Yes, it's a year ago today that I sold my big freezer-at-the bottom refrigerator. As I've mentioned here before, I replaced it with a dorm-size fridge and a medium-size chest freezer. An anniversay is a good time to reflect, and my reflections tell me that this is still one of the best choices I've ever made. I save money on the electric bill--there has been about a $20 a month drop since the change. I choose my food more wisely, so I eat better meals. I don't waste because I've got to cook and freeze right away--there's just not enough room in the little fridge to store and ignore fresh veggies.
The fridge is now a place for the basics: milk, butter, eggs, cheese, salad dressing, mustard, pickles, one or two leftovers, and Try Me Tiger Sauce. (I love that stuff--it's my only not-quite vegetarian lapse.) There's also always celery and carrots. But that is absolutely all there is room for. Any leftovers have to be used up by the next day because they are taking up valuable real estate.
Potatoes, sweet potatoes, and onions have their own baskets on a lower shelf in the pantry where it is cool and dark. Garlic stays in a special vented clay pot made especially for storing it. None of those items really needs to be refrigerated, and they generally taste better because they haven't been. I simply have to monitor supplies because I can't ignore them the way I used to do in the big fridge--and I ended up wasting them before despite the refrigeration since the fridge was so big that I frequently forgot what I had in there.
Tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, apples, bananas--those keep just fine in an old pie server. It looks nice on top of the freezer, and it's easily moved aside when necessary. I don't buy more than I will use up in several days. Since I shop more often, I have fresher produce at hand all the time. And I can't ignore the stuff the way I used to.....etc.
Do I waste money on gas by making extra trips to the grocery? No. I plan my trips out of the house, and I stack my errands so that I get things done in good order. I know that I will have go to the Post Office nearly every day to make eBay shipments, so it's easy to stop at the local grocery on the way home. Since I stop at the grocery often, I'm more likely to find limited-time specials which saves money. And if I don't have to go to the PO, I just wait if I've run out of some food item; there's rarely anything that I don't mind doing without for a day or two.....unless it's cat food, heaven help us. (There is no such thing as telling The Cat there's no kibble. She nags dreadfully.)
All in all, it's just a matter of learning a different way of thinking and of using resources. It takes creativity, too, in thinking fast when there are veggies on clearance. When I stopped at the grocery just for milk on the way home from church today, I discovered lovely veggies (broccoli, eggplant, butternut squash), apples, and locally-made French bread on clearance. They are still fresh but they have to be cooked now, so I'm off to kitchen to do battle! I probably won't have to cook otherwise this week because I'll have lots of lovely stuff waiting in the freezer: vegetarian stifado, veggie upside down cake, pretend ratatouille, Russian carrot pie, tomato and cucumber dressing, apple cinnamon breakfast muffins. If there's time, I'll also make a batch of my great-grandmother's yeast-raised Squash Biscuits. Definitely a great way to celebrate my Refrigerator Journey Anniversary.