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Old 01-01-2013, 08:52 AM
 
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I've had this on my mind for a few years now (since living in rural Mexico). Many people (the economic underclass---which is the majority there) don't have refrigerators because 1) they buy, cook and eat fresh food each day, 2) most cannot afford the extra cost for the electricity, and 3) they simply are not accustomed to using one. Now....I realize we are all accustomed to using a refrigerator and probably cannot imagine life without one. And, I totally get the food-borne illness defense. But I have to think that most people here in the US could use much smaller refrigerators. I have also noticed in my travels that many homes in the UK have much smaller fridges than we do. I have often wondered why so many Americans have gigantic refrigerators, and yet it seems fewer people actually cook at home anymore.

Does anyone here on this forum use a mini-fridge, or none at all? If so, share your tips! Thanks.

Here's a little food for thought to get the ideas flowing...

Living without a Fridge and Beyond
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Old 01-01-2013, 09:10 AM
 
Location: southwestern PA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TotallyTam View Post
I have often wondered why so many Americans have gigantic refrigerators, and yet it seems fewer people actually cook at home anymore.

My fridge is not gigantic (neither are my friends' fridges), and I cook ~19 meals at home each week.

I do not have the luxury of walking to little markets every day. So I grocery shop once a week at the big grocery store and/or warehouse club, and I need a place to keep all that food.

No-fridge or a mini-fridge won't work for me in the kitchen. The mini-fridge we DO have serves pop/water for the patio in the summer.
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Old 01-01-2013, 09:14 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pitt Chick View Post
My fridge is not gigantic (neither are my friends' fridges), and I cook ~19 meals at home each week.

I do not have the luxury of walking to little markets every day. So I grocery shop once a week at the big grocery store and/or warehouse club, and I need a place to keep all that food.

No-fridge or a mini-fridge won't work for me in the kitchen. The mini-fridge we DO have serves pop/water for the patio in the summer.
Cool! That makes sense for you.

But I am more interested in hearing from people who do not have a fridge or use a small one---and how they manage.
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Old 01-01-2013, 02:18 PM
 
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Idk how you couldn't use a fridge. No leftovers, can only get cold items and use them immediately or it will go bad.

The electricty isn't really a lot. Now a days with energy efficient appliances they can easily be $100 or less for a whole year. That is like 8 bucks and change a month. I can find 8 bucks in change just by walking around the city for a month let alone work. Lol

Since this is the frugal forums, it makes sense to have a normal size fridge and stock up when you can get the fridge items for cheap. Either on sale or sale price and a coupon. Our fridge/freezer part is usually full since we find deals often.
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Old 01-01-2013, 02:51 PM
 
Location: North Idaho
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It wouldn't work for me. I've got a large fridge and 2 large freezers. I shop perhaps every 6 weeks. I raise meat and will put 50 chickens or 25 rabbits into the freezer all at the same time.

The British with their small fridges shop almost daily at a little store they can walk to. They leave food sitting in the pantry that I would never leave out. For example, they will cook a Sunday roast and then it sits out for several days until it all gets eaten.
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Old 01-01-2013, 02:55 PM
 
Location: in my mind
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Years ago, I lived in a tiny apartment (I think it was 380 sq feet). It had a small fridge with an even tinier freezer.

I found that for the most part, I could live with the size of the fridge (cooking for one). What did me in, though, was the lack of freezer space. I found it hard to eat/cook frugally without a freezer. Lots of food ended up going to waste.

I ended up buying a small freezer and sticking it in the corner of my living room behind the couch. After that, I was able to manage quite well.
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Old 01-01-2013, 03:38 PM
 
Location: 125 Years Too Late...
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I did a few months ago. It was an experiment, because my plans for the future is not to have electricity at all (except for small electronics like a radio, word processor, etc). I did without the fridge for a month. I eat mostly dry goods anyway, like rice, beans, wheat/breads, oats, grains like amaranth/quinoa/millet, corn grits, etc. Also, I eat canned foods that either I've canned or from the store. Some dry meats. So, truthfully, I don't use the fridge that much anyway.

All that being said... the thing I missed the most is cold milk. I love milk in the morning, every day. Sure, I can mix up powdered milk, but it's not the same. It's warm and it doesn't tasted quite as good. So, what's in my fridge right now? Milk.

Okay... there is a jar of jam that I opened a couple weeks ago ( that I made last summer--once it's opened, it doesn't last long unless it's in the fridge). And, let's see, what else is in there? Butter. A bottle of cola. And... a polish sausage. Some ice cubes in the freezer. Oh... there's a meat pie! (dinner tonight? ) And that's it. Hmmm, now that you've brought the topic up, I guess I'm wasting money powering what is essentially just a milk cooler.


So, I would say, in general that it largely depends on what you are used to eating or like to eat. As I said, my diet consists largely of dry goods. I have lots and lots of that type of food stored up and it requires no cooling or freezing at all. Also, I do have some dehydrated/freeze-dried foods (but not that much). I'm mostly a rice/beans/grains type of person. That being the case (other than my milk cravings), I really don't need a refrigerator. But, for those who require the typical diet most of us are used to these days, and the sorts of schemes that keep that sort of food from spoiling, doing without a freezer and refrigerator is much more of a major undertaking. So... I think lifestyle is the key here.

Last edited by ChrisC; 01-01-2013 at 03:48 PM..
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Old 01-01-2013, 03:44 PM
 
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Hmmm...interesting posts so far. I have also always had at least a mid-size fridge (and larger), but can surely see how others (esp. in other countries) manage just fine either without one or with a much smaller model. My former MIL (in the UK--may she rest in peace) only had a mini-fridge---and yes, she did leave cooked food out until it was gone. It wasn't left out for days though---maybe 1.5 days at most. She also didn't refrigerate eggs. And it's true--the residential neighborhoods elsewhere are set up for convenience of walking to the shops. I really love this aspect of daily living in the UK and elsewhere. Very few people in our country have the luxury of walking to a butcher, green grocer or the corner shops.

I also noticed while living in another country (Mexico) and in my travels in Europe that people do not waste as much food as we do here. Do you throw out a lot of food? I hate
to say it, but I throw out more than I like to admit. This is especially true for forgotten leftovers in tupperware container and fresh produce that gets buried and hidden in the depths of the big fridge cavern known as a "crisper." This is insane and I made a promise to myself that I will stop being so wasteful. I will buy less, actually eat the leftovers, and plan meals better.

I believe if I had a smaller refrigerator, that would be half the battle.
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Old 01-01-2013, 03:46 PM
 
Location: Olympia, WA
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Sorry, but like the others I'll comment even though I'm not fridgeless.

First of all, I've lived in MX twice - Ags. and Mexico City. I know there's a lot of poverty there, but I have to disagree with you about the Mexicans not having fridges. Only the poorest of the poor probably don't (which would be a lot yes, but not as many as you may think). I lived in Guatemala for 2.5 months and although I was never invited into a home, I did hear a few times that the Guats don't have them because they're too poor (indigenous status, of course). This would be tied into the expense of maintaining one (electric bill) and purchasing one. The Guats are a lot poorer than the Mexs.

Also tied into all this, as you saw in the UK, is that in most other countries (dare I say all except Canada?), the local outdoor veggie/fruit market exists every day and in every neighborhood. Therefore, many other cultures go "shopping" nearly every day for their meals. In Vietnam, only the well to do would have large fridges like us. Their monthly income is $150, so many of the poorer I think don't have them.

And tied into that is the fact that in other countries, people actually cook. And not just a few people, but the vast majority of the people. Packaged products have been exported to cooking countries - not the other way around.

As for why the U.S. population uses the largest ass fridges on the planet? Just like everything else, Americans believe they need the biggest, the best and the most expensive. Personally, as a person who now cooks, even at times I think it's overkill. When I lived in Guatemala and heard how the locals didn't own one, and then I opened my fridge and saw very few items in there (I was rooming with 2 other foreigners), I started thinking the same thing as you. But, like in MX, one can't bake in many countries, so why have butter, for example. Also, milk isn't consumed nearly as much in other countries as here.
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Old 01-01-2013, 03:57 PM
 
Location: 125 Years Too Late...
10,275 posts, read 9,970,295 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by travelinhobo View Post
Sorry, but like the others I'll comment even though I'm not fridgeless.

First of all, I've lived in MX twice - Ags. and Mexico City. I know there's a lot of poverty there, but I have to disagree with you about the Mexicans not having fridges. Only the poorest of the poor probably don't (which would be a lot yes, but not as many as you may think). I lived in Guatemala for 2.5 months and although I was never invited into a home, I did hear a few times that the Guats don't have them because they're too poor (indigenous status, of course). This would be tied into the expense of maintaining one (electric bill) and purchasing one. The Guats are a lot poorer than the Mexs.

Also tied into all this, as you saw in the UK, is that in most other countries (dare I say all except Canada?), the local outdoor veggie/fruit market exists every day and in every neighborhood. Therefore, many other cultures go "shopping" nearly every day for their meals. In Vietnam, only the well to do would have large fridges like us. Their monthly income is $150, so many of the poorer I think don't have them.

And tied into that is the fact that in other countries, people actually cook. And not just a few people, but the vast majority of the people. Packaged products have been exported to cooking countries - not the other way around.

As for why the U.S. population uses the largest ass fridges on the planet? Just like everything else, Americans believe they need the biggest, the best and the most expensive. Personally, as a person who now cooks, even at times I think it's overkill. When I lived in Guatemala and heard how the locals didn't own one, and then I opened my fridge and saw very few items in there (I was rooming with 2 other foreigners), I started thinking the same thing as you. But, like in MX, one can't bake in many countries, so why have butter, for example. Also, milk isn't consumed nearly as much in other countries as here.
Interesting post. One question, though: you say people can't bake in some countries. How do you mean that? I lived in Peru for a time and baking was quite common even for the poor--not in an electric range, though. Baking in a dutch oven is quite effective and is done quite often in the absence of a "US-style range" with a big oven. Works really well. Maybe you mean baking the way we here in the US are accustomed to doing it (in a range's oven)?
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