My First Solar Cooker Meal!

Follow me in real time as I attempt to cook with solar while writing this!

(writing that made me feel like a trapeze artist balancing two puppies while everyone watches)

No, we haven’t yet met our goal with cookie sales to afford a “real” solar cooker, but my friend Nan was kind enough to lend me her pizza box solar cooker after she built it herself then realized she didn’t have enough sunny spots.  Our 2nd story corner apartment has plenty of sun, so today I am experimenting with my first solar meal: fake chicken teriyaki stir-fry.  This meal is just for me for lunch, and even if I ate it raw, it wouldn’t hurt me, so it’s a great starter meal.

Ok, I’m beginning by researching some pizza box cooker information online. (Woa, Ripples appears on the first page of Google when I search “pizza box solar cooker stir fry”!) I couldn’t find any stir-fry recipes, but this can’t be that hard if people are baking cookies and potatoes! Potatoes take forever even in a super-hot oven, and it’s 36 degrees outside.

Introducing myself to the pizza box

Now I’m studying the design (way to go Nan!) and reading some of the information she gave me about how it’s built. I want to get familiar with how it opens, how to angle the reflective lid, and in general make sure the box feels comfortable with me before I try to put food into it.

Vegetarian chicken teriyaki

Ready to begin cooking!

Now I’ve got the stir fry spread onto a cookie sheet inside the oven, and have spent the past hour struggling with plastic wrap and scotch tape.  The plastic wrap won out over my patience, and it isn’t insulated right. But I tried really hard!  Our cat Boca wanted to be part of the meal and kept climbing inside the cooker.  Then I realized I’d have to tilt the cooker instead of keeping it flat, so the teriyaki sauce ran out a bit (don’t worry Nan I’ll clean it).  I used Food, Inc. and Fast Food Nation as book props to tilt the cooker to the correct angle for maximum sun exposure.

Starving in the Sunshine

I’m pretty hungry right now so I decided to sip a green smoothie and soak up the sun rays which are hopefully cooking my lunch right now. This is so exciting!

Growing with Defeat

In this lifestyle we’ve chosen, failure is a close friend.  It isn’t always welcome though.  The solar cooker experiment has not been successful today, yet that’s why it’s an experiment – an adventure.  The stir-fry didn’t heat up much, and the rice and chicken textures were unusual. The peas turned a pale green / white.  I decided to just compost this meal and continue striving to cook with renewable energy in the future.  Determination is what’s going to achieve our dreams, not this one meal.

Still, though, I’m extremely disappointed.

  • Lisa


    Yup! Ripples pops up first on Bing too.
    How did the stir fry turn out? I never thought of solar cooking indoors. I have a nice big double window in my living room that faces south and gets sun almost all day. I just might have to try this out! Hummm….I wonder if this can act as a kind of “space heater”. Our heat source is located down the hallway and it’s always a challenge to keep the living room warm in the winter without over-heating the bedrooms. This could even things out a bit if it works.

    • Lisa

      btw, second on the Bing search was an easy way to make a pizza solar oven with “permanent” plastic so you don’t have to struggle with plastic wrap and tape each time you cook.

      • Amanda

        Thanks Lisa! That’s super helpful. I can’t wait until we buy our permanent solar cooker, and can cook pots full of yumminess in it. The stir-fry isn’t done yet but I’ll let everyone know how things turn out later today!

  • Debbie Hackney

    Wow honey! You never cease to amaze me! Let us know how long it took. Longer than a baked potato? Bon appetite!

  • cdndirtbags

    Good for you for giving it a shot! I’m excited to try some different solar cooker designs myself next year. :)

  • Nathan Wilson

    I’ve made one of the Pizza box, Solar cookers. It was pretty neat but, more like a warmer instead of a cooker. The instructions I got had Aluminum foil around the box. If you have some mirrors handy to focus the sunlight that may help to…..

  • Derek

    I saw a dehydrator made this way last weekend at a Boy Scouts training… this design probably works far better for that (although the guy used a 100W light bulb)

    Do you remember that sattlelite dish with all the mirrors we did @ Omni one time? That’s what you’re gonna’ need, CONCENTRATED sunlight…

    I’m thinking about making one of those this winter and seeing what I can do with it next spring – if I can get an old dish and some broken mirrors on Craigslist – then the adhesive is the only trick (and it has to be stuff that can really handle high heat!!!)

    The question then would be how to focus said heat into a chamber for warming? I know eactly how to do pinpoint heat (like a stovetop burner)

  • Laura d’IdCook

    Dear Amanda,

    Your interest toward solar cooking is to congratulate : indeed, why not take advantage of this free energy ?

    Feel free to discover solar ovens & solar barbecues on our website, easy to set up, easy to use & very efficient.
    There are also easy-to-follow solar oven construction manuals !

    Sunny Regards,
    Laura from IDCOOK.

    • Amanda

      I look forward to looking through your products! Thanks!

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