Introduction: Urban Hay Box

Picture of Urban Hay Box

Need something to do with all those unwanted bills and junk mail?
Want to save money on you fuel bill?

Cook your food using an Urban Hay Box!
You can cook anything in an urban hay box that needs a long simmer, like stews, soups, steamed puddings, etc. Because it needs no attention while cooking, it is a great way of cooking if you have something to do for a few hours and you want some hot food as soon as you get back.

What you need:
1. Cooing pot with a lid.
2. Large Box (one that your pot can fit in with a few inches to spare).
3. Styrofoam/insulation.
4. Bills, junk mail (any paper that needs shredding).
5. Document Shredder.

Step 1:

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Shred you paper, this is now your ‘urban hay’. You will need a lot; you may need to save it for some time.

Step 2:

Ensure your pot can fit in the box with plenty of room. You will need a gap of 3 to 4 inches on each side, the bigger the space the better. The more insulation you can get around the pot the better the heat retention to cook your food.

Step 3:

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Prepare your food as normal. (I was cooking a stew, so I browned the meat in the pot. Then added the vegetables and toped it up with beef stock.)
Bring to the boil.
**TIP – try to fill you pot, the less air space in the pot the less heat will be lost in cooking**

Step 4:

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While you are waiting for the pot to come to the boil, you can start insulating your box. I had some Styrofoam knocking around so I started packing that around the base and the walls.

Step 5:

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Add your ‘urban hay’. Pack a layer on the bottom and then work your way up the sides, making a ‘nest’ for your pot. This will help insulate and trap the heat in the pot. Ensure there is enough insulation on the base; you want your pot just under the centre point of your box.

Step 6:

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When to pot has reached boiling point, give it a stir so nothing is stuck on the bottom. Put the lid back on and place in its ‘nest’. Now you can fill the rest of the box with your urban hay, packing any spaces around the pot. Taking care not to burn your hands in the process!
**TIP – a good fitting lid is vital to keep the urban hay out of you food**

Step 7:

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Put the lid on your box and leave it alone for a few hours. The more insulation you have the longer you can leave it. Most things take at least 3-4 hours if not more. I left this stew for 6 hours and it was still piping hot.

Step 8:

This way for cooking is very fuel efficient, as you only need to bring it to the boil and then take it off the heat. Because the box is insulated, it retains the pots heat. The food is then cooked in its own heat! Long slow cooking times means you can use cheaper cuts of meet and still get lovely tender chunks in your stew.
When I was taking the pot out of the Urban Hay Box, I noticed some condensation building up on the inside of the lid (if used a lot it may lead to a box of ‘papier mache’). This could be caused by using a plastic box or maybe you could use a better fitting lid on the pot, like a pressure cooker. Anyway I wasn't keeping the urban hay as we have a steady supply of junk mail to shred!


meddler (author)2014-12-27

I made an Ible on this once upon a time. It's a great way to efficiently cook a soup or stew.

tlebsack (author)2014-05-29

I'm thinking the easiest box would be a cooler. Modern slow cookers have been mandated by government to minimum temperature standards (they won't even let us decide how to cook our own food) so this method would be like using a slow cooker from the 70's. A great idea - I'll give it a try.

VentureScout (author)tlebsack2014-06-13

I was going to use a cooler box, but the one we have here is quite narrow and I was afraid of melting the sides with the pot. I might try with a smaller pot for my porridge (thanks for the idea Costarus). If using a cooler box I would still pack around the pot with 'urban hay'.

anitacurnutt (author)2014-05-30

Excellent idea!


DizzyDeeCrafts (author)2014-05-30

I love this instructable!


Costarus (author)2014-05-29

I this way prepare porridge. In the evening, fill in groats with boiling water, in the morning she's ready. No need to waste time for cooking.

VentureScout (author)Costarus2014-06-10

Anything that gives you an extra few minutes in bed is a good idea! I must try this, maybe with a smaller box.


AmandaFayefx (author)2014-03-18

we used to cook like this on camping trips, along with solar ovens, very cool

Thanks AmandaFayefx, we use hay boxes when we are camping too, I was just putting a modern twist on an old favorite.

graham.dempsey (author)2014-03-10


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