30 Days to better Preparedness. Day 4. Cooking.

 We are on a roll now!  Thank you to everyone for your comments and tips.  I decided on Fridays we will end with a summary of the week and have weekends off.  This will help us catch up and get ready for week two.  I hope this helps everyone stay on top of the tasks.   

Today is very important.  We absolutely much have alternative ways to boil water and cook food.   There are a lot of options and I would be happiest if everyone had a couple.   

These are the options I have to give you some ideas:

We have a generator and that will provide power to boil the kettle, run a fry pan etc.

We have an outdoor gas BBQ.  We keep a spare gas bottle.   I can cook basically anything on that even a roast.  I also have a plate on that for the kettle.  I can heat a large amount of water,  enough to make a hot bath. 

We have small gas burners with a single plate on top.  

We have a fire pit and I am pretty good at cooking over a fire.

We also have a wood heater in the house and the top of that gets hot enough to slow cook.  We keep about a years with of cut timber stored in the shed.   

We have a whole house generator that will run everything and I can cook as normal.   We fuel stored and I think we would be ok for about a month.   

If a fire is on your list of possibilities you want to be pretty good at lighting one.  It is ok to cheat.  Just keep fire lighters or similar on hand.  I save all the toilet rolls and when I have drier lint it gets stuffed into one of these.  Voila!  Pretty good fire starters!    We already covered matches and lighters in our lighting post. 

There really are a lot of options.   If you have any outdoor area at all, even a balcony, you can probably get a small BBQ set up.   Camping/outdoor and hardware stores have a heap of ideas.     

Whatever you choose make sure you know how to set it up,  safely operate it and have your fuel.   

If your power was out for two weeks just imagine how grateful you would be for hot water and cooked food!   Especially if you are in a cold climate.   The ability to boil water can also be life saving.   If you need to kill germs in water or sterilise bottles or medical equipment.... boiling water is a big help. 

Now we also need to think of tools and cooking pans etc that are suitable.  There is no use having an outdoor fire if you have no plate or griddle for your food or pans to sit on.  We need to think it right through and preferably actually practice cooking this way.   Anyone who goes camping is good with these skills.   That is an advantage!   

What are your alternative cooking methods?  Also do you have any good and easy meals you prepare on a fire or one dish wonders for a hot plate?   One we love is to make jaffles.   I am not sure if this is just an Australian thing?   It it like a toasted sandwich maker on a long stick.   Between your slices of bread you can put pretty much anything.  Bacon and an egg is really good.   They go into the fire on the coals and cook quickly.   We have made them so many times.  So easy, fun and good! 

So this week we had our purse, freezer meals, lighting and cooking.   Make notes of what you need to take action on.  I am here egging you on to move on each step.  Now we have the weekend to work on a few things.  If there are things you could dearly use but they don't fit into the budget that is ok.   Look for things in the thrift stores,  look on local social media buy, swap and sell sites.  Let family and friends know what you are looking for!  Also are you someone who is asked what you would like for Christmas and you say you don't know and oh no you don't need to get me anything?   Well,  people still do anyway! I tend yo go blank.  Make notes of what you need and mention them!  Last year I got myself pre prepared! I asked for ...  Homesteading books,   Gardening books,  Vanilla Beans and quality sewing scissors.   And I got them!   Every one of them has been wonderful!   If someone is going to buy you a gift it is actually helpful if they know what you want.  So much easier.   So make your list! 

 My opportunities for the day...  

Emboldened by victory in the sewing room I took on the fridge. 😳

In order to stock up and know what I have it needed a good clean out.   I found I had a lot of stuff that doesn't need to be in there.   It looks lovely and now to stock up.

And it was a big day!   The tractor arrived!   I have begun to imagine what we can do now.

I'm so excited!   See you on Monday for Day 5 of our course. 

Now I need to do my Friday report as it was a week of lots of action! 



  1. My set up is mostly like yours. One thing I would like to mention is the Wonderbag or bean bag cooker. This is great because it saves so much time and fuel. It works as a slow cooker. You need a heavy pot that can get your ingredients up to boil over the fire or whatever is being used. I use a cast iron pot. Then put the lid on and snuggle the pot into the wonderbag and cinch it tightly. I usually put a towel over the top. Then just leave it for 4-8 hours depending on what is cooking. Somehow the heat stays trapped inside even though it is completely off the heat source. Everything turns out beautifully and no need to tend to it or keep using fuel. Just put the bag away from the fire and go about your other work.

  2. Hi Annabel! Yeah! I was hoping we could have a day to catch up ;). I only have three meals so far in the freezer and want to get caught up a bit! For cooking, we have a gas bbq that also includes a pot burner area (can’t think of the right way to phrase it). I have two extra full propane tanks, so we are good there. We also have a small bbq grill and two small bottles of propane for that. While those are just two ways to cook, I am good with that for now. Your comment about boiling/heating larger amounts of water is an excellent one, I hadn’t thought about needing to wash up. I have bought paper plates, napkins and utensils so that should help, and we do have pots and pans that work on the bbq area.

    1. It is good to think about... if both water and hot water as issues this is when some paper plates might not be a bad idea. Also simple meals that dont take a ton of dishes to make in the first place!

  3. We are all set for alternative cooking. We have to always be prepared because of the ice storms we have in the winter. This where canned goods and home canned meats really make meals easy.

    1. I can see too how ready to just heat meals are going to be fantastic!

  4. Even though we have absolutely no need for one in town, Bluey and I are both going through tractor envy. Your burn piles will be so much easier to manage. Moving heavy items around for fencing projects will be a breeze. Your garden is going to love it as you will be able to clean out the sheep yards and get all the poop onto your garden with ease with that bucket on the front. I am the same colour as your mean green tractor machine.
    Bluey and I have always done most of our cooking on our hooded barby. In summer it is just too hot to be cooking inside. We always keep three full gas bottles going. We have another two full gas bottles in the caravan, with a full gas oven in it. We used to have to travel long distances regularly. The possibility of getting cut off from home was always there. As a result we kept a butane single burner in the car. It now only goes in when we travel any distances away from home. We also have a small tucker box with all we need to have a cuppa and a quick one pot meal.
    We have an old gas bottle that Bluey cut down. It has a door so that fuel for burning can be placed in it and a solid and a grated hot plate to go over the top. It is a handy small barby, heat source fire pit, for when we are camping or for emergency cooking.
    Being in town and in a sub tropical zone, firewood really isnt a thing we need. We do have heat beads for the little gas bottle barby Bluey made. There would be enough of these to last us quite some time. When Katie lived in a small apartment in Brisbane city, she had a small two burner hooded gas barby on her tiny balcony. She got this cheaply off a local buy swap and sell group.
    It is possible to have an alternative cooking source not matter where you live. Just remember that having an alternative cooking source, that is gas/LPG operated, needs to be done in an airy space and not inside in an enclosed space.

    1. Dear Jane, Thanks for mentioning the ventilation. In out area people caravanned and must have been cold. They apparently went to sleep with the gas oven burning on the stove to keep them warm. You know how that ended. Anyone reading... limited oxygen is used up by the fire and can kill you.
      You and Bluey are well set up! Thank you, Love Annabel.xxx

  5. We have everything you have except for the whole house generator - what I wouldn't give for one! We do have a small generator that will run the fridge and freezer. We also have portable solar panels and an inverter that will run most of our electric appliances, and some flexible solar panels. For cooking over the fire, I have good camp ovens, small, medium and family size. I heat water on the fire too, and use it for drying herbs and bread. To keep the fire pit going we have lots of small bits of firewood we put aside all winter long, and we keep the bark that falls off for kindling. As we're coming into summer, firelighters will be on clearance , a good time to stock up. We have the solar oven for cooking in, and it doesn't need to be a 45 degree day for it to work. The other thing I've been working on is preserving more shelf stable food rather than relying on the freezers. Not quite cooking, but pressure canned meals can be eaten straight from the jar if necessary, no cooking required.

    1. Dear Cath, I think canned meals are a wonderful option. Full of goodness, just heat up. The solar oven was a great suggestion thank you! With love Annabel.xxx

  6. My goodness, I just found out you were doing this daily prep information. This is fantastic!!
    We have a wood burning stove with an oven and a whole house generator. In addition, we have a camp stove with burners and an oven that runs on propane. In case of family needing some lodging or a way to cook, we are blessed with two kitchens ( two stoves).
    Many blessings to all Bluebirds.
    Love and hugs, Glenda

    1. Thanks Glenda. I thought it was the time.
      You are well set up. I like back ups to the back ups! xxx

  7. Wooohoo! Congrats on the tractor.
    My husband and I love to cook meals in a cast iron dutch oven. Fall or early Spring is a good time to use this method of outdoor cooking. You build a pit of hot burning coals (of wood and charcoal). Then fill your dutch oven with your meal. We love potatoes cut in chunks and sliced onions with chicken cut in pieces on top. Add favorite seasonings. Set dutch oven into coals with lid on. Cover lid with some coals. We sit around the fire and chat. Check in 20 minutes. Make sure juices run clear and there is no pink in the meat. I bakes that fast! And that's with a whole chicken cut up. Such a lovely meal! Serve with salad.
    Blessings to all!

    1. Thank you Leslie, I think this sounds fantastic! Also like with a slow cooker all the goodness is kept in the pot. Yum!

  8. Another good post, Annabel!

    We are in our 70s and we're keepin' it simple. I have a natural gas range with electronic ignition. If the electricity goes out, the igniter doesn't work, but you can light the burners (but not the oven) with a match. This is also true of gas ranges that operate on propane (LP) gas. It's a good idea to keep your propane tank topped up (especially in winter) so you always have fuel. A full tank is a good thing even if the power isn't out! I'm assuming that in an emergency, a fuel delivery would be next to impossible (or impossible) to get. Natural gas, of course, just keeps flowing through the pipes.

    We have had a two-burner propane camp stove for about 40 years. In the past, when I had an electric range and the power went out, I have set the stove right on top of the range to cook. Camp stoves operate on little bottles of propane that you can buy anywhere. However, the little bottles only last a couple of days. If you want to be sure of having enough fuel, you can convert your stove to operate on a 5 gallon tank, which can be refilled. Other types of camp stoves operate on Coleman fuel, which is sold by the gallon. These stoves rely on an air/fuel mix and are finicky to use. I'd use one if that's all I had, but if I were buying one, it would be propane. When we sold our camping equipment, I kept the camp stove in case anyone needed to borrow it.

    I would be able to use my regular pots and pans whether cooking with natural gas or propane. However, those finicky stoves mentioned above will leave a lot of soot on the pan if the air mixture isn't quite right. One pan you might not have that would be handy would be a pressure cooker, because it cooks quickly and saves fuel. They are quite cheap and you can probably find one at a thrift store (op shop) if you keep your eyes open. Instruction manuals are online and you can buy parts at most hardware stores.

    On to another topic--that is one bee-yoo-tiful John Deere! When my son was little--he's 43 now--he was obsessed with John Deere! He had a bunch of the scale model cast aluminum toys and even the cast aluminum pedal tractor. He played with them for years. I saved them for my grandchildren, which unfortunately I never got. Every time we moved, at least one mover would try to talk me out of the pedal tractor! (They didn't know about the scale models, LOL). When we downsized and moved 3 years ago, I finally gave them to a friend who lived in the country and had 6- and 8-year-old boys. Now their baby brother is just growing into the pedal tractor. As they say, "Nothing runs like a Deere!" (And that's the truth--congratulations on yours).

    1. Maxine thank you! I love how your son loved John Deere! So nice the pedal tractor is back in use too!
      You have great tips thank you so much! We can all learn so much from our collective experiences! xxx

  9. I am very impressed with your ways of cooking, Annabel. What terrific preparedness. We have a gas barbecue and we also have gas hot plates. A generator is a very good idea. Lots of love, Lily.

    1. Thanks Lily, I am glad you have your cooking back ups. So valuable! xxx

  10. I am very impressed with your ways of cooking, Annabel. What terrific preparedness. We have a gas barbecue and we also have gas hot plates. A generator is a very good idea. Lots of love, Lily.

  11. Great ideas Annabel. We used our BBQ to heat water and cook on after the earthquakes. We also keep plenty of emergency water supply that we rotate and use then restock. One thing to think about and it's not the most pretty subject,what to do if you cant use your toilet. My partner worked out how to line the hole in the ground and empty it when needed,with care. Are you able to dig a hole in the ground? A chemical toilet, like the ones used for camping could help some. What if you cant live in your house? Sorry if I'm jumping the gun here Annabel. Just some thoughts.

  12. I love the tip about the fire lighter (lint/toilet paper) what a great use for these things. I also read recently that you can save orange peels and dry them and use them as fire lighters, the oils in the skin light easily!

  13. Dear Annabel,
    this reply is my second attempt to today's topic. How opportune is your subject! Our electric oven gave up the ghost three weeks ago and because of the lockdown and not being able to work, I
    have been learning to use the outdoor bbq as an oven. I have enchiladas in there right now and was able to freeze two more meals as well. Score! It seems to be slower than a normal oven but it still cooks.We also have a fire pit and quite a lot of wood.
    Love your tractor and have tractor envy right now!
    Love Virginia

  14. Dear Annabel, because we camp a bit we have a lot of the things you mentioned. It's funny but just last week I started thinking about heating up water and thinking - well I have three big pots but I probably should keep an eye out for another one at the opp shops because as you say if the power was off for a few weeks it would be good to have water sitting on wood stove type options all day. Like Ginger above, we have a travel pot that you put hot water in and the food cooks over a few hours. I must pull that out - thanks Ginger. My husband has made two cookers out of old hot water cylinders over the last year, these cylinders were free - friends were discarding. One is in his shed to heat it - he put grill plates on the top so he can cook sausages and steaks on it, the other one he made into a smoker and works by burning wood. He has become really good at smoking meat. I am very grateful for all the above. The time for thinking this all through is now. Thankyou for prompting us. I am also enjoying reading everyone's comments/suggestions. Have a good weekend everyone. Love Clare

  15. We pulled out the stainless steel drum from our last washing machine to use as a quick fire pit as it is safe with the drainage holes giving air flow but not letting coals fall out. A bit of mesh like a cake rack across the top or reo mesh to hold up the cooking pots will work well. It's portable too and can be stored out of sight when not needed. We collect kindling when we walk the dogs as we have a slow combustion heater and kindling is a welcome gift to others with similar heaters. Pine cones are great fire starters if they are well dried as are pine needles.

  16. This is a great post Annabel.

    I think we have most things covered here. Living the simple life means we are able to cope okay in tough times.

    We can cook outside if necessary, have solar power with batteries to run lights, also a big generator that is set up to connect the house should the power go out. We have purchased a couple more big rain water tanks, so no shortage of water here. Even with our low rainfall, most of the tanks are almost full.

    We have alternative methods to cook, a firepit like the one Kate mentioned above, outside bbq, pizza oven that can be used for far more than pizzas, also outside is a little cute gas stove from the 50's that was my mums, a caravan, camper trailer which is well set out for camping so can use that around home also.

    Most gas bottles have been filled, just need to get some more diesel to keep on hand for the generator, and I have reminded Phil to do that. I am getting the veggie garden back up and running. I have heaps of strawberries, garlic and beetroot coming along. We have chooks, honey bees, and I have stocked up on flour and other essentials. The freezers are mostly full of food that I am working my way through.

    Now is the time to find cheap full-filling meals to prepare, so I have been going over old cookbooks and newer versions looking for ideas. As we don't eat meat, it doesn't cost a lot to feed us. I just replace meat with a protein equivalent of beans, grains, lentils, organic tofu or tempeh.

    I am enjoying this series so far, so many ideas from you and all the other bluebirds as well. Keep up the great work!

    Enjoy your weekend,
    Love Tania xxx

  17. With all sources of light and heat that use combustion(flame) it is a very good idea to have a fire extinguisher or two. If you live far from town this is even more important. Putting out a small fire quickly could save your house and family. In our area the fire department says that the majority of house fires are because of candles. -Kathryn, Washington State

  18. Dear Annabel, I have been reading your blog faithfully, but not commenting as I'm normally on a mobile device which for some reason prevents my comments from posting. Today, I'm using a laptop and wanted to comment about the challenge you are doing and where I am so far. I love that you are doing this - thank you! For Day #1 I did make copies of the cards in my wallet and have them stored safely away. Great idea! For Day #2 I checked both freezer and pantry and I have homemade chicken and beef broth, cooked chicken, plus also several options of commercially precooked freezer foods such as sweet and sour chicken, cooked kielbasa, so on with other basically heat and eat options. In the pantry, I have cans and cans of chicken, tuna and salmon plus shelf stable ham and canned soups etc. For Day #3 I did a thorough inventory of lighting and found I had far more candles than I even thought I did, plus I have 3 oil lamps with lamp oil and an extra wick, flashlights with batteries for each size, a battery operated lantern, and plenty of matches and several long lighters including two brand new ones. For Day #4 we are similar to you in the cooking options regard. We own a generator, but don't have fuel stored as much as you do. We have a wood burning stove with plenty of fire wood cut so we can cook on that, and a gas grill with an extra propane tank. I just bought a cast iron tea kettle because tea is really important to me and I want to not have to fire up the generator just to heat water for tea. Power outages are the thing we are generally most prepared for because they are not uncommon here during winter storms. In summary, you can see how much you have helped me over the years in being prepared! Thank you.

    Also, while I was at it I went through all of our first aid supplies because they are in the same closet as my candles and batteries are. These supplies are very well organized now, I only have to purchase a couple of items for the portable first aid kit. I also bought a fold out pamphlet of first aid instructions to have in case we can't call for help. Plus, I checked out my essential oil supplies which I too consider part of my medical supplies and placed an order with Hopewell Oils for what I need. I did a cursory look at prescription and OTC medicines and will go into that more this week or next.

    It seems like every country has some form of chaos going on right now, so this is a timely challenge for us all. You are a blessing to so many my friend. CarlaM

  19. Hi Annabel,
    I'm a bit late joining the challenge but I've added my week's recap over on my blog:
    Thank you so much for inspiring us to come together to benefit our homes and our families. We all have so much to share and to learn from each other and I love reading all the other comments.
    Thanks again,

  20. Just finished reading this week's preparedness challenges. I gathered so many good ideas and inspiration from you and all the readers who took time to comment. On the convenience meal day I shared links from my own blog that involves what is called 'Shoe Box Meals' info gleaned from a vintage magazine.
    I'm behind on all challenges, not reading until Saturday but I now have a lot of things to work on for next week while you jot out the next challenges for us all.
    We live in a mobile home which is typically all electric. Our first winter here we had back to back ice storms over two or three weekends. The challenge with electric flickering on and off was how do we keep warm and cook? I gathered blankets and heated drinks to keep in thermoses and rushed cooking as much as I could and then packed boiling foods well wrapped into coolers and insulated bags. It worked...but it made me wary of how we'd manage in future! I lobbied for and got a ventless propane heater hung on a wall well away from curtains in our living room. Our house is open planned but that heater will keep us warm enough even in the further reaches of the house thanks to that open plan! I also purchased a non electronic ignition (but it does have an automatic ignition) gas stove. Now we've lived through hurricanes that made landfall and came across our property from the gulf on their way to the Atlantic coast, and snow storms and we've lost power but we never worry about how to stay warm nor how we'll cook meals. We need to get a second generator so we can keep freezer going but we do have one small one...just no extra supply of gas. I"m lobbying that my husband gets a small gas tank to keep here on the property (25-50 gallons size) as the generator will be useless without gasoline to run it but so far I've made no headway. I think he's just not thought that far ahead...
    I will add to make sure one has alternative ways of making coffee. I have a stove top percolator and I have a tea kettle that goes on top of stove. I keep bulk coffee and tea on hand for ease in making hot beverages.

  21. I have purchased extra batteries, and discovered that the head flashlamps are rechargeable and can be plugged into the phone charger in the car if necessary. I love the solar lamp ideas but they only work if you get enough sunshine hours, which we certainly don’t in the winter, and in the summer, we hardly get dark😉.
    I have made a list of recipes that I will make to freeze, written a list of the few things I will need to buy to make them and started the purchasing of these extra ingredients. I also invested in four glass family serving sized freezer to oven-safe cooking and storage dishes with snap on lids. These can be baked in , frozen and then the contents can be removed and wrapped, and later be defrosted in the same dish and reheated in it too.
    Our newspapers are reporting a shortage of chicken in the stores; they report that so many more people have been cooking at home over the last year that the chicken farms haven’t been able to raise enough birds. I haven’t noticed a shortage personally, but I made sure to add plenty to my freezer today, just in case.
    With regards to cooking, we have a gas cooktop and keep plenty of large bottles of gas on hand ( several months supply). We have a gas bbq too, and a wood burning stove in the sitting room, which I could use to heat water. We have plenty of wood, cut and stacked.
    Someone else mentioned that they had a special wrap to “slow cook” a casserole in. I can recommend the old fashioned hay box, which does the same thing.

  22. Thank you Annabel! These are all things we have been working on which is great! I love the idea of book lights and will order some of those. We recently bought some solar lights which are flat ones designed to be added to decking but these had the highest lumens so will be great for inside. Another tip is to buy refillable lighters and butane. For cooking we have a gas stove, BBQ, and camping stove. I am looking at building a rocket stove, you can make one easily with bricks. I also bought a cast iron pan for cooking which was $12 at Kmart. I do need to buy some other pots for fire cooking. xx

  23. Hi Annabel & Bluebirds.
    Thankyou for this series Annabel. It is a good refresher to have.
    If you have a gas stove, I know that you can light them in other ways if the power goes out. If that happens, there may be no gas getting pumped through the mains because the pumping network may also be affected by loss of power. There is also the possibility of the network suffering damage to to weather disasters or Accidents. This has happened to us when pipes have been ruptured . Luckily we had a combi-microwave and a gas BBQ but no gas heating for about 2 weeks.

  24. I think we are fixed up with quite a few options for cooking and baking and boiling water. We have a camp stove with butane canisters, a sun oven (we have used it for cooking and baking), braizer, firepit, firebox, Trangia alcohol stove, Optimus 8R gas stove, propane stove, fireplace, Russian samovars (for boiling water) and a Jackery for powering an electric kettle and electric frypan.

  25. Cooking: We have a propane grill. We live in the country and have plenty of wood so I could use my cast iron over a fire pit. I hope to get a pressure canner soon to can meat, that will just need to be heater (or not). We have heated soup over our kerosene heater. If the worst came, I would concentrate on cooking one big meal per day and eating room temp the others.
    Your tractor is much bigger than I was expecting! We are a JD family. What model is yours?

  26. Good afternoon Bluebirds ~ I think a Jaffle is what we call a pie iron here in the states. Very handy for making toasties or even jam tarts with soft bread round the fire. Yum! Thank you Annabel for the updates on Chloe. Sending her lots of love and prayers for a safe delivery. God bless you all, and I know Grandpa Andy will be watching over from above. Love, Donna xxx


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