ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Can You Cook Frozen TV Dinners in a Solar Cooker?

Updated on September 23, 2013

Do a quick search on the Internet, and you will find that people do cook frozen dinners in their solar cookers. The dinners get hot enough to eat. A palatable temperature, however, is only part of what you are looking for from the solar cooker. The other part is safety. Your solar cooker must be able to get hot enough to kill harmful bacteria in the dinner. Some cookers can; some can't.

Frozen Dinner Trays

At first glance, frozen TV dinners look ideal for solar cooking. The ideal container for solar cooking is lightweight and dark colored. Most frozen dinner trays are just that. Most also have a oven-safe plastic wrap over the top of the dinner. That, too, is ideal for solar cooking.

The Problem

The problem is that TV dinners differ one from another. Some are fully cooked, some are partially cooked, and some are uncooked. You can't always tell which is which simply by looking at the dinner. For example, a raw piece of chicken may be coated with a partially cooked breading. Food scientists develop the instructions on the package to insure that the recommended cooking time and temperature is adequate to ensure the safety of the particular food in the dinner. Cook the dinner too slowly or too little, and you could be facing a food contamination issue.

Solar Cooker Power

If your solar cooker gets hot enough to mimic a conventional oven, simply preheat it and follow the conventional oven instructions. If your cooker cooks more like a crock pot, you can use a crock pot test to determine if it has at least the minimum amount of power to cook a frozen dinner. Pour some water into a TV dinner tray until the water level reaches the typical level of the food in the tray. Freeze the tray. Lift the ice and tuck an oven-proof thermometer probe into the tray, under the ice. Put the ice in the solar cooker at the time of day you'd like to cook frozen dinners. Heat the tray for four hours, periodically reaiming the cooker toward the sun. At the end of four hours check the thermometer. If the temperature is under 140 degrees Fahrenheit, your cooker is too underpowered to cook a single TV dinner. To be safe, you have to be able to get your TV dinner above 140 degrees in less than four hours; 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit is the "danger zone" for food.

If you plan to cook more than one TV dinner at a time, you'll need to add a second (or third, or fourth) tray full of ice to your experiment. It's enough to put the thermometer under one of the blocks of ice, but you'll need to have more than one in the oven to simulate cooking conditions.

Safe Temperature for Frozen Dinners

Even if your cooker can reach 140 degrees in less than four hours, it still might be underpowered. To be safe, you need to get poultry to 165 degrees Fahrenheit before eating it. Beef needs to be cooked to 145 to 160 degrees and pork to 160 to 170 degrees. Everything else needs to be heated to at least 165 degrees. Always check a TV dinner in several places with an instant-read cooking thermometer before eating it. If it's not hot enough, it could make you sick.

If the instructions for your frozen dinner say to let the food rest for a few minutes after cooking, make sure to add the rest period to your solar cooking routine as well. Resting is partly about letting the juices permeate the food, but it's partly to let the heat permeate.

Solar Cooking Conditions

Remember, too, that unlike a conventional oven, a solar oven's efficiency varies with the weather. If your cooker passed your tests under ideal conditions, and you are now cooking a frozen dinner in partly cloudy or windy conditions, you may be unsafe. Using an oven thermometer with a food probe can help you keep an eye on the temperature of food as it is cooking.

Solar Cooking IQ Quiz

view quiz statistics


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)