How to Cook in the City without Power

When there is no power, it can be hard to cook in the city, especially if you rely on electric stoves and electric appliances. Anything from an unforeseen maintenance by the power company, to hurricane and extreme cold snap to longer-term emergencies can cause you to look for other ways to feed yourself indoors. In case of major disasters, learn here about the foods you have to store in situations wherein you don’t have the convenience to cook. Before there was electricity, people are already cooking methods that we deem as “primitive” or “alternative” today. But during power outages, these older methods of cooking will be very handy. Here are some of them:

Product
Visual
Where to Buy
Coleman Gas Stove
Cave Tools BBQ Skewers Set
Sterno Canned Heat, Gel Chafing Fuel 6 Cans
GAS ONE GS-2000 Dual Fuel Double Portable Propane or Butane Stove
Coghlans Stove
Magic Cook Triple Layers Portable Lunch Box
RoadPro 12-Volt Portable Stove, Black
HotHands Hand Warmers, 10 Count

1. Propane stove

If you happen to have a propane stove that you bring during your camping trips, use it for your home for a while. Most domestic propane stoves have a fume hood that can help dissipate toxic fumes or gases produced during cooking. It also comes with a built-in electronic igniter that can be lit with a match. If there isn’t enough oxygen in the air, the fuel will not burn properly, so it’s best to use only in an area with proper ventilation.

Some people say that using propane stoves indoors isn’t that dangerous, as long as you don’t leave it on for a long time. But if you want to stay on the safe side, at least make sure that you have a carbon monoxide detector.

One great option for a propane gas stove is the Coleman Portable Propane Gas Classic Camp Stove. It has the technology for more efficient cooking with less fuel. Unfortunately, it’s not too safe to use indoors, so it’s better to do some cooking in your or balcony if you have one.

2. Fireplace

Our ancestors cooked on fireplaces all day for centuries. If you have a working fireplace in your home, you can use it for cooking when there’s no power. While anyone can roast marshmallows or cook meat on a stick over a fire, cooking a real meal on the fireplace needs a little more creativity. Here are some ways to cook food over the fireplace:

Aluminum foil – Season your meat or veggies with salt and pepper, then add a little vegetable oil. Wrap the food in aluminum foil, then use tongs to place it onto the fire. Rotate the food often. You will have a delicious meal in a while. Use a meat thermometer, and make sure that the meat is at least 165 degrees before you eat it.

Fireplace grate – Set up a fireplace grate above the fire, then use cast iron skillets to fry food that you want. You can also use a Dutch oven to make your soups and stews.

Skewers – Place your seasoned meat and veggies on a long skewer like the Cave Tools BBQ Skewers Set. Slowly rotate the food above the flames until they’re cooked. This will require a bit more patience, so try to have someone to do it with you while chatting so you won’t be bored.

3. Canned heat

Canned heat is a flaming canister often used to heat food indoors on buffet tables by caterers. When power is out, you can utilize canned heat like ones from Sterno. These contain alcohol-based fuel that burns cleanly, and they are easy to use. It can burn up for up to two hours of consistent heating. Since they’re designed for heating, it doesn’t get quite as hot as a fireplace, but it can get hot enough for cooking scrambled eggs, make tea or cocoa, cook your freeze-dried or dehydrated foods, or heat up canned soup or leftovers. Canned heat is the easiest and safest way to cook indoors, and it’s a great all-around solution for indoor cooking.

4. Gas stoves and gas ranges

When it comes to kitchen cooking, gas stoves and ranges are a popular choice. Many home chefs still use it even with the advent of electric induction stoves. With a gas stove, you can enjoy high heat, thanks to its gas flame. But the thing is, you probably don’t have one if you have an all-electric kitchen in your home.

It’s good to still keep one for emergencies and for you to be prepared in long-term power outages in your area. The Gas One GS-2000 Dual Fuel Double Portable Propane or Butane Stove is a reliable alternative to an electric stove. It comes with an auto-ignition function and a glass top ceramic burner for top-quality results. It also comes with a propane hose with a built-in clamp for easy connection to your propane gas tank.

5. Alcohol stove

Small camp stoves that burn denatured alcohol are safe to use indoors. These camp burners  can be a lifesaver when power is out in the city. Use it with a handy folding stove like Coghlan’s Stove to make cooking easier. This one’s also a backpacking or camping gear that’s strong enough to hold a heavy pot.

6. Candles

If you don’t have other choices, you may use the tea light candles that you have for an emergency. All you need is to suspend the food over the heat source. Larger candles with multiple wicks are a better option if you want to do more than cook eggs. Just avoid the scented, heavily dyed, or synthetic candles, so it burns cleanly. The more stuff there is in a candle, the more indoor pollution it creates, so try to pick simple ones or those that are made of all-natural materials such as beeswax.

7. Flameless stove

For day to day emergencies, flameless stoves can be convenient to have on hand. Magic Cook makes a flameless stove that uses a water-based chemical reaction to create heat and cook food. All you need is to add water to the heat pack to generate sustained heat for warming food. It doesn’t release carbon monoxide, but some may release flammable hydrogen. Once cooking is done, the heat pack has absorbed the water, and then it can be disposed of after in a regular trash can. It’s convenient to have on hand for a few uses while the power is temporarily out, but it’s not a great choice for the long run.

8. Car lighter stove

While you may not have electricity in the house, you can make use of the car battery for you to be able to cook. RoadPro 12-Volt Portable Stove is one cooker you can use that can be plugged into a car’s cigarette lighter or 12-volt outlet in your car. It’s great for camping as well. You can use this to make rice meals, stews, hot dishes, soups, chops, and more. It can also be used as a heater for pre-cooked food. However, keep in mind that this can kill your battery quickly, and you actually need to run the car, so you shouldn’t use it while the car is in the garage.

9. Hand warmers

If you only need to eat your vacuum-sealed or canned food hot, then you can rely on hand warmer packets. These heating pouches use a chemical reaction to warm the food. Don’t use it directly into your food – simply wrap your cans with it, or place your food in a bowl, then wrap the bowl with a hand warmer. You can have a hot meal in minutes.