When all your perishables, meal ingredients, leftovers, and more are inside, a broken fridge can turn your kitchen upside down in a hurry. Like with any other emergency, the first step is to take a deep breath, stay calm, and then plan your next steps.
There are a few strategies you can use to minimize the damage and disruption While you wait on a repair Acting quickly is important!
First Priorities When Your Fridge Stops Cooling
There are a few necessary steps to take when you notice that your fridge stops working. Some items can be salvaged, others need to be discarded, and some don’t need to be refrigerated at all.
The most important consideration is how warm the fridge has gotten, and how long it has been that way. If the freezer section is room temperature, then anything that can spoil (meat, leftovers) should be discarded right away. The same goes for the fridge section if there was any food on the cusp of expiration. If that’s the case, there isn’t much to be done to save any food, but it is a matter of deciding what is still OK to eat and what needs to be tossed.
If you notice a sudden decrease in cooling while the fridge is still relatively cool, you have some options:
- Prioritize! Food items like meat and dairy cannot be allowed to warm or they risk going bad. Foods like condiments, beverages, oils, fruits, vegetables, and other ingredients are less risky to warm to room temperature and then re-cool.
- Get help from a neighbor or a friend and store some items in their fridge temporarily. You may even have access to a fridge at your workplace, so don’t hesitate to use it, especially since it is only for a short while.
- One other thing to consider is that items in your freezer will melt, including ice. That can result in some “leaking” around the bottom of the freezer, so be ready to check and wipe it up to avoid damage to your floors.
Once you’ve sorted out everything in your fridge, you can use the following tips for making do while you wait on your fridge repair.
Items That Don’t Need to be Refrigerated
- Fruits and vegetables can last 4-5 days without refrigeration. Just put them in a cool dark place. If you have more than you could finish in a week, look into giving some away to neighbors or, if you have a food dehydrator, you can dry food like cucumbers, apples, potatoes, etc.
- Items like butter and eggs can also go without refrigeration for quite some time. Make sure to only wash your eggs right before use. Washing them often makes them go bad earlier, and a stinking egg can make your entire kitchen reek.
- Condiments like mustard, ketchup, and honey don’t need to be refrigerated at all. As long as you are using a clean spoon with it, there is no risk of it spoiling.
- It’s also a good idea to make meal plans that use up your most perishable items sooner after you purchase them, and leave less perishable ingredients for meals several days after your grocery store visit.
- You can buy groceries and meat for immediate use only, taking more frequent trips to the store. Buy canned goods to go longer between visits.
Use a Cooler
- A cooler needs ice, so if your ice maker happens to be part of your fridge (that’s not cooling) you can purchase ice from any store.
- Make sure to store meat in the bottom of the cooler so that its juice doesn’t contaminate other items.
- You will also have to put each item in a watertight container before placing it in the cooler to prevent melting ice from messing up your food.
- The outside of the cooler will probably drip condensation onto your floor, so make sure to place a towel under the cooler and change it at least daily.
Inexpensive Temporary Fridge
- In case there are a large variety of perishable items in your fridge that you can’t let go to waste, you may want to make an investment in a used fridge to keep in the garage or a dorm-sized fridge to keep inside elsewhere. When your primary fridge is repaired, you can keep the temporary fridge for beverages and overflow or sell it for a similar price to what you paid.
- Another option is to borrow a fridge or freezer from a friend or neighbor that doesn’t need theirs for the time being. Just make sure to keep it upright when transporting it – you can permanently damage a fridge if you turn it on within 24 hours of tilting it over.
A broken fridge can impair your kitchen quite a bit. The silver lining is that this is a great chance for your fridge to get the deep cleaning it deserves. Throw out those old take-out boxes, expired condiments, and wipe everything down. Then enjoy a fresh start with an emptier and repaired fridge.See our other articles on making do without your: dryer, range, dishwasher, microwave, ice maker, and standalone ice machine.