How to make a hay box

Hay box cooking was popular during World War II when fuel was rationed. It is a way to save energy by turning off the oven or burner just before the food is completely cooked, and the allowing your food to continue cooking in a hay box. The lid of your pot needs to fit tightly to keep the heat in.

  • You will need a box made from plastic or metal. Fill it with dry hay
  • Cook your food in the usual way until it is hot but not completely cooked.
  • Turn off the heat, then quickly place the pot or pan into a hay box on a layer of straw. Make sure you cover the pot with more hay and seal the lid.
  • Leave for a few hours while your food continues to cook in your insulated homemade oven. Plan well ahead – the normal cooking time for this method is 4-5 hours, though it varies greatly depending on what you’re cooking. Experiment, but make very sure that any meat is fully cooked through.

Self Sufficiency for the 21st Century
– by Dick and Jack Strawbridge

Has anyone tried hay box cooking?

Do you think you could use sugar cane mulch?

Would you recommend cooking meat this way?

Prickly heat


Confusion in the garden. All the broccoli bolted straight to flower. Things aren’t going to plan and it has been frustrating us.

The heat has been uncharacteristically prickly for winter, and we’re still hanging out for some rain.

Perhaps we’re being too hard on ourselves trying to work full time and become self-sufficient in only a year. We’ve made so much progress already and learnt how to grow a variety of different produce, such as: beans, cabbage, capsicum, choko, corn, eggplant, jam melon, kumquart, lemon, lettuce, passionfruit, pumpkin, rhubarb, rockmelon, shallots, squash, strawberries, tomato, and watermelon.

We sat down and discussed how we were going to get past our little hurdle (which at the moment seems monumental). It’s just a blip as we are nearing the pointy end of our self-sufficiency challenge.