Emergency Cooking Methods: Cooking with a Thermos


During an emergency, where power and gas may be hard to come by, a thermos can be a great way to cook a wide variety of slow cooking foods. Cooking things like rice and beans can take hours, using a huge amount of fuel that you usually can’t afford to waste during an emergency.

Using a thermos can be a great way to save that precious fuel when cooking things that have a long cooking time. If you’ve ever cooked with a crock pot, then the concept of cooking with a thermos is pretty similar. It allows you to simmer foods for a long time, with only the fuel that’s required to boil the initial water.

How to Cook with a Thermos

Cooking with a thermos is pretty easy; in fact, if you can boil water you should be able to pull it off. The key to using this method of cooking is time, so you’re going to want to plan ahead and make sure you have a good quality thermos that will retain its heat while cooking the food.

Planning Ahead: Making sure you have enough time to Cook.

This method takes time, and some pre-planning. Deciding what you’re going to eat an hour before mealtime is not going to work so you need to give yourself enough time to properly cook the food. Remember, this is similar to cooking with a crock pot so time is definitely a huge factor.

Buy a Good Quality Thermos

When looking for a good quality thermos, look for something that is well insulated, large enough to cook with and something that has a wide mouth so you can easily get food in and out of the container. I’ve been using a Stanley Thermos for years, but some of the newer models have received some poor reviews lately so you might also want to check out brands like Sigg, Nissan, Hydro Flask and Zojirushi. I personally use the Hydro Flask 32oz bottle because the extra-large opening makes it easier to work with when cooking.

Make sure you Preheat the Bottle

Preheating the thermos, prior to adding your ingredients, will help the bottle maintain heat throughout the cooking process.

Prior to cooking, fill the Thermos with boiling hot water and let it sit for five minutes. Once you’re ready to add your ingredients to the thermos empty the water and add the new boiling water with your cooking ingredients.

What can you cook in a Thermos?

When selecting what foods you can cook in your thermos make sure you pick foods that would normally be cooked in liquid. Most recipes that are designed for crock pots can be scaled down to fit in a Thermos. I would stay away from anything that can be easily overcooked, or foods that cannot be brought to a full boil.

cookingbottlesPictured Left to Right: The Hydro Flask, The Classic Stanley Thermos, and the SIGG Thermo Classic

Cooking the Right types of Food: These are all perfect for Thermos Cooking

  • Rice & Beans
  • Soups, Stews and Chili
  • Meats like Beef and Chicken
  • Steel Cut Oats or dried and freeze-dried foods

Typical Cooking Times: While cooking times will vary depending on your Thermos and its ability to retain heat, here are some general guidelines. The First number is how long you should boil the food before putting it in the thermos, the second number is the amount of time required to cook the food inside the thermos.

  • RICE: 5m/1.5 hr.
  • CUBED BEEF: 15m/4hr.
  • CHICKEN: 8m/3h.
  • BEANS: 10m/4h.
  • CUBED POTATOES: 5m/2h.
  • STEEL CUT OATS 5m/2h


Pre-Cooking the Foods

Some foods will require a bit of precooking, especially things like meat or beans which require high amounts of heat. These foods should be cooked to the point where you would normally turn down the stove to start the simmering process. Once you reach this point, they can then be added to the thermos to finish the slow cooking process.

Source: www.offgridsurvival.com

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