Okay, maybe you should not forget about fire completely, particularly since grilling up burgers and roasting marshmallows over a campfire are two camping traditions most of us would never want to give up. However, if you like off-grid living, saving energy or going a little greener, you may be interested in adding a solar oven to your packing list for your next road trip.
Solar ovens use the sun’s energy to cook or bake foods without the need for propane, wood, electricity or charcoal. They are mostly being used in developing nations where sources of fuel are scarce or expensive, but they are also becoming popular with backpackers, green-minded folks, emergency preppers and those who like anything that helps them be a bit more self-sufficient and live off grid.
Cooking times can be similar to conventional methods in ideal solar cooking conditions, but cooking with solar ovens generally takes longer. This can turn some people off, but if you appreciate the convenience of using your favorite Crock Pot to cook meals while you are out hiking with your family, then you may enjoy this low-tech way to prepare meals both at home and on the road.
Solar ovens range in cost from less than $100 to several hundred dollars, and you can even make your own with cardboard and aluminum foil. Once you have the solar cooker, there are no operating or fuel costs, which makes this a cost-effective meal preparation option that is particularly useful for people who spend time in the mountains, the desert or other areas where electricity or fuel may be at a premium.
Aside from saving money, reducing energy use and allowing for off-grid living, cooking with a solar oven can also be healthier for you and your family. Foods are cooked slowly at a lower temperature, which is believed to help the foods keep more of their nutrients during the cooking process. Additionally, using a solar cooker during the hot summer months allows you to prepare hot meals without heating up the inside of your RV by using the oven or stove.
Some solar ovens are much too large to conveniently take along in an RV, but you can find affordable models that are about the size of a tabletop barbecue grill.
If you are interested in finding low-tech, fuel-free, healthier cooking options for your meal prep, you should definitely check out the growing solar oven trend to see if this easy cooking method might be right for you.