If you’ve ever wondered how to stock (or un-stock) your fridge and freezer for emergencies, then follow along. A power outage can turn your beloved kitchen refrigerator into a metal hulk full of melting and rotting food. Don’t let your hard earned dollars transform into spoiled foodstuffs. Stock your fridge like a practical prepper, and you’ll be ready to ride out the storm.
For most of us, electricity is a luxury of the modern age. Sure, some folks need it to run the equipment they need to live (medical devices, etc.), but for the rest of the population, we won’t actually die if the TV and lights go out. We should also embrace the reality that modern refrigeration, too, is a luxury. If you’re serious about preparedness, you’ll wean yourself off the fridge and freezer as soon as possible. Refrigerators are there as a convenience, not as a way of life.
Re-examine Your Freezer
If you’re like most Americans, your refrigerator unit is primarily a fridge, with a smaller secondary section that is a freezer. The temperature of the fridge section usually hovers in the mid 30s Fahrenheit, while the freezer stays around 0 degrees. Frozen food is usually the first to turn bad if power is lost, so it’s been my strategy to phase out frozen foods. What should take their place in the freezer? You might have heard of (or even grown up with) ice boxes, which are insulated boxes that are cooled by actual blocks of ice.
Reclaim this bright idea by filling your freezer section with clean plastic containers full of clean drinking water. Once these freeze, they are left in place until a power outage. Then they can be moved to the refrigerator section and placed on the top rack. These blocks of ice in the top of the fridge will cool all of the food below them, keeping the fridge somewhat operational. This “ice box” retrofit should buy you a few days of cooling, and save a great deal of your refrigerated food. It also provides safe drinking water when melted, and keeps you from filling the freezer with frozen foods.
What’s In The Fridge?
I like to keep a lot of things in the fridge, just not much food. I keep seeds in there, home brew supplies, bottled beverages for the kids and adults. All of which are capable of being stored at room temperature, should I need to remove them. There are also vegetables, eggs, fresh meats, medicines, condiments, and vitamins. The meat, eggs, and veggies would be used immediately if a power outage occurs, thanks to back-up cooking methods like my solar oven, propane grill, and camping stoves. That’s about it for my fridge contents. I try to keep it sparsely populated with perishables, favoring shelf-stable foods and things harvested the day of consumption.
Do A Little Testing
Should you find yourself using the ice blocks for cooling, place a thermometer in the middle of the fridge to monitor the temperature. This will give you an idea when to replace the melting blocks of ice. And for those who travel, here’s a simple trick to know if your fridge has shut off while you were gone, allowing the food to spoil before refreezing or re-cooling. Place a plastic cup of loose ice cubes in your freezer section. If the power is out for long, the cubes will melt and become a cup of water. Then, if the power comes back, it will re-freeze into a solid plug of ice in the bottom of the cup. After your travels, if you still have a cup of loose cubes you’ll know that the freezer stayed below freezing and the whole appliance probably stayed at temperature.
Do you have a preparedness plan for your refrigerator and freezer? Tell us about it in the comments.