Regardless of how many #10 cans of “just-add-water-ready-to-eat” stuff you have, at some point you’re going to have to learn to use a kitchen in much the same way as your granny or your great-granny did, so we’ve put together this list of 38 essential kitchen items for any survivalist.
If you don’t smoke, why on earth would you need matches? Well, if you’re going to learn to cook like granny, that will probably include cooking on top of a wood heat stove or on a wood cook stove with an oven. I know there are ways to start a fire with a magnifying glass, some straw and some kindling, but believe me, matches are easier.
If you’re really good at starting and keeping a fire throughout the three daily meals, you could use as little as one match a day. If you’re not, 20 may not be enough. We have found that the most economical matches are book matches, like you get with a pack of cigarettes. They come in a box of 50 books, 20 matches per book, for about $1.50 in many stores. That’s a lot of lights for cheap. Wooden kitchen matches go for about $3.50 for 250 matches. See the difference? When you’re living off the grid, every penny counts.
As an off-gridder, I’m definitely not talking about the kind of can opener that plugs into a wall. Have at least two good, sturdy hand operated can-openers. The newer ones from China do wear out. We’ve worn out quite a few. We also have an Army C-Ration P-38 can-opener. It takes a little practice to use this device, but once you get the groove going on it, you can open a #10 can in a few seconds.
3. Hand Grain Mill
We personally like the Wondermill Junior Deluxe Hand Grain Mill. (Read The Survival Mom’s review here.) For the money, it’s the best we have found. What can you do with it? Grind wheat, rice, barley, oats, rye, lentils into flour. It can also be used to make nut-butters, like pinion butter, walnut butter, chestnut butter. It will also make cornmeal. The uses are virtually endless, especially if you eat a lot of whole, natural foods. Not all grain mills can be used for this many purposes.
4. Cast Iron/Stainless Steel Cookware
If you are going to be cooking over a wood stove of any kind, you need durable stainless steel or cast iron cookware. Aluminum (besides not being good for your health) tends to warp on wood cook stoves. Black, cast iron pans heat evenly, hold the heat for a long time and do not warp – not to mention giving you a little dose of iron in your food.
5. Roasting Pans
Enamelware is best, and so is stainless steel. Make sure the roasting pan will fit into your oven! Wood cook stoves don’t have the same huge ovens as gas or electric stoves.
6. Tea Kettle
Stainless steel or copper works best for this archaic kitchen appliance. In the winter, a steaming tea kettle on the wood stove not only serves as at-the-ready for tea or coffee, the steam warms and moisturizes the air. Just don’t let it boil down all the way before refilling it.
Metal (stainless steel) is best. If you have or want some plastic colanders, understand that they will break over time, and most of them are made with BPA in the plastic.