Author Topic: Ready-to-Eat vs. Prep-Needed / Alt Cooking Methods  (Read 10457 times)

0degreesK

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Ready-to-Eat vs. Prep-Needed / Alt Cooking Methods
« on: October 14, 2008, 08:21:23 AM »
In my situation, I have electric oven, stove-top and refrigerator.  If the electricity goes-out, I can't even heat water.  So, my approach has been to stock items which are ready-to-eat only (i.e. primarily canned items).

All the preparation guides I see have listings of dried pasta, beans, rice, etc. but it would do me no good if the SHTF.

Is my approach wrong?  Should I be figuring-out a way to cook if the electricity goes-out?  What would be an efficient way to go (i.e. propane-based hot-plate)?

Also, I just thought of this: Do you think it's possible to buy like a single burner that I could tap into my natural gas line?  Is something like that made AND will the natural gas line even keep providing in a SHTF situation?!?

EDIT: Changed topic title per request - Serellan
« Last Edit: October 16, 2008, 11:36:57 AM by Serellan »

Offline firetoad

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Re: Pantry: ready-to-eat vs. prep-needed?
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2008, 08:39:37 AM »
The simplest solution for me is a camp stove of some type.  Other ideas would be a BBQ pit and charcoal, propane grill, fire pit, solar ovens, penny alcohol stoves, ez-bit types of stoves, etc.  Your imagination is your only limit.  Remember, if the electric grid is out, you may not have water or the water system could be compromised.  So, water is another big necessity.  Easy way to start an emergency water supply (short term only and to just get you started) are cases of distilled/drinking water from Wally World or the like.  We use humidifiers in the winter for our kids, so, storing loads of distilled water and rotating it constantly is not a big deal for me.  [My approach to all of this is the baby step method.  That is, if I am not spending money on preps I will never use, I don't mind starting with simpler/smaller items as mentioned above and then increase from there.  A little is better than nothihng at all.  Too much at one time will just overburden you.]

One thing you have to keep in mind with many ready-to-eat foods is the high fat content.  If you don't regularly eat them or are not accustomed to a high fat diet, and then subsist on a majority of these items, your poor GI tract will not be happy. 

Hopefully my ramblings are somewhat coherent.  I tried to pack alot into a few small sentences.   ;) ;) ;)
« Last Edit: October 14, 2008, 08:42:32 AM by firetoad »

GroundPounder

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Re: Pantry: ready-to-eat vs. prep-needed?
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2008, 08:46:31 AM »
You need to consider several ways to cook.  If you settle on a single way of doing something, that will be the one that does not work when you need it.  That goes for anything you do.

At my home I have several ways to cook when the electricity goes out:

1.  My range was converted to gas.  No need for electricity in most cases.
2.  For short duration issues such as a small power outage I can use my microwave on the generator
3.  I can use my BBQ grill or gas smoker.  I store a number of spare tanks that will last me quite a while. You can stick a pot of beans or pasta right on it
4.  I can use a dutch oven with some charcoal I store
5.  I can cook on a fire in my fireplace.  During the last power outage my kids had fun making smoores on the fire.  You can even do that with a gas fireplace.
6.  I have a Coleman camp stove with a cache of propane cylinders.  I also have a PEEK1 stove that will burn white gas or Unleaded.  Just be sure to use outdoors.
7.  Last resort I can start a fire in my back yard.  That would be the very last option I would consider.  If you have one of those fire bowls that would work too.  Just store a little wood if you dont normally burn it in your fireplace.

You can also learn to make a solar oven.  Easy, cheap, and works assuming you have sunlight.

0degreesK

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Re: Pantry: ready-to-eat vs. prep-needed?
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2008, 12:58:12 PM »
One thing you have to keep in mind with many ready-to-eat foods is the high fat content.  If you don't regularly eat them or are not accustomed to a high fat diet, and then subsist on a majority of these items, your poor GI tract will not be happy.
I hadn't thought of this, though, when I buy items for my pantry I keep an eye on some sort of balance in the majority of what I get.  To start off, I'm trying not to buy one-dimensional items (i.e. canned tuna is protein and little else).  Unfortunately, I can't tolerate dairy that well, so I can't buy things like canned pasta which are high in carbs, protein and fat... and cheap.  Canned (ready-to-eat) items aren't looking that especially nutritious, either.

What do you think I'd be looking at in converting my electric range to a gas range?  I actually like to cook, so it wouldn't be a bad thing?  My kitchen is in an addition to the house, so a gas line would have to be run in.  I'm just looking for ball park here.  Thanks.

6.  I have a Coleman camp stove with a cache of propane cylinders.  I also have a PEEK1 stove that will burn white gas or Unleaded.  Just be sure to use outdoors.

You can also learn to make a solar oven.  Easy, cheap, and works assuming you have sunlight.
I think I'll go with #6 right away and look into the solar oven.

Thanks, guys.  I'd like to be able to prep some pastas and beans (and know I wouldn't be living on cold soup and spinach out of cans)!!!

0degreesK

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Re: Pantry: ready-to-eat vs. prep-needed?
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2008, 10:52:59 AM »
So, today I bought a Hurricane Products One Burner Stove along with it's LPG regulator and hose kit.  The unit manual says:
Quote
This appliance is designed to be used and operated on L.P. gas (propane) typically stored in a gas cylinder and commonly used on portable gas barbecues.
So my plan is to buy a couple (few?) tanks from the local grocery store, so I can boil water and cook a little if my electricity goes out.  However, I was raised in a charcoal-only grill household and have never dealt with LP gas tanks.  Can any of you guys give me some basics or point me in the right direction.  I'm sure I can do a google search, but I prefer to chat with people.

PS... I won't suffocate myself on the fumes!

Offline ColdHaven

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Re: Pantry: ready-to-eat vs. prep-needed?
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2008, 11:35:39 AM »
I am in the market to buy one of these ranges too. The prices of these baffle me. Some of them for a single burner you stick on top of the propane tank costs more than a two range one. Maybe this is just ignorance on my part. However, one thing that constantly comes to mind is...if it is gas or fuel dependant eventually it will run out. I have some quickstart lighting logs that are no bigger than a pencil stuck in my BOB. I also have canned heat with a cooker. I made some miso soup the other day with it. It taught me an important lesson. Aluminum pots can tilt unexpectantly burning your foot in scalding water. Fun  :'(

I would say the best thing is to stock a little of each. Have some canned heat, a grill, some fuel for the grill, a propane range, and some equipment to make fire if you somehow do not have those others available. Since I read the thread on using the grill to make bread, I am starting to think of the variety of uses for it, including using wood to cook instead of charcoal.

Also have some instant stuff available that does not include cooking. There are many things you can buy canned or otherwise that do not require cooking. This way you have some leeway if you need to find a cooking source to have food on hand. And lets face it, if you are hungry enough, you will eat beans without cooking them.

0degreesK

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Re: Pantry: ready-to-eat vs. prep-needed?
« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2008, 02:34:00 PM »
Unfortunately, here's an option I didn't even know existed:
Alpaca Kerosene Cook Stove

I say unfortunately because I've already ordered the propane-based system.  Then, I did some research on propane storage and usage, and am sort of turned-off to it because I'm going to have to keep the fuel outside of my house, where it's vulnerable to theft.  Also, I'll be in view when I'm using it.

A kerosene stove would be usable inside with proper ventilation and the fuel seems a hell of a lot less volatile.

I guess I can return the propane system... just a pain in the ass.  I like this kerosene idea better.

Offline DeltaEchoVictor

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Re: Pantry: ready-to-eat vs. prep-needed?
« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2008, 08:23:36 PM »
Here are a few of the redundant cooking methods we have around our house.

2 Coleman white gas stoves.  1 is a larger 2 burner/1 is a small 2 burner.
1 Small Weber charcoal grill about 12" round.  Really nice for quick cooking hot dogs etc.
1 Larger Weber charcoal grill.
1 Swiss surplus backpackers stove.  2 self contained pots with burner & wind screen & runs off alcohol.  This stays mostly in the Jeep.

Worse comes to worse the wife & I can move into our little camper if we need to, we're all electric in the house too.  We've got propane tanks & a three burner stove in it.  It also has a water tank in it (that I should probably fill).

Offline Serellan

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Re: Pantry: ready-to-eat vs. prep-needed?
« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2008, 12:26:55 AM »
I wouldn't worry about the propane tank storage, just get a deck box and put them in there.  Regardless of the gas type (propane, white gas, etc), I wouldn't really recommend cooking indoors unless you have great ventilation.

When I grew up in Alaska, our gas range oven was actually powered by propane (we had a big propane tank outside that we would exchange, not like the small grill ones, a big tall one).  We cooked inside all the times with no problem.  However, it is inseresting to note we had a big external fan right next to the stove.

Anyways, I would also consider a straight up Coleman stove using propane.  You can pick these up cheap used, and the nice thing is that you can often find the cartridges cheap at the end of the season.  I have accumulated 8 cartridges even over the past year (had start over when I moved a year ago, believe it or not shippers don't want to haul propane cartriges!) just from sales at various times for around 1/2 off.

Offline javaguy

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Re: Pantry: ready-to-eat vs. prep-needed?
« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2008, 04:49:50 AM »
Unfortunately, here's an option I didn't even know existed:
Alpaca Kerosene Cook Stove

I say unfortunately because I've already ordered the propane-based system.  Then, I did some research on propane storage and usage, and am sort of turned-off to it because I'm going to have to keep the fuel outside of my house, where it's vulnerable to theft.  Also, I'll be in view when I'm using it.

A kerosene stove would be usable inside with proper ventilation and the fuel seems a hell of a lot less volatile.

I guess I can return the propane system... just a pain in the ass.  I like this kerosene idea better.

Well this has got me thinking about cooking as well.  In our situation we have a large upright LP tank under our deck plumbed into our grill.  Its lasted for years at the rate we grill, and could be used for cooking.  Our wood stove is a step-stop version:

http://www.quadrafire.com/Products/Wood_Burning/Wood_Model.asp?f=3100

and can be used for cooking on - though we have never had the need.  Having alternate ways of cooking available makes sense.  My brother has a WhisperLite - it uses kerosene, white gas, diesel.  versatile..

http://www.altrec.com/mountain-safety-research/whisperlite-international-stove

But I am now considering these kerosene stoves you mentioned - great for heavy duty cooking, boiling water, etc.. Here is another link which speaks to them that I came across:
http://www.endtimesreport.com/kerosene_cookers.html


djturnz

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Re: Pantry: ready-to-eat vs. prep-needed?
« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2008, 05:20:48 AM »
A turkey fryer is just a large single burner that runs off propane.  It would be good (with it's 3 or 5 gallon pot) to make a large amount of soup or to ...fry a turkey.

I have seen these soups and coffees that heat themselves in their own can?  Has anyone tried these out?  Gander Mountain has them for $2 right now.

0degreesK

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Re: Pantry: ready-to-eat vs. prep-needed?
« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2008, 11:08:23 AM »
Anyways, I would also consider a straight up Coleman stove using propane.  You can pick these up cheap used, and the nice thing is that you can often find the cartridges cheap at the end of the season.  I have accumulated 8 cartridges even over the past year (had start over when I moved a year ago, believe it or not shippers don't want to haul propane cartriges!) just from sales at various times for around 1/2 off.
I've seen the Coleman stoves.  Are the tanks refillable?  The reason I passed on them is that they seemed expensive with the proprietary fuel canisters.  Also, I didn't think they were intended for heavy usage (i.e. every day usage in a SHTF situation), but rather for occasional weekend trips.

But I am now considering these kerosene stoves you mentioned - great for heavy duty cooking, boiling water, etc.. Here is another link which speaks to them that I came across:
http://www.endtimesreport.com/kerosene_cookers.html
Thanks for the link.  I ended-up here, myself.  The site points to St. Paul Mercantile Online Store who offer a wide variety of kerosene-based stoves, heater, lamps, etc.

The good news for me is I was able to halt the propane burner order before it was shipped.  I'm going to go with a Kerosene Pressure stove and one of the cheaper Butterfly kerosene wick-based stoves for now.  With further prep, I'll look into redundancy.

GroundPounder

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Re: Pantry: ready-to-eat vs. prep-needed?
« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2008, 09:04:29 PM »

I have seen these soups and coffees that heat themselves in their own can?  Has anyone tried these out?  Gander Mountain has them for $2 right now.

Those work by creating an exothermic reaction between calcium oxide and water. Very similar to an MRE heater.  They are fun to pull out at Scout camp to impress the other leaders but are just not real practical IMO for long term survival food because of cost. In contrast, $2 worth of propane can heat a lot of food. 

One thing to think about though in a survival situation is the psychological aspect.  Having a few comfort items really helps ease the stress.  I would say pick up a case of them for the comfort, not the survival.  When the storm comes through, the power is out, and your wife is freaking out a warm cup of coffee can sure ease things. 

Give them a try and let everyone know how you like them.

Offline creuzerm

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Re: Ready-to-Eat vs. Prep-Needed / Alt Cooking Methods
« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2008, 10:58:09 PM »
First off, I would say your probably not doing it 'wrong'.

Getting food that you don't have to cook is an excellent idea. If the kids are hungry NOW, and the power just went off, you are a hero!

Personally, I just wouldn't get only food that doesn't need to be cooked.

Looking at a longer term - beyond an hour or two, you should look at what Jack said on one of his shows, you need to look at your threat analysis. Ohio, you would normally not need to worry about hurricanes - except this year, eh? - or severe blizzards or ice storms - wasn't there a bad one two years ago or so?. So you shouldn't need to worry about a long term power outage due to weather. You are going to get bad weather, and the weather will interrupt your power supply for hours or days, not weeks at a time. Road crews putting in new cables could interrupt your power supply. A drunk hitting a power pole could interrupt your power supply. Blah blah blah, you have it all written down, right? I have been without power and water in the three years I was in Florida then the entire rest of my life in the Midwest. Different Threats.

Having a 2nd way of cooking is a good idea. Getting something that is portable is useful. they usually are small, so the store easily. You can use it for picnics, tailgating at the game, outdoor BBQ, you know, for when times aren't tough.
As was noted above, a lot of people have 'camping' supplies for their alternate cooking means.
I actually even have a small camping propane oven. http://mike.creuzer.com/2006/10/another-cool-gadget.html I have only used it a couple of times. I do like it though.

You can also use some unusual methods to heat up your food that doesn't need to be cooked. I mean, cold spaghetti-ohs just aren't the same as piping hot ones. You could heat them up over a candle or oil lamp. You can leave the cans out in the sun for the day.

As for converting your stove top. Which do you prefer to cook on? I personally prefer gas, but my mom prefers electric. She currently has gas, I currently have electric. Oh the Irony.
If you have an electric stovetop, get a gas camp stove, like what you just ordered. If you have a gas cook top, look into getting an electric hot-plate. They are small, cheap, and store well. When the gas gets shut off - they do go out of service, just like electric does, you can dig that electric hotplate out of the bottom cupboard and cook food that way.

Propane cylinders. I currently have half a dozen small ones. They are small, convenient, and store easily. I don't have much worry about an unused one leaking into the house. You can also get one of those good sized 20lb cylinders with an adapter if you find that you are using the stove a lot.

I haven't had much experience with kerosene. My dad had a kerosene rocket heater, or whatever those large space heaters are called. It was pretty old. He had trouble with condensation rusting the fuel tank, so the burner kept clogging. When it worked, it did work well. I do like the smell of burning kerosene. As with ALL fuels, it should be stored outside of the home. I doubt many people follow this advice.  :(

Turkey fryers. I have been to parties where we have had 5 of these going at the same time. 2 chickens at a time. Makes short work of cooking 20 chickens. I don't have one yet. I live in an apartment - not really conducive to a turkey fryer. Not enough room to get them far enough away from the building to be safe. I was looking at them thinking they would make an awesome burner for my wok. Anybody try this?

Those little self heating coffee/hot cocoa cans. Like GroundPounder said, not a long term survival solution. But let me tell you! Having a few around really is nice. Toss a few in the vehicle when you go to the park, and if it gets chilly, somebody falls in the pond, or you really need your coffee fix... They are also great picking the kids up at a late season football game. Take one along on a long snowmobile ride. Have them in the car if you go to a bonfire. These little things are a wonderful comfort item. Odd how they work out to be cheaper then going to starbucks too...

Offline Stein

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Re: Ready-to-Eat vs. Prep-Needed / Alt Cooking Methods
« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2008, 10:49:50 AM »
Natural gas is incredibly reliable and the only thing I worry about is earthquakes.  The pumps and systems required to deliver the gas are all run with natural gas so it isn't dependent on electricity.

You can hire someone to plumb you a receptacle if you have gas in your home.  Propane and NG burners are different though.

For a backup, I have the common propane tanks and a 2-burner propane camp stove.  For normal meals, one can safely cook inside, just like with a NG stove.  The gas lasts about forever and the tanks are sturdy and not prone to leaks.

In addition to cooking, propane can be used to light and heat the house.

I bought tree that bolts onto the propane tank and has outlets up the pole.  Our lantern goes on top for lighting and the stove plugs into a side outlet for cooking.  With the larger tanks instead of the small disposable ones, you can run quite some time.

Here are some numbers I ran for my propane equipment that may help you decide how much to have on hand if you go propane:

Primus double mantle lantern - 124-247 hours per cylinder
Primus double burner stove - 19 hours per burner per cylinder on high
Big Buddy Heater - 97 hours on low, 22 hours on high

GroundPounder

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Re: Ready-to-Eat vs. Prep-Needed / Alt Cooking Methods
« Reply #15 on: October 17, 2008, 11:45:32 AM »
Stein,

I assume you say a 'larger tank' are referring to a 20 lb tank with the numbers above?  Thats some pretty good times.  The other problem I have with the small cylinders is they tend to freeze up, especially on the Buddy heaters.

0degreesK

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Re: Ready-to-Eat vs. Prep-Needed / Alt Cooking Methods
« Reply #16 on: October 17, 2008, 12:03:39 PM »
Looking at a longer term - beyond an hour or two, you should look at what Jack said on one of his shows, you need to look at your threat analysis. Ohio, you would normally not need to worry about hurricanes - except this year, eh? - or severe blizzards or ice storms - wasn't there a bad one two years ago or so?. So you shouldn't need to worry about a long term power outage due to weather. You are going to get bad weather, and the weather will interrupt your power supply for hours or days, not weeks at a time. Road crews putting in new cables could interrupt your power supply. A drunk hitting a power pole could interrupt your power supply. Blah blah blah, you have it all written down, right? I have been without power and water in the three years I was in Florida then the entire rest of my life in the Midwest. Different Threats.
In early September, we had a MAJOR wind-storm come through Ohio because of the hurricane.  Because so many power repairmen had been diverted to help with possible issues there, Ohio was left without the ability to fix our own problems.  My house's power went-on that night, but the data center where I work was without electricity for four days (running on natural gas generator) which made us all very nervous.  Some people in the area were left without power for a week.

Also, this past winter, Akron got hit with the biggest blizzard I've even seen (see March 8, 2008 blizzard).  If one of the many trees around me had taken a power line out, it would've taken days to restore the electricity.  I wouldn't have been able to cook or heat my house.

Then you have EMPs to worry about. ;)

Anyway, I did get a brass kerosene pressure stove and two of the cheaper Butterfly wick-based kerosene stoves, so I can try them out.  One of the two is for my folks who live in a more rural area than myself and are 100% reliable on electricity.

Offline Heavy G

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Re: Ready-to-Eat vs. Prep-Needed / Alt Cooking Methods
« Reply #17 on: March 21, 2009, 07:49:42 PM »
(This thread has been selected as a “best of” thread by Heavy G.  You can search for “best of” threads by using that term in the search mode.  Everyone on the forum is encouraged to reply to a post they think is “best of” worthy so we can all search for them.  For more information on the “best of” thing, see http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=3423.0 )

Offline millwright

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Re: Ready-to-Eat vs. Prep-Needed / Alt Cooking Methods
« Reply #18 on: March 22, 2009, 02:35:18 PM »
My kitchen stove was natural gas. It came with orifices to convert to propane. I run it from a regular 20lb bottle in the cabinet next to it. With regular cooking and using the oven frequently I only have to change the bottle 3-4 times a year.

Be advised all... When you exchange a bottle from one of those cages at the store they have only 15-17lbs in them (read the label). I have mine refilled at a local campground for $15, this is $4 cheaper than the exhange scam and you get a full 20 lbs.

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: Ready-to-Eat vs. Prep-Needed / Alt Cooking Methods
« Reply #19 on: March 22, 2009, 03:04:56 PM »
My kitchen stove was natural gas. It came with orifices to convert to propane. I run it from a regular 20lb bottle in the cabinet next to it. With regular cooking and using the oven frequently I only have to change the bottle 3-4 times a year.

Really???  I guess you have a regulator on it?  Is this something you did yourself or is there a kit available?  As some of you know we are planning on moving and most of the places we are looking have electric stoves.  The wife demands we have gas stoves.

Offline millwright

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Re: Ready-to-Eat vs. Prep-Needed / Alt Cooking Methods
« Reply #20 on: March 22, 2009, 08:15:36 PM »
I used the regulator off a gas grill, had to punch out the check ball because they stick and won't let gas out. They were not needed for 50 years until these OPD valves were mandated >:(. The top burners used orifices that were mounted on the back of the stove. The oven was an adjustment not a replacement, it took a few tries to get it to burn right. When the oven first lights the fumes are noticeable, but every cycle after that is ok. There were no changes to the hot surface ignitor.
I have to side with your wife, I hate cooking on electric. Breads and pizza just taste better from a gas oven too.

If you are not comfortable working with gas appliances I would have your appliance dealer order or convert it for you.

OH BTW  The propane exchange cages are a RIP-OFF!!!

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: Ready-to-Eat vs. Prep-Needed / Alt Cooking Methods
« Reply #21 on: March 22, 2009, 10:37:42 PM »
OH BTW  The propane exchange cages are a RIP-OFF!!!

Yep, I know it.  I have my tanks refilled at U-Haul.  There are times when I end up exchanging tanks, but that's the exception rather than the rule.  The reason is always my lack of planning.  I've run out of gas at a critical time and had to exchange the cylinders.

And yes, I agree with my wife, but I'm not willing to overlook an otherwise perfect house because it has an electric stove.  I can have that changed out.  I do have her thinking about the propane stoves that use no electricity at all.  We are always looking for another way to reduce our electric usage.  Unfortunately, other than the Brown Gas ranges that are carried by Lehman's, I don't know of any stoves that use no electricity.

Offline millwright

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Re: Ready-to-Eat vs. Prep-Needed / Alt Cooking Methods
« Reply #22 on: March 23, 2009, 08:15:55 AM »
You can light the burners on top with a match and the only thing you need power for is the oven. BTW the oven doesn't use near as much gas as you would think, it maintains heat and doesnt cycle that often. During a power outage you can maintain full kitchen function with a small generator 1.5kw. With and electric oven you need prolly 7.5kw.
After hurricane Ike we ran on a little generator most of the time, only using the big one for the water heater. We powered up the fridge 3-4 times a day for an hour or two and life was pretty normal. Finding fuel was my biggest problem but using a small generator cut that back big time.