How To Cook Food Without Power

These days, we don’t really give the gift of electricity a second thought. We come home, flip the lights on, fire up the oven and cook a hot meal in no time. But, have you ever considered what you would do in the event that electricity wasn’t available?

If you really want to save money and live a more self-sufficient lifestyle, it’s important to consider all the possibilities and be prepared for the if and the when scenarios. No matter how far-fetched it may seem in our current reality, there are several ways you can prepare food with no electricity at all. Here are 5 ways to ensure there will be food on the table without any power to back you up.

How To Cook Without Power Indoor Cooking Methods

So depending on the time of year you may or may not have as many cooking options. If it is the dead of winter I’m not the least bit interested in cooking outside. I’ll eat peanut butter and crackers before I do that. 

Gas Stove

These are a Godsend and the only thing I have ever cooked on since I was old enough to cook. While the igniter does need electricity to start all you need is a lighter. Turn on the gas and hold the lighter about half an inch from the burner and you are good to go. 

Natural gas and propane both work the same way. My husband offered to swap out the kitchen stove for an electric stove when we moved in and I was like Heck No! This means we can still have warm food if the power goes out. Plus that was all I had ever cooked on and you can control the temperature a lot quicker. 

If you have electricity to cook on and you want to turn the temp down you will have to use another burner or wait until the burner cools. Which will really mess with your cooking time.

Tea Light Stove

If electricity is not an option, tea lights can be used as your go-to for emergency heating, cooking, and lighting. They are safe to use indoors and can be stored for a long time without going bad.

You may not be able to create a 5-course meal with these tiny candles, but you can heat up soup, cook rice and eggs, boil hot water for sanitation purposes and other smaller low-key items that will keep you nourished in the event of an emergency.

Although it may seem a bit far-fetched in today’s world, don’t underestimate the power of wax and a flame to get the job done.


If you have a fireplace in your home, this is another great indoor option if the elements don’t allow you to get outside.

Similar to an open fire cooking in the backyard, you can cook a delicious meal in a few different ways. Place your meal of choice in some aluminum foil and let it cook away directly on the embers.

Be sure to rotate often if you’re cooking meat and always use a meat thermometer to ensure it is cooked all the way through.

If you have a fireplace grate (something like the image below), you can set this above the fire and use it as a spot to fry up something yummy in a cast-iron skillet.

cooking on an open fire with a grate over it.

Dutch ovens work well in this scenario too. If you’re lucky enough to have a fireplace, this is a great option to take advantage of when hard times come around.

A word of warning when it comes to cooking in a fireplace.

Wood burning is best. However, cooking over a gas fireplace will work ok if you have a grate to set over the fire. Be very careful not to drip grease or food onto the burning element or you will be in for a heap of trouble.

Outdoor Cooking 

If the weather is decent and you have the option here are some great options for cooking without power.

Grill Out

This may be the simplest and most obvious solution to cooking without electricity. If you have a gas grill, you’ll want to make sure you have extra propane tanks on hand, or it may be worth looking into a charcoal grill.

However, you still have to keep some kind of burning material on hand either way. Personally, I would go with whichever you like best. You have way less control over the cooking temperature with charcoal or a wood stove.

The best part about this is, the sky is the limit when it comes to cooking a good meal over the grill.

From steak and pork to chicken and veggies, you don’t have to sacrifice flavor or taste even when the power decides to take a hike.

Hot Meal Option #4 – Propane Grill – For Exterior Use Only

propane grill can do double duty as a summer party mainstay and an emergency backup stove. The positive on this one is that many people already have these stoves and know how to use them.

The downside is that they are not safe to use indoors and can be quite unpleasant, if not impossible, to use during really nasty weather, such as blizzards or hurricanes. Keep a spare propane container on hand.

Note: Always store your propane cylinder outside and upright in a protected location – not inside a house or garage or near combustible materials. Avoid conditions where it will rust, potentially causing cylinder failure. See Storing Propane Cylinders for more information. Propane will store indefinitely, as long as the seals and the storage take remain intact.


Hot Meal Option #5 – Charcoal Grill – For Exterior Use Only

Charcoal grills are less common than they used to be but are still used by some, including yours truly. They have the same limitations as propane grills, and maybe even less practical for small amounts of cooking or long, slow cooking.

If you have one, do invest in a cylindrical chimney starter to get your briquettes lit without starter fluid.

Newspaper is less expensive than lighter fluid, plus you skip the extra dose of chemicals. Plan for extra time (20-30 minutes) for the grill to get up to temp for cooking.


If you don’t have space to keep a grill there are plenty of smaller camping stove options that are easy to store.

Open Fire

No power, no problem – just build yourself a backyard bonfire and start cooking. Through some trial and error (and a little patience) you will eventually figure out the best way to get an A-grade flame that will cook anything to perfection.

You’ll need a good supply of kindling to get started and it helps to have a metal rack to set the food on. Of course, if you don’t have one on hand, a large rock works too. Hot dogs are an obvious choice over the open flame, but you can also go big and cook up a meal of steak and veggies too.

My FAVORITE things to cooking technique is with a pudgy pie iron. You take a piece of bread and butter on both sides. Then fill it with whatever you want. Everything would get ooey and gooey inside. UMM!

Have fun with it, even when the power comes back on. You may even turn it into a weekly tradition with your family.

open fire cooking without power

Volcano Portable Stove

There are new products on the market that can be used with several different fuels, such as the Volcano Portable Stove , which works with charcoal, propane or wood. Fairly small and portable (Weight = 4lbs, Footprint when open. 17″ diameter circle), this would be a nice option to have on hand to take advantage of whatever fuel you have available.


Large Propane Burner/Deep Fryer

high powered burners can crank out a lot of heat. The more common uses are: deep frying turkeys, fish boils and making enormous pots of soup (known as booyah in our area). They can also be used to heat water for laundry or bathing.

Some people also use propane burners for outdoor canning, but it should be noted that the intense, point source heat may warp the bottom of your canner. These can also be used to heat water for scalding chickens for processing.


Solar Cooker

 A solar cooker allows you to use the energy of the sun to cook and heat up food without needing fuel or other outside material to operate. Most of these cookers are portable and extremely easy to move from place to place.

Not only that, it may help you save a little money on your electric bill if you use it consistently. You can cook anything from grilled cheese sandwiches to soups to chicken or fish, however, these will require a little extra time and patience to cook all the way through.

If you want to be prepped and ready for unexpected events in the future, solar power is a great way to go.

The main issue with these is you either have to have enough sunlight stored up if that is an option for the solar stove that you have. Or it has to be daylight. Plain and simple. You can’t really get enough rays cooking inside with these because the power is coming from the rays that the light sends down.

Cooking Equipment

One thing you might not think of is the type of utensils you use on your kitchen stove my not stand up to the heat of an open fire. So you want to make sure you have cooking utensils and pots and pans that can stand up to the method you chose. 

Solid mettle with no plastic or castiron is the simples choice so you don’t have to worry.

But things like plastic spatulas or tongs will not hold out for sure. 

Also having long handles on all of your tools will help you when reaching into a heating source to remove the food. Have hot pads like these close by so you don’t reach for a hot handle without thinking.

Here is a list of supplies for cooking without power as well as some other options for cooking without power.

Easy Now Power Meals

  • Canned beans and halm
  • Oatmeal – Just mix oats with water and heat it up.
  • Any Canned food.
  • Taco shells are great alternative food that you can mix practically anything up and eat it in a taco shell.

Food In Aluminum Foil Cobos

– Ground deer (or beef), potatoes, mushrooms, Green peppers, Onions. Sprinkles with pepper, salt, garlic powder, and oregano.

-Chicken, corn, mushrooms, potatoes, and any other veggies. 

No Cook Meals

  • Breakfast Bars
  • Corn salad
  • Peanut butter sandwiches
  • Almond butter and pretzels

Try out a few of these suggestions (or research your own) before an emergency strikes so you can be 100% ready if/when that time occurs. By having a plan B in mind, you’ll be able to make it through a power outage or other crisis like a pro. 

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