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No Fridge. No Problem. Eating Healthy is Still Possible

Brooke Marsal, MS, RD
3
February 19, 2021

Living without a fridge may make it seem like you need to rely on food from restaurants and fast food, but luckily this isn’t true. You can eat healthy at home even without access to cold storage! In this article we will walk you through some of the main ingredients to rely on if you don’t have a fridge. We also give you some tips for storing food to make it last longer. 

Healthy Food that Doesn’t Require Refrigeration

Fresh Foods and Produce

With the exception of meat, many of the foods we store  in the fridge don’t actually require refrigeration. Unfortunately , they will spoil more quickly without being stored in the cold, however many of them will last for at least a few days if not a week on the counter or in the pantry. Below are some of our favorite healthy ingredients that don’t require refrigeration.

  • Potatoes
  • Winter squash
  • Corn
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Bell peppers
  • Summer Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Avocados
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Bananas
  • Grapes
  • Berries
  • Lemon
  • Ginger Root
  • Butter/margarine
  • Bread
  • Hard cheese (cheddar, American, and parmesan)
  • Maple Syrup
  • Molasses 

If you have the option, choose fruits and vegetables that look fresh and aren’t bruised. You can also select produce of varying degrees of ripeness. This allows you to have fresh veggies on hand for a longer amount of time. Bread, butter, hard cheese, and maple syrup are also frequently refrigerated but don’t necessarily need to be. Of course though, these foods will spoil more quickly outside of the refrigerator. To be safe, buy smaller portions at once to minimize spoilage. 

Storing Produce Without A Refrigerator

How you store foods matters. Most produce will last for anywhere between a few days to a few weeks if stored properly. The general rule of thumb is to keep things in a cool, dark, dry place if possible, but there are some other tips and tricks you can use as well.

Tomatoes: Wrap with paper towels or newspaper or stick them in a clean tube sock. Unwrap when ripe and use within 2 days.

Garlic: Do NOT store in plastic. Will last for about a month unrefrigerated.

Onions: Do NOT store next to potatoes as this will cause the potatoes to sprout.

Potatoes: Do NOT store in a plastic bag or next to onions. 

Carrots and celery: Wrap in aluminum foil, but don’t seal the package tight. Leave a small opening for moisture to escape. If they dry out you can rejuvenate them by soaking them in water.

Dried Goods 

There are plenty of healthy dried foods that you can keep around as a staple component of your meals. 

  • Rice (whole grain or instant)
  • Noodles
  • Pasta
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Nuts and Seeds (unsalted)
  • Dried Fruit 
  • Beef, Turkey, or Salmon jerky (low-sodium)
  • Granola Bars
  • Whole Grain
  • Cereal and granola 
  • Oatmeal
  • Dried Milk
  • Dried herbs and spices

Canned, Bottled and Boxed Foods

Canned, boxed, and bottled foods can also be quite healthy. Since salt is often used to help preserve these foods when possible choose “low sodium” versions of the following foods. Rinse canned beans or veggies with water before use would help reduce sodium content as well.

  • Canned soup 
  • Canned veggies (e.g. green beans, corn)
  • Canned beans
  • Canned tuna or chicken
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Chicken, Beef, or Vegetable broth
  • Vinegar
  • Olive oil, Canola Oil, Sesame Oil, etc. 
  • Hot Sauce
  • Mustard
  • Ketchup
  • Fish Sauce
  • Soy sauce

Takeaways 

Lack of access to a refrigerator doesn’t mean that you can’t pursue your health goals. Even canned foods are often much healthier than the foods at fast food restaurants. With a little dedication and some creativity you can create some delicious and healthy meals out of foods that don’t need to be refrigerated. If you need inspiration for what to do with these ingredients, we have provided that for you too. Just click here for some recipe ideas. Some of these require access to a stove top, hot plate, or microwave, but some of them do not.