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Survival Outdoor Cooking in Urban or Rural Situations – Part I

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eating vegetables

Whether in the great outdoors or hanging around the house, in good times and bad, you and your family need to eat.

Yes, you can survive longer without food than without water. But, I can tell you, your mind starts focusing more on your belly button scratching your backbone than anything else.

Plus, if you have kids, you have the double challenge of those little loved ones not being able to last as long without sustenance as you can.

So, how would you provide food if a disaster cuts off your electricity and/or gas supplies? What if you somehow found yourself stuck away from civilization and unable to get to a town easily? What if you also forgot to refill the fuel in your camp stove?

Below, you’ll find a few good suggestions from the many options available, but everyone has to determine their course of action for their own survival situation.

Be safe. Many burns have resulted from kids tripping and falling into fires. Don’t turn a minor survival situation into a major one by being unsafe with fire and fumes. Open flame should be outdoors, and don’t run gas-fueled stoves indoors. Don’t build fires in unapproved and unventilated areas of your home. Watch that embers don’t start a fire somewhere unintended.

A key principle in survival is to try to expend the least amount of effort. If you can’t cook at your house but your neighbor can and is willing to share, why start building a fire pit in your back yard?

Come Fry With Me

Fry on a Rock

Did you know that you can make a frying pan out of a rock? Yep. I’ve seen this done in several deserts.

Find a flat and thin rock. I don’t know the geology behind this, but I’ve seen these a lot in rocky desert areas. Build a fire pit and prop the flat rock over part of it with other rocks. Clean off the cooking surface to remove much of the grit and dirt, and start your fire. Fry away!

Fry on a 55-Gallon Drum

Here’s a method I’ve seen used in quite a few countries. It’s simple, effective, and can be used to fry or boil food.

Take a large metal drum container and stand it up so one of the flat ends is on the ground and the other is sitting up like a stove top. Cut holes around the bottom for ventilation and an open space near the bottom into which you can keep loading the wood, coal, or other flammables for the fire.

Here’s a reminder not to play around with gasoline in making fires. The fumes can be flammable and catch particles in your clothes on fire. Don’t believe me? Check out the National Gasoline Safety Project.

You can set this on a circle of rocks, build a fire underneath, and start cooking as well as warming yourself nicely.

A Flat Piece of Steel

A simple idea. Rest it on top of the rocks around your fire pit: a technique used around the world.

boiling with coconut


You can boil food in a metal container, section of bamboo, rock with a hole in it, hollowed-out piece of wood, turtle shell, coconut shell, seashell, and even a hole in the ground. When I was a kid, improvised campfire cooking often involved cooking food in the can. However, a lot has been said about what can get into your food from cans, so I don’t do that anymore.

Obviously, you can hang a pot over a fire or place a pot or pan against/over a fire, but what if you don’t have a pot or pan? The answer: use rocks.

By heating rocks in a fire, you have the ability to move them into any kind of receptacle, such as a large hole in a rock or a hollowed out piece of wood, that wouldn’t hang over a fire. As they cool, put them back in the fire and replace them with others that have been heating.

Here’s where I should give the usual warning: in case you don’t know, you shouldn’t place wet, porous, slate, soft, hollow-sounding, flaking, or river rocks in fires. The water in them expands faster than the rock, and they explode. Seriously. These things can even be fatal.

And how do you make a pot out of the ground? Scoop out the hole, line it with leaves or other waterproof material, fill it with water, and drop in hot rocks. A note from experience: There are easier options. It can be kind of a hassle and take a lot of leaves to make it waterproof and, if you use a plastic liner, try to arrange a grill or some rocks along the bottom so that the hot rocks you drop in don’t break the seal. Still, if it’s what you need to cook, it’s an option.

Happy Eating!

In Part Two of this article, we will examine baking, grilling, and roasting.

© 2013 Mark Dorr, All Rights Reserved

References & Image Credits:
(1) Wikimedia: Eating Vegetables
(2) Wikimedia: Coconut Shell

Originally published on

“The thing about the truth is, not a lot of people can handle it.” -Conor McGregor

Top Secret Editors

Ryan is the founder of Top Secret Writers. He is an IT analyst, blogger, journalist, and a researcher for the truth behind strange stories.
Lori is TSW's editor. Freelance writer and editor for over 17 years, she loves to read and loves fringe science and conspiracy theory.

Top Secret Writers

Gabrielle is a journalist who finds strange stories the media misses, and enlightens readers about news they never knew existed.
Sally is TSW’s health/environmental expert. As a blogger/organic gardener, she’s investigates critical environmental issues.
Mark Dorr grew up the son of a treasure hunter. His experiences led to working internationally in some surprising situations!
Mark R. Whittington, from Houston, Texas, frequently writes on space, science, political commentary and political culture.

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