Na Na pinches her pennies

Shh… don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.

Living without a fridge

Learning to live without a refrigerator and using only a chest freezer is challenging.  For several years I’ve been freezing foods in small pieces because I’m just cooking for one.  This habit is very handy when I use only a freezer.  For example I bought this sliced ham for Ladybug.  She likes ham and eggs for breakfast or ham sandwiches for lunch.  OK, so do I.

I portion it into snack size bags to freeze.  No need to freeze and thaw the whole piece.

The commodity cheese comes in a two pound brick.  Its too much for me to use all at once and it can’t be left on the counter.  I thought about using it to make cheese powder but then realized it requires a refrigerator to dehydrate the cheese safely.

I usually slice it to be used one slice at a time and wrap individually.  I decided to cut this one into chunks for making mac & cheese or pimento cheese for one person.  I put each piece in a snack size bag to keep them separated.  That worked.  I’ll thaw out only the amount of cheese needed.

Summer usually means potato salad and I had a craving for it.  A jar of mayo is the one thing I won’t take a chance on leaving open on the kitchen counter during hot weather and it really doesn’t freeze well either.  Thanks to Lilli I have mayo packets.  🙂

I made a single serve potato salad using only one potato.  The potato salad was great.  I made one serving chicken salad too using home canned chicken.  Not long ago the food bank gave me a gallon of milk.  I kept half and gave my daughter the other half.

I put my half in smaller single serve bottles to freeze.  I normally use powdered milk but since I had it I’ll use it.  The small bottles are what I use when I mix half gallon of powdered milk to freeze in individual portions.  One thing I’ve missed quite a bit has been jello.  I usually make mine using fruit juice and unflavored gelatin.  Ladybug takes these snack packs to school for her lunches.  I got a couple to satisfy my jello cravings temporarily.  Now that summer items are being discounted I’ll look for popcycle molds and make gelatin pops and pudding pops.  It won’t be the same as just gelatin but good enough.

Hmm; can you see how I’m managing without a refrigerator?  I admit I couldn’t do this without the freezer but I’m managing ok.  The best part is there aren’t any leftover foods or any forgotten veggies becoming science experiments by hiding in the dark recesses of a refrigerator.  Leftovers automatically become pre-made freezer meals.

I’m going to be really busy and on the go over the next couple of weeks.  I probably won’t get much computer time.   I’ll try to approve the comments each morning even if I can’t answer any questions right away.

14 comments on “Living without a fridge

  1. Margie from Toronto
    August 14, 2019

    Grating cheese and putting it into a big container is another way to freeze it – you just scoop out the amount you need and it saves on all the plastic wrap.
    You have done amazingly well!

    Like

    • Anita
      August 14, 2019

      Thanks Margie. I’ll do that next time. I was being lazy that day.

      Like

  2. Tracy
    August 14, 2019

    Adaptability and resourcefulness are the key to survival! We have been conditioned in the modern world to think we ‘need’ everything available for our ‘convenience’- conditioned to spend and respond to advertising largely, and many of the things we buy are anything but convenient to upkeep practically and financially.

    I often read Trent Hamm’s increasingly holistic blog articles on how he will think about doing without certain things before replacing or purchasing a ‘new idea’, then adapt his ( and your ) thoughts to my own current situation.

    I personally won’t buy anything which requires ongoing regular purchases to use or takes up inordinate room space such as a Keurig machine for coffee.

    I’ve got a ‘student fridge’ my friends gave me, it’s perfect. I keep dairy in there and use it to cool water ( 102 degrees here yesterday )

    But no freezer, and no oven, just a microwave, so like you I’ve adapted all my diet and recipes to fit what I have.

    My a1c jumped to 7.3 with the stress of the move, I’ll take it again in October, but until then I’m doing the keto diet without the bacon! Very low carbs good fats ( I eat an avocado a day, fortunately I pass the supermarket nearby, they don’t keep ) and high protein, which is the most expensive. Avocado is 99 c plus each right now.

    If I go out to eat which is once a week currently, I find the most protein on the menu for the money. If I can get lunch menu steak fajitas ( @ $8 and I don’t eat the tortillas ) or salmon salad ( $6 at a local seafood place! ) that helps boost my diet. I can’t cook red meat well in a microwave; I’m making a patio area so I’ll get a George Foreman grill type thing for that later maybe. Eggs I can poach beautifully in the microwave. A piece of fish when it’s on offer too, I poach it in the juice of a lime ( putting the squeezed lime into a cup of water to flavor it for later )

    Eating out attracts 8% tax plus a tip for people reading overseas by the way, so an extra 20% plus on the overall bill.

    There’s a nearby Whole Foods and for $4 I can get a portion of salad or veg and curry or shepherd’s pie.Kroger salad bar some days has a nice Greek salad mix and $2 makes a good portion.

    I’ve stopped getting the ‘free’ or nearly-free supermarket loss leaders, they are almost always unhealthy. If I get them I give them away. The one bread I can eat, ‘Izzio’ I spot for 79 cents sometimes the day before it goes out of date. With 25 g of carb each ( more than my current daily allowance ) banana is my favorite cheap food off the menu most days, but I spotted plain full-fat Greek yoghurt in a squeeze 13 oz package at $1.49 each with a $1 off coupon so I got three of those yesterday.

    I walk the supermarket for my exercise, also garden, changing up tasks frequently so as not to trigger arthritis pain. I’ll be planting rhubarb seeds this month, and some herbs, my intention is to grow more in 2020. We have an organic garden here, so currently I can pick peppers. By thanksgiving there will be oranges, and there’s always mint, rosemary and basil. The figs I’ve had to share with the birds!

    My food budget is significantly higher than it was but still way cheaper than dealing with diabetes through the doctor. My ‘BMI’ is in the ‘ideal’ range and I do feel really good.

    Another unforseen expense though- had to get new clothes as now two sizes smaller.

    Shoes are a problem, my foot injury left me with a deformity so the shoes I can wear safely and comfortably tend to be more expensive, plus I have to buy the prosthetic fitting and frequently dressings and silicone pads as the weak spot bleeds very easily.

    I think all this frugal stuff teaches how to ‘think outside the box’ to deal with lots of other life challenges though, and you can bet I’m always on the look-out for a way to do things better or less expensively!

    Like

    • Msrgie from Toronto
      August 14, 2019

      WOW! You really have learned how to work around things!
      Just wondered – would a 1 burner electric unit give you a few more options for cooking? They aren’t terribly expensive and would make it easier to cook meat etc.

      Like

      • Tracy
        August 16, 2019

        Thanks Margie. I learn from the best!

        Yes, I think I will get one of those rings, I start assembling patio furniture today so I am getting more of a vision of how this minimalist space will work.

        I love lamb chops and no one else I know does, though one dear friend offered to cook and try them again for my upcoming birthday; so that will be the first thing I attempt out there, and I found some 79 cent ( @ $2.50 reduction ) jars of mint jelly for accompaniment!

        Like

  3. craftytadpole
    August 14, 2019

    You are an inspiration!

    Like

    • Anita
      August 14, 2019

      And so are you. 🙂

      Like

  4. simplywendi
    August 13, 2019

    i love how you portioned everything off and placed in the freezer. i have also had very good luck freezing cheese and bread. once the winter comes, we have also used our garage as a fridge. thanks for sharing your rescourcefullness!

    Like

    • Anita
      August 13, 2019

      You’re welcome Wendi. I wish I had a garage to use for cold storage items like cabbage or potatoes.

      Liked by 1 person

      • simplywendi
        August 13, 2019

        without a garage that is tough. i remember my mom putting food on our back porch in a cooler to keep the animals out (we lived in the country). we can’t do that because our chickens will poop on it. 🙂

        Like

  5. captnmike
    August 13, 2019

    Interesting and a challenge, good for your resourcefulness, I am used to both a standard combined refrigerator/freezer combination. Not sure what I did prior to the microwave.

    However I know a couple that cruised the Pacific for several years with no refrigeration of any sort on their boat and they got along well.

    Like

    • Anita
      August 13, 2019

      Captnmike! How are ya doing? I take inspiration from people like them. Also those living in canal boats, in Vans or cars, in remote cabins, in yurts, and so forth. A fridge is thought of as wasted space and electricity and a graveyard for forgotten food. Long before refrigeration was invented people had food.

      Like

  6. Angela
    August 13, 2019

    Question, if you don’t want to use a fridge, why don’t you use a cooler. Use two old milk jugs or pop bottles, fill with water, freeze both but only use one per day?

    Like

    • Anita
      August 13, 2019

      You’re right. I could do that but so far I’ve not had to. 🙂 I’ll eventually get a small under counter fridge when I’ve saved enough for a frost free kind. It must be frost free! I have everything I need in the freezer, canned, dehydrated, or simply on the counter so I have nothing to put in a cooler.

      Like

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