Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Nov 30, 2009 02:42 PM

Culinary Challenge: My fridge died. What should I eat at home?

Chow Friends - I'm new to the boards but eager to share my culinary challenge.

My fridge died and I'm resorting to making my meals on a same-day / no leftovers / no refrigerated foods basis (i.e. no eggs, yogurts, cheeses). Life will be like this for at least another 3 - 4 weeks (it's a warranty issue).

I live in NYC, so I'm fine with walking to the market each morning to pick up canned foods, a few fresh items that won't spoil, and fresh breads. I've had more garbanzo and refried beans that I can stand, so I'm hoping you all can suggest quick and easy (and cheap) recipe suggestions.

Just FYI, I don't eat meat or chicken but I enjoy fish (although canned tuna is out, as I am over my limit). And I generally try to stay on the healthier side. Anyways, this has been quite a challenge these last weeks. I can use your suggestions!



  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Why have you crossed out eggs? They don't need to be refrigerated, esp. if you say youare "making my meals on a same-day" basis.

    7 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      Well, it's just me, and I'd hate to see a pack of 6 go to waste.

      1. re: ipsedixit

        Er, wait, do you mean that raw eggs won't spoil if left overnight?

        1. re: thebq

          Most countries keep eggs unrefrigerated. They can definitely last 1-2 weeks outside.

          Do you eat tofu? There are small packets of shelf-stable tofu such as these:

          1. re: thebq

            Raw eggs (in the shell of course) won't spoil at room temperature for at least a week, if not more.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              It's my understanding that the U.S. is one of the few countries that washes the natural protective film off of eggs and refrigerates them. I'm not so sure they are as shelf-stable as in other countries.

              1. re: ChristinaMason

                oooh. this is an interesting turn of events.

                i'm considering buying a half-dozen carton and just see how they fare. i'll keep ya'll posted.

                1. re: thebq

                  you know the hen house doesnt have air

        2. I had the same problem in NYC also. It lasted for a year, not a warranty issue but a landlord one. In the meantime, I had a cooler and bought alot of ice. I shopped on an daily basis and since I do eat meat, just purchased and cooked it the same day. Lots of fruit and firmer veggies will last outside the fridge for a few days and I used canned beans, tomatoes and pasta, sardines and samon on a regular basis. I cooked much smaller portions than usual, to avoid the leftover issue. Edit: Eggs don't need to be refrigerated, as other posters have mentioned.
          I suggest getting a small cooler; then you could keep dairy for at least more than a day.
          Now with the colder weather here, maybe you could put stuff out on the fire escape, if you have one. I kept milk out on mine which was moderately successful. I had to buy it by the quart.

          Beyond that, I ended up eating canned chili and mac and cheese frequently, and because I lived in Greenpoint at that time, I got Polish food take-out on many a night. My doctor mentioned that my sodium was quite high, probably due to the mac and cheese consumption, and I should change my diet accordingly. So I finally got a new big fridge and promptly stocked it with a six of Budweiser. Took care of the sodium problem right away...

          My thoughts are with you.

          1 Reply
          1. re: bushwickgirl

            I LOVE this cooler idea. I hadn't even thought of it. And I'm thrilled to learn that eggs don't spoil quickly. So that takes care of another protein.

            To Jadec: Thanks for the tofu tip!

          2. hard cheeses, like pecorino, will also be fine at room temp for a least a week, depending how warm your place is.

            you can buy small (4 oz.) packages of smoked salmon.

            tins of smoked oysters, smoked mussels; tins of salmon, mackerel, herring, escargot, sardines all come in smallish sizes.

            1. Some tofu is shelf stable, such as this one

              Here's a tofu recipe I like.

              How about cooking with pasta, dried mushrooms, hard cheeses? Maybe some nuts? Pine nuts, almonds, walnuts... Might be good "baking" sales on nuts this time of year.

              For a vegetable that doesn't require refrigeration, hijiki is dried and can be re-hydrated and used in stir-fries and salads.

              How about Vietnamese spring rolls? You can just buy a small amount of shrimp and vegetables as needed. The rice wrappers and vermicelli noodles are shelf stable.

              I hope this helps. Good luck!


              3 Replies
              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                Also, not super cheap or lightweight, but small containers of pickled things might be good to have one hand--mushrooms, artichoke hearts, palm hearts, olives, etc. Since they are high in flavor (and salt, ha!), they might be very satisfying to add to pastas and sandwiches. They are shelf-stable until you open them. If you have a small cooler, I'm sure they would keep a long time even after opened, if you wanted to buy bigger jars.

                Sundried tomatoes, either dried or in oil, again, to add to pastas or sandwiches.

                Also, powdered milk isn't bad for some cooking applications, since you can't keep refrigerated milk on hand.

                Boring but true--nut butters. Here's even an intriguing cookie recipe someone posted today you could make from all shelf-stable ingredients.


                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  wow, thanks for this recipe...looks great!

                  definitely have tons of nuts on hand for snacking during the day.

                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    yes, pasta with olive oil has been a staple so far. i like the idea of adding nuts. nice way to add some protein. thanks!!

                  2. do you have a windowsill, fire escape, or balcony that could serve as an ad-hoc fridge during these winter weeks?

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: ChristinaMason

                      NYC hasn't been THAT cold the past week or 2. It was 62 F last Saturday and will be in the 50s this week. The cooler and some ice is your best bet to keep a quart of milk, some eggs and cheese.

                      Most fruits are OK out of the fridge, dry pasta with oil and garlic is a favorite pantry staple of mine and the garlic can stay out of the fridge too. Or grab a bunch of fresh herbs, a little cheese from your cooler, some pine nuts and olive oil for a quick pesto.

                      1. re: ChristinaMason

                        iluvcookies is right: NYC (thankfully) hasn't been chilly enough yet, I think, but this could work in the coming weeks.

                        of course, rats / mice are an issue here...blech

                        1. re: thebq

                          I guess you're not on the top floor? Although, I wouldn't put it past a NYC rat to climb up a fire escape.
                          Seriously, when I had the milk outside, I had no problems and as I wrote, I was buying small quantities of it anyway.