One of the things I had to decide when choosing to move to this studio apartment was could I live without a stove? Next came, did I need a refrigerator? Since I have been preparing all vegan meals in my home and rarely, if ever, use the oven I decided I could live without a stove, but what about the fridge?
How to live without a refrigerator
Why would I have to make this decision? It’s simple when the hotel was converted into apartments a small kitchenette was installed, but no wiring was added for a stove. The original thought was that college students would be interested in living here and as they mainly used hot plates and microwaves in the dorms this would be a situation they were familiar with.
These apartments also don’t come with a refrigerator, although space was allocated for putting one in. I decided to try living without a refrigerator for a couple of weeks, but while I liked knowing I was saving on energy usage I missed having a fridge.
Before purchasing a fridge I looked at what I had been buying and how much space I really needed to store perishables. As it turned out I really didn’t need that much. The local grocery store is exactly half a mile from my home, and in the summer a half a mile in the other direction brings me to the farmer’s market, which makes purchasing fresh food easy and convenient. I decided on a compact refrigerator, one you would see in a dorm.
A compact refrigerator has worked out nicely for me. I no longer over buy my produce and then find I can’t eat it all before it goes bad. Something I’ve had trouble in the past doing once my children moved out. Having two growing boys in the household takes a lot more food than just one or even two persons.
UPDATE: the small fridge died after a year of use at which time I experimented and found I was ready to live without it. To learn more about which foods can be stored without refrigeration the comments here will lead you to necessary information.
Another plus to a smaller fridge was where to put it. There was open space at the end of the kitchenette which would have held a larger fridge but there was also an open space under the counter top. By putting the fridge under the counter top it freed up space for a seating area at the end of the kitchenette.
No stove, impossible!
Now what about a stove. My first week here we had a few chilly days and I wanted a bowl of soup. I pulled out my crock pot (slow cooker) which has never disappointed me before. The leftovers were another matter. A slow cooker really isn’t something you quickly warm a single serving in, but then I had an idea. I had received a rice cooker for a gift a few years back. I don’t make rice often and when I did I would make a large batch and freeze it. So the rice cooker wasn’t used all that often, especially without a freezer now. I thought I would see what else it would do and find it has been wonderful for warming leftovers.
I can also use the rice cooker when I want to make a serving of oatmeal for breakfast. It cooks just as quickly as it would in a pan on a stove top, maybe even quicker.
Healthier meals is a plus
Breakfasts are simple and I frequently choose from these:
- Oatmeal cooked with a chopped apple, dried cranberries and a sprinkling of cinnamon. It’s sweet enough that I never use sugar to enjoy this. Like me you can experiment with other fruits, peaches and pears are also two favorites.
- a piece of fruit
- a smoothie. I have an old blender that was my grandmothers, (they just don’t make them like this any more) I toss in a banana and any other fresh fruit that sounds good to me that day. I tend to avoid the more mellow fruits such as pears as the flavor just doesn’t satisfy me. I do love to blend bananas with berries or oranges
- green juice. I toss in any greens such as kale or spinach I have handy a few carrots, and an apple for sweetness
Lunches and dinners are interchangeable
- Veggie wrap. Using a cabbage or lettuce leaf I fill it with chopped or shredded peppers, onions, carrots, radishes, and the like. I will add some chopped fruit like pears or papaya or avocado.
- Salad. Again this is meatless as I am a vegan but anything available can be added. I like to add dried cranberries as well.
- hummus sandwich with a bowl of soup or chili
- Any breakfast food from above that just sounds good at the time.
As I have slowly added more fresh foods to my diet, because I can more easily shop for my groceries, I find that I am feeling better than I have in years not to mention a few pounds lost.
Advantages to living without a stove
- I am not wasting square footage on a large appliance that I used so little when I had one.
- Clean up is a breeze after meals and no more drip pans which seem to need replacing every couple of years; no matter how careful you are when cooking.
- I’m not using energy having an appliance plugged in when it’s not being used.
- But the biggest advantage is seen in my weekly chores. No longer do I have to pull out a stove to clean around and under, I don’t have to wipe down the surface to keep it free from dust. Oven door doesn’t have to be wiped regularly from children’s hand prints. And no more exhaust fans to wipe down and keep clean.
Not for everyone, but then I’m not everyone
For many people a kitchen fully equipped is a dream come true. For me it is just the opposite, it is a lot of wasted space and time. Time to search for what you wanted; time to clean all the cabinet doors, counter tops and appliances. Take a look through your cupboards and pantry. How many things are there that you haven’t touched in months if not years?
What does my kitchen look like? I have two small shelves I added on the one wall, one holds my dishes (plates and bowls) the other holds my glasses and cups. I made these from pieces of lumber painted with milk paint and attached with metal brackets. It may not sound all that pretty from the description, but it really does look nice.
Cabinet under the sink holds my laundry and cleaning supplies, a small box of tools, a flower vase, a fire extinguisher and a box of garbage bags.
The only other lower cabinet holds my food dehydrator, slow cooker when not in use, container of surplus tea bags (I like variety but don’t want all on display), wire strainer, grater, a few extra plates for holidays, two serving bowls, and some storage containers some holding my food staples such as rice and beans, others for storing leftovers.
The only drawer in the kitchen holds my silverware, utensils and a few frequently used tools (kept clean, yet properly separated from eating utensils I should add).
On the counter top I have a lamp for better lighting, an antique milk glass bowl which holds fresh fruit and a hurricane glass with a nice candle in it. Off to the one side of the sink (and mostly out of view of the living area) is my dish strainer, behind this I store a few spices I use daily, a decorative box with select tea bags, and my cutting board.
I have a narrow shelf (small bookcase) that divides the living space from the kitchen. This is closed from view in the living area, but open to the kitchen. On this I store my frequently used appliances. Blender, juicer, rice cooker, couple cookbooks, food saver appliance and a small electric kettle my sisters found at a yard sale and thought I could use to warm water for tea. I also store two reusable water bottles so they are handy and ready to fill and go.
On the top of the shelf I have an alarm clock which also serves as my radio and CD player (replacing my stereo), and ample space for a guests to set a drink on, and frequently their cell phones.
Isn’t that enough?
What more would I need? I have everything necessary right at my fingertips. I’m sure many of you are shaking your heads asking what other convenience have I given up? Not a one. I haven’t owned a microwave in years. I never liked the taste of food cooked in it and found it was an eyesore to look at, and rarely used at that.
I wonder what you may have you kitchen you could never part with. I’m sure some of the items on my list are things you would never want. That’s okay, it’s our differences that make life worth living.