Sunday: Questions and Answers With The Wolf Pack

Note: The Format of this segment my change in the future, while we test to see what is more useful and effective for readers…

Question from Walt

I need a suggestion from someone who has thought such things through.  My wife have I have been talking about alternate means of cooking in the event there is no electricity and we are unable to get LP gas refills.  I have both a grill and a smoker to use as long as the gas lasts. They are both run off a 100lb tank, while our heat is run off a 500 gal tank. We currently cook with electricity.

We live in a rural area, but I am too old and out of shape to cut wood. When TSHTF and gas runs out, what do we do to be able to cook?

Our current consideration is to get two addition 100 lb tanks and a cheap gas cook stove and keep it in our garage for emergencies.  The two tanks would probably last quite a while–6 months or more. I am also considering building an outdoor oven to cook bread in. I have a stack of surplus oak flooring that I could burn in the oven, or even a campfire, but it would not last more than a few weeks, depending, of course, on how much we bake. Your opinion on these things?

Please help Walt out by posting your advice in the comments below…

M.D. Creekmore suggests the “EcoZoom Rocket Stove” you can read my full review here.

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. Winomega says:

    You missed the sale on charcoal, but it is still pretty cheap. You could also start calling around to see if there is a service that will deliver pre-chopped firewood wood for you. Old pallets are treated with all sorts of pesticides and chemicals, so that requires a risk assessment.

    But stocking up on gas seems like a wise move. Hopefully the survivors will start to cluster by the time you could really use someone to manage the cooking fuel.

    I have an oil lamp designed to heat food over, but I haven’t tested it.

    • I like Walts idea of buying the extra propane tanks. I buy the 25 and 40 pounders. However, my major concern is heating.

    • Not sure where you heard pallets are treated with anything harmful!!! pls supply citations. I BELIEVE YOUR WRONG. I build and sell pallets on the side.
      Plus get your pallets from makers of food Items. if you think I’m wrong and if your nice they will give you there 35 gal food grade barrels (shhh don’t tell anyone our secret)

      • Winomega says:

        Warnings about the dangers of re-using pallets are all over the web.

        The treatment is a concern for pallets that have been used internationally.

        But the risk-assessment for a pair of elderly folks… might develop cancer before dying.

      • Pineslayer says:

        Pallets; having ran many warehouses I can tell you that you never know what was on them or spilled on them to be more precise. If you are sure about their history, burn away. If you don’t know where they have been their whole life, it is not worth the risk. Even if you have an air tight stove and no fumes get into the house, you are possibly sending toxins downwind to your neighbors.

  2. Good Morning Walt,

    You have a few choices. One is a solar oven:

    Of course you would need something to cook with when the sun isn’t shining:

    This stove literally uses sticks that could be gathered, a big pile of lightweight bundled sticks would last a long time.

    Depending on how handy you are, here is a DIY version:

    There are alot of DIY plans for both on the internet.
    A solar version made with a reflective windshield screen will work, but doesn’t last. It is lightweight and will blow over with the slightest breeze.

    I might ask Sir, do you live in warm climate? Do you have to worry about heating your home?

    • I should add that I just did a quick search on Amazon. Some of MD’s wonderful advertisers might have some of these items for sale too. I am sure at competitive prices.
      If you use the Click to Shop Amazon link on this page (upper left on this page) you can help support MD and this blog.

      • axelsteve says:

        Maybe if you have some younger relatives nephews grandson etc the can chop some firewood for you depending where you live.Maybe buy a cord of green firewood and have it delivered and it can season at your house and use it as a backup. Some people will sell unseasoned wood at a discount for a longer cutting season. Depending on where you live that is.

      • Mama J;
        If there is nothing available, there is the old standby “if” there is a cattle ranch close by, cow chips. When they are dry they burn clean, no smoke, no smell they burn hot so it would work great in an old fashion out door cooker/oven. My 5th generation grt grandmother spoke of using them when traveling from TN to Oregon in her diary.
        Just think you have an abundance of cooking material for sale.

        • Cow chips! YES!

          • Amazing you and I know what they are and what they are used for….
            Wholly cow……;-) I think I am old! Or we have the beginning of a new business when the shtf. I have not gathered chips in years so I probably have a small supply, but there is a big big big ranch down the road. We could go chippen…………
            Just think we could replace the charcoal briquet business!

        • Uncle Frank says:

          This article is more about the use in the garden but it should also work for cooking and heating.

          Not to strenuous and gives good results.

          Uncle Frank

  3. Consider charcoal. I can cook in a dutch oven with a small pile of coal. open cooking uses a lot more.
    Lp gas lasts quite awhile when you use it for cooking. I use 20 & 30# lp tanks in the rv. 2 jugs are plenty for cooking only. I can go all through the non-heating seasons on just 2. Central heat will suck ’em dry quickly.
    Rocket stove for quick cooking/heating water. Runs on small burnables–twigs, pine cones, etc.
    Camp fires are fun, but pretty inefficient for cooking. Maybe a fire in a pit for really long cooking food (think pit roasted pig, or buried bean pot)
    That’s al I can think of without more coffee.

  4. Mystery Guest says:

    I do not know how your finances are but the Eco-Zoom rocket type stove is a good investment. The reason being is it takes minimal wood and briquettes etc. to cook with.
    Buying up briquettes and storing them wouldn’t be to much of a problem and you could figure up how many you would need for a year.
    Just keep them dry.
    Even in this lousy state I live in they have grocery stores that carry cut wood, that later you could easily be cut to the size sticks needed for the eco-zoom.
    And the eco-zoom puts out little smoke which is a plus.
    There is another stove that is out there and about the same price the Volcano. Same principles just different design and it has hook ups for the bottles of fuel.
    You can even build a permanent or semi permanent one out of bricks. If there are back problems I would build it up to where one doesn’t have to bend over so much. It is made with bricks and stove pipe and looks much like a small BBQ pit. Maybe someone has the links to it.
    The idea is to cook with less fuel and achieve the same results.

  5. Lantana says:

    How about a sun oven?

    • Mystery Guest says:

      Right on and to think this is one of the things I am saving up for and I forgot to mention it. One of my duh! moments.

    • Although I believe a sun oven is a great idea, it usually will not be a viable means of cooking year round for most people. Not to mention the fact that the ordinary prepper is stockpiling beans & rice. I’m not sure these staples can be cooked that way. To boil water using solar energy usually involves concentrated solar power. Wood is your best heating source, if this is readily available where you live. If you are not up to cutting it yourself, you need to start working on a barter system right now. I’d imagine you have many things to offer other people, and these people could cut your wood for cooking as payment. It’s time to reach out and start making connections.

      • Winomega says:


        Rice casseroles can be done in a normal oven, so it might be worth checking to see if it works in a solar oven. BTW, here is a recipe for raw rice.

        Beans do need a shot of hard boiling before being thrown into a crock pot. The solar oven might not get it hot enough, but it might get it close enough to conserve the cooking fuel. After the initial boil, I imagine either a solar oven or a Wonderbox might work after the hard boil.

        I can’t remember where I read it, but someone said the only thing they couldn’t get right in a solar oven was pie.

        • Instead of using fuel to boil your beans before the pot. Just soak them over night 🙂

          • You can do the same with pasta. When I used to backpack, I’d take ramen noodles and dump the whole thing in a zip-lock bag before setting out, and by the time we got to our lunch stop, they’d be ready to go with just a little heating. Obviously a quickie solution for one person, but still.

      • The Sun Oven website has collections of recipes, including one for beans and one for rice:

      • Yes and no , There is a big difference between an electricity producing solar panel and a water heating solar panel . One is a PV , and the other is not much more than a curved mirror with a piper in the center . They do make one where there is a zig-zag of metal tubing inside a square panel , on a good sun day , the water leaving the panel will give you a 3rd degree burn . Stay away from the small , DIY folding solar to heat water , if one person can carry it …….its too small . Just sayin .

  6. Finn Mahone says:

    You can look up how to make home made rocket stoves out of an old #10 can and about 3 smaller 28 oz cans on You Tube. There was even one video from a guy who made a small stove from about a dozen or so bricks.

    These stoves do not require logs but small twigs and branches and those small pieces of wood are very easy to collect just around your yard. .

    I have build a couple rocket stoves from old cans and they work surprisingly well.

    • Sw't Tater says:

      This was the first thing I thought of as well…you can even use newspaper or newspaper logs in these.
      I have a collection of several cans I am keeping, with instructions, so we will have one to put together should we need it. We R- N same position, tho we are on a natural gas line, we also have propane.
      We don’t do charcoal, usually, but have a few lbs put back.twigs are in abundance most seasons, and I keep a small supply protected..

    • Macintosh says:

      I have built two rocket stoves. One was made from one of those big pop corn cans and the other from bricks I have lying around. They run basically on twigs. Having a couple is good cuz you can only use one pan at a time but they get plenty hot! I have found how tos on You Tube that were very helpful. If I can do it ANYONE can do it. Seriously.

  7. Missy Taz says:

    I have several different methods for cooking. I have 2 wood burning stoves and an electric stove inside which I use to cook in the winter time if temps drop below 20 degrees Outside I have a propane grill, 2 different sizes of charcoal grills, I have a white fuel jet stove and I have sterno stoves. I have several cords of wood delivered (whether I need them or not) in July when the price is the least expensive and I walk my property and pick up twigs, pine needles and small branches and store them in plastic tub containers to use for kindling. I have been toying with the idea of making paper briquettes from all of the newspapers I read, but I haven’t figured out how to store them. Here’s a video – pretty simple to make. Best of luck!

    • axelsteve says:

      I burn pine cones,I have 2 pine trees on my property.They are easy to light and burn pretty good for free energy. Not as good as split oak or madrone but for free it works well.I also score some free wood from cal trans work on the local hiways. I like it when that happens.

      • Missy Taz says:

        Thanks, Axelsteve! I forgot to include pine cones! No oak or madrone here, but lots of cedar. Burns hot and long!

        • I dont have pine cones but do have three large Gum trees and gumballs burn really well also!!

  8. Look at the third world countries. Most of the people do not cut large wood to cook with. They collect and use small twigs and branches. They cook in small mud ovens and almost like a rocket stove that a pan fits on. They probably couldn’t find large wood to cut if they had too. We do a similar thing now, even it good times. We save all of the small branches and twigs of trees around our house, breaking them up and storing them in boxes. Then when we are grilling

  9. Be careful building an outdoor stove/over out of common bricks or cinder blocks as they will absorb water if it rains and then if they get hot enough they crack if you’re lucky and explode (sort of) if you aren’t.

    Go to a well stocked home center or a dedicated stone/paver place and get real fire bricks – not that expensive and they even sell the morter if you want to make the project permanent.

  10. We will continue to do what we do today. Collect small sticks and branches around our house and save them. We use these in a round weber grill on the back deck to do hotdogs and other kiddie treats. Look at what people in third world countries do. They don’t harvest large wood (probably can’t even get it), but use small sticks and branches to cook with in small clay ovens and sort of a rocket stove that their pan will sit on. Instead of throwing away the branches we pick up, we break them up and store them in boxes. Then when we are out back grilling, we use them to build a small fire for the kids to do smores ETC. If it is a long term situation, electric and gas will gone and we will all be using these resources. Solar ovens will also become very popular way of baking in those areas that get enough sun.

  11. For baking, consider making a wood fired brick earth oven. The book I have is here:

    You will need to buy the fire bricks, but they are not expensive and you only need about 28 of them – you might be able to get the rest of your materials for free, clay, sand straw, etc, and maybe some cinder blocks to build the stand up to the height that is comfortable.

    For this oven, you can use branches and twigs for the fire to heat it.

  12. worrisome says:

    1. Propane – use it until it is gone, but make sure that you keep your tanks filled. The advice being it is just like cars, when you get down to half a tank, refill. Having a few extra cylinders extends the time you have until you have to use other means. Propane use for your stove however needs to be thought about. If your stove is electric light, you are defeated if the stove is prevented from starting when it has no electricity as some of the newer ones do.
    2. Small devices for small meals, larger devices for larger meals. One of my plans is to use the propane I have on hand to can up whatever I can from the freezer. For that I use this… It is heavy and needs to be put somewhere where a breeze is not blowing when you are canning, other than that it is very efficient.
    3. I also am not willing or capable of cutting down trees, but I buy wood when the kids can’t find any free to cut. I am a neat freak it all has to be stacked neatly. It gets used in the fireplace, the wood cook stove I have and in a high efficient wood stove for house heating. AND I never take a walk in the woods, park, etc that I don’t have a sack along to pick up small limbs, etc. I never have to cut kindling because of this. All wood needs to be covered in the winter to keep out the rain and snow. Wet wood is a pain to light. Summer is the time to re-sort what you have, reorganize, use up the oldest first, go through it and get rid of the bugs. Do not stack it next to your house or you could end up with a lot of termites. Sometimes you can visit building sites and lumber companies and they will be able to supply you with the left overs from projects, just stay away from all treated lumber.
    4. Charcoal. A few bags are good to have around. Get the kind that does not have any fuel starter in it. Buy some metal trash cans with good lids. Line them with a big plastic garden leaf bag, pour in your charcoal. This comes in handy when you want to dig a hole somewhere in your yard or out camping, put some charcoal in, start a fire, put a few bricks around the edges and drop an old bbq grill on it. You can cook chops, steaks, etc right on the grill or you can put a cast iron dutch over on it and do about anything. You can also use wood in the same pit if you run out of charcoal. Having charcoal around along with some sand will also build you a water filter.
    5. Fire starters, Vaseline and cotton balls; laundry lint stuffed in a t paper tube, some people take their office shredded paper mix it water to make a slurry, mash it into patties, let it dry and then light them. I like the first two ways better.

  13. Both a solar oven and a rocket stove are my main choices of cooking in a prolonged grid-down situation once the gas supply to my stove top dries up. I have used both for cooking and find they are fairly idiot proof.

    If you live anywhere there is at least four hours of sunshine per day most days that is strong enough to cast a shadow, then a solar oven will work for you. I recommend the Sun Oven brand of solar oven because it is a quality product with a full line of optional accessories to allow you to also use it as a dehydrator for making jerky or even for cooking up to a 13 lb turkey. Because of the need for sunlight, a solar oven is only good for making mid-day or early evening meals. I think it is a lot easier to use for baking than Dutch oven cooking over campfire coals.

    For making meals in a skillet or pot that is most similar to stove top cooking, I recommend the Stove Tec rocket stove. You can use it in the dead of night if you wish and it works fine on a rainy day if protected from direct rainfall. It does not produce visible smoke once the ceramic liner is fully heated. You can get the least expensive basic model and it will do everything an electric burner or gas burner can do and it is fueled with dead sticks and scrap lumber such as busted up wood pellets. Even an elderly person with little upper body strength can glean dead twigs and small lower dead branches from along the roadside or field margins or abandoned lots with no equipment other than a good pair of work gloves and some kind of burlap sack to haul the wood debris.

    Both the Sun Over solar oven and the StoveTech rocket stove have been chosen by missionary groups as the best types of low tech, fuel efficient cooking methods to give to the very poorest families in third world countries. You can find information about these kinds of charitable activities at the Stove Tech website.

  14. JP in MT says:


    If I understand correctly you are looking for a way to cook without the services of a working infrastructure; so no purchases of LP, charcoal, gas, etc. You are also unable to cut wood for the same purpose.

    The only option I have found that would fit this would be a solar oven. There are several model available. You cooking would be limited to daytime, and sunny days. You don’t state what latitude you are at, so I’m not sure how many days of sun you get.

    The only other thing might be something along the idea of a Rocket Stove. These can be used by picking up sticks, etc and using them. Again it would depend upon local availability of wood.

    Stocking up on more LP and other items might help if it is a short term issue, but not long term.

  15. GoneWithTheWind says:

    Consider a volcano to cook with. I have one and it is more efficient for cooking with a dutch oven then the standard method of just putting coals over and uner it. It directs the heat around the dutch oven and will heat longer and hotter with fewer coals. The dutch oven will cook bread and almost anything you like. Walmart has great sales on charcoal in the fall, I bought 80 lbs last year for $20.
    Someone already mentioned the rocket stove. There are some that can burn wood or charcoal. Since they are so efficient you can burn very small amounts of wood so even older folks can deal with the small amounts of wood needed for cooking.

    • Soggy Prepper says:

      I’m with GoneWithTheWind.

      Volcano stove and Rocket stove (the kind that burns charcoal). and a dutch oven.

      I actually have never used my volcano stove. I know. I know!!!
      But we have it. Yes. I need to practice with it.

      I use the rocket stove quite often, the one I made. I have the real one too, but I just love my little rocket stoves. Boiling water, soups… amazing little heat producers.

      Stock pile some charcoal. Don’t let it get wet. And little sticks and twigs are sufficient for the rocket stove.

      Love that rocket stove!

    • Learn to cook with even just the Dutch Oven, and start collecting firewood as you can. It doesn’t have to be cordwood like you’d use in a woodstove; but, a good pile of everything from twigs to wrist size pieces stored in a dry place would be relatively easy to collect over time, and would be useful for an outside fire with the oven.

  16. riverrider says:

    dutch oven cookbook and charcoal. the book tells you how many briquets to use which is very few. a year supply will fit in a couple of trashcans.

    • riverrider says:

      don’t forget thermos cooking!

    • grannyj says:

      RR, Walt, all,

      using a garbage can to store the charcoal in is a good idea..but they CAN be knocked over and spilled hence charcoal could get wet (if you’re not around for instant pickup)

      If you figure out how many briquettes you will need for the meals you want to cook in the dutch oven, put that many in a food saver bag and vacuum seal it. or in mylar bags. Keeps your hands cleaner, and keeps them dry.

      Most states have dutch oven cooking contests and they will teach you at these events as well! Lots of fun and the food is wonderful. The plus to dutch oven cooking is that they can be stacked so you use the heat from the lower briquettes to heat the next one up.

      there are lots of web sites out there with info on dutch oven cooking – including the boy scouts.

      Good luck.

      • JeffintheWest says:

        I actually picked up an old Army surplus ammo can that I could use to make a “field expedient” dutch oven with. I think they used to show you how to do that in the Boy Scout manual, but you probably have to find one from the ’50s to find the technique!

  17. tommy2rs says:

    Rocket Stove Made From a Five Gallon Metal Bucket
    The metal buckets run about $22.00 online but prices differ in different areas if you look for them locally.

    Camp Chef Explorer 2 Burner Stove – propane
    The legs make it easier to cook on

    A turkey fryer kit will give you a high heat single burner option as well. I’ve used mine with a stainless steel plate on top of it to cook much more than just fried turkey. Got a large wok that fits on mine also. There’s not much you can’t cook in a good wok. The fryer kits usually go on sale in the fall.

    Camp Chef Alpine Heavy Duty Cylinder Stove – wood or charcoal
    This one has an external water jacket available for heating water while cooking or heating with it.

    Camp Chef Alpine Heavy Duty Cylinder Stove Hot Water Tank

    And there’s always this:
    Windshield Shade Solar Funnel Cooker

    I’ve baked cookies on the dash of my car in the summer to show my kids how hot it gets in a closed car and cooked on the engine exhaust manifold while I was in the oilfield, made a hot meal while driving between wells I had to check.

    • Doris Jones says:

      Everyone should check out your site referral on the Windshield Shade Solar Funnel Cooker. This is a terrific idea, costs only about $3 per set up and no fuel (except sunlight) required. Also, easy to transport when required.

  18. I have several of the stock pot type pots that nest together and I have had them coated with black oxide. I use the largest one for water use and when it sits in the sun for several hours it quickly brings the water temperature up quite hot. If I need boiling water it is then a simple matter of dipping the quantity I need out of the larger pot into a smaller container and using it on the GI squad stove I have had for many years and that I fuel with Coleman fuel which stores wonderfully in the sealed cans you buy it in. I use the smaller vessels to pre-warm food in and use the same method with the small stove to bring it to cooking temperature. Sure saves on fuel by letting the sun do most of the work for me. In the afternoons, a black quart container placed on the window sill in a west facing window at two pm will yield hot water by four pm here where I live.

  19. I don’t have a lot of tree’s on my land that I could cut so I am looking at another direction. I want to install solar on the house to help me get off the grid. Last year I bought one of the one burner electric hot plates to go with my cowboy coffeepot so I wouldn’t have to fire up the 220v kitchen stove to make coffee. I know that the 110v hot plate most likely uses less electricity than the full blown stove.

    Since I don’t currently have my solar system I can’t comment on how well this works in practice. Maybe an option though. I will be looking into this rocket stove though. My tree’s are always dropping limbs.

  20. I’ve given this a lot of thought and experimentation over the years. Here is the course of action I’ve implemented. I have an all electric house so if the lights go out my first choice for cooking will be the hundred of pounds of propane I have stored. On sunny days,ill use the solar oven that I built. There is nothing that can’t be cooked in a solar I’ve including water sterilization,I’ve boiled water in mine and the store bought ones are capable of attaining much higher temps than my homemade one. My third and forth methods will be to utilize my homemade rocket stoves and woodgas stove. I just did a video on how quickly and easily a woodgas stove can be made using basic tools. I also cooked breakfast on it yesterday morning. The beauty of rocket type and woodgas stove are that virtually all the wood that is consumed (which is a very small amount) is used to create btu. The amount if heat and speed at which these things are capable of cooking is amazing. I’ve also done boil test on both types and water sterilization is quick and simple on those as well easily reaching boiling points and beyond. If you would care to know more about either stoves,feel free to email me at my name above at gmail dot com and ill send you some links to videos I’ve done showing how to build a simple rocket and woodgas stoves out of common materials like coffee and juice cans. The hardest work you would have to do to procure fuel would be to stroll in the woods and gather small sticks and twigs. Brad

    • One other thing I neglected to mention,bothe stoves are capable of using any biomass for fuel. Pinecones,pine straw,dried cow patties,anything that will burn,will produce the gasses these stoves cook with.

  21. Insadjuster says:

    Sounds like there is a lot of good information and advice already on here, but here is my two cents worth:

    I have purchased the Coleman brand lanterns and cookstoves that are considered to be dual fuel as they burn both the Coleman white gas and unleaded gasoline. Burn time is pretty good on each tank.

  22. For shorter term emergencies, you might consider quick cook foods. Quick cook oatmeal and rice etc. During the post Sandy blackout I used my old (40 yo) Coleman propane stove. All I needed to do was boil water. Fortunately the weather was quite mild. For long term storage and price I know bulk rice etc is better. And my concerns have until recently always been for short term. a few weeks at most. I’ve begun to reconsider.

  23. One method for stretching your cooking heat is an insulated box for stewing or ‘crock pot’ meals. Using your favorite pot for beans & rice and such, get a box at least 4” larger in each dimension. Insulate the box in such a way that the pot fits snugly into the center (I mostly used old newspapers and rags). Don’t forget the top insulation!

    Get your meal bubbling and boiling, then move the pot to your insulated box. Like a thermos, the food will keep cooking. This way you use a small fraction of the fuel normally needed.

  24. +1 on the Rocket Stove. No wood cutting required. Any wood you can find that is an inch or so in diameter (and smaller). Length is not a problem.

  25. john doe says:

    U can rip old newspapers into shreds soak them in water, and pack it SUPER-DENSE into pvc pipes. Once its dry, remove it and let it finish drying (1 week max). An 8-inch tall brick should burn around 6 hours if u pack the paper tight enough

  26. Go to a good cookstove dealer, ask lots of questions, and if you can find someone with a propane stove talk with them. My propane cookstove uses approximately one 5-gallon can of propane every three months – I have 3 so if they are all full at the same time I have almost a years supply in those 3. People who cook more than I do or if I’m canning I will use more.

    The only problem I may have is lighting the oven – even with the electric start for the burners it’s not hard to light the burners if the electric start doesn’t work. A standing pilot light will use a tremondous amount of propane.

    • Sw't Tater says:

      How about a battery pack, back-up for the oven.electric need, just get some kind of way to recharge the battery(small solar).That is our plan, but we have not implimented it yet..

  27. t42n24t2 says:

    Charcoal and twigs are things we all can get for fuel. Based on ‘two is one and one is none’, I would suggest a Weber grill, a Volcano stove, and a rocket stove. I have two rocket stoves, and I think the name of one is Bio – Lite. This one was developed for third world folks and has a recharger that will charge itself as you cook. (You have to charge it first with your home’s electricity.) I like the Weber kettle grill because it is steady, and the Volcano stove can be set up on its grill, in case you need the stove to be elevated.

    • I have looked at a lot of the commercial things. They may be good but the cost is another thing. I am in the habit of if I can design it and make a model from cardboard I can do it with anything available. I bought a mig welder about 15 years ago and oxy-acytalene gas. Nuts and bolts work well also.

      • t42n24t2 says:

        I know their are lots of great plans out there for rocket stoves. Some of them are really clever and doable. I am wondering now how the hobos cooked. There may be something there. I’d still get charcoal, though, and stock up on twigs. That idea was brilliant. Stereo, too, may be good to have.

  28. tpdoldie says:

    Do not know if my idea has been mentioned. Did not take the time to read all of the replies. If you heat your house with Propane, talk with a plumber to see if a second line or a tee adapter can be put in place. If it can you could pick up a gas grill with a side burner. I have friends who have done this and it works with them.
    I use my grill then entire year, even in the winter with the snow and wind.

    • There still exist plans for Haasas available for heating a home. Commercial models are already on the market for years now, outside heat source. The plans are about $30.00, but you do have to be in decent shape to build this thing of cinder blocks, copper tubing, fire box, and water tank and of course all that sand.

  29. Here is a video of a good little rocket stove.

    • Dr.winiarsky is my rocket stove guru. Great video! I thought I had seen all the videos that had dr .winiarsky in them.

  30. Oldokie says:

    My suggestion would be charcoal and propane if wood is not readily available. Since you are using propane already you know it can be stored rather easily and safely. Charcoal and dutch ovens are also great to use. I’m pretty much in the same shape as you and I’m not chopping wood even it would be available. I have a good supply of charcoal and a fairly good supply of propane, I always want more though. For the charcoal don’t forget something to light it with.
    My storage shed would smolder for months if it ever caught fire!

    • I just bought one of those jawSaw things to cut wood, since I’m scared to death of normal chain saws and this looks like a safer product to use. Costs $99 and if you order on Yorx website they will let you pay in three $33 payments if you have a credit or debit card of either Visa or Mastercard logo.The entire area around where I live is covered with trees. Most of them are pine, that you would not want to use in a fireplace but could be used for cooking. I’m almost 66 years old, more than a bit crippled up from an accident sky diving in the Army 43 years ago, but even I can use these JawSaw things to safely cut moderate sized branches. And I’ve noticed a lot of dead wood on a lot of these trees. And the thing comes with an extension pole option, which allows one to reach higher branches. Oh, and I have bought some cheap Goal Zero solar panels, one at a time, which can be linked together to gather more power, and two 350 watt Goal Zero power stations, one at a time, of course, which they say will power most small appliances. I have bought a 400watt inverter for my car, and plan to have gas stored in small containers and just have enough gas in the car to use at the time I plan to run something in the car, so as not get the car or gasoline in the tank stolen. And I plan to buy the smallest electrical appliances possible that would use the least amount of power with the power stations. What I have been doing is waiting until August every year when WalMart sells stuff for people to buy for their kids’ college dorm rooms. They have unbelievable prices on small appliances and things like that at that time. And really inexpensive furniture to supplement what you have in case you have people you end up taking in and need inexpensive beds, bedding, towels, stuff like that. Many of them items ship free also if you buy over a rather small amount at one time.
      I just ordered a bunch of stuff off and carefully bought for the most part Free Shipping items, and have an order coming in the mail, which has to weigh over 200 pounds total, with NO shipping charges. And it only takes two or three days longer to get the items if you choose the Free Super Shipping option. And they deliver most of it FedEx or UPS, right to your door, at no extra cost to you. I bought several items for my home first aid kit there, and several cases of food items, and one case of water pouches, all being delivered with no shipping cost to me. Half of that stuff I would not be able to carry into my house by myself if I had gone and bought them directly, and I would have had to cost of gasoline to go to the stores to buy them.

  31. We cook on a propane range, cooktop, oven, broiler, and use a 100# tank. It has lasted easily over six months. My wife even used the oven at times to warm the cabin on very cold mornings when the wood stove went out. I think if you were to get several 100# tanks that you would be well supplied for a couple years of cooking. If you tied your stove to the 500 Gallon propane tank, you could cook for a long time with conservation techniques. Otherwise, a rocket stove will cook easily with “trash” like small branches from trees and shrubs.

    • Kevin Johnson says:

      Here is an alternative. Fire fuel for free, delivered free, and easy to store, LOL.

      When I lived in Broken Bow, Oklahoma I was a home health nurse (I provided medical care in the patients’ homes). The majority of the clients were Choctaw indians. Some of these people were sooo poor. They still lived in homes with nothing but woodstoves for heat and some for both heat and cooking.

      One older couple had some “crank contraption” that I was curious about. They said it rolled cardboard in to tight fire logs. I asked how they got enough cardboard (since they didn’t own a vehicle), especially enough in the winter time.

      They said that a friend or relative orders them shipping boxes off the U.S. post office site for free with free delivery (then they showed me a room with about 10 “chest high” stacks of these boxes). They roll the logs with this crank-style contraption, wrap a piece of wire around each end, and viola… Free fire logs!

      You can google or look on amazon for “newspaper log roller” to see the kind of contraption they use.

      • God bless those destitute, elderly people.

        I imagine most all of us here appreciate that the complimentary boxes the USPS offers its customers for mailing are not ‘free’, and would instead seek waste cardboard to make logs for ourselves or our elders who must depend on our kindness.

    • Agreed. I have built two of these a small and a large and they both work wonderful.

  32. daguerrotype says:

    You might consider a Kelly Kettle. They are made in several sizes, offered in aluminum and stainless steel, burn twigs, dry weeds, etc. A Kelly Kettle allows one to boil water and cook food at the same time with the pot and pot adapter. They are also easily transportable if you must “bug out”.

  33. JeffintheWest says:

    Another vote for solar here. Assuming you aren’t living in a rain forest, you should be able to get at least one hot meal a day for free — which, by itself, will stretch your wood supply out by at least a third.

    Rocket stoves look like a good alternative too — just walking through the woods picking up sticks can get you enough fuel for hours of heat. If you have an issue heating your home, a rocket stove sounds like a good idea too. While I don’t (yet!) have experience with one, it’s definitely something we plan to experiment with in the near future.

    In the meantime, if you can’t chop wood, maybe you can pay a high school kid to do so for you, or even just buy a cord of wood.

    Finally, you can do a lot of firewood with even a relatively light-weight chainsaw — an investment you might consider making. There’s nothing like the security of having a cord or two of wood going into winter (at least if you get a lot of snow)!

  34. I think if you were to have a couple 100 gallon tanks, if used only sparingly, would last quite a while. There are a lot of great suggestions for using alternative cooking methods. The only one I havent seen is the hay box (also has other names). You still need another fuel source, but the hay box will help you concerve those other sources.

    I have used it to cook beans, rice and stew. Others swear they have cooked roasts and chickens using this method but I can not attest to it. Basically what you do is you bring your pot of beans to a boil in a pot with a lid. Once it is boiling you put it in the hay box, wrap it with towls, tin foil, and other insulated materials, put a cover on the box, and let it sit for a couple of hours.

    Like I said, you still need that alternative fuel source, but it cuts down on how much of it you use. Combined with the other methods here, you could really make what you have stretch.

    • How do you build this thing?

      • My dh just made a box with a tight fitting lid out of plywood. I then told him I wanted it lined with foil somehow (to help reflect the heat back into the box) and he had some kind of left over material from flooring installation, it was padded with a foil on one side, so he used that.

        Maybe I can pull it out, get a few picks and write up a short article about it. How do I include pictures in an article?

        • JeffintheWest says:

          You could probably use a sunscreen for your car window too, as long as it had reflective material on one side. Another option would be one of those survival blankets that folds up to the size of a handkerchief. Just line the box with hay or straw or even mud, and then cut pieces of the survival blanket to fit. You’re looking for something that will help a) retain the heat (and insulation or a heat mass will do that) and b) reflect the heat back onto the pot (any good reflective material, like tin foil would work, but a survival blanket, which, among other things can be used as a heat reflector for a camp fire in really cold conditions,would probably work even better.

  35. Suburban Housewife says:

    There are so many good ideas here.

    I think the key is having a variety of ways to cook. Also I think the wonder oven is very useful to have- or wrap the food in blankets/sleeping bags and put inside a cooler – to continue cooking without using fuel. Acts like a crock pot but doesn’t use fuel. For example – you heat the beans or whatever to a high temp/boiling then wrap the pot in blankets and put in your cooler – close it up and check on it in a few hours – you may need to reheat/rewrap or just give it more time. Slow crock-pot-type of cooking seems to be a very useful method of cooking with minimal fuel.

    So having lots of options, being able to conserve fuel, whatever kind it is, then finish cooking in the wonder oven type of set up may be the way to go.

    By the way – I suggest googling or doing a You Tube search for Teresa (Tere) Foster – she has a bunch of videos and information documenting her experiments with solar cooking beans and rice as well as wrapping food in blankets wonder oven style.

    Here is a link to just one of her many videos talking about a solar oven experiment,

    She has lots of information and “experiments” but I think you have to sort of dig and poke around to find it all – her system of organization and my system of disorganization don’t mesh very well LOL – but her information is really helpful. I’ve also tried a lot of her recipes and they’ve all been pretty good.

  36. I too am of a similar situation and the rocket stove can be constructed from stove pipe and other available materials, even brick (fire brick). The coolest part about this is that it requires no tree cutting and curing of wood. A stroll through the woods picking up dried limbs. You will have to experiment for your best design that will meet your needs. I am considering it for warming my home here in Michigan. A lot of work on the internet will help solve some of the problems you may encounter.
    Good luck to you and me.

  37. Doris Jones says:

    1. Cut “cooking” to the minimum. Have on hand dehydrated and canned foods that only require HEATING at the most and some are fine not heated at all. Save your gas for more emergency type cooking or heating. Sounds like you are set up pretty well with the gas but if the crisis is long term–just look for ways NOT to have to really cook.
    Just heating foods and beverages is a lot easier than cooking from scratch. You won’t want to eliminate real cooking–just minimize your efforts given your health and age. (And for those younger and stronger would some other activities, during a real crisis, be more useful than a lot of time and energy spent on cooking anyway?) Plus, remember if you do not have electricity (or it is winter) how will you “save” the extra portions of the foods you cooked? Prepare and eat smaller meals and only save items that will not quickly spoil. Or that you can preserve in some other way–like drying.

    2. Have on hand a generous supply of candles–and/or the materials and knowledge to make more homemade candles. These work fine for just heating up some coffee, soup etc. and a metal holder with air vents (or tin can etc.) to increase heat intensity from the candle. For
    everyday use–something like candles/sterno/charcoal will suffice.
    Even small sticks and other combustible items work for small heating jobs.

    3. Sit items you wish to heat up out in a vehicle (if it is hot weather) with the windows rolled up. Or place beneath a large glass bowl, aquarium or other glass where the container can be enclosed to
    let the heat build up. Make sure the container is
    sitting on top of reflective metal and sit out in the sun.
    It will heat up in a hurry. (Of course this heating method is NOT recommended if one has to eliminate bacteria by boiling.)

    3. The Windshield Cover Solar stove that is listed above in a reply would be a terrific help and only costs about $3 to make! It cooks up to about 350 degrees the author says. I, personally, would have on hand 3 or more of these. That way, I could cook several items at once (since the cooking is free) and also even heat hot water for bathing. This item alone could solve most of your cooking problems since it is stated that this Solar stove cooks about as fast for beans or rice as their
    gas stove. Remarkable. This cone shaped solar stove is my favorite
    cooking idea. Almost no cost and heats up really well. It is also easily portable as it comes apart into smaller parts that one can backpack.

    4. I would think surviving in cold weather without heat would be a more difficult problem for you than heating/cooking foods long term.
    Remember with heating, if you have something that will retain the heat like bricks, ceramic, stone or even reflective items to reflect the heat back to you set up behind you and on a right and left extension where you face the heat source will conserve your heating fuel also. If possible have something reflective or insulated above your head as well. Something that made you a “cave type” structure you could sleep or sit in facing your heat source. This can be set up both inside and outside if you are in a permanent location. The difference between
    heating a whole room and just the portion in which you are sleeping
    or sitting can be huge. Of course while “heating” you can be cooking at the same time. The heat absorbing items will allow you to maintain a comfortable temperature much longer after you have put out your fire.
    (Be certain NO FLAMMABLE items can catch fire –and they do not need to even touch the heat source. Fires will be a greater danger if there are no public services nor utilities available.)
    Have the right clothing on hand for your particular weather–and layers are important too. Keepiing yourself warm is going to be even more important than keeping food warm.
    If you live in a climate where heating is never your problem just disregard.

  38. Old Scoutmaster says:

    Many in my area make cornbread by frying the batter like pancakes instead of baking. Personally, I prefer raised cornbread, but the fried “pancakes” are good, too. You might try this with biscuit dough (I have never tried it, but it may work). I know of many Scouts who wrap biscuit dough around a stick and hold it over their campfires. At least these methods will give you some “bread” to have with your meal.

    • Sw't Tater says:

      I bake biscuits on the stovetop in a glass covered skillet, just make the batter a little thinner than normal,
      get the skillet hot, and oiled, place batter in in large spoonfuls-smooth tops with oil on spoon
      ,then turn down heat to medium. flip with spatula when they are half or more cooked and have risen
      .cook until done all the way thru. about 20 min usually total.

  39. augustino says:

    Walt –
    The best answer in my opinion is a multi faceted approach.
    First gather firewood either by cutting it yourself, gathering it from the ground and storing it away or BUYING a rick EVERY MONTH or so, as budget permits. Stash as much wood away as possible for such a rainy day.
    NEXT get those additional fuel tanks, once again as budget allows, and keep them filled.
    THEN, again as budget permits, think about a generator. Get one that runs on multiple fuels. And keep a supply of treated fuel stashed away.
    Of course get a Coleman stove multi fuel model that runs of white gas (stuff in the red can) as well as unleaded gas.
    Then should things get crazy and you loose power you can cook on open fires until you’re out of wood and use the other fuel for heating or running AC unit. Also, the generator will come into play here, filling in with the power loss.
    Basically start using the fuel source you have the most of first, then work your way down.
    Hopefully the conditions that caused you to loose power will get straight before you exhaust your resources.
    Of course if we’re hit with an EMP that kills our electrical grid, well that would present a set of problems far greater than what’s being discussed and would need to be addressed in an entirely different manner.

  40. Pineslayer says:

    No new ideas, just putting my vote in.
    Global Solar Oven, kinda pricey, but very effective, I have one
    Rocket Stove made out of bricks, I have one and it is great. Burns small branches and once it gets going, virtually no smoke of embers. There are videos on the net showing how to make them and vids on making ovens too. Fun and cheap projects that work.
    Any small propane stove will burn a long time with a 20 lb tank and you can get little ovens that sit up top. They work but require supervision to keep the temps right.
    Redundancy rules.

  41. t42n24t2 says:

    Do you have a lot of sun where you are? I am reading the 31 Days book, and there are plans in there for a solar oven that is a cardboard box and aluminum foil. I also saw a plan for one that used an old tire and glass for the top. I think it was in Just in Case. Good luck.

  42. Cdngardengirl says:

    I just opened up your site and got some new layout that I don’t at all like. Is this a test or will it be a regular feature?

  43. Buy slab wood it’s cheap easy to cut and you get a lot per bundle.
    Also get an extra tank (500) but it’s only 400 in fuel for the cost of 2-3 100 gal tank your almost at the cost of a 500. plus you not have back up for your heat. get in now for best prices around .99 cents a gal.

  44. I have my gas grill w/side burner and 4 20lb tanks, smoker and charcoal grills, propane and coleman cookstoves and about 10 5 gallon buckets with charcoal stored. Have also made rocket stoves and the little alchohol ones from soda cans and homemade solar oven. Plus 4 different size dutch ovens that I can bake just about anything in.

    If I get to build my dream homestead would like to add a wood stove for heat and cooking and also like to get a two burner Kerosene stove also.. Propane and Kerosene in metal cans will store for a long time so it will be good to have after shtf.

    I think the key is to have many different methods and to develop the skills to cook on ALL of them. If it was shtf you sure don’t want to burn or waste ANY food learning to cook on a new method.

    • Missy Taz says:

      George, I swear you must have peeked in my storage shed! You and I have almost the identical supplies an alternative means for cooking! 🙂

      • You Bet , I was that creak you heard the other night that you thought was the house settling!!!! I have to practice to keep my ninja skills sharp, haha!

  45. LukeAlaska says:

    Walt- I have nothing further to add as it seems like others have given the advice I would give.

    MD- I love, absolutely, this kind of Q&A. This is why I subscribed to your website. This info will help keep my family and me alive! I haven’t really been getting as much out of the blog lately and, even though I agree with most of the anti-Obama/government stuff, the bible tells us to pray for and support our leaders. I know you are trying to keep us informed, but it doesn’t help me prepare. It just increases my anxiety and the urgency with which I prepare (please excuse the rant, it’s coming from the heart).

  46. Walt, your physical condition and apparent plan to stay put lend themselves perfectly to my favorite pot. It is so versatile that anything can be cooked, baked, fried, boiled, broiled etc AND anyone can learn to use it. What is my favorite pot? The good ole Dutch Oven, (DO). It is the only device I am aware of that can be used with any fuel source in any weather. I believe it is easier to learn using charcoal, (Kingsford is best). You have another advantage since it is just the 2 of you, there is no need to buy large unbelievably heavy pots. A couple of 6″DOs and a 10″ DO and you are in business. I would hunt at garage sales first, but buying new has some advantages. Just do the right thing, buy American. The only American company still making DOs is Lodge. Trust me, spend the extra money to buy the best. Better iron, more even cooking, and less work learning the skill.
    There are a ton of recommended accessories, but in my collection of tools I have a hammer, a pair of welding gloves, and my DOs. Don’t get carried away with lots of extra, (usually expensive), toys. There is so much more that could be said, but you will have to decide what works for you.

  47. I would highly recommend a sun oven. These reach +300 degrees even in winter time.

  48. Several suggestions:
    1. If you are “too old and out of shape” to cut wood, you are probably “too old and out of shape” to survive for long under the stress of a grid down situation. First, GET IN SHAPE!
    2. Propane is a fair solution, but the amount you can store is finite. You WILL run out. “Forget the little portable tanks. Get several 500 gal tanks (I have four). You can obviously store more, and the price per gal/pound is cheaper in quantity.
    3. Get several of the suggested devices and try them yourself – volcano stoves, Kelly Kettles, Dakota Fire Holes, Dutch Ovens, etc.
    4. Study Medieval cooking, Rev War and Civil War cooking, etc .
    5.Wood is the only real long term solution. You can heat with it, cook on the surface of the stove, build campfires. etc.Yes, some third world countries cook with little sticks or dried dung. But, there is no substitute for big chunks of burning wood. As I said, in the first point above, GET IN SHAPE. Then, start stockpiling cut wood. then, get cookin’.

    • Oldokie says:

      Well Chuck, “getting in shape” is a whole lot easier said than done when one is old and has health issues! That said, I would venture a guess that Walt and I will last as long as you will and maybe longer, even with my heart problems. Now where did I put my cigarettes?

      • Tell you one thing OldOkie, I imagine you and Walt will have the wisdom and sense not to go getting yourself shot by snarking at someone for little or no reason. . . .

    • JeffintheWest says:

      So someone who is “old and out of shape” should just roll over so you don’t have to worry about the competition? Sorry you feel that way. But try to remember, old and experienced overcomes young and enthusiastic just about every time.

      • JP in MT says:


        I like “Age and Treachery will always overcome Youth and Enthusiasm”. It may not be as “politically correct” as your version, but and an “old guy” I usually get my point across to those “young whipper-snappers”.

        • JeffintheWest says:

          That’s the correct quote, of course, I’m just so “old and out of shape,” I couldn’t remember the exact words. But that doesn’t affect my ability to APPLY them…. 😉

  49. There are several small folding stoves, really cheap, with different, also very inexpensive fuel sources, fuel pellets, sterno and sterno like fuel cells. I pick up a few cans of sterno every time I go grocery shopping. Plus I have a stock of small and medium sized propane cannisters, fire wood, and a large store of charcoal. I also have bought a dutch oven and a tripod for using it outside should the need arise. I have a few boxes of those fake firelogs, but for heating only, since I have been told that the chemicals used on them make them inadvisable for use in cooking food. I have a fireplace that I can use wood or the fake firelogs, and just for the heck of it bought an old fashioned popcorn popper to use in the fireplace should I ever want to make popcorn. During the initial phases of a breakdown situation you are not going to want to do any more cooking that you have to, to avoid odors attracting hungry looters toward you, but if folks like you all and I survive the initial chaos, and we can group, hopefully things will settle down to a new normal lifestyle where we can go back to cooking and eating more normally with less fear of cooking food odors bring unwanted guests to relieve us of our food stores.

    • He can make his own fuel source with tuna cans,newspaper or cardboard and wax.Cheap and easy to make.

  50. Portman90201 says:

    Walt…… Got enough in the way of Ideas? We have been listening to the Pack for a few years. Lurking and surfing mostly.

    We have stored 20 five gallon buckets of charcoal. Each one holds 20lbs. That is enough to cook one hot meal a day for one year. (didn’t say how good or how big a meal)

    We picked up a Volcano Stove with the propane insert. We can use anything that burns with it and a dutch oven fits right in it.

    Various propane burners and liq./gas stoves at garage sales and one Coleman three fuel two burner.

    We built a really good Rocket Stove out of a rimmed Home depot paint can….. new and never used.

    We have a FIRE BRICK rocket stove ‘stacked’ out by the fence that burns any and everything we own… every… thing. We take walks around the block a few times a week and have never had a problem finding enough branchs and large twigs to fire it up. We store them dry in a plastic T can with a good lid.

    Our ultimate back up is a Rocket Stove. The third world proves it to be simple and workable. That Model MD recommended is the one first developed for low cost mass distribution in the ‘Third World’.

    OK….. There is our 2 cents worth.

  51. KR Prepper says:

    Hey there,

    I dnt know about you guys but we get severe weather knocking down trees all the time. I’ve chosen to stack firewood vs charcoal just on price. And the food is better. And on pallets. They burn incredibly hot.. Id use it for my Woodstove starter

  52. t42n24t2 says:

    How about a Dakota fire pit? I just read about them in Survivalist #9 – Urban Survival. Anyhow, I know I can do this, so anyone can do it. Someone above already suggested it, but this is like an underground rocket stove. All you need to make one is a digging tool, and it works anywhere. The article is long but very clear. I bet you could find instructions online.

  53. mtmedic says:

    Another suggestion is a Cobb BBQ. It grills, frys, bakes and smokes and only uses up to 8 briquets. It sure works for us and is very handy to take to the beach or forest.

  54. Hunker-Down says:

    Hi Walt,

    I’m old and out of shape too. We stock propane in 30 and 1 lb. tanks because larger tanks are prohibited where we are. There are two reasons we rejected the idea of 100 lb. tanks; first is OPSEC. Because tanks should not be laid on their side, a 100 lb. tank in the back of the truck would advertise to the sheeple that we may have food and heat, as we go to the propane dealer for a recharge. Our 30 lb. tanks can be ‘snuck’ to the dealer and OPSEC remains secure. The second reason is because I’m “too old and out of shape” to dance with a 100 lb. tank and I can still lift a 30 into the back of the truck.

    When the propane runs out, it’s sticks and a Volcano stove that can also burn charcoal.

    I’ve been lurking at Walmart for 2 years looking for a sale on charcoal and they never have them in our area.

    • Missy Taz says:

      Hunker-Down, I usually buy my charcoal at Costco during the summer. Do you have a Sam’s or Costco close by?

      • Hunker-Down says:

        Missy Taz,

        We get to Sam’s about once every 6 weeks, it’s 90 miles away. I’ll start looking for charcoal at a good price there. We have a 50 gallon galvanized can about 1/3 full so far.

  55. If you live where there are trees then you live where there are tree trimmers. I buy 3 cu yds of chipped tree limbs (about two pickup loads) for $39 from a place where the tree trimmers take their limbs and trees to be disposed of. Almost any city, or power line company have millions of tons of wood to dispose of, find out where. . About two loads would last in a rocket stove forever. These chips are normally sold for mulch. Also, if there are any palette or cross-tie saw mills around they usually sell a pickup load of cutoffs for about 10-15 dollars.. another bargain. There is certainly nothing wrong with burning palettes but that is a waste of wood that can be used for a lot of things.. Anyone planning on burning propane, etc. to survive for very long is fooling themselves.

    • One of the sawmills I know also makes pellets for pellet stoves. They have more chips and sawdust than they can use for pellets so they sell the excess for mulch or to companies that have large commercial power generating boilers or who have steam boilers. They will sell a load of chips on a moving floor box van , which is 8x8x50 feet for $450 delivered and unloaded. That is enough wood chips to last for many years in a rocket stove heater or cookstove.

    • Portman90201 says:

      Bern you hit it hard on the nail head. Our city’s Dept. of Forestry is an endless supply of rough cut chips…… and I thought I was so smart as to be the only shmuck to think of it.

    • Bern,
      On the wood chips, a tree trimming company was trimming the trees near our home (around the power lines) we stopped and asked if we could have some. They delivered 5 large truck loads for FREE! It saved them money to keep from having to haul it off.

  56. Walt, We have a cook wood stove that will use coal or wood for emergencies. This will cook and provide some heat also. It takes smaller pieces of wood. You can buy wood ( or barter ) if you aren’t up to cutting your own(or don’t have a woodlot)We live in a northern climate. Arlene

  57. Mrs. M. says:

    I wholeheartly Agree with the Rocket Stove and Solar Oven, and all of the other great suggestions. But I thought I would offer up something completely different that I didn’t notice anyone discuss yet,

    Google Fresnel Lens. DH and I accidentally discovered our large lens free when we took a TV apart. The large plastic lens sits right in the front of the flat screen TV area. People are giving these away free. But be careful that you don’t set your neighborhood on fire! A person can certainly boil water easily with this thing, using an iron pot or pan. We are going to experiment with our lens more this summer after we build a frame and stand for it to help better control the beam of sunlight.

    Happy cooking! I am wondering if we could figure out how to heat a tub of water for hot baths. If not, solar will work.

    • Cool! I always wondered why lighthouse lamps had those ridges on them–wasn’t that the case for old car headlamps, too?

  58. Walt, you could probably barter that oak flooring for some good firewood.Oak flooring is very expensive these days.Arlene

  59. midnight1st says:

    I have a sun oven and a rocket stove. I have not used my sun oven yet, but my father made one himself years ago, and our family made whole meals in it. (His was bigger than the ones you buy now.) It worked great as long as it was sunny, and the food tasted the best!

    I do use my rocket stove on a pretty regular basis because my grand kids love to use it when they come. It works great, and the kids love to go pick up the fuel and watch it burn. It’s so different from what their parents do at home that it is a treat for them. I have also seen that you can can on them. I also think that you could purchase a Stove Tec for what you could buy firebricks for.

  60. I’m told that wood is good to start a fire but then throw coal on it and it will last all night. And that saves a lot of wood.

    • lo,
      If you’re talking about “real” coal, then that is true. Growing up in western PA, which is coal country, I had more than a few neighbors who used coal, as did my MIL & FIL here in Ohio when I first got marriaed. The problem with coal at this point might be finding a source, but that is potentially a good idea for any of us.

  61. Donna in MN says:

    When I was without power for a week last July 4th storm that devistated my area, I cooked with twigs in my webber, also used old charcoal and finally got a one burner propane stove. I bought a bunch of cylanders of propane to use, including two I had for 12 years that still were full of propane. You could also get fuel pellets that last forever, and use a solar oven to cook at emergency supplie stores like Emergency essentails..

  62. Walt,

    I’m with you. I’m no spring chicken with problems. I just got out of the hospital Friday with stints inside of stints and messed my back up a few years ago. I think you had your answer in your last paragraph.

    Three years ago I picked up a Camp Chief propane oven with two burner stove on top and two 100lb tanks. With the use I’ve gotten out of a 20lb tank, this setup should last me a year cooking two meals a day to include my biscuits and cornbread.

    I do have several backup setups, but this will be my mainstay. Hard times do not have to be that hard. By virtue of seniority (age) alone we have earned the right to a little extra comfort.

    Every suggestion I’ve read in the above comments is good, serviceable, useable and worth your consideration.

    Be Blessed,

    • I forgot to mention that for heat I picked up a Blue Flame high efficent propane heater and two 60lb tanks ten years ago. Runing the heater wide open for 24 hours a day, one tank would last 3 weeks. Using good sense, the two tanks should keep me comfortable for about 3 months. Worth thinking about.

      • Rex & everyone,
        Anyone wanting to use propane can make a simple calculation. Propane weighs about 4.2 pounds per gallon, so your 60 pound tanks contain about 14 gallons each. A gallon of propane contains 91,690 BTUs of energy, so each tank contains 14 * 91,690 or 1,283,660 BTUs. All heating and cooking devices contain a BTU rating for each setting, so I suspect your heaters at full throttle run about 2500 BTU per hour.
        One of our backup heaters is a ceramic wall mounted propane heater with selectable setting of 6000, 18000, and 26000 BTU per hour, and will pretty much keep the entire downstairs warm on a cold winter day.
        So if you know the size of the tank and the BTU rating of the appliance, you can get a reasonable idea of how long you can use it with your propane source.

  63. moonstone says:

    This is the best! I have learned so many new things just off this one post.Can’t wait for the next one!M.D. Thanks, this is just what we wanted!

  64. robert in mid michigan says:

    as many have said a solar oven, and a valcano stove are a good start. use your propane only when you must as it will for the most part not be replacable. learn to cook with a thermos quickly bringing your water to boil and placing in a good thermos to let it finish. this allows you to save fuel.

    cook in large batches when you do cook cooking six loaves of bread in an oven takes about the same energy as cooking one. you cant necassarily do this with parishable foods with no way to store it but bread type foods will last several days with out refigeration.

    find multiple fuel sources, twigs, dung, leaves, pinecones and corn cobs all work. newspaper logs work well as well. stock up on charcoal, propane, even small tea light candles can heat a meal although slowly.

    • robert in mid michigan says:

      no idea why it posted early but

      the idea is to have more than a single source of fuel and ways to cook. on sunny days you use the solar oven, on other days you use as little fuel as possible to get the job done. saving the fuels that are hard to get the least and only as a last option. if you have got to use the propane use it sparingly.

      the idea two is one and one is none is a way of life thier is no one single best source of anything really and having back ups to your back ups means no crunching on dry beans because you cant cook them.

      another thought you can grind, crush beans and other foods so that they cook quicker using less fuel. how do you feel about refried beans, cooks quickly and torteia shells are easy to make and require little cooking.

      i also like ezeikal bread done corectly it requires the same fuel as bread and it is a complete food add some soup and a descent meal is at hand.

      god bless and good luck

  65. Dont know if this has been listed or not I didnt go through the posts, but a good solar oven would be something to consider.

  66. I am just jumping in to suggest a Wonderbox Oven. You can make them if you can sew. A similar thing is an insulated box. It cooks and can keep things either hot or cold. A good book on the type of cooking is out of print but worth finding. It’s Fireless Cookery by Heidi Kirschner. Now, sells them, but they also sell a set of recipe cards for its use. The reason I have one and will learn to use it is because we have a lot of cloudy days here in Western PA. I also recommend a Volcano stove, which uses propane, charcoal, and wood. Now, all of the comments above have not been read yet. I just wanted to toss this in.

  67. Walt:

    Have you ever considered the Hobo Stove and Hobo candles?

    The hobo stove in a coffee can with an area around the bottom cut out so you can put fuel under it. It will work just like the rocket stove.

    To make hobo candles use old tuna fish cans filled with corrugated paper and parrafin. Cut the corrugated into strips about 18″ long by 1″ wide. Roll into a coil and place in the tuna fish can. Melt the parrafin and pour into the can. Once it dries it will burn for some time.

    It will probably take about 10 minutes to boil water, and the candles will give off a fair amount of smoke, but it will work with minimal cost and investment.

Before commenting, please read my Comments Policy - thanks!