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My refrigerator died! HELP!!

My fridge stopped working yesterday...it will be a few weeks until I get a new one. I am a single guy, who lives in an apartment.

Please help me out with your suggestions about what items/foods/menus that are shelf stable and/or need no refrigeration.

Chowhoundworld, I'm counting on you!

Thanks so much,


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  1. I would invest in a cooler and purchase cold items in small amounts. For example, get a 1/2 gallon of milk, some of your favorite cheeses, and some fruits and veggies. Maybe some deli meats and lox. You can eat cereal with milk, a variety of sandwiches, make mac and cheese with broccoli and/or spinach and ham, etc. Store things in tupperware as opposed to plastic wrap or baggies. The only thing that would be hard to deal with is raw meat. Everything else will be fine as long as you refresh the ice regularly. And then you have a good cooler for beer once you get the new fridge!

    6 Replies
    1. re: mojoeater

      I second the cooler idea ... BUT .. get the type that has a plug. You can either use the wall plug and they also have a separate plug for your car's cigarette lighter or whatever that power socket is called these days.

      Then you don't need to worry about ice for the cooler. They do create a little water on the bottom after a day or two so keep things in plastic bags.

      1. re: rworange

        I've never seen an electric cooler! Where can you get one?

        1. re: mojoeater

          Target has them but not on the website ... so here are some from Walmart

          I have this Rubbermade model and have been VERY happy with it... get the largest size otherwise you are just keeping a six pack cold. This larger size holds quite a bit. It also has a heat switch which is nice when transporting a dish you would like to keep warm to a party.

          Here's another that's more like a mini fridge

          1. re: rworange

            I have a Coleman and it is supposed to keep things cold or hot by reversing the switch. We bought it for a longish road trip a few years ago and while it does lower the temperature and helps to keep cold things you put in there cold, it does not have a compressor so it cannot really refrigerate. On a long trip we found some ice packs were really needed for perishables.

            1. re: Candy

              It depends on the ambiant temperature. It keeps things 40 degrees cooler than the outside temperature. Living in the Bay Area. where it rarely gets above 70 degrees, it wasn't a problem. However, in an area where the temperatures are in the 90's, you probably need the ice.

              1. re: rworange

                Yes, we were going from Bloomington, to Austin, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Mobile, Montgomery, Callaway Gardens, Atlanta, and home again through Knoxville and it was May and hot.Even with air conditioning in the car we needed ice packs.

    2. learn to do interesting things with canned tuna...

      And get your portion size right... cook and eat it all.. unless you're going with mojo's suggestion of a cooler...

      3 Replies
      1. re: purple goddess

        Try to buy some of the frozen entrees in your market. That way when placed in your cooler, they will be just fine the next day as well. Avoid fresh fish for this scheme.

        Canned soups--no problems, Cambells Select soups even better. Eggs at room temperature won't be a problem for a few days at a time. You could live on different egg/ham/cheese/fried onion combinations plus bagels.

        1. re: Bashful3

          first of all, have a party! Use up those perishables by getting together with some friends to chow. Secondly, try some bread, cheese,wine, a bit of cured meat and veggies that you will use in one day. Slice 'em up, a little olive oil & balsamic for dipping and you're happy as a Frenchman. Also, instead of spending money on an electric cooler, get out and enjoy some of the cheap delicious eats in to. It's only a few weeks.

          1. re: damadchef

            No ... seriously ... you need the cooler.

            My condo was being remodelled and I was living in a motel for a few weeks. Eating out gets real, real old soon. You want that milk with your coffee in the morning. And really, I'm the queen of eating out but when that was the only option it was a real drag.

            Besides I got a lot of use out of that cooler later ... and continue to find it very useful.

      2. pasta. make sauces with canned tomatoes, fresh lemon...if you get a cooler you could have some cheese. We like pasta with olive oil, red pepper flakes, garlic, and parm. Make a sauce with olives, nuts.
        Lentil dishes.
        A dry salami will keep nicely in the cooler.
        Get in the habit of stopping at the store on the way home some days and picking up a piece of fish or meat or whatever fresh food you'd like to cook that evening.

        Good luck!

        1. My refrigerator in my NY apartment died in 1995. Since then, I've eaten all my meals in restaurants. That's why I can try so many different places in Chinatown and Flushing.

          1. A true time to find out who your friends are !! See how many people that you call your friends will invite you over to have lunch/dinner, offer to cook for them ? My suggestion is to live like many do in Europe, buy only what you need for the day and eat fresh. Fire up that grill and I dont know about you but when I grill there is no leftovers.

            1. you might see if you can rent a mini fridge, or even buy a used one on craigslist. big enough to hold a minimum of perishables.

              1. Single ... no fridge ... you've got it made!

                PB&J, cereal, canned soup, pasta, fruit, beef jerky, bisquick, oatmeal, canned tuna and chicken, and of course wine.

                1. i have a friend who just bought a cooler that can hold 266 beers, and guaranteed to keep ice for 7 days. i think it's meant to for boats because the top of the cooler has a big ruler so that you can (i'm assuming) slap a fish on there and measure it's length. i believe he got it from costco. it's pretty impressive.

                  1. See if you can find the "7-day" or Ultracold coolers....I like the models with the "hatch" on top b/c you can reach inside without opening the entire lid. I made it quite a few days after H. Katrina with a single 100-quart cooler and fresh ice every two-three days. That drain plug is important, too, and put a beach towel underneath the cooler to absorb external condensation.

                    BUT, I'd check the costs on small dorm fridges, too....a good cooler will cost the same as a dorm fridge. WalMart sells small dorm fridges for ~$40-$50. Maybe you can figure out which one you'll use most after you do get a real fridge and then invest accordingly.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Hungry Celeste

                      We've got one of those seven-day coolers for the same reason as you... it really wasn't very expensive, and it worked GREAT! Get yourself one of those coolers and a bunch of ice and you can keep your stuff cool for at least a few days at a time no worries.

                    2. Oh Gosh well my suggestion would be to go to the grocery store every day and buy only what you need, come home and cook it. That way no worry about spoiling items.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: pindapanda

                        I have to have fresh milk for my coffee before I'm fit to go to the grocery, so at least a lunchbox cooler for a pint of milk is an absolute necessity!

                        1. re: Hungry Celeste

                          Yeah, I'm with you about the milk. However, a small can of evaporated milk will work if you must. It tastes better to me than coffee whiteners. Unless you are like me where I drink a pot of coffee a day, there will be some waste, but not all that much. Or you can buy powdered milk and mix enough with water to deal with the amount of coffee you drink. Never place unreconstituted powdered milk directly in coffee ... ick.

                          1. re: rworange

                            Solution to the milk problem: Parmalat single-serving boxes. They come in triple packs like juice boxes -- in whole, 2%, 1%, and skim varieties -- and aren't a compromise on taste.

                            1. re: sequins

                              Oops, just noticed that this reply is about 3 months too late. Well, hope you made it through the fridgeless crisis with some good chow.