I recently read a comment from a viewer that made me smile. She was watching our canning beans video and simply wondered if I ever cook on the propane stove I have in my kitchen. Her question made me happy because it validated what I have been trying to do in learning to be self-sufficient. Propane is an excellent cooking fuel for off grid living because it is so easy to cook with and of course does not require any connection to the electrical grid! Because of this, I use my propane stove frequently. Its one drawback is that we have to purchase propane! For this reason, I try to cook with our homestead resources as much as possible. Self-sufficiency is one of our primary homesteading goals, so you will often find me cooking with many of our other cooking sources. I have a lot to choose from.
1. Hotpointe Propane Stove
We purchased this stove for the sole purpose that it requires no electricity to operate. Most gas stoves have additional electric parts like clocks, timers, and digital thermometers. This stove has no fancy stuff, but it does what you expect a stove to do: cook! The spark to ignite the burners and oven flame is provided by a 9-volt battery. It requires absolutely no electrical connection.
2. Wood Pizza Oven
My husband and father built this impressive structure last summer. As its name suggests, it is designed specifically for cooking pizza. If you have never tasted authentic wood fired pizza, you are missing out! It is the most delicious pizza you will ever eat. We have used the oven several times for pizza, but we also use it for baking other things. Recently, we roasted three of our homestead raised chickens. The drawback to using this oven is that it takes some planning ahead. The fire needs to be started about two hours before cooking time and fed periodically. Thankfully, my husband takes on this task while I’m doing the dinner prep work inside. He usually plants a camp chair next to it and uses his phone to research his latest homesteading interest. We featured our pizza oven in Season 1. You can watch the video here.
3. Wood Stove
This is my cooking method of choice during the colder months of the year. It is a heat stove and not a cookstove, but I am able to cook on it anyway. As long as I have a fire going to heat our home, I am cooking on and inside our wood stove. For more information and detailed tips, see “How to Cook on a Wood Stove.”
4. BBQ Grill
Most people have a backyard grill. Its an excellent way to start learning to cook with wood. We have a simple Weber grill and my husband is the grill master. I never knew how delicious steak could be until I tasted it from his grill. He uses a chimney to get the fire going and a natural charcoal and firewood mix to provide a delicious smokey flavor. When we have the grill going, I cook with it too. Cast iron is my cookware of choice because it transitions between all my cooking sources.
5. Outdoor Fire Pit
This is what you will see me using when I am canning. We designed it for that purpose and it gets used frequently during the summer and early fall. We built it using concrete block, re-bar, and a grate from a salvage yard. It has a very large cooking area, perfect for my huge All American canner which is much too big for my stove inside. For more information, see “10 Tips for Canning Over a Wood Fire” and “16 Tips for Pressure Canning Over a Wood Fire.”
6. Rocket Stove
Rocket stoves are becoming really popular today! You can find many design plans online. Most of them are very quick and easy to put together because they are made from concrete block. Ours is a two burner version and we built it on the back of our outdoor fire pit. The nice thing about rocket stoves is that they use wood, but can be started pretty easily because they don’t require lots of time to heat up. Most recently, we used ours to collect the juice from the gallons upon gallons of fruit we harvested from our persimmon trees in the fall.
7. Solar Dehydrator
My dad just completed our very own homestead solar dehydrator. It was his design, but he recycled the storm door from my house and let me choose the color. Isn’t it pretty?! Last summer, we dehydrated our garden produce using the dash of our car, but this summer our foods will dehydrate in style. Look for it in a future video. We plan to feature it in Season 2.
8. Solar Oven
We have a Sport Solar Oven. It has seen limited use because of all our other cooking methods, but I’m grateful to have it and plan to experiment more with it over the summer. I love that it came with it’s own enamelware pots! I’m interested in experimenting with this quintessential camping cookware. I also love that the entire unit is compact and very light, making it easy to move and set up.
9. Hay Box
In the summer, I use an old-fashioned concept called a hay box. I have also heard it referred to as a wonder oven. It is a great slow cooker! I place my food in a dutch oven (or other pot with a lid) and bring the contents to a full boil on the stove. I place the lid on and put it inside a cooler that is stuffed with insulation. I use old towels and blankets on the bottom, sides, and on top of the pot before I close the lid of the cooler. The insulation will retain the heat and the food will slow cook all day. It requires much less energy to heat the pot to boiling than it does to allow it to simmer all day. Not only can I save energy, but I’m not adding extra heat to my house in the summer.
We recently had a large propane tank installed behind our house. It holds 350 gallons. At our current rate of use, this will take us 2 1/2 years to use. That’s pretty good, considering that we also frequently use it for heating water to wash dishes and take showers! It makes me proud of my hard work in learning how to cook in other ways. And honestly, it does take more work and some practice. But it is so rewarding to know that the fuel I have used to cook my meal comes from a resource that is readily available and free.
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Hi Jamie, I am really enjoying watching your videos, you are such a rereshing change in relation to the mindless shows on these days. Your husband is really interesting and has a nice personality. We are making easy changes to become less dependent on everything. Planning to have a garden this spring. I hope I can keep up with the canning. It will take some real planning I’m sure. BTW the healthy lifestyle is agreeing with you, your skin is perfect. Keep the home videos coming please.
I have never heard of the hay box! That is such a great idea and I’m going to have to try that now! We still live on the grid as of right now but we are working toward going completely off grid as soon as we are able. I actually do most of my cooking outside on a wood burning grill my husband set up for me because I don’t have a stove to cook on. The only cooking sources I have in our home is a hot plate and a toaster oven because our kitchen is too small to fit a stove. I mostly admire your pizza oven and I watched the video ya’ll did on that and I seriously want one hahaha. I do a lot of canning which is almost impossible to do on a hot plate! My husband took a look at your canning set up and and he is wanting to set something like that up for me to do my canning on. I loved the article as usual. Keep up the great work and thank you for being an inspiration!
I was wondering if you guys considered a “Perfection Kerosene Cook-Stove” like that sold by Lehman’s at any point? If you did were there any reasons you did or did not consider it? I am a single parent and I like kerosene for reasons of convenience over using propane.
When baking pizza in the pizza oven, does the crust go directly on the bottom of the pizza oven (sit on top of the firebrick)?
I’m so glad to see that you have a solar oven. I have the same brand here at my home. We have used it for 2 years now. I like to think of it as my outdoor crock-pot.
I had tried most of these options except the hay box. Thank you so much for sharing, as we are still experimenting with our off grid cooking options and this will give me something new to try!
I do love self sufficiency and wish I could do much more than I do now. I wish I could harvest water, use solar energy and all that. I do remember using wood to cook when we were younger. It was hard work getting the wood, our eyes watered and we smelled of smoke so to be honest, I like cooking indoors. I’ve been inspired though by your article.
For a smaller version of the hay box, y’all could try a Wonderbag – you can get them on Amazon, I think – it’s the same concept. You heat your food on the stove top for 5-10 minutes, then seal it in this superinsulated bag and it continues to slow cook all day.
Another off-grid cooking tool we use every.single.day is a blackstone propane griddle. We actually have 2 now, a medium and a large, so we can cook two kinds of food at once, like 36 scrambled eggs on the big one and 2 pounds of bacon on the medium, all at the same time, (we are a very large family!) , all outside (so my house doesn’t get hot!), and no electricity needed. Just a AA-battery to light the spark.
Blessings! Love watching your show.
My grandparents used the haybox as well, only in a flatter Dutch oven (And we are Dutch, only never knew that the gietijzer pans were called that way!)
The only difference is that my grandparents literally put the haybox to bed, under the duvet. In winter the bed stays warm and the food is cooked!