Though not entirely by choice, one of the ways we have simplified our lives in Costa Rica is by living with a smaller refrigerator. When we first moved in, the landlady said that the small fridge was temporary until she got us a new bigger one. Since then, I have told her that we are OK with the small one.
When we lived in the USA, many of our friends, family, and neighbors had two refrigerators in their home. I was so envious of the extra freezer space because they were able to store food for parties and company.
Though I had just one fridge back in TX, it was huge, pretty much like everything else we owned. I could store meals for when my family visited days or weeks in advance so I just had to defrost and put them in the oven when we were ready to eat. My family is visiting for the first time in December. Though I am beyond excited to see them, I have been slightly panicking trying to figure out how to feed 12 people (not everyone can make it…we are usually 20!) when all I have is a 3/4 size refrigerator in my kitchen. With a combination of restaurant outings, home-cooked meals by me, and buying pre-made empanadas and Christmas tamales from my Tico friends and neighbors, I have come up with a plan so I will be able to feed everyone without being in the kitchen all day, spending way too much, and risking not having enough fridge space.
My plan has worked because many items that are normally refrigerated in TX are not here. For example, eggs and most produce is not refrigerated in Monteverde because it is so fresh. I keep most of my fruits and vegetables on the counter, except for strawberries (when in season), broccoli, green beans, cauliflower, and sometimes my CSA greens (if I am not going to cook or eat them within a day or so). My CSA greens are picked the day they are delivered so they don’t need refrigeration.
Despite the glitches I expect when my family visits, I actually like having a small fridge. I feed my family fresh food because I don’t have the freezer space for frozen foods. When I used to make a large batch of soup or casserole in TX, I would freeze part of it to serve at a later date. Now we just eat it until its gone. Because I cannot stockpile ingredients or meals, we eat simply using fresh, mostly local, ingredients. I also like the fact that our tiny fridge wastes less energy.
Do you think you could simplify by downgrading to a smaller fridge? Can you think of other forms of off-the-grid or more eco-friendly refrigeration? Let me know in the comments below.