04 November 2013

Living Without A Fridge: 8 Food Storage Things To Try

There are a number of things I'm going to have to learn to live without when we move onto our boat full-time in New Zealand next month and one of them is a fridge. Yep, that's right, no fridge. I figure it shouldn't be too bad. After all, I haven't had a clothes dryer for over ten years since we moved to Scotland and I still don't have one living in New Zealand. I thought it was strange, but I adjusted. People back in the States seem very perplexed by our lack of a dryer. You can only imagine their reaction to the news that we're also giving up another major appliance. But I like to prove people wrong, so I will adjust to not having a fridge and smile while I do it. Well most of the time anyway.

In preparing for my new life of room temperature food, I've been scouring various books and websites for some tips on food storage and here are eight things I'm going to try. I'll give you an update in a few months and let you know how it goes. Hopefully, we'll avoid food poisoning and the smell of rotting food.

1 - Eggs 

This one will be easy. In addition to not commonly finding clothes dryers in Scotland and New Zealand, it is rare to find eggs that are refrigerated. While it kind of freaked me out at first to find them on the shelf next to the peanut butter, I'm completely used to it now. The big difference is that these days I put them in my fridge when I get home. Going forward, I'll be skipping that step. Instead, I'll become an egg turner. Pretty much everything you read about egg storage talks about turning your eggs over every few days so that the inside of the shell remains moist. This keeps air from entering the eggshell which causes them to spoil.

2 - Milk 

Another easy one. I already use powdered milk at home for my coffee and cooking. I got tired of having to try to remember to buy cartons of milk and found mornings very challenging if I was out of milk for my coffee. So I switched to powered milk a few years ago and I never run out because it comes in a big bag. It is also much cheaper which is a plus.

3 - Lemons 

We like to have gin and tonics in our cockpit when the sun is setting and they are much nicer with lemon. Last summer on the boat, we bought one of those plastic lemons with juice inside thinking that would last longer than fresh lemons. Which wasn't the brightest move. You wouldn't normally leave orange juice out of the fridge for a few days and expect it to be fine. Doesn't work for plastic lemons either. So we'll go back to fresh lemons except this time I'm going to wrap them in aluminum foil. Theoretically this should keep them fresh for several weeks.

4 - Meat 

Despite my short-lived teenage vegetarian rebellion, I still like to eat meat. We aren't the biggest carnivores out there, but we do enjoy meat from time to time especially in tacos. Fresh meat is going to become a luxury for us and probably more something that we eat when we're on land. Instead of having beef or chicken on a regular basis, we'll rely on Skipper Scott's fishing prowess to catch us fresh snapper, as well as eating more vegetarian recipes. I am going to buy a few canned meat products to test out as well. We'll see how that goes. The thought of Spam doesn't seem too appealing (unless Monty Python are singing about it), but canned chicken might be okay.

5 - Cans 

I've become a big fan of canned goods the past few months. Not only will we not have a fridge, we also won't have regular access to the big Kiwi grocery stores such as Countdown and New World. There are smaller grocery stores in other parts of the Hauraki Gulf in New Zealand, such as in Coromandel Town and on some of the islands, but the prices are higher and the selection smaller. So I'm planning on stocking up on a variety of canned goods so that we can whip up tasty meals wherever we are and not have to rely on a fridge to preserve things.

6 - Leftovers 

One of the big things we use our fridge for is to store leftovers. We won't have that option on our sailboat. And although Skipper Scott seems happy to play Russian Roulette with his digestive system from time to time and eat things that have been left out overnight, I'm thinking we need to change how we cook instead. So we'll be looking to adapt recipes to just make two servings of things.

7 - Condiments & Other Jarred Goodies 

I currently keep the usual condiments like ketchup, mustard and mayo in the fridge. They leave ketchup and mustard out on tables in restaurants all the time, so I'm sure it will be fine to keep ours out of a fridge too. I'm the only one that really eats mayo and I do so rarely so I think we'll just go without. I know there are lots of people out there who swear that you can keep it out of the fridge without a problem but the whole idea of that kind of scares me so I'll do without. I love jam and you can definitely keep that out of the fridge. After all, sugar is a natural preservative and jam sure has a lot of it in it. We also eat various other jarred goodies (such as jalapeƱos, capers, olives, sundried tomatoes etc.). I figure if they have oil or vinegar in them that should keep them preserved out of the fridge. Or at least that's the theory. Check back in a few months - hopefully there will be no tummy problems to report.

8 - Bread

We've only been able to keep a loaf of our favorite store bought bread (Vogel's) for a few days on the boat before it gets moldy. Since we won't be hitting the grocery store regularly, I'll be making our own bread. But in addition to not having a fridge, we don't have an oven either. So, I've been experimenting with various breads you can make in a skillet including scones, fry bread, naan etc. I'm also going to stock up on tortillas as they last a long time in the packaging that they come in.

So check back in a few months and see how we do living without a fridge. And if you have any other tips on storing food and eating well without a fridge, let us know.

Mr. Ketchup - you're in, welcome aboard!
Mrs. Mayo - sorry, you didn't make the grade and you'll be staying on shore.


  1. You need to make your own mayo as needed...very easy....a book by James Barber One-Pot Wonders...recipes for Land and Sea you may find very helpful
    Fellow sailors Anne & Dick "Full & By"currently sailing Mexico

    1. That's a good idea - I never thought of making it as needed, let alone making my own. Great idea! I'll check out the book too.
      Thanks - Ellen

  2. Could you just bring a bread maker onboard? Then just make small loaves every few days.

    1. Great idea and I would love to be able to do that! Unfortunately though we aren't able to generate the electricity to run a bread maker or have a way to plug it in. I hope to be able to have an oven on our next boat so that I can make our own bread that way - and a fridge would be great too! Cheers - Ellen

  3. This is seriously so interesting! What fun to be able to travel around with your love:) Thanks for linking up to the Feature Friday Link Party!

    1. Thanks Danielle - we're having a lot of fun! Great opportunity to learn more about yourself and living together in close quarters with your hubby :-)

  4. I had the same reaction to eggs when I moved to Scotland! I didn't get it at first, but then I realised it didn't bother me :)

    1. Now that I'm back in the States for a little while, it seems so strange to see them in the refrigerator!


We LOVE when people leave comments. It's so much more fun hearing what you have to say. If you have a blog, make sure you leave a link and I'll be sure to pop on by.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.