practices self-reliance, provident living, and emergency preparedness in her everyday life. She loves working with her husband, Jonathan, and is committed to helping our community be prepared to thrive during the challenges that lie in our future.