How to Cook in the City Without Power

It might be difficult to cook in the city when there is no electricity, especially if you rely on electric burners and appliances. Anything from unplanned power company maintenance to a storm and extreme cold snap to longer-term catastrophes can prompt you to explore for alternative ways to feed yourself indoors.

You’ll need a way to cook food without electricity if there’s a long-term power outage. There are numerous possibilities, ranging from high-tech to simply primitive. What matters is that you prepare your emergency stove ahead of time, so you aren’t left hungry and staring at your bags of pasta, rice, and beans with no way to cook them.

1. Fireplace

You probably never considered using your fireplace for cooking, but if the power goes out for an extended period, you might have to. Even if you’re cooking indoors with a fireplace, it’s essentially the same as cooking over a campfire. Insert a cooking grate into the fireplace and lay pots, pans, skillets, or aluminum-wrapped food on it.

After that, put some lit fire logs in your fireplace. Start cooking as soon as the flames are at the proper height for your cooking grate. Just keep in mind that using a fireplace for cooking necessitates extra safety measures on your part because, if not maintained or used properly, it could result in a fire in your home. To reduce the number of sparks or embers that exit the fireplace, try to maintain the fire as low as possible.

2. Campfire

The most obvious method of cooking food without electricity is a conventional, open-air fire. When you have a decent fire going, place your pots and pans on the huge, fresh logs that are placed next to one another on one side of the fire. All there is to it is that. The best part about campfires is how many different ways you can cook.

Make sure to completely extinguish your campfire after you’re through. Water it down, then stir the dirt to incorporate the embers and ashes. Verify if everything is wet before determining whether the ground is comfortable to touch. Retry the technique if it’s still too hot to touch. Make sure you didn’t miss any as all it takes to ignite a fire is one ember.

Grilling fish and corn on a grill

3. Grill

There’s a strong possibility you have a grill in your home as the majority of houses in America have one in the backyard or garage. Many consumers wrongly think they may only use their grillers until their propane runs out because the majority of grills are powered by propane. Simply said, this is untrue. Any typical gas-powered barbecue can also be converted to burn charcoal or wood. You can easily generate adequate heat in your grill by igniting some charcoal or wood inside and cooking your meal there quickly and evenly. Even better, purchase a grill that uses both charcoal and propane.

4. Solar Cooker

A simple solar cooker uses a mirror or aluminum foil as a reflective surface to collect solar energy, focus it, and heat cooking pots. Solar cookers were once thought to be too slow and unreliable. However, you can now cook, bake, and fry food in a lot shorter time because of technical advances in materials. They consequently pose a severe threat to traditional stoves and ovens.

5. Portable Camp Stove

It’s a great idea to have a portable propane stove. It is simple to operate, portable almost anywhere, and capable of cooking almost anything you desire. Make sure to stock up on plenty of propane cylinders, which are much less expensive in-store than online.

6. Butane

Butane stoves are superior to portable propane stoves in many ways. They are safe to use indoors as long as you use them near an open window, are a bit bigger than a large textbook, and get hot enough to cook anything. Butane stoves consume fuel much more quickly. Because of this, butane stoves work best for short-term cooking and are not recommended for long-term use.

7. Wood Stove

Another excellent alternative is a traditional wood stove. They can not only cook food but also offer heat in the winter, which is why they were traditionally placed in the middle of people’s homes. Take note that while some wood-burning stoves are designed for heating rooms rather than cooking, you can still use them for cooking if necessary. When hot enough, you may place pots or pans on the tops of these burners and cook almost anything.

8. Alcohol Burners

Another alternative for cooking indoors is an alcohol burner. They are well-liked by hikers and a great substitute whether you are at home or prepping for an emergency. The fact that alcohol burners may run on a range of widely available fuels makes them one of the best appliances out there.

9. Candles

In almost everyone’s homes, there are candles or oil lamps. They can be used in a variety of ways as ornaments and can offer illumination in dire circumstances. Without power, cooking can also be done indoors using candles and oil lamps. Finding a secure mechanism to suspend a metal container over one or more candles or oil lamps is the foundational step in employing a candle or oil lamp for cooking. They will heat whatever is within the container similar to a camp stove’s burner.

Using cinder blocks to support a rack over the top of the flame allows you to use an oil lamp similarly. Be careful to take off the glass top to get the flame as close as you can to the cooking vessel. You may also do this in your oven, but you should check to make sure no flammable grease is present. Be sure to cover your container as well and keep the flame from rising to the point of producing smoke.

10. Gas Stoves

Even when the electricity is down, you might still be able to use your gas burner. Even though some stoves have electric ignition, you can probably still light them with a match if necessary. The biggest benefit of having a gas stove is that it will allow you to continue cooking normally even when there is no electricity. You can still cook anything you could previously, whether it’s a can of soup or a full-size lasagna, as long as it has gas running to it.

The primary issue with using a gas stove is that they require the use of gas utilities to function. Despite being more resilient than the electric grid, natural gas infrastructure can nevertheless fail in certain circumstances. This can be the result of the electricity grid experiencing a general issue or physical damage to the gas distribution lines. While most power outages don’t result in gas service being cut off for homes, significant grid problems could set off a cascade that does. The electricity grid is necessary for the operation of other utilities, such as gas and water. Gas and water may soon follow if a sizable piece of the grid is damaged or malfunctions.

Even if you have a sizable propane tank on your property, propane delivery could halt occasionally. As a result, it is a good idea to have a few of the ways listed above as a backup.

red cabbage with apple and bay leaf in a slow cooker

During power outages, being unable to cook might be a serious issue. Fortunately, there are several low-cost off-grid cooking techniques that you may utilize, many of which can be applied indoors.