Last summer I did a test cooking one meal a day, usually the evening meal on the propane grill. I figured I cooked at least 90 days worth “dinners” on the grill from May through September and used two, 15 pound tanks you get at the local mega-mart. This was a great test for cooking as I have baseline of how much fuel is needed to cook at least one hot meal per day for at least three months.A major bonus to cooking outside in summer is you don’t heat up your house which saves on your cooling bill.
I replaced the propane tanks today at Lowe’s on sale for $15.00 each. This summer’s grilled dinners, will be about $30.00, a bargain even without the savings on cooling costs. I’m using an older Weber model 310 gas grill I got at a yard sale for $15.00. I have a smoker and a charcoal grill with about 200 pounds of Mesquite lump Charcoal for BBQ. While you may not want to grill during the “Zombie Apocalypse” because of the unique aroma of outdoor cooking. My little test proves you can store a couple of propane tanks and cook at least one hot meal per day of real food.
I like propane as a backup fuel for heat and cooking as camp stoves and Mr. Buddy heaters are relatively inexpensive and the Mr. Buddy heaters are fairly safe and efficient heaters to use if your main heating system is out because of a disaster. I did not run my Mr. Buddy heaters while asleep and only used them to get the house warm in the morning and run intermittently through the day if the house got below about 62 degrees F. in my winter tests at 0 degrees F. and 20 degrees F. for a daytime high. If your home is well insulated and you use the Mr. Buddy heater to warm it to 65-68 Degrees F. your home should maintain at least 45-50 degrees F. in the morning. A little brisk to wake up too, but no freezing pipes in the house. On average I used about two 1 pound tanks per day or a 15 pound tank over 5-6 days using a Mr. Buddy heater during my tests and that was heating about 1000 square feet of my 1200 square foot home as I shut off the extra rooms during the test. As a guesstimate for any “minor disaster” lasting two weeks to a month, depending on your climate and season 4-6 propane tanks should be enough for both cooking and heating. Bonus: you will have a great camping or tailgating setup for the summer and fall!
I know a large portion of the country is still dealing with a late spring snow fall, but now is the time to get your off-grid solutions for summer cooling setup and ready to go. I live in high desert with very low humidity, so misters and fans along with small(5000 BTU) window air conditioners keep my home comfortable. I don’t know that much about staying cool in a high humidity climate, other than try and do work in the cool of the day and cook outside to keep any heat build up in the house as low as possible. I have added a big three gallon waterer for the pets and the chickens in the back yard and I have a great battery powered mister/water pump and fan that runs on a Ryobi 18 volt battery that worked great last year for cooling the backyard patio and the chickens in 95 degree F. + heat. The fans are a little pricey at $80.00 but the fan works great for evaporation type cooling off the grid.
I don’t think you have to practice being miserable. If you do your test correctly misery will happen on it’s own and all you have to do is adapt to the new misery level. I’m not preparing or becoming self-reliant because I want to be miserable if the SHTF. I want to be somewhat comfortable, safe and know were my next meal of “real” food is coming from and how it is cooked. I want to know my water is safe to drink and the only way I know how to do that is to do the work myself as I don’t trust the PTBs.
I want to know I can cook a meal, stay warm in winter and cool in summer without depending on the local utility company for all my power, or hope the local Mega-mart got in a shipment in the last week. I will never be totally self-reliant but, I can keep working on being as self-reliant as possible everyday.