Cooking Outside: 5 Tasty Ways to Practice Prepping

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Author of Be Ready for Anything and Bloom Where You’re Planted online course

Everyone knows that practice makes for perfect prepping. But when is the last time you practiced your off-grid skills by cooking outside? As I learned when I went to take Selco’s Urban Survival Course in Croatia, not all survival gear is what it’s cracked up to be.

That’s the beautiful thing about summer. You can prep and it feels like a party instead of a chore. Take some time while the weather is hot to hone your off-grid cooking skills.

  • For one thing, it will keep your home a lot cooler. One of the biggest ways we add ambient heat to our homes is by cooking. (More on non-tech tricks for keeping your home cool right here.)
  • Secondly, an emergency is no time to waste food, which is a very real possibility when using an unfamiliar cooking method. There’s an art to it, and it takes some practice.
  • And finally, let’s be honest, what doesn’t taste better when cooked outside?

Sometime this week, I challenge you to pick a day to cook all of your meals outside. Don’t stop with grilling meat. Make coffee and pancakes, cook up some vegetables, make sandwiches, and let everyone create their own shish-k-bobs. Get creative and practice your skills at the same time.

Why you need to practice

It’s really essential to practice the things you intend to do to survive well before an emergency for many reasons. Here are just a few:

What if you just plain suck at cooking outside? What if you “think” you can cook over a fire but you end up doing it wrong and dropping the chicken into the fire and burning it beyond recognition?  What if that was the only chicken you had access to? Wouldn’t you rather practice now when you can simply order pizza if you destroy dinner? Figure things out now while you have time to learn, while supplies are not limited, and while you can easily create a Plan B.

What if you don’t have the right tools? You may discover that camp stove you were planning to use requires the use of some special skillet or tool that you don’t possess. Wouldn’t you rather learn that when you can order the appropriate doohicky from Amazon?

What if your cooking method doesn’t work the way you expected? Maybe your camp stove uses 3 times the propane you thought it would. Maybe your solar cooker location wasn’t as prime as you thought and your meat is raw in the middle. Perhaps cooking something on your charcoal grill takes far longer than you thought it would. There are all sorts of variables that you’d rather find out now than later.

What if you get hurt? A huge number of people get seriously burned cooking over an open fire. This doesn’t mean that you can’t do it safely, but work out the bugs while medical care is easily available instead of during a time when you are stranded in your home due to unsafe emergency conditions.

There are many more reasons to hone your skills, but those will get you thinking.

5 way to practice cooking outside

Here are some ways you can head outdoors, make a delicious meal, and practice a preparedness skill, all at the same time.

#1) Cook over an open fire

If you have a fire pit in your backyard, it’s time to practice your campfire cooking skills. A few tasty ways to do this:

#2) Use your barbecue for the entire meal.

We love anything cooked on our charcoal barbecue. It doesn’t matter if your grill is charcoal or propane, as long as you have plenty of fuel. I have grill baskets for veggies, as well as cast iron frying pans that can be oiled and used for things that would fall through the grates. This is a simple, delicious way to make your entire meal, including meat, veggies, and potatoes.

Here are some tips on propane storage safety.

#3) Use a solar cooker.

Whether you have a purchased sun oven or you use a plan like this to make your own, if you live in a hot, sunny, climate, you can make a delicious meal reminiscent of a crockpot dinner outdoors using only the power of the sun. This is an ideal prepper cooking method because it doesn’t require the storage of any type of fuel.

This book has 150 recipes for solar cooking.

#4) Use a rocket stove.

Try out some of your just-add-water meals and cook them over a rocket stove. My favorite is the Volcano 3-way stove because of the versatility – it can be powered by just about any type of biomass. I also like the Kelly Kettle. Any food that only requires boiling can be made on a rocket stove, but you’ll want to practice ahead of time to be able to keep the fire going for a suitable amount of time. (And as I’ve written, those little stoves may not always be worth the space in your bug out bag. It’s better to find this out now instead of discovering it after you’ve toted a stove around in your backpack unnecessarily.)

#5) Break out the camping stove.

If you have something like a Coleman camping stove fueled by propane, try it out on the patio. If you have some cast iron cookware, you can make basically anything you would prepare on your kitchen stove top with one of these. One piece of advice – stick with things that cook fairly quickly so you don’t burn through too much fuel all for one meal. Note: Sometimes these can be picked up for a song at a yard sale – that’s where ours came from and it had only been used a couple of times.

How do you keep your skills polished by cooking outside?

Share your delicious secrets in the comments below. And if you take the challenge, let me know how it went when you cooked everything outside for an entire day!


Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • Hello I love cooking over a open fire our my grill. Eggs taste the best over a open fire. You can cooking anything on a gas grill. I have cooked a cake on it.

  • I went to a Dutch oven gathering , and really enjoyed the experience. Everyone was helpful, and learned a lot. I’ve been going to garage sales to build my collection of cast iron.

  • I lived without a stove/oven for over a year. We utilized our propane grill with a side burner and a toaster oven. We cooked on the grill in all sorts of weather. Also utilized a charcoal grill. Could have used the fire pit too, if we needed. Foil packet dinners are great for the fire pit.

  • This isn’t really much of an addition, but a great way to get off grid cooking to be exciting for young children is to make your own solar oven. For this fun method you’ll need:
    -An empty pizza box that is as clean as possible
    -Some aluminium foil
    -Some black paint
    -Some cling wrap/plastic wrap
    -Either a cooling rack or some metal prongs (like you use for shish-kabobs)
    -Some tape (like you use for wrapping presents)

    Paint the pizza box black. Then cut a hole in the top, leaving 1-2 inches of cardboard around the edges. Open the box up, then cover the opening with plastic wrap (on the inside). Stick it down using tape. Then cover the bottom and sides of the the inside of the box with aluminium foil, sticking it down with tape.

    And voila! One home made solar oven, fun for the family. You then either stick the needles through the side to cook marshmallows or hot dogs, or put the cooking rack in to make a grilled cheese sandwich. It will take a couple of hours to cook, but that helps to keep the anticipation for the kids.

  • We are really testing our solar ovens. Not much we have not tried. Learning a lot to.
    My friend who teaches prepping makes a Apple box oven. She takes a cardboard box about the size is a apply create & wraps it up in foil inside & out. She then takes a wire rack & some charcoal biscuits. She fires up the biscuits when they are ready she puts them on a fire proof tray or anything you feel appropriate puts her rack over them then puts the food on the rack & covers it with the box. You have just made a Apple box oven. Takes a while to cook but it really does a good job.

  • I spent a lot of time camping while clearing a building lot. A fire for cooking was how we ate hot food. Easy breakfast was Spam and eggs. Fry the Spam first and then cook the eggs in the fat from the spam. Back in the day you could get potato pancakes (“Latke”) in a can. Just slice them and fry in the Spam fat.

  • I love cooking over open flame or on my gas grill. One things I really like about that grill, by the way, is that because the side burner and the three main burners are all separate, I can just fire up one and save a lot of fuel. I’ve made sauces and boiled things on the side burner, works just like a range. One tip is to have a smaller pan so you don’t need as much heat to cook in it. My spouse has done cakes and pizza over an open flame – though those luxuries wouldn’t really be useful if you’re conserving food.

  • Don’t forget the hot drinks. I love campfire espresso, made in a Moka pot, for waking up to. I also keep a pour-over setup to make regular coffee. Both work great on campstoves, including the tiny canister-top butane burners. And who can resist a nice hot chocolate prepped for winding down once the sun sets.

  • 1. In defense of those frustrating little backpacking stoves (like the Solo Stove and the many similar competitors):

    One irritation about them is having to constantly refuel with pencil-diameter (or smaller) tree twigs or such. There are multiple ways around that problem.

    One is to use alternate fuels, such as with alcohol burners, or chunks of solid fuels like Esbit, etc. But in case you don’t have those handy, the grand solution is the use of dead tree logs via the Swedish fire torch system — for long time burning — with or without the camping stove. This is the best and very recent YouTube how-to video I’ve seen, titled

    Mini Swedish Fire Torch: Tiny Log Burns “Forever”

    per this 11:02 minute video, from Canadian Prepper on Jul 21, 2019:

    Simply size that system up or down, whatever works to make it fit the stove you’re using, plus how to even use it without a stove.

    Another thing that makes such stoves more useful are the $20 steel or $30 titanium top and bottom cross members from Siege Stoves at

    They allow a much more stable use of wider bottom cookpots plus the wide base makes a nasty tipover much less likely. (A little work with a file might be needed so they can fit your particular stove model.)

    2. There’s also a solar cooker of the panel type that’s available both in retail or DIY versions. Called the Copenhagen solar cooker, invented and manufactured by Sharon Clausson in San Diego, she intermittently retails it for about $50 on eBay, but also encourages those who want to DIY it on the cheap (for typically $5-$10 or so). It’s lightweight, easily backpackable, has been used in many countries, and is incredibly easy to use from sunup to sundown. Here is a link to the last one she sold on eBay just this July 28th — with much useful info in her description:

    Remember that eBay tends to drop sold auction listings about 90 days after they expire, so it’s best to save a copy of that descriptive info “while the getting’s still good.”

    and if you run a search for DIY approaches to it, the best one comes from here:


  • I’m in the process of making a permanent bean hole–just a hole in the ground (where it won’t fill with water, of course), lined with good-sized rocks or bricks, and big enough to comfortably hold your Dutch oven. Build a fire in it, let it burn down to coals (and the rocks will also soak up the heat). Put in the Dutch oven with meal of your choice–baked beans, bread, stew, soup–, cover the bean hole with a suitable lid, and leave it there for the appropriate time, even all day or night, as used to be done with real baked beans.

  • We just got back from our annual camping trip! We used our propane stove and cooked over the open fire. We have several different types of propane camp stoves, as well as the two burner stove in our camper. I even have the oven attachment for our Coleman camp stove. We also have the Coleman ‘grill’ that has a griddle and grate options (that was great for breakfast). I absolutely love using my ‘old fashioned’ Corning percolator to make coffee when we camp! And I reiterate my comment from when this article was first posted, foil packets in the coals or over the fire are the best!

  • Oh ya, watched the Youtube video. Survival cooking is no problemo.

    Unfortunately, poverty and homelessness are the real-life apocalypse many will face, that increasing numbers of people are facing.

    BBQ on a hobo stove is no fun at all when hoboing is not a choice.

  • I am an avid camper. Well, actually an historical re-enactor and yearly go on several rendezvous where I am required to cook over an open fire, in a dutch oven, etc. I am completely off grid when I do this. SO, this challenge is really just an extension of my primitive camping! Unfortunately, I live in an apartment and unable to cook over open flames or with charcoal. But, I do have a 1 burner butane stove so I am good with that on my deck.

    My dinner tonight will be a non-cook method – I have fruits, veggies, and cheese in my fridge. If I had no electricity, I would eat out of my fridge first, then my freezer, before I break open the canned preps!

    As Doug mentioned, a box oven is very easy to make and very easy to use. I was a Girl Scout leader years ago and I taught the girls how to make a box oven. We made English muffin pizzas, cookies, a cake in those boxes. One thing that we did differently was to use cans to prop up the pans we cooked on/in. I used a jelly roll pan for this. BUT, you really need cans that are not aluminum (small juice cans) so take a magnet to the grocery store to test the cans out. I think that pineapple juice still comes in non-aluminum cans but haven’t checked that out in years.

    Happy off grid cooking!!

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