How to cook in the Great Outdoors

“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.”

François de la Rochefoucauld

Food is a matter of life or death. No question about that.
In an Outdoor scenario, especially in a surviving situation, it acquires a multifaced resonance.
It is survival, but it can be also help, self-sufficiency, power. And health.

Food waste is an intolerable phenomenon under several aspects. Ethical, social, environmental, psychological, economical. Unfortunately we do live in a society where hypocrisy seems to dictate all the laws related to this avoidable phenomenon.

When, for example, we think about waste, the first scene which comes to our mind our thousand of cans of expired foods, or vegetables and fruit. They are thrown away because they were not consumed or not in the condition customers expect they are.

Standing to statistics, every family throws in the trash can more than 500 dollars a year. It is equivalent to a lot of food.
These data should be paired to those connected to the distributive chain.
This phenomenon must be stopped. And we, as Great Outdoors enthusiasts and Survivalists, can actually be the ones who can provide some valuable examples on how we could swap the course.

Survivalists and food

“Cutting food waste is a delicious way of saving money, helping to feed the world and protect the planet.”

Tristram Stuart

Survivalists are all well aware on the importance of food. Being prepared, in fact, starts from stockpiling food. Which cannot go in contrast with food waste.

This should sound like an oxymorous.

Preparedness teaches us a lot of things, like:

  • learning how to select raw material
  • show to preserve foodhow to can food
  • how to organize our food at home (and in our bunkers and bug out location)

Beside that, can we claim to produce zero leftovers?
Having some leftovers is absolutely ordinary.
What really makes the difference is how we are able to manage them before forgetting them somewhere in the fridge and let them rotting away.

In the following paragraphs we will learn how to deal with leftovers and turning them into “Survivalist Food”.

Leftovers cuisine for the Great Outdoors

“A food waste reduction hierarchy-feeding people first, then animals, then recycling, then composting-serves to show how productive use can be made of much of the excess food that is currently contributing to leachate and methane formation in landfills.”

Carol Browner

We acquired such great life lessons from warfare periods all over the ages. In fact, a lot of receipts (especially from Europe) raised exactly in those delicate times of emergency.
We actually inherited an immense luggage in terms of teachings on how food should be treasured and how we can make the most of it.

There were no leftovers at that time. Back in the day, in fact, families learned how to get the maximum off of what they used to have.


People were able to enhance the taste of poor ingredients they have, creating delicious vegetable soups. They are still a cornerstone of Countries like France, Germany, Italy. Just to name a few.

Even the most spoiled vegetables, in fact, were processed and canned to save the most of them. A minestrone soup could be last for days, as it had been cooked and cooked again for a long number of times.

Formidable soups were prepared with stale or dry bread.

  • Broth with meat and savoy cabbage, sometimes braised-roasted, slices stale bread, occasionally covered with melted butter and pan-fried, cheese cinnamon and nutmeg.
  • With short past, broad beans, tomato, stale bread passed in melted butter, cheese.
  • Red wine, sugar, stale bread slices.
  • Stale bread put in milk to soften it, then in beaten egg and fried, on the stove, with sugar (which actually makes it very sweet).
  • Rice, bread stale passed in melted butter, cheese, cinnamon.


Risotto is now considered an haute cuisine dish, but back in the day it wasn’t much more than a disch consisting of several leftovers.

In fact, in order to cook a delicious risotto, you just need meat broth (any cut, chicken bones and leftovers), good Parmesan cheese and a few pieces of advanced cheese. Dry cheese can work as well!


Take a moment to think about a simple fact. A piece of leftover cheese in the fridge, if properly shredded, always makes the difference. You just need to boil the broth and add it patiently to rice in a srillet. Ultimately you put some Parmesan cheese. And that’s it!


And what about breadcrumbs? We all have them.

Everyon, in fact, has always some bread sticks either leftover bread.
What you may ignore is that you can make a “breadcrumbs” flour out of it.
And it can last for a good amount of years.
It takes very little to put stale bread or breadsticks in the oven (or, alternatively, on a grill above your campfire). Then you can crush them with your canteen.


The reused polenta was also very successful. People used to fry it on the stove, or in a pan with melted butter, reduced to a container for meat, game and cheese sauces.

In Northern ares of Alps, they also used to fry polenta in a pan, adding abundant butter and a generous quantity of lard. Layers were prepared with slices of leftover polenta, cheese and a few knobs of butter, leaving it to fry over low heat. The lard favors the success of a nice and inviting golden crust.


In the same areas population prepared a “recovery” omelette, after melting the butter in a pan,and
cutting it into slices. So they had some leftover polenta, boiled potatoes and fontina.

When they had sausages, they sometimes mixed potatoes cooked in their skins to make black puddings, which was considered a real delicatessen.

From leftovers to Outdoors food

“Why do we send valuable items like aluminium and food waste to landfill when we can turn them into new cans and renewable energy? Why use more resources than we need to in manufacturing? We must now work together to build a zero waste nation – where we reduce the resources we use, reuse and recycle all that we can and only landfill things that have absolutely no other use”

Hilary Benn

The above mentioned receipts are just few examples of some old receipts you can still take advantage of when your desire is to give new life to leftovers. And make them last too!
In fact, you can freeze your cooking creations and save them for moments to come.

You can also keep a journal on the receipts and the ingredients you need to make them.
Being creative and respectful of traditions is always a good way to start.
The past has some much to teach us, especially in terms of food preparedness.

A sustainable bug out kitchen – try your Leftovers cuisine outside!

“The most valuable lesson of the Italian kitchen is to never throw anything away: no crumbs or bones ever get thrown in the bin.”

Chef Massimo Bottura

A good occasion to try if your “Leftovers cuisine” really works, test yourself during some time outside. It could be either backwoods camping either a simulation of a bug out situation.
Bring some food with you – also MRE – and prove yourself to be ready to reinvent your leftovers. You can start turning your leftover oatmeal into energy bars, for examples, just adding some peanut butter or honey in “single-dose”, creating a pastry and putting them on the campfire.

In the Great Outdoors, this is also a good manner not only to save food, but actually to keep bears at large from your camp. They always look for leftovers. By immediately resuing them, you will be sure to have nothing to offer them.

Two things in one, right? Always better be safe than sorry!


“The more sustainable we are, the healthier we are. Similarly, the more human we are, the better. Because to cook is to care.”

Joan Roca

The receipts mentioned in the previous paragraphs are just a bunch of easy examples of an old-fashioned way to cook, based on few raw materials and mixed with a lot of care, creativity and commitment to survival.

Gaining lessons from the past is mandatory for Preppers. The more you learn, the more effective and great you will do when the SHTF strikes. You will no have another occasion with food.
Starting now to save food and to give it new life should be your daily task.

This is especially true when you don’t have pets or livestock you can feed with it. “According to the ‘food waste pyramid’, ensuring that food is eaten by people is the top priority. Failing that, the next best thing is to feed it to farm animals.” (Tristram Stuart)

Cooking in an autarchic way is surely audacious but very easy to afford and to learn. By that, you first provide a valuable help to yourself, to your family and to the planet too.

cropped kyt lyn walken.jpg

Kyt Lyn Walken is the official European representative and instructor for Hull's Tracking School (Virginia, USA), and is a certified Conservation Ranger for C.R.O.W. (Conservation Rangers Operations Worldwide). She has been an outdoors and tracking enthisast since childhood. She is contributor as a writer for several magazines in U.S. and U.K.Kyt is author of the manuals "The importance of being a Tracker", "The Urban Tracker, "Tracking Compendium" (this one with Andy Martin), "Jungle Trackers: S.A.S. In Malesia and Borneo".

Een reactie op "How to cook in the Great Outdoors"

  1. Hussain says:

    Amazing tips Patrick, Fabulous post !

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