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Old 03-01-2019, 10:00 PM   #1
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Cooking without a fridge or freezer

I'm hoping by June 1st I can be out on my lot, either in my car or in a small trailer. Whichever, I won't have any refrigeration until after I get a transformer in and that won't be for at least a year or so (I will have water).

I might be able to start a few berry bushes and things this year, but vegetables like lettuce, tomatoes, peas, celery, corn, potatoes, carrots and things like that may have to wait until next year. We'll see how it goes. I'll also be hitting up the Farmer's Market, so that should help, too.

Meantime, I'm trying to change up my eating. Right now, just about every dinner I eat has some meat in it that I've bought and frozen. But without a fridge or freezer, meat and fresh veggies are going to take a hit because even if I have a cooler, I've found from past experience that ice will melt in the summer in less than three days. I'll end up eating a ton of canned foods and although I can actually find milk that doesn't need to be refrigerated (although I don't think it'll keep once it's opened), that's the exception rather than the rule.

So if anyone has any other food suggestions like dehydrated foods or camping foods, or a way to keep food fresh for a while (I'm thinking of a cold sink), I'll be more than thrilled to read them. Or any suggestions about anything. For instance, I know I can leave butter out, but can I leave cheese out? What foods besides the obvious vegetables come in a can that I might have missed? Last time I got pearl onions and hung them up in my car (it was Sept thru Dec, too, so not too hot), but what other veggies will keep well for a week or more?

Guess I better learn to like Spam.

I should mention that I will have a stove and oven. If I don't have one in any trailer I might get, I'll buy a Coleman combo stove and oven. That and a grill (although I won't be able to use that during high fire alerts).
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Old 03-01-2019, 10:34 PM   #2
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Hi, RR...I sure don't have any suggestions that you haven't already thought of, but will be following along as I have since you first joined up here - and wishing you the best! At least spring is coming up soon....!
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Old 03-01-2019, 11:26 PM   #3
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Are you living off grid?
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Old 03-02-2019, 01:48 AM   #4
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Google living without a refrigerator, lots of good tips.

Try to locate a small RV propane-powered refrigerator/cooler.
Ask on Freecycle https://www.freecycle.org/

Cruise the ready to eat aisle at the supermarket.
https://www.beyondthetent.com/campin...refrigeration/

Change your daily routine and consider one large single serving meal with no leftovers and then a couple of snacks like PB&J, popcorn and an apple, cheese and crackers, etc...

When you can't stand it another minute head for town and find the nearest all you can eat buffet!

It won't be easy but people have done it for hundreds of years with far fewer options than we have today!

Good luck!
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Old 03-02-2019, 02:52 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rodentraiser View Post
I can actually find milk that doesn't need to be refrigerated (although I don't think it'll keep once it's opened), that's the exception rather than the rule.
Those boxed milks, that don't need to be refrigerated , I think also come in the small individual sizes too ( parents give them to their kids for lunch), so you may want to get various sizes to reduce waste and spoilage.
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Old 03-02-2019, 05:39 AM   #6
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Propane or CNG fueled generator to power an ice less cooler or a trailer fridge.
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Old 03-02-2019, 08:48 AM   #7
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Van dwellers use solar panels and a bank of batteries to power their portable 12 volt fridge and other 12v accessories. Seems practical where there’s plenty of sunshine.
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Old 03-02-2019, 11:05 AM   #8
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Have you thought about purchasing a few of those emergency food kits? There are several different companies that sell them. I've gotten a couple on promotion. One was 50% off the regular price and the other was free, just pay the shipping. Food 4 Patriots, is what it was called, I think (disclaimer: I'm not a spokeperson for any of them). Again, there are several like that. One of them was cool - the food came packed inside an ammo box.

They have meals in there you can cook using just water and a camp stove.

Very interesting subject. I'd be curious to know the story behind it, if you don't think I'm being too nosey?
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Old 03-02-2019, 04:32 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheryl J View Post
Hi, RR...I sure don't have any suggestions that you haven't already thought of, but will be following along as I have since you first joined up here - and wishing you the best! At least spring is coming up soon....!
Har har - in my neck of the woods, it'll be here in July. Maybe.

I'll be at the local library a lot, so I can pop in here and let you know how things are going. Maybe not in winter, though. Then all I'll be doing is complaining non-stop and wondering what I was thinking of. I won't expose you all to those grumbles. LOL

Quote:
Originally Posted by roadfix View Post
Are you living off grid?
Until I can afford to live on the grid again. I'll have water and propane to start with and hoping to have electricity by the end of next year. I'm going to buy one of those little mini tool sheds and throw a composting toilet in there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aunt Bea View Post
Google living without a refrigerator, lots of good tips.

Try to locate a small RV propane-powered refrigerator/cooler.
Ask on Freecycle https://www.freecycle.org/

Cruise the ready to eat aisle at the supermarket.
https://www.beyondthetent.com/campin...refrigeration/

Change your daily routine and consider one large single serving meal with no leftovers and then a couple of snacks like PB&J, popcorn and an apple, cheese and crackers, etc...

When you can't stand it another minute head for town and find the nearest all you can eat buffet!

It won't be easy but people have done it for hundreds of years with far fewer options than we have today!

Good luck!
Thank you for the tips and the link! I have thought about a propane fridge. I have to ask though, how long does a fridge run on a 5lb propane tank? No one seems to know and I really don't want to be running into town every day to fill a tank up.

I like the idea of eating once a day, but I'll be doing far more physical things than I'm doing now, as much as my back will allow me, and I worry about being hungrier than I am these days because of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by larry_stewart View Post
Those boxed milks, that don't need to be refrigerated , I think also come in the small individual sizes too ( parents give them to their kids for lunch), so you may want to get various sizes to reduce waste and spoilage.
I have seen the small ones. Fortunately, I really don't like drinking milk (I love to drink just plain ice water), so I can keep a few of the boxed milks for cooking.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigC View Post
Propane or CNG fueled generator to power an ice less cooler or a trailer fridge.
This is going to be stealth camping. I really don't want to run a generator that my neighbors might be able to hear. I doubt they'd care if I'm on my own property, but they might make a noise complaint about a generator.

A propane fridge might be doable. At least if I bring meat home, I can run the fridge long enough to cool leftovers until they're eaten the next day.

Quote:
Originally Posted by roadfix View Post
Van dwellers use solar panels and a bank of batteries to power their portable 12 volt fridge and other 12v accessories. Seems practical where there’s plenty of sunshine.
I've already decided to get a small solar panel for my cell phone, but in winter, my lot gets practically no sun whatsoever because the trees are so high the sun never gets above them.

There are two other reasons I'm reluctant to invest in a large solar system. One is the cost. I want to move out in June and will have saved barely enough money by then to get the water done.

ER bills were paid in January and February, road maintenance fees are due this month, taxes are due next month. I'm still trying to buy a small trailer and that will put me further behind and there are still things I'll need to get when I do move, like a shed and a composting toilet. I could wait a few more months before I move, but I really want to get out there before it gets cold again.

The second reason is because I'm stealth camping. I can legally live on my lot for 6 months, but if I'm caught living there beyond that point, I'll have to move off of it and I don't want to put a ton of money into living there if I have to leave.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda0818 View Post
Have you thought about purchasing a few of those emergency food kits? There are several different companies that sell them. I've gotten a couple on promotion. One was 50% off the regular price and the other was free, just pay the shipping. Food 4 Patriots, is what it was called, I think (disclaimer: I'm not a spokeperson for any of them). Again, there are several like that. One of them was cool - the food came packed inside an ammo box.

They have meals in there you can cook using just water and a camp stove.

Very interesting subject. I'd be curious to know the story behind it, if you don't think I'm being too nosey?

I've thought of those emergency kits and had been looking at them online. The only thing I see that might not work is that there are a few things I really don't like and then I'm paying for something I know I won't eat. Plus, there's the problem of where to store them if I can't afford to put a shed on the lot right away.

At one time, some of the companies had canned bacon (delicious, but expensive) and I used to use that when I went stargazing. I haven't seen that for a long time, though. I've also eaten the dried eggs and even a dried cheesecake and both were good. A lot of it comes down to cost, though. I could probably buy or make a regular large cheesecake and me being me, it wouldn't be around long enough to go bad. It'll be like "Cheesecake! It's what's for breakfast!"

The story behind this is simply that I have no credit (I've pretty much been on a cash only basis for the last 11 years or so) and even if I was able to get a loan, I don't want to be under that yoke at my age. So when the back pay for my disability came in, I bought a lot with water on it.

Now I'm just adding the rest of the accoutrements as I go: electric next year, septic maybe 18 months after that, and 3 years later, maybe a small mobile home to live in. Meantime, I'll be planting fruit trees and trying to get a small garden going.

The guy who is in charge of the water has offered to take down the remaining pine trees for the lumber and will cut me a special deal on taking the stumps out. Of course, all the trees can't be taken down at first because I need to still be somewhat out of sight. The rest of them are trees surrounded by trees, though, so they can go.

I'll stick a mailbox out in front and arrange garbage service - I figure if those guys come by and see an address out there, they aren't going to question whether it's there legally or not. Of course, the mailbox is a dead giveaway someone is there, but again, I'm legally allowed there 6 months of the year, so it shouldn't look too weird.

I may or may not be allowed to use a composting toilet. If I'm told I can't, then I can rent a port-a-potty. I've already looked into pricing on that.

It's an ambitious plan or a stupid plan. I won't know until 5 years from now and see where I am. It's a complete gamble because anything can derail it, like me getting sick or maybe getting kicked off the lot, or something else.

I'm in subsidized housing right now and to be honest, I can't wait to get out of here. I rent a room with a kitchenette and a shared bath. The person who shares the bath with me is so filthy, believe me, that I'm ecstatic to think of sitting on my own toilet that I can keep clean, even if it is a composting toilet in a tool shed. I'm so tired of the noise here and walking into a wall of cigarette smoke if I go outside. And I want to get a pet again. I've had cats, dogs, mice, parakeets, etc since I was a child and I miss having an animal so much.

So there's lots of reasons I want to do this.
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Old 03-02-2019, 04:44 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by rodentraiser View Post
Thank you for the tips and the link! I have thought about a propane fridge. I have to ask though, how long does a fridge run on a 5lb propane tank? No one seems to know and I really don't want to be running into town every day to fill a tank up.
A friend on another forum uses a very small ice chest size propane refrigerator that he salvaged from an old camping trailer. He says a five-gallon tank of propane lasts about a month and cost approx. 25 cents a day to operate.

I was wondering about your source of water. You might be able to rig up a sort of cold box that would keep foods cool using water as the cooling/insulation.

You could look at a combination of strategies and not just one. On days when you go to town buy a bag of ice and small amounts of fresh food that you can use within 2 or 3 days. Switch to canned foods for 2 or 3 days and then head back to town.

Good luck!
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