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How to Cook Without Power

A lack of power is a common problem, even now in the modern age. Sometimes it’s due to a storm, sometimes its a hurricane, sometimes you’re simply not home. Regardless of the reason, here are some ways to adjust your cooking and eating habits to fit situations with no stove, no fridge, and limited water.

Cooking Time
The time and temperature to cook food vary based on the food being prepared. Beef needs to reach 160 degrees Fahrenheit, while poultry needs 165 degrees. Be sure to use a thermometer to check that the food is done. This will help reduce the chance of illness. If fuel is limited, consider quick-to-cook food, or no-cook food.

Only prepare the amount of food needed for a single meal. Milk, cooked meat, soups, pasta, and vegetables will become ripe for disease-inducing organisms after 2 hours at room temperature.

Cooking Methods
Fireplaces make for simple yet effective cooking methods. Food wrapped in foil can be cooked thoroughly and completely, and burnable resourced include wood, paper, and charcoal. Camp stoves are another popular option. Fueled by propane and butane, they allow for a more controlled cooking. Fuel is more limited, however, and propane/butane fires are much harder to extinguish if things get out of hand. Even then, this remains to be the safest indoor option.Charcoal grills can cook foil wrapped food quickly and efficiently, with minimal flame exposure. Ensure proper ventilation to prevent CO2 poisoning.

No-Cook Food
Not all food needs to be cooked. Canned meats, sandwiches, and fresh fruit make for good meals without cooking. Be sure to discard any leftovers if you are unable to put in a cooler of ice. Even then, the cooler will lose its effectiveness after 24 hours.

Cleaning and Food Safety
With limited water, knowing proper cleaning procedure is important to preserving your supplies while still keeping things sanitary. Wash hands with warm water (heating the water with the above cooking methods) and soap for 20 seconds before and after food handling, touching pets, and changing diapers. Bottled water will do if running water is not available.

Wash any and all food surfaces and utensils with hot soapy water before and after preparing food, this is where most food poisoning takes place.

With the natural disasters taking place on the coasts, this information might be what makes a difference between “surviving” and “struggling.”


Source: University of Minnesota

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