23 Must Have Kitchen Items for Any Survivalist

by Sheila at SurvivingSurvivalism.com

image by Will Merydith

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.

  1. Matches – If you don’t smoke, why on earth would you need matches? But if we’re going to learn to cook like granny, for most of you that would 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 3 daily meals, you could use as little as 1 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?
  2. Can-Opener – we’re not talking about the kind that plugs into a wall. Have at least 2 good, sturdy hand operated can-openers . The newer ones from China do wear out. We’ve worn out a few. We also have an Army C-Ration P-38 can-opener. It takes a little practice, but once you get the groove going on it, you can open a #10 can in a few seconds.
  3. Hand Grain Mill – We have said this before, but we personally like the Wondermill Junior Deluxe Hand Grain Mill. (This is not a compensated endorsement, it’s just what we use and like.) 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.
  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. In the winter, a steaming tea kettle on the wood stove not only serves as as-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.
  7. Colanders – 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.
  8. Cookie Sheets – for breads, biscuits, cookies, for drying fruits or veggies… Avoid Teflon coatings or aluminum cookie sheets – get stainless steel.
  9. Cooking Utensils – Again, metal (stainless steel) is much better than plastic, and with stainless steel and cast iron cookware, you don’t have to worry about scratches:
  10. Spatulas
  11. Ladles
  12. Serving Spoons
  13. Serving Forks
  14. Slotted Spoons
  15. Pastry Cutter
  16. Rolling Pin
  17. Sharpening Steel
  18. Cheese Grater/Slicer
  19. Whisk
  20. Potato Peeler
  21. Meat Tenderizing Hammer
  22. Measuring Cups and Spoons – Once again, stainless steel is the best choice for these. A 4-cup glass measuring cup with a pour-spout would be a nice addition, too.
  23. Good Knives – Good Knives are ones that will keep a sharp edge for a reasonable amount of time, not go dull instantly upon use. If you can find old, carbon-steel knives in yard sales or flea markets, they are best – Old Hickory, Old Timers, Imperial are some brands to look for.

Dan and Sheila are the authors of Surviving Survivalism – How to Avoid Survivalism Culture Shock and hosts of the free podcast, “Still Surviving with Dan and Sheila”, both available here. For information about their survival community, or for other questions, they can be reached at surviving@lavabit.com



There may be links in the post above that are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission, which does not affect the price you pay for the product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 

© Copyright 2012 The Survival Mom, All rights Reserved. Written For: The Survival Mom
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  1. Chandra says

    Re: matches… I find the wooden ones more economical as I am much less likely to burn my fingers and much more likely to start my fire with just one match. The simple math doesnt tell all. Though I have taken to just lighting a taper candle stub with a cheap lighter and using that to light my woodstove. That reduced my burnt fingers to none.

  2. MikeM says

    What is a pastry cutter and what does one use it for? I’ve been the primary cook for myself and my family for more than 15 years and don’t know that I’ve laid eyes on one. Maybe not all that necessary.

    For my money I’d rather have a good pressure cooker and a good wide mouth thermos and/or straw box to get more cooking done with less time and fuel.

    Thanks for the nice list.

  3. charley says

    personal opinion….everyone should have the makings of a zeer pot handy. Especially if you have meds that need to be kept cold. Should the electricity go out for any length of time it will at least keep what you have on hand chilled.

  4. Stand says

    I’ll second the pressure cooker: cooks faster less fuel. If you use the same one you use for canning you can cook more than one thing at a time. Put water in the bottom and the different foods in seperate pans inside. Pressure cooking meat will tenderize even venison. Two butter knives are all my grandmother ever used to cut shortening into flour for a nice flakey pie crust, pastry cutter not needed, IMHO.

    I would also make a rocket stove to save on fuel and get heat into the pot quicker.

    You will need a sharpening STONE and the skill to use it. A steel is for straightening the edge and will not sharpen a really dull knife.

    Remember there were at least three reasons for seperate kitchens from the main house, keeping excess heat out of the living area during the seasons it wasn’t needed, keep the mess of burning wood out of the house and FIRE! Much easier to rebuild a small kitchen that your entire house and replace all of your posessions. Especially in a SHTF world even a temporaary one like a major storm.


  1. […] I’m excited to start working more in the laundry room, where I have plans to convert those utility shelves into a Preparedness Station! We’ve already got a good start on supplies, they’re just scattered all over the house, so it’ll be nice to have them all in one place and possibly have a checklist of the first 100 items that disappear in an emergency hanging on the wall near by to work off of. As well as a shelf dedicated to survival kitchen items. […]

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