When we moved to our new-to-us homestead, we brought our fridge with us. It never made it into the house – it’s actually still packed up in our moving truck! After we’d gone so long without it, we didn’t see a real need to haul it into the house, hook it up and start using more energy. Afterall, why increase our energy consumption when we didn’t really need to? Yup, that’s right – we quit our fridge!
We had the pleasure (that’s sarcasm, folks) of moving three times over the past two years. During those moves, we got used to living without a fridge. Intitially, we purchased ice every few days and put it in our cooler with all of the normal items you’d put into a fridge; things like meat, leftovers, fresh fruit, etc. Sick of shelling out the money on ice, we started to find ways to live completely without it.
So, what are some tips for living without a fridge?
Find other ways to preserve your foods. Refrigeration isn’t the only method for keeping foods from spoiling. You can do what we did when we started out; use only the freezer to store perishibles that won’t be consumed immediately. Since we don’t consume any dairy (allergies), the biggest thing we had to worry about was keeping meat cold. Once we settled into our house, we stored any meat or other perishibles in the deep freezer. But it wasn’t long before we thought, “Do we really need that freezer?” As it turns out, we didn’t if we could preserve our meats in other ways. Hubby and I agreed that canning was the best way to go, and it gave me an excuse to buy a new pressure canner! And if you really want to know, I bought this one – the All American 41 1/2 Quart. I figured, with so much meat to can between hunting, fishing and raising our food, bigger had to be better. Besides, I’m addicted to canning now! And there are so many other ways to preserve food that I cannot wait to get to working on this year; drying, fermenting, salting and more.
Evaluate what foods in your fridge really need to be there in the first place. Not everything you find in your fridge has to be there. I’ve learned, over the past few years, that a lot of things we’re used to refrigerating are just fine stored in other locations. Eggs can be stored on the counter, and so can things like lard or used cooking oil (kept covered). Fresh produce doesn’t require refrigeration either, and some actually does better without it. Even a number of condiments can be left out indefinitely.
Discover alternate fridge-like storage solutions. Basements or root cellars make excellent alternatives to electricity hogging refrigerators. Afterall, they were used for countless years before electricity ever came to be. I like to store produce in my basement, along with any opened jars of fruit or jelly. In colder months, you can find even more chilly places to store your foods. Here in the UP, we’re “blessed” with a few extra months of winter. The porch or window sill work great to keep foods cold, and sometimes even frozen.
Try cooking more from scratch. We cook 99% of our foods from scratch, due to food allergies and a strong desire to be more self-sufficient. It has really lessened our need for cold food storage spaces. When most of my ingredients come from dried goods, fresh (or canned!) produce and canned meats, there’s little to worry about when it comes to storing. Even leftovers can be left out without worries, as long as they are reheated properly each time you plan to consume them.
Cook only for the meal (or two). We don’t cook massive amounts of food. We usually only cook enough for the meal we are having, enough so that everyone can have more than one helping. Anything left from that meal either get snacked on throughout the day, or reheated and added to the next meal. Ideally, you want to heat any leftovers at least once every 12 hours by bringing to a rolling boil for a few minutes. I usually have to add some liquid when reheating foods.
Enjoy more space! It’s something that might totally slip your mind, but without a big, bulky fridge in your kitchen, you’ll have much more space to enjoy – something I always appreciate more of, living in a small space.
Do you have a fridge? Could you (would you) live without one? Have you ever considered it?