There is a lot to gather if you want to be ready for a major SHTF event, and one of the foremost provisions that preppers will seek to acquire in great quantity is food.
You can’t fault that logic, as without food you’ll eventually run out of energy, be unable to put in meaningful work, and after a long and agonizing time, pass away. Food is fuel, and human beings need plenty of it.
As preppers, a considerable amount of our effort and energy is spent planning how we are going to duck out of danger, or otherwise evade it.
Bugging out, evacuating, relocating, whatever you want to call it the idea is you need to grab your most critical supplies, gather your loved ones and go.
But what if you don’t have to bug out when disaster strikes? What if you are already a homesteader living way out past the fringes of society? What if your bug-out location is a fully functional house?
There are an awful lot of folks who will still be making use of their kitchen in the aftermath of a major disaster, only now that kitchen is not likely to have any electricity.
You can still keep a working kitchen as the functional nucleus of your home if you have the right selection of non-electrical gadgets and tools to make use of. This list will show you 30 that should be a part of any post-SHTF kitchen.
Focus on the Basics
If there’s one trap that’s easy to fall into when it comes to kitchen tools and implements it is that of having too many specialized, novelty or otherwise borderline-useless gadgets.
There is a hyper-specialized tool for every conceivable operation or prep step in the kitchen, and I shudder to think how much money is wasted on drawers and cabinets full of this novelty garbage when people, including preppers, would be better served by a much smaller but more versatile arsenal of trusty standbys.
Especially for preppers, who typically appreciate multi-purpose, versatile tools, equipping your post-SHTF kitchen with the right non-electrical tools, implements and appliances will let you do more with less, stretching your budget and covering all of your culinary “bases” while taking up minimal room in your pantry, cabinets and drawers.
Don’t get suckered into buying an avocado pit extractor when you can do the same thing with any decent paring knife. You don’t need a battery operated saucepan stirrer when a spoon and a little bit of attention will do the same thing.
Get back to basics and you’ll be happier in the kitchen, but more importantly you’ll be better prepared for working in the kitchen after the lights go out!
30 Items from Your Kitchen That Don’t Need Electricity
1) Kitchen Timer
Good cooking means you need to keep one eye on the time so you don’t under- or overcook the dish in question. By this point, I would reckon that pretty much everybody uses the built-in timer on their stove or microwave, or a convenient timer app on their phone or other smart device.
For obvious reasons, in the event of a mass power outage of indeterminate length that idea will be a non-starter. But you don’t need to worry and you won’t need to guesstimate if you fall back on the trusty reliability of a mechanical kitchen timer.
2) Can Opener
I’m willing to bet that the vast majority of preppers have a sizable stash of canned goods as part of their survival food supply.
This is a great thing, but you might be shocked to learn how many well-intentioned and otherwise switched-on preppers forget to include a sturdy mechanical can opener in their survival tool kit.
Sure, a P38 or a multi-tool can opener will get you into your dinner, but it is slow, laborious and generally inefficient for anything except occasional field use. A proper crank-operated manual can opener will let you sail through the process of opening multiple cans with ease.
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No kitchen can be considered ready for action without a proper kitchen knife, or chef’s knife. You probably already know that this is your meal prep mainstay, and with good reason, as it can take care of heavy duty and delicate tasks alike if you have the skill.
If you are planning on keeping your kitchen operational in the aftermath of a crisis, make sure you invest in a high-quality knife that will require infrequent sharpening at worst. The time savings on maintenance will add up over time, and you’ll have plenty more to do besides work in the kitchen at a time like that.
4) Rolling Pin
For making fruit pies, hand pies, pot pies or any other dish with dough you’ll need a rolling pin to quickly and easily thin, shape and smooth it.
You can do it by hand, but you can save time and improve cleanliness by utilizing a rolling pin. Chances are you already have one of these, but if you don’t, now is the time to pick one up. You can get any style you like; you shouldn’t feel obligated to spring for the trendy stone rolling pins that are becoming popular.
Wood works fine and is the traditional option though you’ll need to work a little harder to keep it clean and sanitary. Modern synthetic rolling pins are extremely easy to take care of.
5) Tea Kettle
I don’t know about you guys, but it is very hard for me to get through my day without my morning and evening cup of tea, and I have stockpiled accordingly.
If you are making a proper cup of loose leaf tea or using trusty tea bags, you’ll still need screaming hot water to get that cup of the good stuff, and one of the best ways to heat and safely handle that hot, hot water is a classic tea kettle.
You could just use an open pot or saucepan, but these are far more prone to accident than the closed construction and ergonomic design of a proper tea kettle.
Maybe tea isn’t your thing, and you pine for that pre-dawn cup of bean water instead. Nothing wrong with that, and millions upon millions of people feel the same way you do.
Unfortunately, your reliable electric drip coffee maker will be one of the first casualties of a downed power grid, and if you don’t have any way to generate your own electricity you’ll be in a bind when it comes to getting your fix of joe.
Take a page from your grandparent’s playbook and get yourself a percolator. All you’ll need to do is add water, add coffee and then heat the whole contraption up. If that isn’t your thing consider getting a French press coffee maker which can do much the same.
7) Cast Iron Skillet
A good, old fashioned cast iron skillet is your do-it-all, supreme piece of cookware in the post-apocalyptic kitchen.
This is one pan that is equally at home on a stove, over a campfire, or even on your grill. This makes them a tremendously versatile addition to your kitchen, but you should be aware of a couple of drawbacks.
First, cast iron cookware requires a little bit more in the way of upkeep and maintenance compared to competitors. Also, prospective buyers should be aware of its great weight. Despite this, using nothing more than a good recipe and a cast iron skillet you can be turning out delicious food no matter the circumstances.
8) Combo Cooker / Dutch Oven
A combo cooker, or Dutch oven, is the cast iron skillet’s tag team partner, and one that is greatly admired by hardcore campers and overlanders for its supreme versatility.
A combo cooker is basically a Dutch oven, only one where the lid can be inverted and used as a separate skillet. It’s like a Transformer in your kitchen!
This is just the ticket for making stews, casseroles, bread and other large, messy or bulky dishes that would be too difficult to contain or control using a skillet alone. A combo cooker or Dutch oven is so useful that many homesteaders and adventurers alike can, and do, prepare entire meals using these alone.
9) Griddle, Extra Large
The last piece of cast iron cookware you will need to round out your selection for use in your operational SHTF kitchen, an extra large griddle will once again allow you to fry up large portions for multiple people on a cook top or over a roaring fire.
For baking, whipping up a complete breakfast or just preparing multiple small or large portions together, this mammoth piece of cast iron will go the distance. Take care, as their tremendous weight means they are more than capable of flattening a child or breaking all of your toes if you drop it!
10) Water Pump
Depending on your living arrangements and where you live specifically public water supplies may continue to work in the aftermath of an SHTF event or they might not, or they could continue to work but be compromised in any number of ways.
If there is one room in your house that needs running water on demand besides the bathroom it is the kitchen, and you’ll go through a lot of it for food preparation as well as washing.
So long as you have a good store of water nearby, or a reservoir for gathered rainwater that you can draw from, you can install a traditional water pump at your sink.
Sometimes called pitcher pumps, these devices will allow you to use just a little bit of extra effort to get water flowing into your kitchen once more.
Old school hand choppers are one implement that can save you a lot of prep work when you have to dice, chop or mince multiple veggies as part of meal prep. Though not too common or popular today, they nonetheless work well enough to be a worthy inclusion into your SHTF kitchen compliment.
Keep an eye out for these tools whenever you are perusing antique stores or local garage sales and you’ll probably find some. They most often resemble a miniature medieval mace with multiple flanges or blades on the head, and are designed to be pressed down and rocked on the food being prepared on the cutting board or in a bowl.
12) Crank Mixer
Those of us who do a lot of baking probably get more mileage out of our stand mixer than any other appliance in our kitchen.
Sadly, we won’t be able to depend on it in the aftermath of a major event since electricity will probably be out of commission. We don’t have to give up on baking, though, since we can use a hand-cranked stand mixer or even a handheld crank mixer for the same purpose.
Compared to many minutes and revolutions of laborious mixing by hand, these things are a Godsend. There are a few modern versions on the market you could procure, but vintage ones work just as well once they are cleaned up.
13) Drain Board
I have got to tell you, I hate doing the dishes and don’t think twice about throwing even a few plates, cups and forks in my dishwasher before turning it on with a load of dish soap.
As nice as a dishwasher is, it is another appliance that will become a casualty of a societal collapse owing to a lack of power.
That means you’ll be washing plenty of dishes the old fashioned way, and you’ll need somewhere to put them to allow them to drain and dry. Get a drain board that you can hang on the side of your sink and you’ll make an aggravating chore a little bit easier.
14) Meat Grinder
Preppers who are truly prepared to go the distance in a long term survival scenario are likely to process their own wild caught or domestically raised meat.
There is a lot you can do with a knife, but if you want to make ground beef or other meat patties or sausages of various kinds you’ll need a meat grinder for the task.
These used to be a fixture and virtually every kitchen, but now they are the province of the meat-crazy hobbyist and professional butcher alone. You won’t have to look far to find a modern version, but you can snag an older one that is ready to be restored as well.
15) Butter Churn
Pretty much everybody likes butter, and it is a critical ingredient and many dishes along with being a delicious topping, but more than that butter is essentially the end product in a process by which milk is preserved.
Butter that is made with care and properly stored will last a long time and is an extremely compact source of calories. If you have access to milk, you can make butter pretty easily so long as you have a butter churn and can supply plenty of elbow grease.
Remember: preventing the loss of your prepping “investment”- time, energy and resources- is essential to long-term survival!
Old school crank-operated vegetable peelers can help you rapidly process fruits and vegetables with speed that no dinky handheld peeler can match.
This might sound like a “luxury” option, but it is actually a smart investment for a clever prepper because it will save you a ton of time and labor when peeling fruits or vegetables in preparation for canning or other forms of preservation.
Note that most old appliance peelers clamp onto the end of a counter, so make sure your kitchen can accommodate it or have a sturdy work or prep table nearby for the purpose.
17) Grain Mill
Store-bought sliced bread, and pretty much every other form of bread, will be a thing of the past in the aftermath of a major event unless you bake it yourself.
To bake bread you’ll need flour, but where does the flour come from? That’s right, the grocery store, which likely won’t be around either.
That means you’ll need to make your own flour and to do that you’ll start from scratch with your own grain, be it grain that you harvest or procure from someone else. By running that grain through a hand-cranked grain mill you can produce flour ready for use in baking.
18) Dough Mixer
Speaking of making bread, kneading and working dough before resting it and doing it all over again is a time consuming, tiring affair that requires your full and complete attention to complete successfully.
If you want to save your wrists and hands the trouble you can dump your homemade dough into a dough mixer that is, you guessed it, crank-operated.
Modern versions of this machine do the same thing but rely on an electric motor. These old school versions work just as well for half the effort of doing it truly by hand.
Good knife skills are the mark of an accomplished chef, but even a skilled chef can save a little more time and improve consistency when slicing fruits or veggies by using a dedicated slicer.
A good slicer will fly through the job in seconds and also feature removable or detachable blades to make cleaning, servicing and sharpening easier.
20) Mortar and Pestle
There is hardly anything better than fresh picked herbs and spices that you have grown yourself. Be they grown for medicinal purposes, nutritional value or just enhancing otherwise bland dishes there is no substitute.
But dried or fresh the only way to reliably measure and precisely add herbs and spices to dishes is when they are crushed or powdered finely.
To do this, an old fashioned mortar and pestle is used to reliably process them under control. A little bit of grinding and twisting is all it takes to render them to the desired consistency.
21) Colander / Strainer
Anyone who has ever made pasta, boiled vegetables or tried to pre-cook dumplings knows that it is a fool’s errand trying to fish them out of a screaming hot pot of water using some utensil.
It is much easier and far faster to dump the water while catching the food. To do this, you will need a colander or strainer. Either will work, with one being the slotted or perforated bowl that you set in or over your sink with the other being a device that clamps onto the pot itself.
This is one of those things that you won’t miss going without until you don’t have it so make sure you have a good one that can stand up to the heat.
22) Zeer Pot
The refrigerator is arguably the most important appliance in any home, as it is responsible for preserving our food that would otherwise spoil in hours or days. Unfortunately, if you don’t live in one of the coldest climates you won’t have any other reliable source of refrigeration that does not rely on electricity completely for function.
If the power goes out, it is only a matter of time until the food must be tossed out. However, it is possible to employ primitive technology to provide meaningful refrigeration in the form of a zeer pot.
This is nothing more than a pair of nesting earthenware pots that have a wet layer of sand packed between them. This creates a surprisingly efficient evaporative cooler that can chill anything placed inside.
Having one of these on standby might mean the difference between saving precious cuts of meat and cheese in your fridge or being forced to throw it out or eat it all at once.
23) Mixing Bowls
The humble mixing bowl is the backbone of any working kitchen and serves countless purposes. You should have at least half a dozen in various sizes, and strive to get more use out of your mixing bowls by choosing ones made of metal or glass that can be used as cooking vessels on their own.
I particularly like large, wide woks with small handles on either side as they afford me the greatest possible flexibility. Before you choose ones on the smaller end of the scale, consider that it is far more common to need more room, not less, so I recommend you pick up bigger ones that you can grow into.
24) Fermenting Crock
A fermenting crock is a little more than a large ceramic or earthenware container with a sealing lid that is designed to promote conditions suitable for the spawning of anaerobic bacteria, bacteria that will ferment or pickle various foods when placed inside.
These things are just the ticket for creating such dishes as sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, vinegar and even kombucha.
A fermented crock can help you create main or side dishes and also preserve other foods, making them invaluable for preppers. Don’t be intimidated if you have never worked with fermenting processes before as the operation is quite simple.
No kitchen is complete without a set of sturdy, adaptable tongs. You’ll use these for positioning large cuts of meat or bulky veggies on your cookware, or even potentially retrieving your cookware from a hot fire.
Take care when choosing tongs so that you end up with a set that affords you excellent control while also being highly ergonomic so you can generate a little more leverage when trying to pick up or shift something heavy with them.
26) Heat-Resistant Gloves
A working kitchen means hot surfaces and hot spaces, and since you’ll be handling everything going in or coming off of those hot spaces and surfaces you’ll need something to protect your hands.
Pot holders are okay, but only okay, and I like having seriously heat-resistant gloves that provide wrist protection for extra assurance.
These are especially vital when working over open flames or seriously hot cooking surfaces such as a campfire or a grill, two methods for preparing food that will become everyday occurrences around the post-SHTF household.
Water may very well be at a premium in the post-SHTF kitchen, and you won’t be able to spare very much for scrubbing and scrubbing and scrubbing away at stubbornly stuck, burned-on food on your various pots, pans and skillets.
Scraping the worst of it off before giving it a conservative wash and rinse is a better idea, and for that purpose you should obtain durable but surface-safe scrapers in both plastic and the increasingly popular “chainmail” variety. You’ll save time, save your pans and save water.
28) Kitchen Shears
Kitchen shears are little more than heavy duty scissors, but they just so happen to be scissors capable of snipping through bones when required!
Aside from all their many mundane utility purposes, kitchen shears can help you quickly and easily butcher and process freshly harvested meat from your own working homestead or that procured from someone else.
It is a mark of pride to be able to do the whole thing with a knife and cleaver, but don’t neglect this ideal tool for the job.
29) Meat Thermometer
Without an operational stove or microwave, precise heat control and regulation of cooking time will be more challenging, and this means the risks of undercooking food, or overcooking it, will increase.
Eliminate doubt and avoid this unhappy occurrence along with the increased chance of contracting food borne illness by investing in a precise, easy to use meat thermometer.
These devices are designed to stand up to extremely high temperature environments without failing, and that makes them invaluable for the new style of cooking that you’ll be engaged in. This one doesn’t need batteries in order to function.
By investing in the right tools, gadgets and other kitchen implements it is possible to future-proof your working household kitchen against the prolonged loss of power that is nearly certain to occur in the aftermath of any major disaster or societal crisis.
By insulating yourself against such an unhappy outcome you won’t need to resign yourself to eating nothing but dehydrated foods, canned goods or meals ready to eat.
Make sure you equip your kitchen with these 29 items now so you won’t have to scrounge, scavenge, or barter for them later.