So here is a cheap, useful item for your preparations: The “turkey deep fryer” kits that sell for around $100 as [the U.S.] Thanksgiving [holiday] gets closer are perfect for all kinds of disaster-related tasks. They often sell for even less on the day after the holiday.
The typical kit comes with a large, high-powered propane burner with stand, a 5 gallon stainless kettle, lid, a large thermometer, and often and assortment of pans and perforated steaming/frying inserts.
You can boil 5 gallons of water in about 20 minutes with one of these, and they are perfect for steaming large quantities of veggies, making gumbo, etc.
As a further bonus, they are perfect for rendering soap or smelting lead. (Use dedicated [and specially marked] pans for these tasks!)
Pick up a few large utensils at a restaurant supply store, and you’ve got the basics for a Red Cross-style soup line. – JN-EMT
JWR Replies: Use the standard safety precautions whenever melting lead, as previously described in SurvivalBlog.