Tips to Host a Delicious Off-Grid Thanksgiving Meal
It is that time of year that we gather with family and friends to give thanks for all the wonderful things in our lives. Should this be your first Thanksgiving living off-grid, you may have many questions about how to pull off such a feast. If this is your tenth Thanksgiving, then maybe you will still find some tips that you can use. In either case, I, Matthew Davies, am here to help.
When hosting Thanksgiving dinner on the grid, there are many things to consider. Everything from who you should invite, to where everyone will sit, to what to cook, and even whether there should be some sort of theme to your festivities. Cooking off the grid can be tricky as it is. Because you’re feeding guests on a major food-focused holiday, nothing should be left to chance. So, take the time to review my list of things to consider below and help make this the best Thanksgiving you have ever had.
When planning Thanksgiving, a host’s first thought is likely where everyone is going to sit to enjoy their meal. Depending on the number of people you invite, this may pose a challenge for those living off-grid. Whereas families that live on the grid can light up several different rooms and have guests sit there, your space may be more limited, especially since you will likely use a lot of your energy grid to prepare dinner. When the time comes to eat, you will have only a few locations that you can keep well lit. For this reason, I suggest that you try to limit the number of people that you have over on the big day.
Limiting your guests to a dozen or so will go a long way to save you time and energy. So, review your guest list and trim it where you can. Make sure that, when you are planning, you mention to people that you will have a limited number of seats at your table.
Smaller Is Better
I already discussed having a smaller number of people gracing your table. I’ll extend that recommendation to the meal itself. Yes, Thanksgiving is notorious for having large banquet-sized tables piled high with food. Most Thanksgiving dinners never run the risk of running out of food and traditionally, leftovers are split with the partygoers. With the smaller meal I am suggesting, the amount of leftover food will be limited.
The point of making a smaller meal is twofold. Number one is that you will keep things from ballooning out of control. Often, when hosts ask their guests what they want, they end up getting a variety of different things. I am reminded of the Friends episode where Monica was preparing four different types of mashed potatoes to appease her friends. This happens in real life as well. How else would you explain Thanksgiving dinners with both corn on the cob and a bowl of cream corn? Decide on the meal that you plan on serving and stick to it. The less you have to cook, the happier you and your energy grid will be.
It’s worth a mention that, if you do decide to make a smaller meal, you might have the ability to invite more guests. Remember, the reason we limited the number of guests was due to the amount of energy you would have used to prepare the meal. A smaller meal equates to less energy used, allowing you to accommodate more guests at your Thanksgiving table.
There are many great recipes out there for people living off-grid. However, some may not be necessary for your specific situation. For example, I have a friend that lives off-grid, but she has all the conveniences of living on the grid. She and her husband have a well and solar panels. You would not know that you were walking into an off-grid house if no one told you.
On the flip side, I have another friend that does not have solar panels and hauls his water in by hand. Some people have solar panels and haul their water in while others don’t have solar panels and have a well. Each person/family lives off the grid in their way. My point is, adapt the recipes to your specific situation. If you don’t have quick access to water, don’t attempt to boil water for making corn on the cob when a can of creamed corn will do. Keep your menu simple so that you are not taxing your resources.
After the Feast
At the end of most Thanksgiving dinners, families gather and watch the football game. This may be possible at your off-grid home, and it may not. Depending on if you own or use a television, you might opt for doing something else. For years now, my guests enjoy some time in the great outdoors. I have set up a firepit that we gather around. The kids get outside and play like we did when we were younger. It is a great way to relax and digest the meal.
Make sure that you consult your local fire codes to ensure that you are following the law. Not all municipalities allow for open fires in the woods. In such cases, you can use a propane fire pit that does not give off embers and have the risk of starting a wildfire.
Alternately, you can have a bunch of solar-powered lights that stored energy and create a delightful ambiance for you and your guests.
Thanksgiving is an excellent time of year to gather with family and friends. I, Matthew Davies, hope that I have given you some great tips that you can use for making this Thanksgiving as memorable as it can be. It matters not if you are having your first off-grid Thanksgiving or your tenth. There is always something to learn. Remember, you do not have to follow my tips to the letter. Adapt them to your lifestyle and make them your own. Wishing you and yours a happy off-grid Thanksgiving!