The mailbox lid clinked shut, and the dog started barking at the window as the mailman walked down the sidewalk to the next house. My daughters, just barely four years old and two clamored at the door to “help” me get the mail. I tried to keep their fun spirit as I lifted them up over my pregnant belly to grab the envelopes, but inside I felt sick as their little hands ripped opened their “letter” and handed me the mortgage statement inside.
My husband had been at work all day, and wouldn’t be home until late. Yet still, each month seemed a little longer than the last, the bills seemed to come more frequently. Big life changes were headed our way.
The question in my mind was would we be able to do something drastic enough to make sure those changes were for the better?
I’d been shaving corners here and there. Thirty dollars saved by hanging the laundry out to dry. Wood was gathered and set aside on the winter to avoid those upcoming heating bills, growing as much produce as we could, and so on.
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Most of the valuables we owned had already been sold. Gone was my piccolo, my husbands wedding band, both of our cars. Yet still, it wasn’t quite enough. That night when my husband arrived home, I presented a last ditch plan to make next month’s house payment.
“Let’s sell the refrigerator.”
It wasn’t a hard decision. If we kept the fridge, we’d have to sell it before we moved. If we sold the fridge now, maybe we could make it through another month. So we sold it. And we made it through that month, and the months following too.
After a few months my parents came to visit and offered to purchase our family a small dorm fridge. We knew we could afford the extra electricity usage at that point, so we accepted it. (One of many generous gifts we received during this period of our lives.)
Having a dorm sized fridge for a family of five felt like a dream. But it wasn’t exactly overflowing with space either! When you are working with only a small amount of space, you definitely need to prioritize. Here are some of the foods that can be left out of the fridge if you’ve run out of space:
14 Foods To Stop Refrigerating When You Have Limited Space
These foods are easy to keep out of the fridge, and you may not even refrigerate them to begin with. However, if you want to stop refrigerating more foods, check out How-to: Store Fruits and Vegetables and Cool Ways to Keep Food Without Refrigeration for more comprehensive lists.
Whether you need to clear out some fridge space for a big party, adapt to a smaller fridge while traveling, or make a drastic attempt to make ends meet, here are 14 foods you can keep out of the fridge:
- Apples (Store in a bowl on a counter for up to two weeks and longer in a root cellar or cool storage).
- Pears (Same as apples, eat as they ripen or make pear sauce).
- Citrus (Keeps for a month on the counter).
- Tomatoes (Refrigerating destroys the flavor).
- Bread (It goes stale in the fridge anyway).
- Tortillas (Growing up they were always in the fridge, but they actually stay more flexible at room temperature).
- Ketchup (Think about all the restaurants where the ketchup sits on the tables).
- Mustard (Same as the ketchup).
- Jam (Lasts for about two weeks at room temperature).
- Carrots (If they turn rubbery before you use them up, soak in water to restore crispness).
- Spinach (Place stems in water like a vase of flowers).
- Broccoli (Same trick as the spinach).
- Farm Fresh Eggs (Read more about when to refrigerate eggs here).
- Butter (It’s softer at room temperature and lasts a few weeks in a cool spot in the kitchen).
One tip though, if you stop refrigerating previously refrigerated produce it will NOT last as long as produce that was always stored at room temperature.
By moving these foods to the counter you can free up room in your fridge or even downsize to a smaller one. Even if you have a standard size fridge and no plans to go smaller, it’s good to have the skills and knowledge necessary to scale down if needed.
If you’d like more information on how to survive without a fridge feel free to check out What to Do With Leftovers When You Have No Fridge and What To Do When You Have No Refrigerator
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