The saga of no fridge

Life without a fridge has become a little complicated, so I will have to un-complicate it starting now.  What I thought would make the transition easier, winter, is what makes it a pain.

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It’s not so much the amount of snow, which isn’t as much as we are accustomed to, it’s the cold that came with the snow.  It’s currently 4F outside right now. The only thing I was storing outside were some eggs.

I bundled up opened the door to realize I needed to dig the door out to get it to open properly and just how cold 4 degrees was today…and promptly unbundled and thought I’d rather let the eggs freeze.

Of course that would be wasting food, so I argued with myself for a few minutes, bundled back up and headed outside to clear the doorway and get the eggs.  They are really cold, I haven’t cracked one open yet, but my guess is that they froze.   After some research I have learned it’s safe to eat an egg that has frozen as long as the shell hasn’t cracked, mine aren’t cracked so I guess I saved them in time.

While my research has shown only meat and dairy need to be refrigerated, I think eliminating the foods I’m not ready to chance without refrigeration (like eggs) would make this much simpler than trying to bring in and use up food before a cold snap.

Have I considered getting another fridge? No, I was even offered one by a friend who found one and stuck it in his storage unit. I wanted to give this a serious try before plugging something back in I may not need. For the most part I am vegetarian, I do eat eggs and a little cheese sometimes along with butter and honey which I don’t need to keep cold. So I will be eliminating cheese and eggs for the time being.

But I have to tell you, I have much more sympathy for past generations who had to not only grow their own food and store/collect it no matter what the weather. It also got me thinking about their outhouses.  I don’t even want to have to worry about bundling up every time I wanted the bathroom.  I understand why my grandmother had a bucket for inside when she was pregnant, can you imagine running out every couple of hours into the bitter cold to pee when you are in the last stages of pregnancy?

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47 Comments

  1. Kudos for seeing if you actually need a fridge – most people would just assume they couldn’t live without one. When I was younger me and my mum actually didn’t have one for about three years and it wasn’t too much of a problem. The main thing was we’d have to buy fruit and vegetables little and often, like not just once per week. I won’t lie, I do agree fridges are helpful. However if I had to choose I’d rather have a freezer, they’re actually more useful in my opinion.

  2. I was just wondering the other day how this was going for you. I’m not sure how warm you keep your apartment. Be careful with keeping prepared foods, like cooked rice, at room temp. Any moist foods like that are breeding grounds for bacteria. Cooked rice was mentioned in a show on food-borne illnesses just a couple of months ago.

    • Thanks Lili, I wouldn’t consider keeping leftovers out, just not something I’m willing to try. For now, I’m just cooking enough rice for a meal, if I do have leftovers, of things like rice, they would be perfectly safe outside as it’s way below freezing right now with no end in sight. Overall, I’d say things are going well. I’m actually eating better as I am more intentional in planning my meals and have added more fruit for meals, and snacks. Even having to go outside to get food means I am making my larger meal for lunch time and eating lighter for dinner which feels good too.

  3. My grandparents didn’t have indoor plumbing until I was a teen, and I’m not that old.. I remember using chamber pots at night to avoid going outdoors into the dark and cold. It was just a normal part of life, but it does seem odd in today’s world. As far as eggs go, I think that we in north America are the odd men out when it comes to refrigerating eggs. Most European countries don’t refridgerate them, even selling them in the middle isles in the produce section.

    • Good to hear from you Heidi, can’t wait to hear you are all settled and enjoying your new home. Because I grew up in a city, they had pretty much put indoor plumbing in all the homes so I was fortunate to not have to use the outhouse or the chamber pot, but you are right it was just a way of life for many who never had the chance to try something different. Looking back, I’m sure that the outhouse was better for the environment as well, hmm, nope not going to try that experiment!

      I have never, unfortunately, been to Europe. I would love to visit and learn from them. I think those of us here in the US and part of Canada are the odd ones out, is it because we want to be seen as more advanced, or having better? I wonder why we do things so differently.

  4. Here in Italy all supermarkets have eggs on non refrigerated shelfs. I put eggs in the fridge just because I have no other safe place to put them (safe as in “not going to break them” :P ). Keep them out without any worries! And buy the small pack (here we find 2 eggs, 4 eggs, 6 eggs and 12 eggs packs)

    • You are so lucky, Sabrina, I would love to walk through your stores just to see what else is different. I wasn’t sure if I should leave the leftover eggs at room temp after being in the car in such cold temperatures, so I put them in my front window which is drafty and has a layer of snow on the bottom portion. The eggs didn’t freeze after all being in the car, but the shells were harder to crack, the yolks were still intact. I had a couple for dinner last night and have no adverse effects from them. Thank you so much for the advice.

  5. I learned a lot reading this post and all its comments. I admire your perseverance. My kitchen is so severely under-insulated I’m sure I could keep quite a many things cold without refrigeration. It kind of makes me want to go through my fridge and see just how much actually needs to be kept cold. Of course now that Bubba is living with me, I am eating more meat and that needs refrigeration. We have a whole ton of veggies in there, and I can’t imagine them staying fresh for two weeks until you go to your next shopping trip. What about these leftovers? Rice doesn’t need to be chilled, but once it’s cooked, doesn’t it need to be? What about soup? Educate me, oh Master! I know I will never go to the extent you are, but I love learning about things like this.

    I did find myself thinking about the olden days of outhouses. I complain about the cold seat, but it’s nothing like an outhouse seat! I can’t imagine. I think I would go without drinking water from 3 pm on!

    • Jean, I would do anything to avoid an outhouse in the winter if I had to use it. I have to confess I would rarely drink water, and that would be horrible for my body.

      Master, not by a long shot, more like a scientist trying something new to see the effects, this is all an experiment for me. Leftovers are a problem. I am making smaller meals and finishing what I make the same day. It sucks in that I love to make large pots of soup and store it, but with just me I was eating it every day for a week and sick of the same soup by the end of the week.

      I did dehydrate a few things this year so I have those and some veggies are okay to be left out longer. For instance celery is good as long as you keep it in a glass of water and change the water regularly, same with carrots. Peppers last longer, cabbage never needs refrigerated so I can eat that a lot.

      I am ordering wood shortly to build a window box to grow fresh greens in my front window. It’s 4 feet wide so that will be a good sized planter of mixed greens.

      I can see why others wouldn’t want to be without a fridge, it does make me think about meal planning and shopping more than before, but if you do go through your fridge and decide what really needs to be kept in there you may find you only need a small dorm sized fridge for those leftovers and the meat and could save electricity from unplugging the full sized one. One good thing is that if you find you want or need a fridge but can live with a smaller one, they are much less expensive. I had gotten mine for less than $100.

        • The thing is many of them don’t need to be refrigerated. I have been getting advice from boaters who say they don’t want to drain what little energy they have on the boat and keep many of those foods out regardless of the instructions not too. Some people have been living on a boat for years doing this and haven’t gotten sick from doing it. What types of foods are you finding in your fridge that have that warning?

          • They came originally from England. She could make a mean scrambled egg, and she was the one who taught me to love oatmeal. She made Butter Currant Tarts and Thumbprint Cookies for the holidays. Everything else, as I remember, she burnt to a crisp so as to avoid giving us all worms! My grandparents were often my caregivers, and as you know I liked my bologna sandwiches back then. Well, Grandma wouldn’t let me eat bologna without frying it up until it looked like a brown ceramic bowl! Ah, memories!

          • I had to laugh at your memories of your grandmother. I used to say my grandmother cooked meat until it was dead. It would be so over cooked it was hard to eat, often burned as well. I always thought it was because she was afraid of seeing the blood, as she used to make a big deal out of not seeing anything pink, but maybe it was her fear of worms. I would have hated fried bologna. Funny thing is I never liked bologna unless it was ground up with pickles and mixed in miracle whip, by my grand father. Wouldn’t buy it from the store it was disgusting to me.

    • I think this sounds like the wonderful opportunity to try a healthy vegan diet. Plant protein is much better for you and healthier than animal protein anyway. There is more science to support that Animal proteins leads to almost all major degenerative diseases then the science that shows smoking is bad for you. I would spend some time reading up on this instead of worrying about going outside for things like eggs and cheese :-) “Eat to Live” by Dr. Fuhrman and “The China Study” by Dr. Campbell are excellent books from the library. You will feel better, look better, and feel like a teenager again! To your excellent health!

      • Tessa, I can’t agree more. I’ve read both books along with Dr. Dean Ornish’s books and do believe a vegan diet is better for me. I’ve been vegan for a period of time several times, but it’s usually pressure from those around me that has me giving up and settling for vegetarian.

        I first became vegan in 1986 when I was diagnosed with cervical cancer and pregnant. I was grasping for straws and it worked. I don’t like the taste of meat, but have always had a love affair with eggs, cheese I have very rarely as it doesn’t agree with me but for a couple dishes I will add some, but it’s bought in small quantities, for that meal only. Another thing that came about from changing my diet was my kidney. I was born with one defective kidney and was on antibiotics very often (several times a year) and even had to undergo tests to see if it needed to be removed. When I changed my diet for the cancer, I mentioned a couple of years later to my new family doctor that I was shocked that I had no problems with my kidney for a couple of years, I hadn’t put the connection together at the time, we talked and she described how to digest animal products our bodies send them to the kidneys which then pulls calcium from the bones to break it up which means we lose calcium every time we eat animal products. (I have never had another problem with my kidney and still have it.) I know I can’t eat it often, so yes, this should be the push I need to be vegan again for my health.

  6. Can you just buy a few eggs at a time? I might have already mentioned this but in most supermarkets in Australia the eggs sit on the shelves for a couple of weeks (non refrigerated) and I’ve never come across an off one.

    I think that would be hideous running outside to pee when pregnant in the freezing cold. It reminds me of a horrible camping trip when we managed to camp in a mosquito infested area where there were no toilets………… We’re really very spoilt having inside bathrooms. I’ve also just remembered using an outhouse on a farm as a child. A giant Bogong moth which are about 4cm in wing span, flew down the neck of my nightie and got stuck inside the long sleeve. Of course in Australia we also have the lovely Red back spider which likes to lurk under seats in outhouses………..

    • Well, now I feel incredibly guilty about complaining about going out in the cold to get food. I think about outhouses, where you can’t exactly stay totally clothed, unless you are a man that would be. At least I stayed dressed while getting my eggs. I can’t imagine how people managed with spiders hiding under the seats, and the moth you had fly into your nightie. I’m okay with most bugs, but I need to know what it is. In Arizona we had a problem with crickets getting inside from the AC units. We had a cover plate over the hole in the ceiling where we could have hung a light fixture or ceiling fan, we didn’t. The crickets would crawl out of that spot, walk around the ceiling then drop on people below. I have a small scar where one landed on my face and bit me when I jumped from surprise.

      The smallest amount we can purchase from the stores here of eggs is half a dozen, which I may get the nerve up to try, I think it’s so ingrained in us to be careful of leaving food out that it’s hard to break the habit with certain foods.

      We are spoiled having all these conveniences today, I think I want to learn more about doing without some of them. I’ve already pitched the TV, microwave, now fridge, land line phone, so now I’m working on producing more, hopefully most of my own food in the coming years.

  7. Oh my! I’m not sure I’d be terribly eager to head out in those temperatures just to save the eggs!

    In my area it’s easy to buy eggs and cheese in very small quantities – so maybe that would be an option? Perhaps you could buy a half dozen of them and use up a few right away and hard boil the rest so they’d keep for at least a few days?

    Good luck with this… you are much more adventurous than I would be!

    • I don’t want to have to run out to the store, getting around in the winter is hard for me, I have to rely on a wheelchair to get to the store and live on a minor highway. There are no sidewalks which means I ride on the edge of the road and when the plows come through they don’t clear that part of the road so I have to share the road with cars going 40+ miles per hour. I try to stock up until we have a warming spell then stock up again. I can ask my son or his wife to just pick me up a few things when they go out, and I do ride into town with them every two weeks when they do major shopping to avoid sharing the road with cars. I’m determined to figure out what I like best and make that work and the fridge was a pain more than a help many days.

      • OK… now I think you’re doubly or triply more adventurous than I would be! I guess being a person with sooooo many food restrictions due to allergies and other dietary problems, the idea of cutting out any food for a reason other than medical seems unpalatable to me. But it sounds like you’ve got a plan!

        One other thought does occur to me though… probably not helpful now but maybe when you get your freezer. I have a friend who uses a product called “egg beaters.” They’re some sort of egg substitute, and I’m not entirely sure what’s in them other than egg whites. Not sure I’d exactly recommend them since it sorta seems like one of those “food-like substances” to me. But… I mention it because she freezes them and thaws them as she needs them. Just thought I’d mention it.

        Best of luck with your little experiment! I look forward to hearing about the next chapter!

        • I do have food restrictions, I born with a kidney that doesn’t work and due to my disability there are foods I can’t swallow. I have trouble with potatoes cooked certain ways, cheese, breads, meat, even peanut butter…..so the only food I would be giving up due to the fridge that I don’t have trouble eating are the eggs. But even with eggs, I can’t eat them often or it will cause kidney problems.

          I’ve seen the egg beaters, but not sure if I have ever wanted to try them. I think about how foods are handled by workers and wonder what else is in them, or if they were contaminated in any way. But thanks for the idea, I’ll keep it in mind and see if it’s something worth checking into.

          I am surprised by how many people are honestly interested in my saga of living without a fridge, I really thought I was one of the only ones who ever questioned if it was worth having.

  8. Thanks for sharing! From my experience, eggs and even certain cheeses will be okay without refrigeration. Here is a link about the eggs: http://www.thekitchn.com/is-refrigerating-eggs-necessary-176617.

    When I first moved here I didn’t have a refrigerator; I ended up going with a half-height “dorm” fridge and a deep freezer instead of a traditional fridge. I stock up on items to save money and reduce how often we go to the store. I thought I may want to go without a fridge but we were miserable. It is much cheaper to pay a little on the electric than it is to run to the store daily for foodstuffs.

    If you can find the Foxfire books I think it is the first one that tells you how to salt meat and preserve other types of food if you need it.

    Another idea: why not freeze water in jugs outside and then use them in a cooler for your eggs?

    • Thank you for some great ideas. I could ask some friends/family to save me their milk jugs if I decide I miss eggs. Meat isn’t an issue I don’t cook or eat it. My fridge was a small dorm-sized one, and what I missed most was a working freezer, so I will get the freezer but not another fridge. Living alone, I tend to like to make large batches to store for leftovers, but I hate having to eat the same thing all week to finish it, and don’t enjoy having to cook everyday to make smaller amounts. The freezer will be a welcome addition.

    • Thank you for some great ideas. I could ask some friends/family to save me their milk jugs if I decide I miss eggs. Meat isn’t an issue I don’t cook or eat it. My fridge was a small dorm-sized one, and what I missed most was a working freezer, so I will get the freezer but not another fridge. Living alone, I tend to like to make large batches to store for leftovers, but I hate having to eat the same thing all week to finish it, and don’t enjoy having to cook everyday to make smaller amounts. The freezer will be a welcome addition.

  9. Just make sure you get some protein my friend. Would hate for you to get sick. Because of our modern lifestyle are bodies get used to certain things. Slow ease into a new lifestyle is the point I think. With older generations they were born into it. So they were used to it. We are not. We are spoiled. But I like my little luxuries. I remember my grandparents had an outhouse, and man in the winter that was a bitch! Excuse my language, haha! but it was. :-)

    • I was very fortunate that my grandparents no longer had an outhouse by the time I was born, I would have hated it, like you. As for protein it’s amazing how much protein we can get from vegan sources of food so I’m not too worried about it. I do keep nuts and seeds which I add to things for added protein, but I know it’s not a problem in my diet.

  10. I didn’t mention it before when I wrote about having to pump water and the outhouse in Germany growing up because people now would think it so grose but we always had a little pot under our bed for the night time needs. Even as a child, I hated it. When people ask me to go camping, I tell them my idea of camping is a hotel without room service. Anywhere I go, I will pay extra if necessary for my own indoor bathroom and I do not want to share with someone I don’t know. Call me peculiar, that’s just how I row. I could live without a fridge if I had plenty of restaurants around but otherwise, at least a small one for left overs. The hardy stock I came from has become a little brittle as I’ve aged.:)

    • I do enjoy camping, but at this stage in the game I need an indoor bathroom, not an outhouse, but my camping is only when it’s warm, never in the cold. My grandparents grew up with outhouses as well, but unless they were pregnant they were expected to always head outside, no matter what the weather to do their business as their families felt it was gross to have a chamber pot. I too hate to share bathrooms, and could never have survived dorm life in college.

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