Going fridgless, to most people would be paramount to going topless, many people couldn’t imagine living their lives without having a 19+/- cubic foot energy eating, leftover storing, inefficient cold box sitting in their kitchen. Now days refrigerators do so much, in my old life, I worked for a big box electronics store, the one with the blue shirts and the little yellow price tag, they were starting to put computers in the door, not just electronics, but a real computer screen that could access the internet and help you with your shopping and let you watch TV on your fridge.
I haven’t had a refrigerator, at least not a full size one, in my house since we went off grid over 3 years ago. We do have a small dorm sized cube fridge in the house, but we so seldom use it, we mostly use it when family comes to visit during the summer months. Honestly, most foods that say they “require” refrigeration, actually do not. Things that have lots of vinegar in them, think of pickles, relish, mustard… vinegar is a preservative, also some hard cheeses, especially the ones that have a wax or plastic coating on them do just fine outside of the fridge, I buy Velveta processed cheese, it says it needs to be refrigerated after opening, but I don’t do that, I just keep it sealed up well, and keep it in the cooler part of the house, I use it up within a week of opening it and it has been just fine. Fresh eggs will keep for at least a week, especially if they are unwashed. Of course you have to be smart about things, you don’t want to make yourself sick (or worse), if your kitchen is hot, then don’t expect foods to last very long, even though many foods do not need refrigeration, they still need to be kept cool. I don’t buy Velveta in the summer unless I buy a small brick of it and I am going to use it quickly, the same thing goes for a lot of other foods, just use your brain and you should be OK.
When I did have a full sized fridge, living in town, most of what I kept in the fridge was leftovers, I kept them until I decided to toss them out. The money I spent keeping leftovers cold until I was ready to throw them away could have purchased lots more food. Now I’m more careful about how much food I prepare, we generally do not have leftovers, if there is some food left after we are full (and that would be only a tiny bit) we go ahead and throw away, that really means putting it outside for the critters to eat, it’s always gone the next morning.
I will not lie and say I don’t miss refrigerators and freezers completely, I do miss having a gallon of milk on hand, I also miss sour cream and ice cubes, though I don’t use ice as much as a lot of other people I know. In the summer, I miss having cold beverages at my fingertips.
So we are working on getting refrigeration for our foods, especially now that we have a good shelter over our heads and life has slowed down quite a bit. Hubby and I have taken 2 different approaches toward setting up some refrigeration in the house now, I purchased an external thermostat, it will be used on a small chest freezer, you set it for refrigerator temps and once it reaches the set temp, it cuts off the power to the freezer. Chest freezers are much more efficient than refrigerators, they are better insulated, but more importantly, they open from the top, when you open a refrigerator, all of the cold air drops out of the box, right across your feet into the kitchen. With the chest design, the cold air stays inside the box. This is reported to be very good for off gridders with limited power.
Hubby is removing a propane powered fridge out of an old travel trailer, it needs to be cleaned up, and there is no guarantee that it still works, though we are pretty sure it will. We will see which one is the most efficient and least costly to us. It will also be nice to have 2 different options for refrigeration, we can use which ever one we have the most resources (power or propane) for.
But until we have one or both of those set up, we will continue to live essentially fridgless, using canned, dried and otherwise non-refrigerated foods, or when we do purchase things like fresh meat, we use it the same day.
Of course there are other ways to keep your foods cold, there is the zeer pot, ice, coolers (filled with ice), root cellars, I’m sure there are more ways too. I was inspired to write this because of another contributor here, Elnav, he started this thread in the forums here.
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