Cooking setup while bugged out?

So a problem I identified but haven’t solved is: It’s time to get out of Dodge, throw the go-bags and boxes in the car or hoof it out with packs etc., away we go, kids…

…and when we stop at some point, meal prep has to happen. Cleverly, I have food, camp stove, water and/or filters prepared. 

But I don’t have a good plan for cookware/dishes for meal prep. How are the rest of you planning for this? 

I’ve considered just shelling out for camping gear, which is lightweight enough, but seems undersized or not robust enough. Hauling heavy Dutch ovens or large iron skillets seems like a lot of weight.

Is it just a gnarly problem to feed a family on the go and I need to set aside resources for it? 🤔



  • Comments (6)

    • 5

      That is such a good question.  I have some MRE’s for a short term bug out.  But I have been looking at various stoves and trying to figure out the best options for 1. longer lasting bug out and 2. at home but power down (we’re in earthquake and fire country).  I have cast iron cookware that I use at home and I know that could work well over an open flame.  But not sure about all the rest of it.  So—no advice, but thank you for posting a good question.

      (side note, a year ago I was NOT a person who would be using MRE in everyday chat).

    • 9

      I think this is highly dependent on your expected duration of use for the cooking equipment.  A three day solution will look a lot different from a 3 week or 3 month solution.

      For myself, I focus on the 1-2 week range.  Any longer than that and I assume I’ve either gotten to a decent backup location or i’ll need to improvize resupply options because things have gotten extra weird/hard to predict.  So in my case, my solution is simple: I pack a JetBoil camp stove and mountain house camping meals, and a spork.  The mountain house brand in particular lets you use the pouches themselves as a cooking/eating container and they are disposable.  The spork, if I’m using it, I will lick clean and wipe off on my shirt if I absolutely have to.  This can last me for a week or two, and then after that I will need a new solution, but formyself personally that is my compromise of on the road survivability before resorting to foraging.

      If you want to ‘last longer’ on the road, without relying on others or the environemnt you’ll need to consider a variety of other factors: How much can you carry, are you on foot or in a car (if in a car, where is the extra gas coming from?), where are you going, how long will it take to get there, and what can you expect along te way?

      Some people talk about planingt caches of supplies along their egress routes, usually in semi-public places and well hidden (poossibly buried).  Some people plan on carrying everything with them, but you have to consider how much you can realistically carry on foot/in a car.  Some people will rely on hunting and foraging which lowers your pack load but increases the skills you need to develope and puts you at the mercy of your environment (foraging in a forest after a wild fire, or in depths of winter, is probably harder).

      This obviously gets complicated because you have to consider unexpected changes to plans: what if your primary egress route is blocked and you have to go somewhere else, your plans are now changing, etc.

      You can’t really plan for everything but the strategy I take is start with a small time hrpizon, 3-5 days, and work out from there.  

      Do you need to pack a cast iron skillet and dutch over?  These are tools that will last a lifetime but are also best for craft applications like frying, brasing, baking… these are not the cooking styles I’d employ if i was deperate and on the move.  That said if I had a bug out location in mind that i could stock with some spare tools, I’d want to pre-stage them there.

      On the other end of the spectrum, if you only needed to last 2-3 days on the road, perhaps to get to some family when feeling a hurricane, maybe you could get by with higher quality energy bars, beef jerky, or other foods that don’t require cooking and are a lot lighter.

      If you’re planning on spending months on the road, I’d want learn to hunt and forage properly, learn to cook over an open flame of invest in some multi-use camp tools that won’t break down.

      • 11

        Rich this is really well thought out–thank you for sharing your thought process.  

        I’m wondering about the best set up in the event that we are sheltering in place but off-grid/no power.  We do not have an outdoor grill of any kind (I am vegan and my family mostly eats that way so it’s never made sense).  What do you think would work in that situation?  I haven’t settled on my exact cooking set up yet for any scenario (meaning I haven’t yet purchased anything–still in the research phase).

      • 6

        Thanks. Really my concern is for the 3 days to 3 min months, where we had to get out of a disaster zone but couldn’t settle in anyplace for whatever reason. 

        As you say, winging it for a few days is less complicated. Once we’re out of Mountain House meals and peanut butter, it’s time to shift to beans+rice or whatever. 

        And I guess at that point, I really need to think about a stockpot or frying pan, maybe a way to make bread with stew and rice. 

        Camping gear or the likes might have to do it. There’s only so many meals for five people that one can serve from the pouches. 

      • 5

        I’m not going to be able to give you an accurate and tailored advice to meet your specific family’s need (keep in mind, this is free advice from a free forum!) but I can make suggestions for how you can approach this problem for yourself.

        Start with the advice from the people that have a better idea of what they’re doing:



        The original question related to meal-prep during a “bug out” – presumably on the road.  

        For your scenario you’re estimating being on the road for 3 months with 5 people.  If cost was no option and monotany of food wasn’t an issue, to feed 5 people @2100 calories a day for 3 months (90 days, for easier math) you’d need more than 30 of those 14 day mountain house cases (which if you could find them would cost more than 7500$ probably).  While they’re light, they take up space/are bulky, if you’re going to carry more than 3 per person you’re probably using a cart/sled which is additoinal weight, or you’re in a car.  And thats all before you take into account other supplies (shelter, water, toieltries, etc).

        You could cut costs by going with beans and rice, etc.  But you’ll need to estimate how many pounds of food (and cooking water, and fuel/fire-starter). I don’t have good estimates for weight of such a load but you’re probably talking more weight than you can carry on foot.  This type of option might cost less, but this is also when you need to start accounting for pots and pans and cleaning supplies related to the original question.

        So what I’m saying is that the scenario where you and your family survive for 3 months with whatever you can carry on your back looks vastly different than the scenario where you’re driving a cargo van with a trailer hitched up behind it.  Both of those scenarios are quite different for when you shelter in place at your established home, but with no utilities.  These scenarios all have different constraints.  While a truck+trailer can carry a lot more, how many miles are you driving a day – i.e. how much fuel do you need to bring with you? What happens if your car breaks down, or you get stuck in a traffic jam, etc?  If you shelter in place but have no running water, sanitation becomes a bigger concern (you can’t just make a mess and move on the next night).

        If you’re plan is to drive a car with a trailer full of supplies, you can probably afford the weight of the cast iron pans, stock pots, and related tools/cleaning supplies.  At least its more plausible.

        If you’re plan is to hike out on foot, you might need to reassess your expectations/timeline.

        If you’re plan is somewhere in between those extremes you’ll need to tailor to your financial means and personal goals.  

    • 5

      We have sporks in our BOBs. Spoon on one end, fork/knife on the other. If you go for the Mountain House MRE-style meals, you can just pour the hot water directly into the bag.