When the power goes out, some does your kitchen. Unless you have a generator able to keep your oven and stove top going, you’ll have to come up with another method of preparing your food.
Many of these choices do not have electrical components so they should weather an EMP strike just fine.
Here are some options you can lean on to keep hot food on your table.
If I am without power in my home, and it is remotely tolerable to be outside, my gas grill is my first choice for cooking. I always keep several bottles of propane stored to ensure that I do not run out for any long term scenarios.
A gas grill typically has a built in ignition, controllable cooking zones, and can supply temperatures ranging from 200F to 600F. Mine will actually break 700F, and it also has a side burner perfect for a pot of beans or pan of potatoes.
The top is well insulated with a temperature gauge, so I can use it like an oven if I want to. My grill is an absolute beast with five standard burners, a pizza burner, and a side burner. It cost me a few hundred dollars, but you can get a basic three burner gas grill for around $100.
The only real downsides are that it cannot be brought inside, and eventually the propane runs out. Otherwise, I can do everything with my propane grill that I can with my electric range, if not more.
I actually own two different types of smokers, and both are excellent for cooking without electricity. It takes some time to perfect the art of smoking, but it is worth it after you know what you are doing.
Smoke gives your food an enriched flavor, but you can also use your smoker to make top quality jerky and preserve meats before they spoil.
That is the other aspect of cooking to keep in mind when the power goes out. You likely have a freezer full of meat that will go bad within a few days. If you are able to dry it into a stockpile of jerky, it could last you for weeks or even months with no electricity.
When using a smoker, you will want a good supply of charcoal and chunked wood, so save the scraps from your campfires. I have a Weber bullet smoker that lets me add more hot coals at any given time to quickly raise and lower the temperature.
I also have a Big Green Egg smoker that is made from porcelain so it holds in the heat perfectly. I can set up my green egg in the morning at 225F and it will still be the same temperature at dinner time.
These smokers are good for slow cooking like in an oven, but can be adjusted for higher temperatures. I have cooked on my green egg at temperatures as high as 550F, and the large grate has plenty of room to cook several items at once.
Both of these smokers are on the expensive side, but you can get smokers and charcoal grills for less than $100.
The only downsides are again that they cannot be brought inside and that you may run out of charcoal. I keep several bags stored in addition to the leftovers from my fire pit.
While it is definitely not as versatile as cooking with an electric range, people do still camp over an open flame. We have a fire pit by our house that I use on a regular basis.
I have rigged it up with a tripod over the top so I can hang a pot from the top or mount a grate to it. You can also build a rocket stove to make your fire more efficient by channeling the flame through a chimney.
Temperature control is much more difficult, and slow cooking requires a great amount of skill. I have wrapped an emergency blanket around the tripod with the reflective side facing inwards to create a makeshift oven.
The good news is that we live on a large wooded lot, so we always have plenty of firewood. Getting the fire started can be challenging in wet or snowy conditions, but we normally have what we need around the house to get it lit.
Of course there are many more limitations to cooking with an open fire. I suggest investing in cast iron pots, pans, and a Dutch oven, as it seems to distribute the heat more evenly and prevent burning.
You can also accomplish exactly the same thing indoors with a fireplace.
If you want to cook indoors, a camp stove might be a good option. Like a normal gas grill, your camp stove requires tanks of propane so you will want to stay stocked up.
These stoves vary in size from several feet across to some being small enough to fit in your pocket. The large ones are big enough to function just like a standard gas grill, but they are portable enough to cook inside.
Do be aware that you want to do any indoor cooking in a well ventilated area as smoke and carbon monoxide can build up otherwise. I own a small, one burner camp stove that does fine to heat up a single pot or pan.
Slow cooking anything on a camp stove is very difficult as the small propane tanks run out quickly. They also generally do not have a lid, so hot and fast is the way to go.
More and more, solar ovens are becoming popular in survival and prepping communities. These ovens collect heat from the sun and hold it in to cook the food inside. You will need a sunny, cloudless day for this to work, but no fuel is needed.
They are great for slow cooking, but rarely reach temperatures high enough for fast cooking. The best foods to cook in a solar oven are precooked foods like hot dogs, soups, or premade casseroles.
You can make your own solar oven, but temperatures rarely reach higher than 200°F. You may end up spending a few hundred dollars on a professional solar oven, but they can reach 350°F to give you more cooking capability.
I have seen dozens of ways to rig up a DIY cooking set up in your home. There are a few things to remember.
Always be cautious with open flames so your house does not end up on fire. Keep everything ventilated, and you are best to protect your food with aluminum foil if possible.
You can use a bunch of tea candles or sterno stoves with a rack above on which to set the food.
I have watched people open their garage and use the hot running engine of their car to heat their food.
Any source of heat that can stay going for an extended period of time can be used for cooking if it reaches temperatures of around 200°F.