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A new challenge: going refrigerator-free


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Unfortunately, our refrigerator took its last breath two days ago. Even more unfortunately, a new one is not in the budget. I am strongly considering not replacing it for now, but I wondered if anyone else has done this successfully?

 

I still have a large chest freezer in the garage, where I can store meat, shredded cheese and leftovers. I can buy shelf-stable milk. I can leave fruits, veggies, butter and eggs unrefrigerated. We don't use a lot of salad dressings, mayo, etc.

 

DH says absolutely no way are we buying a second hand refrigerator, so we either pay for a new one or we go without. If we buy one, we will have to use an 12 months SAC plan. We are almost certain we can pay it off in 12 months, but we never thought we'd have to borrow for something like this, either.

 

So, my question is, should we wait it out and make do without a fridge for a while, try to save and buy one with cash ? Or, take on the debt and live in style? ;)

 

If you have lived without a fridge, what are some of the ways you coped?

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Well refusing to buy used is pretty much shooting yourself in the foot. Both of our last two fridges have been used from family. The last one we left when we moved and had lasted ten years.

 

People move and don't want to drag them. I would check Craig's list and find a used appliance store.

 

Sorry but being without a fridge is a pain. We did that for about a month this winter, but we could put a cooler on the back porch.

 

If nothing else I'd buy a cheap small fridge for milk and such. Back to school sales should be starting.

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I consider a fridge to be a necessity and would either buy a good working, clean, relatively new second hand one (if I had the funds) or get a new one on the monthly plan through a reputable appliance store. [or credit card, or borrow from family, or whatever. Fridge = mandatory in our house.]

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Well refusing to buy used is pretty much shooting yourself in the foot. Both of our last two fridges have been used from family. The last one we left when we moved and had lasted ten years.

 

People move and don't want to drag them. I would check Craig's list and find a used appliance store.

 

Sorry but being without a fridge is a pain. We did that for about a month this winter, but we could put a cooler on the back porch.

 

If nothing else I'd buy a cheap small fridge for milk and such. Back to school sales should be starting.

 

 

:iagree: will all of this post, but especially the bolded.

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Be careful with things like shelf stable miilk. Even those require refrigeration after opening.

 

You can keep an ice chest with ice, but that would get expensive after awhile.

 

For food safety reasons I would look into buying one ASAP. Sears, Lowes, and so on often have floor displays on sale when models are changing for much lower prices. And, they have SAC programs at times. Even if they don't, I would buy from them with interest rather than a rent to own place with inflated prices. Most used appliance places in our area will still offer in store warranties for the used items they sell.

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If you add an external thermometer to a freezer you can keep your freezer at 40 degrees- perfect to use as a fridge! The plus is that it uses far less electricity than a conventional fridge due to the insulation.

 

You can google "green hack freezer" to find out more about this most ingenious solution! We live off the grid, so will be doing this soon to save on electricity usage.

 

I have lived with out a fridge for many years. We only needed to keep a few things cool, and I used a cooler for those items. It was a complicated process of buying frozen items that thawed and cooled the cooler (to avoid buying ice). We just did not ever buy anything that needed cooling except meat and sometimes dairy, and we only kept that cool because we lived too far from the store to go every day. We only went to town once a week, so ate our perishables up quickly and went veg the rest of the week. Most items did fine set in a box in a shady area behind the house.

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We have always had used refrigerators. The first one came with the house we bought. It is still running in our rental home in MO. We got a free one from my mom's office when they moved. It is at least 15 years old, it does not run great, but we have had it for two years.

 

Why does he not want to get a used one? Is he afraid it is a waste of money or is he concerned about it being sanitary? Bleach works wonders if it is the second reason!

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I have not coped with living with NO fridge at all, but have coped with living with a dorm-sized fridge and a family of five.

 

So, my thoughts.

 

If you can get shelf stable milk, etc. will you still want to drink it cold? Will you put ice cubes in it (from a bag of ice in the chest freezer)? Or will you put it in the freezer for a short period to cool it down? Or, do you have an ice chest that you can use for cooling items and keeping cool things cool?

 

Things that might need to be kept cool but not frozen:

cold cuts/lunch meat

leftovers (until eaten the next day)

juice or other beverages, unless you can/will use ice cubes

cheese/other dairy (yogurt, sour cream, etc)

various "refrigerate after opening" sauces - not just salad dressing, but soy sauce, yakisoba sauce, etc.

 

What I would do would be to get either an ice chest that could be used for "cool but not frozen" stuff (such as listed above), then shop daily/every other day for those items. You won't be able to store huge amounts in an ice chest, but maybe up to a week's worth depending on if you want to cool down your milk in order to drink it. Plus it does have to be refrigerated/kept cool after opened, so you do need somewhere to put it between the time you open it and the time you use it up. Same with many fruit juices.

 

If you do not have an ice chest &/or don't want to deal with buying ice every day or two, you might price dorm sized fridges. A new dorm sized fridge would be same or less than a used full sized fridge and will give you a decent interim plan for those things that just can't be left on the shelf all the time.

 

I definitely think if you do either of those two things, you can manage for a while. More long term with a dorm fridge than an ice chest, but you could make either one work. Just don't forget that shelf stable ends for a lot of products once those products are opened, and prepare to shop more often as you can fit smaller quantities in the smaller cool space.

 

Best of luck!

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Be careful with things like shelf stable miilk. Even those require refrigeration after opening.

 

You can keep an ice chest with ice, but that would get expensive after awhile.

 

For food safety reasons I would look into buying one ASAP. Sears, Lowes, and so on often have floor displays on sale when models are changing for much lower prices. And, they have SAC programs at times. Even if they don't, I would buy from them with interest rather than a rent to own place with inflated prices. Most used appliance places in our area will still offer in store warranties for the used items they sell.

 

Actually, just use gallon milk jugs or two liter bottles to freeze water in the deep freeze. They last a long time keeping a cooler cold and are simply stuck back in the ice chest to refreeze when thawed.

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We bought a house in 2005 as part of an estate, so I'm guessing the fridge was older--I don't know. Anyway, they left it w/ the house, & we've used it ever since.

 

Six years w/ a used fridge would give a person a lot of time to either save for a new one & then recoup the cost of the used one OR to change their mind & just stick w/ the used one.

 

Do you know why your dh is against a used fridge?

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1. check freecycle

2. check friends neighbors with college age/recent graduate kids, many buy those little fridges for dorm rooms and then don't have anything to do with them when they move to an apartment.

 

We were without a fridge for several weeks this year. We used an ice chest and our neighbors lent us their dds dorm fridge.

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If your dh is adamantly "no used fridge", could you afford a dorm fridge (they are going on sale right now) to hold milk and leftovers until you could save up for a new, full-size fridge?

 

This sounds like an excellent idea- and then resell it when you don't need it.

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All I can think when you say you won't have a fridge is processed foods, and that's expensive. If you think you can pay off a fridge in 12 months before any interest charges, that is probably the way to go. You will need a new fridge anyway and you will not waste money on expensive processed food or food that goes bad quickly because it is not refrigerated.

 

Or as others have mentioned, have your DH get over his fear of used fridges. You have never moved into a house or apartment that included appliances? I have, just cleaned out the fridge with some bleach water before moving my own stuff in. Seemed fine to me and I'm a bit of a clean freak when it comes to used stuff.

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Thanks, everyone for your thoughtful replies!

 

I apologize for not being more clear.

 

Since our fridge quit working, I've been looking for a used replacement on craigslist, freecycle and our local paper. The ones that are less than 20 years old are almost as expensive as an inexpensive new one. There's nothing on freecycle. (I live in a very rural area.) It's just a financial decision, since we would likely get more years out of a new one than a used one, after paying the same for either option.

 

I understand we would need to refrigerate some things after opening, but this has been minimal, and I think avoidable, with the way we currently eat. For example, we don't do processed foods, but muffins I bake get eaten up in a day or two. A pot of beans can sit out for over a week without spoiling. (I hope that makes sense, but I don't want to bore everyone with our diet/leftover habits. ;) )

 

It's all about saving money at this point. I recently lost my job, and we've had many unexpected health expenses and household expenses. We drained our savings. It's not an option I would ordinarily consider, but after reading Little House on the Prarie and Anne of Green Gables, I have been tempted!

 

No, we've never moved into a place with used appliances...

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Unfortunately, our refrigerator took its last breath two days ago. Even more unfortunately, a new one is not in the budget. I am strongly considering not replacing it for now, but I wondered if anyone else has done this successfully?

 

I just read a post on a self-sufficiency forum about a possible fix for refrigerators. Turn it upside down for a day or so then flip it back and plug it in. Somethng to do with getting the gas to where the pump can pump it...or something. Some people have had success with that.

 

If you lived near me I could give you a free one. :)

 

ETA: Here's a link to the flipping bit. Apparently it's more of an older fridge thing? Might be worth googling though.

Edited by WishboneDawn
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In that case, I'd use a cooler that keeps stuff cold for 5 days (we have one from Walmart we camp with) and the rotating frozen milk jugs someone else mentioned. (if you don't have milk jugs - I know we don't - I'd just use gallon jugs of drinking water)

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Well, we were out of a microwave for awhile. Dh found one that is like brand new for $40.00. It's beautiful and I believe it may be the biggest one made.

The family got rid of it because of remodeling.

 

We also have 2 refrigerators, 1 that we got used. It has been in our home for about 10 years.

 

I would definitely look on Freecycle or Craigslist.

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...

A pot of beans can sit out for over a week without spoiling. (I hope that makes sense, but I don't want to bore everyone with our diet/leftover habits. ;) ) ...

 

The part I bolded above worries me. I've also heard that beans are a great culture medium, meaning they're great for growing bacteria, because of all the protein and carbohydrates.

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Well refusing to buy used is pretty much shooting yourself in the foot. Both of our last two fridges have been used from family. The last one we left when we moved and had lasted ten years.

 

People move and don't want to drag them. I would check Craig's list and find a used appliance store.

 

Sorry but being without a fridge is a pain. We did that for about a month this winter, but we could put a cooler on the back porch.

 

If nothing else I'd buy a cheap small fridge for milk and such. Back to school sales should be starting.

 

:iagree: I'd tell dh he was being unreasonable. There's no reason to take on debt when you don't absolutely have to. Buy on a good used one and move on.

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If you happen to live in the Metro Detroit area (or are willing to travel here, LOL), you can have ours! Seriously. :)

 

We're moving at the end of the month. Our new place has a fridge. I *love* the fridge we have right now, and really, really want to take it with us. It's a nice, big, Amana side by side, with water and ice dispenser in the door.

 

The new house has a dinky regular ol' fridge. :crying:

 

Alas, dh says we are absolutely NOT moving the fridge that I love. :glare::tongue_smilie:

 

It came with the house when we bought it 6 years ago, so I don't know how old it is. But we've not had a single problem with it.

 

So, if you can get here, and have a vehicle large enough, it's yours! We're going to give away all the appliances to those we know who need them; if we don't know anyone who needs them, then we'll list them on Craigslist.

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Unfortunately, our refrigerator took its last breath two days ago. Even more unfortunately, a new one is not in the budget. I am strongly considering not replacing it for now, but I wondered if anyone else has done this successfully?

 

I still have a large chest freezer in the garage, where I can store meat, shredded cheese and leftovers. I can buy shelf-stable milk. I can leave fruits, veggies, butter and eggs unrefrigerated. We don't use a lot of salad dressings, mayo, etc.

 

DH says absolutely no way are we buying a second hand refrigerator, so we either pay for a new one or we go without. If we buy one, we will have to use an 12 months SAC plan. We are almost certain we can pay it off in 12 months, but we never thought we'd have to borrow for something like this, either.

 

So, my question is, should we wait it out and make do without a fridge for a while, try to save and buy one with cash ? Or, take on the debt and live in style? ;)

 

If you have lived without a fridge, what are some of the ways you coped?

 

1) Why not buy a used refrigerator? :confused:

2) Don't leave eggs unrefrigerated unless they are farm fresh/unwashed OR you coat them in mineral oil.

3) You could get by with a couple coolers and keep buying bags of ice. I think the food waste would be really high without any kind of refrigeration.

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Sears Outlet. We got a $2000 fridge for under $700. With delivery and haul-away of our old one, we paid under $800. We have a few scratches and dents on the front of it, but since we have kids, there are magnets and pieces of artwork covering them, so it doesn't matter. :D

 

:iagree: My husband has a thing against used appliances so we go to our local Sears Outlet.

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We lived off just a dorm fridge for a while, but IMO our food costs went up because we couldn't buy in bulk, and milk expired a lot quicker...I don't think the small fridge held the cold as well as a larger fridge, too much percentage escaping every time you open it. And it was really hard to fit a whole gallon; buying half gallons costs a lot more. Of course, we didn't have a separate freezer...you might be able to make a cooler work, or get a dorm firdge as cheap as a cooler, and make it work by rotating frozen items into usage.

 

I do agree on being as frugal as possible, but if you go this route, I'd follow strict food-safety guidelines regarding what can be left out, and keep a sharp eye on your budget. You *might* have the right diet for this, but in our experience, it cost us more to not have a real fridge. AFA food safety, some things have changed, like the comment above regarding washed eggs. Even the acid content of tomatoes is not the same as it used to be, nor are our stomach used to the same bacteria...my mom who grew up with far more lenient standards can eat things that will make me ill. I know...she's sent me the leftovers of things that she considers just barely getting old. Symptoms aren't always as severe as food poisoning, but they are there. And if you do get food poisoning...there goes a big chunk of money to the ER... I would try to postpone the purchase until you can afford it if you really can make it work, if you eat mostly veg. and have a fresh supply...but most people I think the scales will tip to where it's cheaper to have a fridge to save the leftovers and buy better quantities.

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A pot of beans can sit out for over a week without spoiling.

 

I have to say that this is absolutely untrue. It's only a matter of time before something like this makes all of you seriously, very ill. I took a foods course in college and the unit on food toxins and bacteria was sobering. Dh concurs--a few years ago he read a book on the science of cooking, and he also learned about food-borne illness. Please take food safety seriously--it's cheaper and easier than time in the hospital.

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If you have lived without a fridge, what are some of the ways you coped?

 

1. By not eating animal products at home, except on the very rare occasions dh just HAS to have a kransky, then he cooks and eats them as soon as he comes home. Oh, and he also buys long life milks for his coffees. They are expensive, but he pays for them, not me.

 

2. By eating anything we have left over for dinner for breakfast. In winter, it will last until lunch time, probably longer. In summer it is probably fine at lunch time too, but breakfast is a good time to eat the leftovers anyway. We don't leave rice lying around though, and I have become better at not cooking too much in one go.

 

3. By eating opened jars of condiments fairly promptly. They last a while, considering the amount of preservatives they all contain. We don't buy many of these sorts of things, so it's not really a problem.

 

We do have a little fridge in the shed, because I felt it important to have the option while the kids are small since so many medicines require refrigeration. I used it last winter for vitamins, because they weren't old enough for chewables. We used it for the couple of days after Christmas. That's about it, really. Now it doesn't seem so important and I think I was being unnecessarily paranoid. No, I am not calling the rest of you paranoid. We got rid of the fridge because we realised we were running it to keep things cold that didn't need to be. People who eat meat and dairy regularly are running their fridge to cool things that really do need to be cool.

 

Rosie

Edited by Rosie_0801
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When I lived with a host family in Austria they had a dorm-sized refrigerator, and this was for a family of four (and me). The bulk of items that I normally refrigerate (fruits, veg, eggs) she kept in a small cellar. Is your garage generally cool or do you have a basement? Are you in a hotter or cooler climate?

 

I always thought it was interesting that she had a tiny fridge, and the amount of her daily garbage was about the size of a tiny grocery bag; so different from what I was used to.

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Actually, just use gallon milk jugs or two liter bottles to freeze water in the deep freeze. They last a long time keeping a cooler cold and are simply stuck back in the ice chest to refreeze when thawed.

I actually do this myself. LOL I can't believe I didn't think to share it.

Thanks, everyone for your thoughtful replies!

 

I apologize for not being more clear.

 

Since our fridge quit working, I've been looking for a used replacement on craigslist, freecycle and our local paper. The ones that are less than 20 years old are almost as expensive as an inexpensive new one. There's nothing on freecycle. (I live in a very rural area.) It's just a financial decision, since we would likely get more years out of a new one than a used one, after paying the same for either option.

 

I understand we would need to refrigerate some things after opening, but this has been minimal, and I think avoidable, with the way we currently eat. For example, we don't do processed foods, but muffins I bake get eaten up in a day or two. A pot of beans can sit out for over a week without spoiling. (I hope that makes sense, but I don't want to bore everyone with our diet/leftover habits. ;) )

 

It's all about saving money at this point. I recently lost my job, and we've had many unexpected health expenses and household expenses. We drained our savings. It's not an option I would ordinarily consider, but after reading Little House on the Prarie and Anne of Green Gables, I have been tempted!

 

No, we've never moved into a place with used appliances...

How old is your current frig? Have you called an appliance repair place to see if yours can be fixed? The last time ours completely stopped it was about $100 to repair it because some wire burned out - and it has not given us any more problems in over 6 years. Even if you have to pay for a service call it may be cheaper than a new fridge.

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We went 31 days w/o a fridge last fall and I would never, ever do it again. :tongue_smilie:

Our fridge died on a Friday night. I bought a new fridge the next morning. Long story short, I bought not one, but two brand-new fridges (from big name stores) that didn't work upon arrival, plus we had shipping issues. It was 31 awful days between the day our fridge died and the third (working!) fridge arrived.

 

We camp a lot and are used to eating out of a cooler when camping, so I didn't think it would be that big of a deal. It was. Maybe if we didn't homeschool and weren't home for three meals a day? It was crazy how much our lives revolved around food during those 31 days. When you have a fridge, you buy food and put it away and it is 'out of sight, out of mind' until your next meal. Without a fridge, we found ourselves constantly thinking ahead to our next meal.

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When we first moved in we had a mini fridge it was enough for 1/2 gallon of milk, a dozen eggs, cheese and lunch meat. We didn't have a freezer. It was also still pretty cold here I could set drinks on the back deck and keep them cool. We then went to RAC after a month because I hated not having a fridge. It was such a rip. A $350 fridge would of ended up costing us over a $1,000. after 3 months of that we saved up some money on the side and went and got a new fridge at Lowes during an appliance sale. Having a freezer and a mini fridge would be pretty good. You can get a mini fridge for under $100 during BTS sales they usually drop the prices for college kids to get them for dorm rooms. If you are that opposed to a used one I would go that route. I totally wouldn't rule out a used fridge. my parents where given a fridge way back when I was in 11 it just died last year so it lasted almost 20 years. Yay Kenmore ;)

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Guest IdahoMtnMom

I could not do without a fridge.... but I am weird. I will not leave butter or eggs out.... and ketchup, bbq sauce, mustard, jelly, soy sauce, teroyaki sauce, sour cream, yogurt, etc... when it is opened... lunch meats, cheese slices... yeah, you COULD freeze and defrost but what a pain... also, IMO, many fruits and veggies do not last as long on the counter...

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A pot of beans can sit out for over a week without spoiling. (I hope that makes sense, but I don't want to bore everyone with our diet/leftover habits. ;) )

 

They don't even do that in Mexico, the land of unrefrigerated mayo. Things mold quickly here. I'd cook them fresh every day or two.

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I have seen a blog recently where someone did this. When we moved it was week before we moved our refrigerator. It was difficult for our family. We didn't have a freezer, though. Leftovers and even fresh vegetables are pretty tricky to avoid waste without one. We even had a cooler during that time. You might look up some lds blogs. They have a lot of pantry/shelf stable storage ideas and recipes.

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I might add - I read once about how in WWI a large number of men got very ill after eating leftover rice that had been cooked and left unrefrigerated overnight.

 

Some folks may get by with small or no 'fridge - but then they go out and buy food fresh each day from places that have refrigeration. Or eat out.

 

Or - heavily salt all your food to keep it (salt pork, dry salt cod, etc.) and cook up fresh dry beans daily. Like the Ingalls.

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