Are you gearing up for your first Thanksgiving off-grid?
Or are you someone that would just like to have a ‘themed Thanksgiving?’ Lots of people do it, just to see if they can.
Maybe you are someone toying with the idea of going off-grid and want to see how you can handle this one big meal before you take the plunge?
Well, whatever your situation, I have a few tips to help you handle an off-grid Thanksgiving. It will take some planning to pull it off, but I’m sure you can pull it off.
So here are the things you’ll need to take into consideration when planning your off-grid Thanksgiving:
Off-grid Thanksgiving – Important Things to Plan for
1. Where Will Everyone Sit?
This is a question everyone asks themselves when hosting Thanksgiving, do I have enough room? Where will everyone sit?
I mention this question because you’ll need to decide upfront if you are going to cook just a simple Thanksgiving dinner for your immediate family, or are you hosting a humdinger event? This matters because you need to have a number in order to plan properly and make accommodations.
Now, the people I know that live off-grid usually live in smaller homes because it is easier to sustain. No worries, though, because I live in a small house too so seating is something that has to be considered whether you are on or off the grid.
If you are in a smaller home, then you might consider seating some at the kitchen table, some on the sofas, and have additional seating set-up outside under a covered area (as long as it isn’t too cold.)
Or you could host the event totally outside and have seating arranged for everyone outdoor so no one feels excluded.
However, if it is just your immediate family, then you should just be able to take your normal seating accommodations and run with it.
2. The Smaller the Better
I’m not talking about your crowd here. Instead, I’m mentioning your menu. You can feed quite a few people and not give them 80 options to pick from. Just pick a few favorites and make enough of those items to feed everyone.
The point behind this is to keep things from ballooning out of control. If you have to prepare 20 different dishes, you leave a lot more room for mistakes and mishaps. This is why I recommend you set a limit as to how many dishes you will make.
3. Simple is Your BFF
Again, I’m referring to your menu. Create a simple menu. If this is your first Thanksgiving cooking off-grid, then I don’t recommend finding fancy off-grid recipes.
Instead, go with recipes you know you love and adapt them for off-grid cooking. Some people have outdoor kitchens they cook in, some cook over an open fire with a fire pit, and some have a home that is off-grid but run off of solar which means you are cooking like people that are on the grid.
So you’ll need to assess where you are at as to how complicated you really want to get with Thanksgiving.
For instance, I have a friend that lives off-grid, but you wouldn’t know it. They live on a semi-country road and have well water and solar panels. She cooks up a storm because she’s great at it, and she has the same convenience that most people on the grid have.
Then I have another friend who lives in a tiny house, and they live off-grid as well. They haul in their water and live pretty primitive.
For her, cooking a bigger meal is quite a task because of all of the preparations she has to make in order to cook all of that.
Again, assess your situation and see what you can actually do. When in doubt, go with simplicity.
4. Create a Fire Pit
A lot of people enjoy watching football after a delicious Thanksgiving feast, but when you are enjoying the off-grid lifestyle, you may not have access to a TV.
So what do you do?
Well, you do the next best thing. You enjoy what we call “Cowboy TV.” For those not familiar with that term, it means you start a fire and enjoy sitting around it. You watch the fire dance, you enjoy good conversation, you relax, and drink a good, hot beverage.
However, you’ll need a good fire pit. Here are some great ideas to get you started. Where we moved, I don’t have my fire pit rebuilt yet. I’m so missing it because it is just a great space to gather and enjoy the simple life.
In my opinion, it is worth every penny invested. Though most of the ideas are DIY and shouldn’t cost that much upfront. Aren’t you sold on a fire pit?
Then consider a burn barrel. Here are some ideas for that too!
5. Invest in Some Cast Iron
If you are considering cooking off-grid, whether it be your normal daily life or just for a theme, then you’ll most likely be cooking outdoors.
With that in mind, I encourage you to invest in some good cast iron. The reason is that cast iron is meant to be used over an open fire, or really, in any situation. If you are planning on cooking outdoors, then you’ll need it.
6. 3 Kernels of Corn
This is an idea that comes from the Little House on the Prairie book series. When I think of a real off-grid Thanksgiving, I think of those who lived on the prairie and off-grid was their life. Then there was no such thing as on-grid or off-grid living.
However, in this book, Laura Ingalls Wilder talks about how they eat 3 pieces of parched corn when they’ve finished their Thanksgiving feast. Parched corn is just corn that has been dried and then roasted.
If you wanted to add some history to your off-grid Thanksgiving, then you could do this as a way of remembering the pilgrims that first came to our country.
Two years after they arrived there was a large draught. They had to survive on nothing besides meat, and they were starving to death because they had no fiber or veggies. There was a poem written about this experience and saying that if the pilgrims had only a few grains of corn they would have considered it a feast.
This would be a great way to practice some thankfulness on Thanksgiving after you’ve had your feast of course.
7. Pop Your Corn
This is another idea I grabbed from The Little House on the Prairie book series. Again, I figure they would know a thing or two about having an off-grid Thanksgiving.
The books share the history of popcorn on Thanksgiving by saying that the Native Americans brought bags of popped corn to the Thanksgiving feast.
Obviously, popcorn was a favorite food on the prairie because it required so little. All you need is some corn and fire to pop it.
If you are doing a strictly off-grid Thanksgiving, then you might have to consider popping some popcorn around the firepit later in the day when everyone’s food has settled, and you are just hanging around enjoying each other’s company.
8. Off-Grid Turkey
The turkey is usually the big show stopper at any Thanksgiving feast. Not everyone eats turkey on Thanksgiving, though.
Some people eat chicken, goose, duck, or Cornish hens.
Don’t feel like you have to be stuck with a turkey on Thanksgiving, but I will say if you are going to prepare meat for Thanksgiving that turkey might be a great off-grid choice. You will need to find your turkey, whether you hunt it yourself or buy it from the store.
I have to tell you, fried turkey is probably my favorite way to prepare a turkey for Thanksgiving. I love all of the different seasonings. It is very moist on the inside, and I love the crispy skin.
If you are looking for a way to prepare a turkey off-grid for the holidays, then this might be your best bet. Here is how you deep fry a turkey.
9. Easy Clean-Up
Next, consider cleaning up after everyone. If you are having only your immediate family, then things may not be so different from any other normal day of cooking.
However, if you plan on inviting a few extra family members or friends over for the special occasion, then consider the extra clean up. This is especially true if you haul in water.
My recommendation would be to stock up on disposable plates, disposable cutlery, and napkins. This may be more which you have to dispose of later, but it will save you time and effort.
However, if you go with paper plates and napkins, then you could potentially compost those items. If you choose silverware, you could wash and reuse them, or you could take them to a recycling center if you are trying to lead a greener lifestyle.
10. Rustic or Decorated?
Finally, you’ll need to decide if you want this Thanksgiving to be a simple off-grid meal that is a little more rustic.
Or would you like to go all out for the theme and decorate accordingly?
For instance, if you just wanted to have a basic off-grid Thanksgiving dinner because you live off-grid, or you want to try cooking off-grid, then you could just set-up a few tables for everyone to eat at.
Then you eat your meal, clean up, and it’s done.
However, if you are trying to make your Thanksgiving a little more special, then you could go with rustic centerpieces, have plates that go along with your theme, and even have a S’mores table to go along with the fire pit theme.
As you can tell, you can get as basic or as fancy as you’d like when you have your Thanksgiving off-grid.
Now you have my 10 tips for consideration when deciding to host Thanksgiving off-grid.