Here’s a semi-minimalist cooking kit that we assembled from some extra gear. This kit bridges the gap between cooking outdoors over a fire and cooking on a formal campstove. It’s meant to be a short-term solution that gives us the ability to cook inside of a shelter. Plus, it seemed to be a good way to utilize a MOLLE pouch that could be re-purposed once the kit ran out of fuel.

Here’s the kit fully expanded:

The contents include:

  • 1- Folding Sterno Stove
  • 1- Can of sterno-style fuel
  • 1- Aluminum Mess kit, (Boy Scout type).
  • 1- Fork,Spoon and P-38 can openers on a keyring.
  • 1- Small container of Strike Anywhere matches
  • 1- Surplus MOLLE 200 round SAW Pouch
  • Several homemade packets of sugar, salt, seasonings, instant coffee and tea.


The entire contents fit into the MOLLE pouch with room to spare. It takes a little practice to pack these items so there is no “rattle”. I originally left the cup out of the kit since each of us has a canteen cup on our person. The mess kit cup was added back to the kit as filler to keep the sterno fuel can from making noise inside the shell.

The fork, spoon and can openers are also redundant since each person also has their own set. The fork and spoon were taken from a cheap set of silverware that we used to have. They were just cut down in length and drilled for the keyring. The set could be clamped between the pan handle and the mess kit if necessary to silence any rattles.

A small covered pot was originally included with this mess kit. It was removed to make room for the sterno fuel and the packets of seasonings, coffee, and tea.

The pouch is a 200 round SAW pouch. They’re about twice the size of a USGI canteen pouch. We found these on ebay. I’ve seen them in bulk on the government auction sites and at one of the surplus stores around here. It makes a good general purpose pouch and our intent would be to use this pouch for other things if we were still away from home when the cooking kit is no longer useful.

The stove is an actual Sterno brand stove. It’s been around for many years and it’s just one out of several brands that we have in our extra gear. I’ve used these with regular tinder and coals several times in a pinch. This one is a bit bigger than most.

This is just one way to do this sort of kit. It works for us because the items were already on hand and we are now able to cook or boil water on the tailgate or in a tent for at least a few days no matter where we’re at. This kit could probably be made for around $25 or $30 at current retail prices.
Some of the above items are currently available through Amazon:

Sterno Single Burner Folding Stove – 50002

Coleman Aluminum Mess Kit



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