About three months ago, we started an experiment. We decided to unplug our refrigerator because we wanted to answer these questions:
- Do we need a refrigerator in our tiny house?
- How reliant are we on our refrigerator?
- What would it be like to live without a refrigerator? Would our eating habits change? Would we miss it?
After we unplugged the refrigerator we started using a tiny, 1 cubic foot, cooler to keep our half and half and cheese from spoiling. So technically, we’re only 95% free from refrigerator use. To keep our tiny cooler cold, we use small ice packs. Logan has been taking the ice packs to work every other day and freezing them. Some folks have said this is “cheating,” but I call it creativity.
The little cooler rocks and it turns out I don’t miss the refrigerator at all. I don’t miss the loud humming noise, cleaning it, or throwing out the leftovers. In short, we figured out that don’t need a refrigerator in our little house. Plus, our eating habits haven’t changed much. In fact, I think we’re eating better. We’re eating more real food and less processed food. The only drawback of going without a refrigerator is that I have to shop more often for produce.
A lot of folks assume that we eat out a lot because we’ve turned off the refrigerator. Don’t get me wrong, I love eating out, however we do our best to cook a majority of our meals at home. We cook at home because it saves money and it’s healthier. I don’t know about you, but every time I eat out, I usually order a treat that isn’t very good for me if eaten regularly.
Speaking of the types of food we eat, a reader emailed me and asked: “What are your favorite meals for cooking in tiny spaces? Can you share some of your recipes?”
Our diet consists of what Michael Pollan calls “real food,” meaning most of the food we eat has fewer than 5 ingredients, has pronounceable ingredients, and excludes high fructose corn syrup sweeteners. Also, we try to get out of the supermarket as much as possible and shop at the farmer’s market.
Below are a few examples of my favorite low-cost meals, that are easy to prepare in small spaces, with no refrigerator. If you’re looking for other creative meal ideas, head over Stone Soup.
Breakfast . . .
- Toasted bread, with a side of fruit.
- A cup of granola and fruit.
Lunch . . .
- An egg sandwich. Usually, I fry up my eggs, with a little bit of olive oil, toast the bread and add additional goodies like carrots, cheese and lettuce.
- Hard boiled eggs with bread and fruit.
- A small bowl of Quinoa or rice, with peanuts on top.
- Quinoa or rice stir-fry with vegetables, like carrots, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and green beans.
- Frittata with mushrooms, carrots and peppers.
- Salad, with dried cherries, an apple and balsamic vinegar. We never forget to pick up a baguette and some cheese for a side dish.
- Tacos with corn tortillas, eggs, sweet potatoes, onion and garlic.
- Pasta with garlic and onion sauteed in olive oil.
- Currently we have a macaroon subscription with Confectionery, a local PDX business. The macaroons are delivered to our front door at the beginning of every month and they literally melt in my mouth.
- Homemade chocolate chip cookies are also favorite. Whenever we need a little flour, Logan busts out the tiny wheat mill to grind some up. Fresh flour makes baked goods fluffy and delicious.
Parting Words . . .
Living without a refrigerator has forced us to be a little more creative when it comes to meal planning. More importantly, we’ve learned that it is possible to cook yummy food without a big cold box. It’s not as difficult as you might imagine.
Do you have any low-cost recipes you’d like to share?