You can save on your home energy consumption and a few precious dollars on your monthly bill by integrating a simple insulated hot box into your cooking. A hot box (also known as a hay box) provides an efficient solution to cooking food without the excessive use of your stove top or oven. Best of all, you can make a hot box for free, with very simple, recycled materials that you probably already have lying around your house.
What is a hot box?
Essentially, a hot box is an insulated box. The box can be just that: a cardboard box, or even a large cooler. The more important element is the insulation, which can be anything ranging from polystyrene foam board cutoffs, to straw, to towels, to shredded newspaper, or even sleeping bags.
How to make a hot box
1.) To make a hot box, find a large cardboard box (one that will be large enough to house several inches worth of insulating material on all sides, and your favorite cooking pot).
2.) Next, simply line it with your insulating material. If you’re using straw or foam board, you might consider getting a second, smaller box to put your pot in to keep things dry and tidy.
3.) Finally, put your pot in the fully insulated hot box, and make sure to cover it with some extra towels or insulating material. (If you have some sleeping bags, you don’t even need a box: simply wrap your pot in the middle of a bag or two.) Remember: the more insulation, the better! It’s important to keep the heat in.
How to cook with a hot box
Hot box cooking works best for things that cook slowly over time, like grains or beans, or even soups and stews.
For example, to cook rice, first let the rice boil for five minutes (which is enough time for the heat the fully penetrate the grains) on your stove top, and then throw the pot (covered with lid) in the box. Check back in another two to four hours. Your cooking time may vary (it all depends on how well insulated your box is), but expect your food to finish between two and four hours, depending on the food item.
Hot boxes are no-brainer solutions to cut back on energy consumption, without spending anything extra!