What to cook or play during loadshedding to make power outages more bearable.
Loadshedding has been around for more than 10 years. According to Eskom, we can expect it to be around for at least a few more.
In this article, we offer:
- ideas of what to do during loadshedding
- suggestions for cooking during loadshedding
- some basic safety precautions to keep in mind
- examples of useful items, from long-burning candles to solar chargers.
We’re used to 24/7 access to the internet. This can make finding something to do during loadshedding seem like a challenge.
Here are some activities that don’t depend on electricity, for inspiration next time the lights go out.
Call a friend
Too often these days, we fail to take the time to catch up with friends and family. Short text messages just aren’t the same.
A good natter will make you completely forget that the lights are out. It could also comfort someone else who’s on their own, especially when the lights are off.
Look up to the stars
Invest in a telescope and take up astronomy with the kids.
Or keep things simple and just take a blanket outside. When is the last time you cleared your mind completely and watched the night sky?
This is just as magical for kids if your knowledge of constellations is pretty poor. Never mind Orion – that looks like a shopping cart!
Play with pets
Give your pets some extra love and attention. Play with them or give them a good groom.
Look at family photos
Take a trip down memory lane by looking at old photos. You’ll need some focused light – but candles will do.
Have children? Kids (of all ages) love looking at photos of themselves when they were younger.
This may also be a good opportunity to sort out piles of photos, putting them in albums or choosing ones to frame.
Take time to meditate
Use the quiet and lack of distractions to meditate.
Soak in a bubble bath
Relax in a hot bubble bath complete with candles. You won’t even remember that the power is down.
Read out loud
Take turns reading your favourite book or poem out loud to your partner or kids.
This may seem old-fashioned. But don’t be surprised if it makes people in your family secretly look forward to loadshedding. Dim light can make a story session seem even cosier than it otherwise would.
Play a game
If you have sufficient light, a board game or puzzle is fun. Charades is another classic and can be entertaining even in low light.
Get a head start on a domestic chore
A power outage can be a good time to chop veggies, give a room a bit of a dusting or even do out a clothing cupboard. You’ll need a decent light source, just for the area where you work – a rechargeable light or even a powerful torch.
Don’t just sit and wait for the power to come back on. It’s much more rewarding to do something.
If you own a gas stove, you’ll still be able to cook when the power is out. You may still need to invest in a stove-top kettle for tea and coffee. Here are some useful ideas for cooking during loadshedding.
Self-contained single gas plates aren’t expensive and can be stored when not in use. They’re intended for camp cooking but work well in the kitchen.
Here are some single-plate recipe ideas to get you started:
- seafood paella
- boerewors and tomato risotto
- Thai curry with noodles
- fennel and cannellini bean stew
- one-pot chicken curry
- no-bake mac and cheese.
Use a hotbox or Wonderbag
A Wonderbag or hot box uses insulation to keep a pot of food warm and allows it to keep cooking for up to 12 hours. It’s essentially a non-electric slow-cooker. If your power goes out when a dish is in the oven, transfer it to the hot box and it will keep cooking (albeit slowly).
Have a braai
For South Africans, an obvious solution when the power is out is to start a fire and have a lekker braai!
You might try experimenting with some new braai recipes.
Examples that don’t require electricity include most meats, potatoes and other vegetables cooked in foil, braai broodtjies, potjie, toasted marshmallows and braai bread.
South Africans may be accustomed to power outages. But accidents are still more likely when the lights are out. It pays to take a few simple precautions.
Have your alternative lighting ready
Have torches, candles, matches or solar lights set up and ready to go, so you’re not caught short when the lights go out.
Clear walkways of obstacles
Keep walkways and stairs free of clutter so you can move around the house in low light or the dark without risking a fall.
Keep an eye on candles
Make sure children and pets can’t knock candles over and start a fire. Never leave candles unattended.
Make sure the oven, hob or hot elements are off
Go round the home and check that all heating elements are off.
When the power comes back, they could heat up and could cause a fire or burn. This is especially a worry if you’ve gone to bed or left the house.
Make sure your phones are charged
In the hours before the power goes off, make sure all devices are charged or topped up.
You might consider investing in some of these items to see you through the next few rounds of loadshedding.
Some recommended items for loadshedding – ranging from cheap to moderately priced – include:
- long-burning tealight candles (they’re double the standard height)
- a rechargeable handheld light
- a single gas plate
- an automatic plug-in light that can detect power outages
- a gas heater to stay warm
- solar chargers or power banks
- gas stove kettle.
More expensive (but useful) items to consider
Given predictions that loadshedding could continue for several more years in South Africa, it could be worth investing in a few more expensive items.
Some useful examples:
- UPS to keep your devices and Wi-Fi on
- closed combustion fireplace
- solar or gas geyser
- gas stove and oven
- a generator.
At XtraSpace, we can’t help keep the power on – but we hope you enjoyed our ideas of what to do during loadshedding.