The fridge that loved the great outdoors
Over the summer, we were the happy recipients of a cast-off fridge from Mindy’s aunt and uncle. They had bought a new one and were just looking to offload the old one, and we were building a kitchen from the ground up and had no appliances, so it seemed like a great fit at the time.
Unfortunately, the kitchen was nowhere near ready, and the fridge sat on our front porch for several months. It savored the seasons as summer faded into fall. I brushed leaves off it before winter’s fog and storms and snow came. Finally, we moved in and brought the fridge with us, but I think its heart was set on being outside, because it decided to stop working. Now it’s back on the porch where it started, until I can find another use for it or get it hauled away.
I don’t know if you’ve gone fridge shopping lately, but new refrigerators are expensive. Like, stupid expensive. Like, if I’m going to spend that much money on an appliance, it better make my food for me and compliment my good looks. Also, they take up a lot of room. We have a little kitchen in a little house and the more we shopped, the more we realized we were reluctant to commit that much space to a giant freaking hulking appliance.
So we decided to do something different, because that’s kind of what we do. We got a mini-fridge instead. And so far, we’ve loved it.
Advantages of a small fridge
It’s tiny! It’s 4.4 cubic feet and only 20 inches wide. We still have space to put a 30 inch kitchen cabinet next to it, and now we can put a 50 inch butcher block on top of both of those — that gives us so much more counter than we ever thought we’d have!
It’s efficient. When we broke down what we kept in the fridge, the bulk of what we needed fits in 4.4 cubic feet. We keep eggs, milk, fresh veggies that we plan on using in the next few days, cheese, miso, a few small bottles of condiments, and not much else on hand. With a larger fridge, we kept all that stuff, plus about two shelves of leftovers in various states of decay. It’s impossible to hoard leftovers when space is at a premium.
It’s taught us a lot more about what needs refrigerated and what doesn’t. We were already pretty good about that, but sometimes it’s good to have a reminder.
It’s energy efficient, too. Our new fridge does the same job as our old fridge, but costs half as much to run each year.
I do worry that as spring and summer roll around and we have abundant fresh fruits and veggies on hand again, we’ll have no place to put them. But then I remembered that refrigerators for home use were only invented in 1913, and people got by without them just fine for generations before that.
One thing I plan on doing when spring comes around is construct a root cellar (I haven’t decided what type yet.) This is one simple way to store more stuff if you have a small fridge.
Another is just to change habits. My Mum is British and has always commented on the stark differences between the European kitchen and the American kitchen. The size of the fridge that we have now is closer to what she grew up with in the U.K., and that served her, her two siblings, her two parents, and usually a few members of her extended family just fine. The difference? They’d stop by a green grocer daily if necessary, or make do with what had been stored in root cellars. I pass at least three major grocery stores on my daily travels, and I can stop at any of them and get whatever we need on an ad hoc basis. I can’t quantify my suspicions because I don’t have the data, but I suspect that we’re actually saving money despite going to the store more often; the average purchase is $5 or less a day on veggies, and we use all of it. In the past when we did more traditional grocery runs of once a week or less, we would always have plenty that got thrown away.
Americans have a unique relationship with refrigerators, and maybe it’s because my roots don’t run deep in this country that that relationship has never sat right with me. So far, this switch has worked out well for us!
Though I don’t know how I’m going to keep my beer cold once the snow melts.