This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I'll earn a small fee at no extra cost to you.*
Almost every major disaster results in thousands of homeless people. Their homes get flooded or destroyed, or their neighborhood is evacuated. In situations like this, churches and emergency shelters are often filled to capacity. And even if they aren’t, they can be unsafe (think of the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina). This means a lot of people end up living in their cars or even on the street.
Trying to cook food in situations like this is substantially different from cooking in everyday life. Fortunately, there are still a variety of cooking options available. In this article, you’ll learn about a variety of ways to cook food if don’t have access to a kitchen. You’ll find that the methods for cooking in an urban survival scenario aren’t all that different from using a stove or grill, just with different materials that can serve the same functions.
If you are in an urban environment but can’t make it back home, have had your home destroyed, or are living in an urban post-apocalyptic world, then the information here will be especially valuable. Here, then, are 8 ways to cook food if you end up homeless.
1. Flat Rock/Metal Method – This is an urban take on the flat rock method which has been used for hundreds of years by native peoples around the world. In the original method, you find a large flat rock, wash it off, and prop it up with sticks or other rocks over a fire. The rock will become extremely hot over the course of a few hours, and will essentially become a natural frying pan. When you’re in an urban environment and can’t find any large rocks, you can use other materials such as a flat piece of metal or a large brick.
2. Boiling Method – Boiling food is among the safest and most effective methods to cook food in any survival situation. This method is also equally achievable in a rural or an urban environment. All you need is a bowl or cup that won’t melt over a fire, then after boiling the water for at least 3 minutes (both to purify it and to get it to the right temperature), you can add your food and cook it until it’s finished. Many survival experts recommend the boiling method as the first method you should turn to in a survival scenario.
3. Fire Roasting Method – This is another effective cooking method that can be achieved in a rural or urban environment. It’s very straightforward: Simply get a fire going, impale your food on a stick or a pole, and hold it over the fire. Most of us should have at least some familiarity with this method from camping trips. Simply keep the food turning until it’s finished. Just be careful not to let the fire burn through your stick or the food could fall into the fire and be ruined. In that regard, your consistent attention is required for fire roasting, which means it’s not ideal if you like to multitask.
4. Brick Oven Method – The brick oven method is essentially an urban spin on the rock oven method which has been used for hundreds if not thousands of years in the wilderness. For this method, you need enough bricks to create a rectangular structure with an opening that faces the fire. Fill up any holes in the structure with dirt and mud, then set your food just under the opening to the structure. Add or take away fuel from the fire to control the temperature.
5. Dutch Oven Method – For this method you’ll need a fire, a metal pot, some sticks, and some wire to suspend the pot on the sticks above the fire. Metal clothes hangers are great for this. The Dutch oven method is easily the best method for cooking soups, stews, or hot drinks. However, it’s less than ideal for roasting meat or vegetables.
6. Fireplace Method – Do you have access to a fireplace? It’s often the only thing left standing when a home is destroyed. If so, it’s a great place to cook food. Not only can you use a fireplace for the fire roasting method, but many people who have been trapped in their homes in a disaster have wrapped food in aluminum foil and left them in the fireplace for a while to cook.
7. Rocket Stove Method – The rocket stove method is a classic method among survivalists. It requires more resources and time to build than the other methods on this list, but it’s quite effective. You can make it out of bricks or cinder blocks. Simply set a flat piece of brick on the bottom, then create a chimney-like structure out of more bricks or cinder blocks. At the bottom of the chimney, leave one side open so you can feed fuel into the fire. The heat will be transferred from the fire up the chimney to cook your food. At the top, use some little pieces of brick or metal to separate the flame from the bottom of the pan or pot. Here’s a video with more information.
8. Shopping Cart Grill Method – To use the shopping cart grill method, elevate one side of the shopping cart (it doesn’t matter which side) over a fire and place vegetables or strips of meat over it to grill the food just like you would on a grill at home. It’s highly recommended that you clean the shopping cart first since you don’t know where it’s been. Update: A reader pointed out that shopping carts are coated with toxic paint, so this method should only be used as a last resort. And even then, you’ll want to use a frying pan or something.