When SHTF and you need to bug out, pots and pans won’t be on your priority list. That’s what MREs and canned goods are for. But once you get settled and the cans start to run out, you’ll need to be able to prepare meals without traditional cookware.
Meat can easily be cooked and eaten on skewers, but how do you do that with eggs? This is when you improvise and get creative. In this article, we’ll show you a few ways to cook food without the benefit of customary cooking implements.
No Dutch oven? No problem!
If you don’t have a Dutch oven or a cast iron skillet, it’s not the end of the world. It’s still possible to cook while living off-grid, by being a little more creative. Should you happen to have aluminum foil and some resealable sandwich bags, those can definitely serve as great substitutes for a Dutch oven. Even without these, you can actually use some edible substances as crockery.
- Cooking an egg in a potato
Some outdoorsmen amusingly call this an “Idaho Sunrise”, since it uses Idaho’s most famous produce. If you want a quick and easy breakfast, follow these steps.
Step 1. Cut off a thin section from one side of the potato; keep this as it will be your “lid”.
Step 2. Hollow out the potato with a spoon, taking care not to break through the skin from the inside.
Step 3. Crack an egg, filling the potato.
Step 4. Place three matchsticks or similarly-sized twigs on the “lid” so you can keep it on while cooking and remove it easily later.
Step 5. Cook the egg by placing the sealed potato in hot coals; leave for about 20-25 minutes.
Step 6. Carefully retrieve the hot potato and be careful not to drop it.
Step 7. Place the potato on a clean, flat level surface. Remove the lid and let it cool. Once it’s cool enough, enjoy the baked egg inside the scorched potato.
- Baking bread on a stick
There’s a simple trick to baking bread, but it’s dependent on having the right kind of dough. Make your own dough that’s not flaky, or the dough won’t stay on the stick (see sidebar). To make things easier, you can use store-bought refrigerator biscuits. Follow these steps:
Step 1. Find a straight stick about four feet long and scrape two to three feet of the bark off the smaller end.
Step 2. Wrap a piece of dough around the scraped end of the stick.
Step 3. Hold the stick over the campfire for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown.
Step 4. Let the bread cool and enjoy!
As an option, if available, sprinkle cinnamon powder and sugar or other seasonings on the dough or smear melted butter for more tasty bread.
If you can’t find or store ready-made refrigerator dough, you can make your own with this simple recipe.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup milk
Step 1. On a clean flat surface, combine the flour, baking powder, and ½ teaspoon of salt.
Step 2. Mix the ingredients well, then add the butter. Knead until you have a crumbly mixture.
Step 3. Add the remaining salt, sugar, and the milk a little bit at a time, kneading in between adding milk. Repeat until it all forms a dough.
Step 4. Divide the dough into two pieces, and roll each into a long strip.
Step 5. Wrap each piece around the scraped part of the stick then cook over fire as described above. Yields two curly “sticks” of bread.
Note that if you have a cup of self-rising flour, it can be substituted for the first three ingredients on the list.
- Bacon in a bag
I think most people would agree that bacon is an absolute comfort food to have, especially when things aren’t going your way.
If you don’t have a skillet or aluminum foil, you can actually use a paper bag to cook bacon! Throw in a couple of eggs too if you like.
Step 1. Open up a clean medium-sized brown paper bag.
Step 2. Take a couple of strips of bacon, and “smear” the bottom and sides of the inside or outside(?) of the bag. This will keep the bag from igniting and will cook the bacon in its own fat.
Step 3. Line the bottom and sides of the bag with bacon, creating a “bowl”. Crack eggs onto the bacon “bowl”. Close the bag.
Step 4. Prepare some hot coals. Once the coals are hot enough, run a stick though the top of the closed bag, and suspend over the hot coals. Cook the bag for about 5-7 minutes.
Step 5. Take the bag off the coals and open it on a clean, flat surface. Let it cool, then savor this hearty meal.
- Omelet sans skillet
As long as you have a resealable plastic bag and a means of heating water, you can make an omelet. Here’s how you do it:
Step 1. Crack 2-3 eggs in a sandwich bag large enough to hold them. Add tomatoes, onions, sausage chunks and cheese if you have them.
Step 2. Carefully whisk, knead or shake until the yolks and whites have combined.
Step 3. Remove as much of the air from the bag as possible, then seal and immerse the bag in boiling water.
Step 4. Remove the bag after about 3-5 minutes; let it cool and eat straight from the bag or “pour” onto a plate.
- Coffee without a coffeemaker
Foregoing coffee may well be the prepper’s and outdoorsman’s worst nightmare. This can be avoided as long as you have coffee beans, the means to grind them, and a permeable material like a hanky or coffee filters.
Here’s how to make coffee from beans, without modern conveniences:
Step 1. If your coffee isn’t already ground, grind the beans with a mortar and pestle or a resealable plastic bag and a hammer or smooth round rock. It’s a lot of work, but worth it for the coffee.
Step 2. Place the grounds in the center of a coffee filter or a clean piece of cloth, like a bandanna. Form a bag out of the material by bringing the corners together, and tying them off with dental floss or the inner strands of paracord.
Step 3. Immerse the “coffee bag” in boiling water for 3-5 minutes or until the resulting coffee is of the desired color.
Step 4. Pour into cups, enjoying coffee as you would and never sneer at instant coffee again.
Even the most mundane meals can be a hassle when times are tough, which is why you should always have some cooking tricks up your sleeve. It pays to dig up and learn the good ol’ ways our ancestors used to survive out in the sticks when they didn’t have the conveniences we enjoy today. To stay resilient in a worst-case scenario, brush up on more campside methods of cooking and preparing meals.