Can you live without a fridge? I posed this question to my teenage daughter and her immediate response was, “why would someone want to live with no fridge?” I imagine many people might respond the same way. But there are people doing it. Some by choice, some not.
Many people in impoverished countries live without a fridge every day. And yes, there are some people choose to live without traditional refrigeration simply because they can.
So it can be done.
But if you aren’t part of an impoverished country and you haven’t consciously made a choice to live without modern conveniences, why should you care if you can live without a fridge or not?
With the current state of the world, there is the looming potential for some type of grid collapse or economic shutdown. Even those who aren’t yet ready to call themselves “preppers” are expressing concern over the increased number of short term power outages.
The fragility of our power grid, the one we have all become so dependent on, is becoming increasingly apparent to those who are paying attention.
Americans have become so used to using refrigeration and freezing for long term food storage, many are oblivious to how to store food any other way.
The dependency on refrigeration for food storage is so ingrained that most of us don’t even think about it until the power goes out. This hard core dependency on refrigeration means many Americans will be the hardest hit when the grid goes down.
Unless we plan to do something about it. And prepare now. Before there’s an event that forces us to live without a fridge.
Knowing how to live without a fridge, doesn’t mean that you can never again own a fridge or a freezer. It doesn’t mean you live without conveniences. It simply means that when an event, like a power outage, knocks out refrigeration indefinitely, it won’t be a life-threatening situation for you and your family.
The next time the power goes out, you’ll be ready.
Because you’ll know just what to do now to reduce or even eliminate your dependency on refrigeration. You’ll know enough to be confident that you can live without a fridge when the need arises.
If you’re totally new to the idea of living without refrigeration and you don’t know much about long-term food storage, there are several categories you’ll want to learn about. We’ll cover them briefly in this article.
- Foods That Don’t Require Refrigeration
- Fresh Fruits & Vegetables (Never Refrigerated)
- Alternative Cooling Methods
Foods That Don’t Require Refrigeration
One of the easiest ways you can live without a fridge is to stockpile foods that don’t require refrigeration. Some of those foods include things like:
Some of these are staples you can use to make other meals and some are good to have on hand because you can eat them as is or just by adding boiling water.
|Crackers||Pemmican or Beef Jerky|
|Dried or powdered spices and herbs||Pop Tarts|
|Beans or Lentils||Raisins|
|Pre-packaged fruit cups||Energy Bars|
|Cocoa Powder||Single serving applesauce|
A good way to start your stockpile is with canned goods from your local grocery store. As you increase your skills with long term food storage, you can can your own food using a water bath or pressure canner.
Make sure you follow recommended safety practices for home canning and you can build a food supply that will be ongoing.
|Sardines or Anchovies||Tomato Sauce|
|Baked Beans||Evaporated Milk|
|Fruits & Vegetables||Sauces|
|Molasses||Butter (doesn’t actually require refrigeration, just keep it cool enough to not melt)|
|Root vegetables (like potatoes or carrots)||Bouillon cubes (beef or chicken)|
|Vegetable, Canola, or Olive oils||MREs|
Fresh (Never Refrigerated) Vegetables and Fruits
Believe it or not, there are many different fruits and vegetables that have a decent shelf life without refrigeration, but only if they have never been refrigerated. This eliminates grocery store produce because it’s been refrigerated before it gets to you.
But if you have a garden, you can eat seasonal fruits and vegetables without having to refrigerate them. If you don’t have a garden, you can buy fresh (never refrigerated) fruits and vegetables from a farmer’s market or nearby farmer that will hold up just fine until you eat them.
Our ancestors were skilled at keeping the family fed using seasonal fruits and vegetables. Below are some shelf life estimates for some of these:
Up to 1 week
- Papaya, melons, and berries
- Broccoli, lettuce, and cauliflower (submerge stem in water to extend shelf life)
10 Days to 2 Weeks
- Bananas (hanging helps) anywhere from 6 to 10 days
- Pears, mango, pineapples, avocado 10 to 14 days
- Grapes two weeks or longer if stems are covered in wet sand
- Green peppers, carrots (remove skin and leafy top and soak if they get limp) and zucchini
One Month or Longer
- Citrus fruits like oranges and lemons one month or longer
- Tomatoes (buy green wrap in paper towel individually)
- Beets and turnips
- Winter squash, cabbage (wrap in newspaper), garlic
- Potatoes (remove eyes frequently)
- Onions (store away from potatoes)
Long Term Food Preservation Methods
If you find that your garden is producing more each year than your family can consume in a season, you will need to become more confident in your ability to preserve food right. One of the simpler long term food preservation methods to learn is dehydration.
You can dehydrate fruits, vegetables, herbs, and even make powdered milk, all of which will store just fine until you need it. Other food preservation methods that will come in handy during a grid down situation include:
Raise Livestock & Poultry
Another set of skills you can learn so you can be confident that you can live without a fridge if the need arises is to raise livestock or poultry for food. If you’ve never done this before, chickens are a great place to start. Raising chickens or other types of poultry in your backyard is feasible and they can supplement your diet with eggs and meat.
Freshly laid, unwashed eggs do not need to be refrigerated if they are stored at room temperature, away from direct sunlight and are used within a couple weeks.
To extend the shelf life of freshly laid, unwashed eggs, you can coat them in mineral oil and store away from sunlight and extreme temperatures for up to nine months if necessary.
Chickens are also a popular source of meat to provide protein for your diet. If the need to live without a fridge arises, you simply harvest the chickens as you need them for food or home can the meat for long term storage.
Other livestock to consider as a meat source are:
For meat, you can home can or you may want to learn how to smoke or salt meats to preserve for long term storage.
Alternative Cooling Methods
There are several alternative methods you can use to keep things cool for longer term storage. We’ve included videos below to show you more details about each of these cooling methods you can use to live without a fridge.
Traditional spring house is something that was frequently used by our ancestors to keep things cool. Spring houses were built of stone, many times actual stone or rocks from the creek or stream where the house was built:
Traditional Pioneer Root Cellar is also an alternative cooling method that has been around for hundreds of years. Root cellars are buried under the ground with dirt or gravel floors. Three of the key criteria for root cellars are moisture, complete darkness, and adequate air circulation.
DIY Mini Root Cellar can be built by taking advantage of passive cooling. Keep in mind that this type of cooling has its limitations. If temperatures outside are too warm or too cold, and you don’t have a way to offset the extreme fluctuations, the mini root cellar won’t work.
As seen in the video, there are ways to modify the mini root cellar using a battery or solar powered fan for the exhaust and adjustable flaps on the vents so they can be opened and closed.
DIY Off Grid Spring Fed Cool Box is created using an old 1930’s style refrigerator as the insulated box with coiled tubing inside to circulate the water through the fridge. The water keeps the fridge cool, 40-60 degrees depending on the outside temperature. It also keeps things from freezing when outside temperatures get too cold as well.
Well Water Cooled Mini Fridge is a technique that works in a similar way as hot water heated flooring in homes. You can use an old mini fridge, and some flexible tubing and circulate cold water from a well or spring through the coils and cool the fridge and its contents. This would work great for produce and other items that benefit from cool storage.
Zeer Pot Refrigeration is a refrigeration method that has been around for a very long time. If you live in the right climate (desert conditions-hot & humid) it’s a simple method that involves using wet sand inside a clay pot to keep a 2nd small pot and its contents cool using natural evaporation.
In the video we provided, this method was further enhanced with the use of a small fan connected to a solar power system and a 2-liter bottle modified to work as a continuous waterer to keep the sand damp.
Are you confident that you and your family could live without refrigeration if the need came up suddenly? Are you already living without a fridge by choice? What’s your favorite long term storage method? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.