In the last post, I pointed out that we have a conspicuously small fridge. And we learned something pretty quickly about having a small fridge:
It turns out, most folks have a really big fridge.
My logic is as follows:
-We haven't yet, (to the best of my recollection) found any of those "Oh, ew... what the hell was that?" kind of containers, shoved into the back of the fridge. In fact, we can typically see the back of the fridge most of the time. The only real problem isn't a new one: the crisper drawer in the bottom is still the hidden lair for veggies we've had for longer than we know. But even those don't last so long that they become really and truly repugnant.... which reminds me:
-Tip for keeping veggies fresher: Put them in a ziplock bag, and suck all of the air out of the bag before you seal it. One of the reasons that veggies start to wilt is that the water stored in the plant has evaporated off. As the plant gives off water, the structural support that their fullness offers to the plant evaporates, too, and as a result you get veggies that just feel... limp. Water will evaporate out of the plant until an equilibrium is reached in the bag, where no more water can be taken up by the surrounding air. Sucking the air out of the bag means that this equilibrium will happen faster, and as a result, your still-fresh veggies will sit in a nice humid happy place, and keep their freshness for weeks longer than they would otherwise. This comes from my own experiences in storing food from a CSA that we took part in last year.
-Back to the small fridge... So far, we still do regular shopping trips, and bring home a regular amount of food. Once in a while, we do have to keep from buying too much frozen food, since the freezer does fill up. But we use pretty much everything that we buy, with the exception of one half-used bag of really freezer-burned bell peppers that I'll have to remember to put into some spaghetti sauce sometime.
Now, to be fair, I will admit that we also have a smaller, dorm-room sized fridge in the dining room that we use for things like bottles of iced tea, beer, and other drink type things. While there are a few places in the main fridge that will hold a full gallon of milk, there's not much room for a lot of large containers. So, they get stored in the dining room.
-I'm generally put off by the term "efficiency," as it pertains to kitchen equipment, as it's typically synonymous with "too damn small." Efficiency equipment is designed to be space-efficient, and not take up too much room. But in the case of the fridge, it's turned out to be efficient in other ways as well: Because it's smaller, it's easier to keep full. And a fridge that's filled up will be more energy-efficient, long-term. The cold items in the fridge will keep the air cold, and keep the cold air from flowing so freely out when the door is opened. (If you regularly have a mostly-empty fridge, you should at least fill it with bottles of water. The water will hold their temperature a lot better than the air, and power consumption will go down as a result.) Because there's less room for abandoned leftovers, we throw out a lot less food... and a lot less money.
In summary... don't be afraid of small refrigerators, as long as they're still big enough to hold everything you need. They may force you to think a little more about what you keep in your kitchen, but that's a good thing.