From Sandra


1) Is it okay to plan on a charcoal bar b cue as a back up stove? Charcoal would be easy to store, I could handle it on my own, and it wouldn’t evaporate from non use like gas. I am going to buy the sun oven, but what if I want eggs or grits?
2) I know that my beloved Calphalon stainless steel would not last on a bar b cue, open fire, or whatever. I saw some affordable iron pots and pans under the “Lodge” name at Wal-mart. My grandmother and mom used to use iron pans for biscuits and really tender steaks. Would they hold up to “survival cooking”??
3) What about cooking utensils? I guess I could still use my wooden spoons, but what are the best to use for spatulas, forks, etc. Bar b cue stuff?
4) What type of coffee pot? I adore my expresso maker, but assuming there won’t be electricity (at least in the short run). I will need  my coffee!! I hate instant, so please don’t go there. My grinder is electric, so I need to know if they make hand grinders for coffee.
5) Are rubbermaid containers okay to store food in? Like packaged pastas, or flour, or coffee beans, etc. I keep my food stores in my house, in the bedroom on storage shelves from Ikea. The rubbermaid’s -of which I must own 40, fit nicely on the shelves. It shares space with my sewing, so it is a constant temperature year round.
6) I loved the idea of getting diapers for an emergency, if someone gets cut. That makes more sense than fooling with the gauze pads. Another thing people might think about is getting the battery operated candles. You can find good sales at Jo Ann’s Fabrics, Micheals, etc. They last pretty long, have soft light, are not going to start a fire if a kid knocks them over, and can serve as an unobtrusive night light. I also have stashed some candy. It isn’t frivolous; people will need some comforts while they are trying to survive. In fact, a few comforts may make it easier on everyone. The dollar stores all carry regular candles.
7) I know this will be a hard question, but how much cash is good to have on hand? I have thought of $3600. That is 3 months rent for me, or if we are in such bad shape that the owner doesn’t care about the rent, I can live for awhile knowing that if I have to, I can buy gas or food if it is to be had.
I like your questions so much that I posted them on the blog. They’re everyday concerns that I’m sure a lot of women have.  If I do post them, and my answers, I’ll send you an email.
In the meantime, I recommend buying cheapie pots and pans.  From yard sales, second hand stores, etc.  You won’t worry if they get beat up and the thinner metal will heat up faster, conserving fuel and time.  You can cook eggs and grits in a Sun Oven or generic solar cooker.  The problem with ANY cooking method that requires stored fuel is the…stored fuel!  If it runs out, will it be easy to obtain in a crisis?  How much can you safely store?  Charcoal is easy to store, but if I were you, I’d get a dual-fuel energy efficient stove, such as the Ecozoom that has been mentioned on my blog.  You can use charcoal AND wood, and it doesn’t need very much of either in order to cook a meal.
Cash on hand?  I’d say enough to cover your expenses for at least a month or two.  Even after Katrina, people eventually had access to their banks.  In a complete meltdown, well, we will probably all wish we had taken out everything from savings and bought either gold/silver or more food and goods.

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