The $5.00 Dollar Solar Oven.

I know it seems like I have solar-cooking on the brain lately, since my last 3 posts have been about solar cooking options.  Don’t worry, I promise you it’s nothing more than a mild case of heat-stroke!
All kidding aside, I have really become a fan of solar cooking, like you haven’t noticed.  This time of year, much of the nation would be hard pressed to cook a meal with solar energy, but since I am in the “sunshine-state,” I might as well try a few solar experiments.  I have 3 store bought solar cooking options I purchased over the last 5 years,

– The “SunOven” solar oven. About $275.00,

– The “SunFlair” portable, folding solar oven.  About $99.00,

– The “SunRocket” portable, solar kettle.  About $60.00,

All three set-ups have their pros and cons, and as you can see above, all 3 cost a fair amount to purchase. On a popular mobile lifestyle website I frequent, “CheapRVLiving,” one fellow reader showed how he built a solar oven out of a cardboard box, aluminum foil and glue… that was really pretty cool, and really inexpensive at a total cost of about $5.00.  That led me to search the internet, looking for other people who have built their own solar ovens on the cheap.  On “You Tube,” I found a video of a woman who built a “Dollar Store” solar oven with the folding windshield reflectors many of us put in our car windows on hot, sunny days and oven bags.  I thought the idea was pretty awesome, so yesterday I purchased the materials necessary to build my own “Dollar Store Solar Oven.”

Materials and Costs of the “Dollar Store Solar Oven.”

– Two folding windshield reflectors, $1.50 each for a total cost of $3.00
– A 2 count box of Oven Bags, cost…………………………….. $1.00
– A 4 count box of medium metal office clips, cost………………$1.00

Total Cost………………………………………………………..$5.00 Dollars.

You will need a pot to cook in and of course the ingredients of your meal.

I reused a few other items that came with previous solar oven purchases, namely a small bakers rack, a small bakers tray, a silicone pot and an oven thermometer.  All four of these items were available at the “Dollar Store” I shopped at, for about an additional $10.00 dollars.  So I guess if you needed to buy all items at once you could probably do it for around $15.00.

The build is quite simple as you will see in the pictures below,
Unfold the 2 windshield reflectors and place one below your cooking pot and one behind your cooking pot.  I used a small folding chair to help the sun reflectors maintain their shape with the support of the chair’s back, seat and arms.  I used the metal office clips, the kind you can use to hold a stack of papers together, to clip the sun reflector to the chair.  This helped the oven maintain its form in the wind.  I then took the black silicone pot, filled it with my meal of sweet peppers and ground turkey, and placed it on the bakers rack and tray.  The rack, tray, thermometer and pot go into the oven bag and I then used one clip to seal the end of the oven bag.  I placed the bag on the reflectors and started cooking.  The bakers rack elevates the food so the heat is evenly distributed 360 degrees around the pot.  The bakers tray helps to maintain heat in the oven as the metal heats up and then gives off that heat slowly.  I was really amazed at how quickly the Bag / Oven heated up, the thermometer went from 60 degrees to over 200 degrees in about 20 minutes.  Pretty amazing, but then again I am easily amazed and amused!  Remember to seal the bag tightly, as that is how the “oven” stays hot in order to cook evenly.  The bags are reusable and if the pot is sealed correctly, there will be no condensation build-up in the bag making reading your thermometer easy!  I read that ground turkey needs to reach a minimum of 165 degrees to properly cook.  After about 30 mins my oven reached 220 degrees!  The oven eventually reached about 260 degrees when I removed the food from the bag!  Not bad for a $5.00 dollar, “Dollar Store” Solar Oven.

Below, you can see the end results…. a tasty lunch of Sweet Peppers and Ground Turkey, courtesy of the mighty Sun.  Since I can’t share a bite with you, trust me when I tell you it was delicious!

The $5.00 Dollar Solar Oven Materials.
Sweet Peppers with Ground Turkey.
The Oven ready to start cooking.
Close-up of the Oven, Pot on Rack and Tray and Thermometer.
Peppers with Ground Turkey done cooking.
Peppers with Ground Turkey, hot sauce and cheese added!