13 Shelf-stable Food Items for a Tiny House with No Fridge in the Philippines

Here’s something I realized: you don’t really need a ref.

Of course, that’s the clickbait. The reality is that it is on a case-to-case basis. It depends on the kind of food you eat, the frequency you get your produce, and even how you prepare your food. For example, if you meal prep, you definitely need a fridge.

However, for our little family, we still don’t see a need for a fridge for now. Primarily, we don’t have the budget for it right now, as a fridge is definitely not a one-time cost.

In this article, I will share with you a list of food items that do not need to be refrigerated as well as ideas on how to prepare them for your family. Enjoy!

  1. Pros and Cons of a House Without a Fridge
    1. Advantages
    2. Disadvantages
  2. What are Shelf-Stable Foods?
  3. Pantry Staples
    1. Rice
    2. Flour
    3. Coffee, Tea, and Cocoa
  4. Breakfast
    1. Oatmeal
  5. Lunch and Dinner
    1. Pasta and Noodles
    2. Dry Beans
    3. Canned Food
  6. Snacks
    1. Nut and Seed Butters (Non-Natural)
    2. Dried Fruit
    3. Nuts and Seeds
    4. Popcorn
    5. Other Ingredients that Don’t Need Refrigeration
  7. How to Store Shelf-stable Items Without a Fridge
  8. Conclusion

Pros and Cons of a House Without a Fridge

Francis and I are sure living without a fridge and air conditioning (until we save enough for solar power) will come with lots of challenges, especially in this weather and with a one-year-old. But in the Philippines, we have a [toxic resiliency] proverb, “Kapag maiksi ang kumot, magtiis mamaluktok.”

(When the blanket is short, ending having to bend.)

Just yesterday, our local electric cooperative here at San Jose City announced that they are raising their rates for residential establishments – yet again! It truly seems that we are now working just to pay for electricity, aren’t we? Now, add the ever-increasing gas and commodity prices. How can an aspiring homemaker cope?

Now, I would rather keep my opinions on the state of the Philippines to myself. But everyday seems to reinforce our decision not to get a fridge for the house we are constructing. Even in our parents’ house nowadays, they are turning off the fridge once in a while to save on electricity.

Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks of not getting a fridge:


  • You save money from buying a fridge.
  • You save money from electricity bills.
  • You only buy what you need (less risk of “forgotten” groceries).


  • You have to buy fresh food everyday.
  • You have to finish all cooked food for the day.
  • May be more expensive if not properly managed

What are Shelf-Stable Foods?

Shelf-stable foods are foods that may be safely stored in the pantry for at least one year. They don’t have to be cooked immediately (except for canned foods once opened), and do not have to be refrigerated.

Whether you’re still using your fridge or not, your family will definitely need to have these items in your kitchen. They will be useful as day-to-day food, and even for times when natural calamities strike and the power gets temporarily cut off.

Without further ado, here is a list of shelf-stable healthy ingredients that can be found in most grocery stores in the Philippines.

Pantry Staples



Favorite Alternative: Quinoa

Preparation Ideas:

  • Steamed Rice
  • Garlic Fried Rice
  • Lugaw/Congee
  • Kichari
  • Rice milk (soak overnight)

(Photo by Darío Méndez on Unsplash)



Preparation Ideas:

  • Stovetop bread
  • Pancake and waffle
  • Muffins and bread
  • Veggie fritters

(Photo by Olga Kudriavtseva on Unsplash)

Coffee, Tea, and Cocoa

cup of coffee

Preparation Ideas:

  • As you prefer
  • As ingredient in baked goodies
  • Chocolate: Champorado (hack: get tablea from Cebu!)

(Photo by Tim Foster on Unsplash)




Preparation Ideas:

  • Plain
  • With toppings of your choice
  • Blend with smoothie
  • Homemade granola
  • Oatmeal muffins or bread
  • Replacement for rice in champorado, ginataang mais or ginataang munggo

(Photo by Micheile Dot Com on Unsplash)

Lunch and Dinner

Pasta and Noodles

dry pasta

Preparation Ideas:

  • Pancit guisado
  • Sopas
  • Pinoy-style Spaghetti

(Photo by Karolina Kołodziejczak on Unsplash)

Dry Beans

uncooked mung beans

Preparation Ideas:

  • Chickpeas/Garbanzos: Curries, Hummus
  • Mung Beans: Ginisang Munggo, Ginataang Munggo

(Photo by Thoa Ngo on Unsplash)

Canned Food

Types: (must be consumed once opened)

  • Chickpeas/Garbanzos
  • Corn kernels
  • Green Peas
  • Olives
  • Tomato sauce, tomato paste, tomatoes

(Photo by Sara Dubler on Unsplash)


Nut and Seed Butters (Non-Natural)

Preparation Ideas:

  • With bread (peanut butter and banana sandwich dreams!)
  • Topping for oatmeal or smoothie bowl
  • For kare-kare

(Photo by Marion Cervela on Unsplash)

Dried Fruit

Preparation Ideas:

  • As is
  • Trail mix
  • Toppings for oatmeal or cereals
  • Ingredient for savory dishes (ask your family first)

(Photo by Jocelyn Morales on Unsplash)

Nuts and Seeds

Preparation Ideas:

  • Pan roasted
  • Trail mix
  • Toppings for oatmeal and cereals (pulverize before adding on baby’s food)
  • Plant-based milk (soak for at least 8 hours)
  • Sauce for pasta
  • Homemade nut or seed butter

(Photo by Sandi Benedicta)


Preparation Ideas:

  • Plain
  • With olive oil and rosemary
  • With salt and pepper
  • With caramel sauce
  • With chocolate syrup

(Photo by Eduardo Casajús Gorostiaga on Unsplash)

Nori Sheets

Preparation Ideas:

  • As is
  • Gimbap or sushi rolls
  • Onigiri (in picture)
  • Crumbled and sprinkled on popcorn

(Photo by Sarah Chai on Pexels)

Other Ingredients that Don’t Need Refrigeration

  • Oils
  • Condiments
  • Sugar

How to Store Shelf-stable Items Without a Fridge

Here are some very useful information we learned in grade school about food storage:

  • Check the expiration date before buying.
  • Make sure to only buy what you will surely use during its shelf life.
  • The one with the earliest expiration date must be consumed first.
  • The shelf life of food is reduced once its original packaging is opened.
  • Transfer opened food in air-tight containers.
  • Keep food in a cool, dry place that is away from heat-producing appliances such as stoves, ovens, and electric kettles.
  • Needless to say, keep pests away.

How about you? What other shelf-stable do you stock in your pantry? How do you store them? Please share with this amateur mama!

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