When disaster strikes, be it long or short-term, keeping the food coming is going to take high priority for any prepper. Calories are quite literally the fuel that working bodies will require if they are going to keep putting in the work required for survival!
Accordingly, preppers spend an awful lot of time and a not inconsiderable amount of money stockpiling various survival-centric foods for the occasion, should it occur.
However, most of these plans are bug out-centric in nature, meaning that the tacit assumption of evacuation or fleeing into the wilderness, or some other remote refuge is assumed as a certainty, or at least very likely.
But, as it turns out, there are plenty of major events that could result in a long- or indefinite-term survival situation that will require you to bug in at your own home- only you’ll likely be doing it without benefit of electricity.
In such a scenario you will still be preparing food in your own kitchen, most likely, even if you are relying on outdoor cooking solutions.
Therefore you’ll be in good shape and able to prepare meals much in the same way you always have if you have a reliable stash of kitchen items, gadgets and utensils that don’t rely on electricity to function.
Today we are bringing you a list of 25 such items that no prepper should consider bugging in without.
What Items Aren’t On This List
Before we get to the list proper, it might be illuminating to discuss what isn’t on the list, and why they are omitted.
First things first, I’m assuming that any functional kitchen will have things like table cutlery, and utensils like tongs, spatulas, ladles and so on and so forth.
If you don’t have those things, frankly, you shouldn’t be relying on a list like this to help you equip any kitchen, much less a post societal collapse kitchen! Consider such items mandatory in any case.
Next, you won’t find any fancy, novelty kitchen gadgets that perform one eccentric or incredibly specific function, even if they just so happen to not rely on electricity. These things are simply a waste of space and a waste of money.
You don’t need a hand carved artisanal herb and seasoning sprig stripper when you can just use your hand or the edge of a spoon on a cutting board to do the same thing.
You likewise don’t need a non-electric cast iron panini press if you just have a couple of plain cast iron skillets.
Everything that you’ll find on this list is basic in the way that most good tools should be, meaning they excel at one function but are capable of handling several other jobs depending on your requirements, or they are tools that do something that no other tool or apparatus can easily do.
All of them will save you time, effort and energy and that is something that any prepper can appreciate. With that said, time to get on to our list!
25 Kitchen Items That Do Not Need Electricity
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Cast Iron Skillet
This is one specialized, non-electric kitchen item that some of us already have, and a few of us might have been lucky enough to inherit from a grandparent.
Cast iron cookware is a love-it or hate-it item in kinder times: Some love it because of its versatility and the delicious crust it can help establish on foods, while others hate it for its supposedly fussy care and maintenance requirements, and tremendous weight.
All you need to know is that a cast iron skillet is just as at home on a modern cooktop as it is over a roaring campfire or bed of charcoal. In any setting, it will help you produce delicious, tasty food while serving as your adaptable, versatile mainstay.
Grill Pan / Griddle
A reversible grill pan and griddle is the heavyweight cousin to the classic cast iron skillet described above.
One side is a deeply ridged grill surface perfect for grilling or roasting meat and sturdy veggies, while the reverse is a flat, smooth griddle that is just begging to make a big breakfast of bacon and eggs or bake up a batch of cookies.
The beauty of the grill pan/griddle combo is that it affords a much larger surface for cooking, allowing you to prepare more food at once, thereby saving you fuel and reducing the effort and agitation of keeping multiple smaller skillets going.
These things are so big and heavy they also double as a handy melee weapon when you get attacked by raiders!
The Dutch oven is a piece of cookware that most serious campers already know and love, but even if you aren’t a super serious camper a Dutch oven still deserves a place in your off-grid kitchen arsenal, and will solidly round out your cast iron collection.
A Dutch oven is deep like a pot and features a matching, cast iron cover that is capable of evenly cooking food from above once it is preheated or has some charcoals piled upon it.
The Dutch oven works great for making cobblers, cakes, casseroles, stews and other dishes that are a bit too “extra” for a conventional skillet or even the mammoth surface of the griddle grill pan combo above.
Once again this is a piece of cookware that performs just as well at home in the stove as it will outside on a grill or over a fire.
No kitchen is complete without a proper chef’s knife, and that includes the post-apocalypse kitchen that we are preparing.
Some amateur cooks grab for the closest sharp implement at hand to do their crude shopping and slicing, but only the chef’s knife, in keeping with the spirit of this list, affords you the versatility for processing serious cuts of meat and the agility for handling more delicate tasks like peeling, dicing and mincing.
A proper chef’s knife will be made of high-grade steel, and will be able to accept a razor edge. A knife that is extremely sharp and stays sharp longer will save you a ton of effort and grief on maintenance and reduce the frequency of necessary sharpening over time.
Mixing bowls are always of vital importance in the kitchen, and you should have a selection of multiple sizes.
I mention them here because careful selection now might see your common, mundane mixing bowls be ready for double duty as vessels that you can use for cooking all on their own.
Consider investing in a variety of steel woks that can stand up to extreme temperatures and you will further be able to cut down on what cookware is required to prepare a meal.
For holding processed ingredients or even gathering fresh produce you’ll always have need for the handy container that is a mixing bowl in your kitchen.
It is the rare household in America that does not rely on the ever-ready dishwasher for cleaning up the mess after meal time.
But, unlike a gas stove which can continue to function after the power is out, your dishwasher is history for the duration, and even if you have a generator or other off-grid power supply it is a poor use of those resources.
Sadly, this means you’ll be going back to washing dishes the old fashioned way, by hand, and that means you’ll need a drain board to “ride shotgun” on your sink and help you properly handle and dry the dishes you are washing.
Mortar and Pestle
One milestone for preppers and homesteaders alike is the establishment of a garden, and among the first things that a beginning gardener tries to grow is a variety of herbs and spices.
Considering you will likely not be able to dash down to your local grocery store and purchase these pre-dried, pre-ground spices yourself you’ll need a way to reduce them to a usable form and for this task the mortar and pestle is an ancient but still entirely viable option.
Typically made of stone but sometimes encountered in an earthwear or metal format, using the two together will quickly allow you to reduce herbs, spices and other dried goods into a consistency that is as coarse or as fine as you require.
A manual vegetable slicer is one of those gadgets that can save you so much time and effort you’ll wonder how you got along without it prior to its acquisition unless you have some serious knife skills already.
A good manual slicer will be made out of robust plastic, metal or even wood and feature blades that you can remove and hone yourself when they start to wear down. With a few flicks of the wrist, you can have a pile of vegetables or fruit ready for drying, preserving or cooking.
Some readers might think I am violating my loosely established rules for this list already with the inclusion of a vegetable peeler, but these devices have been around a lot longer than you might be thinking, and earlier iterations worked a lot better than the dinky, cheap versions we get saddled with at the grocery store.
Peelers might be hand tools or they might be countertop-clamping contraptions that rely on crank power, but what they will do is allow you to fly through the laborious chore of peeling fruits and veggies in seconds, once again saving you that most precious resource you’ll have a survival situation: Time.
Don’t forget to collect the peelings for inclusion in your backyard compost pile!
You might be surprised to learn how many preppers that rely on immense stockpiles of canned goods for their survival pantry but forget entirely the inclusion of a manually-powered can opener.
It is true that the electric countertop models we enjoy today are both fast, painless and extremely efficient but they won’t do you any good when the electricity runs out.
Make sure you include a hand cranked version that clamps onto the cans and also a variety of the older “spar” type manual can openers as epitomized by the U.S. military P38 and the one included in every Swiss army knife.
Take care when choosing the clamp-on crank type, as getting one with optimized gearing will mean you don’t have to struggle a bit to turn the knob even on the toughest cans.
French Press Coffee Maker
Most dedicated preppers will still be completely unwilling to go without their morning or evening cup of Joe despite the circumstances, and that means you’ll appreciate a convenient, tidy way to make coffee sans electricity.
Sure, you could make your coffee cowboy style by throwing grounds into a boiling pot of water, but then you would have to drink your coffee cowboy style; through clenched teeth so you can filter out the grounds!
Instead, enjoy a nice, traditional cup of coffee just like your drip coffee machine would make by utilizing a classic French press.
Simply pour some boiling water over your coffee grounds, give it a few minutes, and then depress the plunger to filter out the grounds from the freshly made coffee. A percolator is another option that might be worth consideration.
Can’t forget our tea lovers in the audience, and for making a perfect cup of tea a tea kettle will do the job while increasing convenience and safety.
Of course, you could always boil water in a pot or some other metal vessel, but handling that boiling water is always going to be risky business.
Decrease the likelihood of burning yourself and speed up the production of that perfect cup of tea by using a standard tea kettle. The whistle will help you save fuel also by notifying you when the water is ready to pour.
A hand chopper is not a medieval torture device, mercifully, but it is instead a star or spade shaped hand tool that is designed to be used in conjunction with a cutting board or mixing bowl.
With curved blades or projections designed to accommodate a rocking motion, a hand chopper can easily mash, dice or mince vegetables and fruits to the desired consistency and is a great way to save time and effort with your chef’s knife on the chopping block.
Different styles, shapes and sizes of hand chopper can accommodate any requirement for any dish.
Large and bulky colanders are a necessary evil when boiling noodles or other foods. Cut down on the bulk, increase convenience, and improve safety by using a snap-on strainer with your favorite cookware.
Simply pop it on to the pan, hot or cold, and pour off the water in the vessel with a better control all while keeping the food in the pan where it belongs.
No longer will you be handling the food more than you have to or risking it coming into contact with your (likely dirty) sink.
Just like Mom used to use. No kitchen is complete, and certainly no off-grid kitchen, without a good rolling pin.
Any kind of dough required for pastries, pies and other dishes will need to be smashed out to a uniform thickness. Keep your hands clean by using the one right tool for the job, and that is the rolling pin.
You can go with a modern synthetic version, the traditional wood version or an ultra fancy stone version, but whichever one you rely on make sure you keep them clean and lightly oiled.
It is far from out of the question that survivors living in the aftermath of a crisis in the near future will be growing their own grain or obtaining whole, harvested grain from local sources for their own use.
You won’t be able to do a thing with it until you process it into flour, and to do that you’ll need to mill it. Instead of relying upon large and laborious conventional meals, you can process just enough that you’ll need at one time or for a short-term supply using a hand mill.
Nice, intricate metal versions that stood or clamped onto a counter used to be a common sight in kitchens around the nation, but these ubiquitous devices have mostly been replaced by only a few inferior modern offerings.
Tool around at flea markets and antique shops and you can probably still locate the genuine article.
Aside from electricity, you’ll probably be able to rely on modern public water supplies going tits-up in the aftermath of a disaster.
If you are lucky enough to have well water you will hopefully be okay for a time, but otherwise you’ll have to go back to sourcing and gathering what water you’ll need for your daily life.
The need for water in a kitchen is constant, both for cooking and for washing produce and dishes alike.
You can still get good use out of your sink if you rig up an old school pitcher-style pump to pump water in from a reservoir located outside the house. You’ll have to use a little elbow grease, but it is a small price to pay for convenience in this case.
Hand Mixer / Egg Beater
Many will be the amateur and professional chef that has to wave goodbye to their fancy, overpriced kitchen aid stand mixer after the collapse. But the mixing must go on, and if you don’t want to wear out your wrist you’ll need to do better than a spoon and a bowl.
A hand-crank mixer is a manually powered version of an electric stand mixer that will do the same thing that you can do with a spoon only it will do it better and with less effort. For small jobs you might be able to use an old fashioned crank egg beater for the purpose.
The electric food processor will be another casualty of the collapse once the power grid goes down, and this is one of modern gadgets I will genuinely miss.
I use mine all the time for making smoothies, soup, dip, and other things. Thankfully, almost everything that uses electricity in our kitchen has been around for some time in a non-electric version, and the food processor, in the form of a crank grinder, is no different.
The classic meat grinder is probably the most notable and useful for those of us who still want our burgers and sausages, but other versions and attachments are optimized for processing vegetables and even fruits when the situation calls for it. Get a stand or counter-clamp version depending on your kitchen setup.
A fermenting crock is a large, typically earthenware container that is designed to create conditions where anaerobic bacteria can thrive, specifically bacteria of the type that can pickle foods, preserving them and yielding interesting flavors along with a lengthy shelf life.
You can use these novel kitchen additions to create everything from sauerkraut and kimchi to typical pickled vegetables and even kombucha.
Easy to use with a little know-how, these items are a worthy addition to any prepper kitchen, able to help you both prepare and preserve your food in one fell swoop.
Bread has long been the sustenance of the world, and a rite of passage for many cooks is learning how to make real-deal, homemade bread themselves.
And as most cooks learn, kneading and resting and kneading bread again is time consuming, not to mention laborious.
Modern bread machines can take out almost all the effort so long as you can supply them with a little juice, but you might be surprised to learn that, once again, the modern bread machine had a manually operated predecessor in the form of a crank dough mixer.
These old school dough machines work miracles, and you should consider their inclusion in your prepper kitchen repertoire mandatory.
Ice Cream Maker
Luxuries are something that is rarely thought of in the context of a survival situation, but provisioning your family and friends with even small luxuries can result in an enormous boost in morale, an x-factor that you cannot afford to neglect in any high stress situation where tempers flare and personalities clash.
So long as you live in a colder climate or can reasonably procure ice to cool it, a manually-powered ice cream maker can turn some fresh milk, sugar and any other fresh ingredients like berries or mint into a delightful concoction that will cool and comfort you, while blowing all the store-bought stuff right out of the water.
Butter Churn (and Molds)
Butter is a vital ingredient, a condiment and an important source of calories but before all that it is really a way to further preserve your harvest of dairy from hard-working cows.
Made correctly, butter can persist for weeks with little in the way of refrigeration, but before you can take advantage of it you’ll have to make it assuming you can’t snag it at a local grocery store.
Anybody who has manually churned butter before will tell you that it is a job unto itself, but you can make things easy on your arm and shoulder while also improving the quality of the and product with a genuine butter churn.
Grab some butter molds while you are at it so you can form those nice, convenient sticks that are so easy to work with.
A “fridge” pot, or zeer pot, is an ancient contrivance that can cool or even chill food using nothing more than a nesting set of clay pots that have a layer of wet sand sandwiched between them.
Working on the power of evaporative cooling, a zeer pot can keep fruits, veggies, meats and even dairy products fresh for far longer than they would be at ambient temperatures, especially in hot, arid climates.
Utilizing one of these ingenious devices requires a little bit of practice and know-how, but they are very easy to make and you should definitely be prepared to capitalize on their capability in the event of power outage.
Mechanical Kitchen Timer
Probably the most mundane and forgotten item on this list is the humble, mechanical kitchen timer, or egg timer. You won’t be able to rely on your stove’s electronic control panel, the timer feature on your microwave or even your smartphone and battery-powered watch forever.
Eventually, all such sources of electricity will run out (unless you can produce your own power) but you’ll still need an accurate measurement of time if you want to properly and safely cook various dishes and that means you’ll need a good, old fashioned mechanical clock with that delightful ringing bell.
You won’t always be downing MREs or eating pouched camper meals in a survival situation. Chances are pretty good you’ll still be occupying your home and going on as best you can, just like you always have.
The loss of power does not have to cripple your at home kitchen if you are properly prepared with manually operated gadgets that are the equivalent of the electrically powered contrivances we rely on every day.
Consider this list of 25 kitchen items mandatory inclusions for your post-apocalyptic kitchen pantry.
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.