Preserving Food When the Fridge Goes Out

Preserving Food When the Fridge Goes Out

Frozen Food

One of the worst feelings in the world is having to throw away a refrigerator’s worth of food because the power went out!

And it always seems to happen right after you’ve gone to the grocery store.

Whether you experience a natural disaster, someone hits an electrical box, a rolling blackout cuts off power, or the entire grid goes down—the food in your fridge is in danger of going bad.

As with other potential emergencies, preparedness is key

Don’t take a chance on spoiled food. Check out these ways to preserve the food in your fridge in the event the power goes out.

10. Use Appliance Thermostats

These can literally save your life. Using appliance thermostats before and during an emergency will help you know what's safe to eat.

Keep the freezer temperature at or below 0° F, and the refrigerator at or below 40° F on a regular basis.

If you experience a power outage, you can verify the temperature of your refrigerator and freezer using the thermostat.

9. Freeze Refrigerated Items

Make good use of your freezer. Place refrigerated food items such as milk, fresh meat, poultry, and leftovers, in the freezer. 

These items have a better chance of lasting long should you experience a longer outage.

8. Invest in Coolers and Gel Packets


Part of preserving your food when the fridge goes out is being prepared for the possibility of this happening.

One way to prepare is to invest in coolers and freezable gel packets.

Keep the freezable gel packets in your freezer so they are ready anytime you need them.

Should you have an extended power outage, put your refrigerated food, such as milk, dairy products, meats, fish, poultry, eggs, and leftovers, inside a cooler with the frozen gel packets. 

The goal is to keep these foods at or below 40° F.

7. Keep Ice on Hand

Along with freezable gel packets, it is also wise to keep ice on hand. 

If you have an ice maker, fill up a gallon-sized Ziploc bag with ice and keep it in the freezer. Fill containers and water jugs with water and freeze them.

Not only will these prove useful in keeping items cool in a cooler, but the more ice you have in your freezer when the power goes out, the longer your freezer will stay cold.

A freezer packed full can maintain its temperature for 48 hours. If it is only half-full, it will only maintain its temperature for 24 hours.

TIP – Keeping a bag of ice cubes in the freezer is a helpful way to determine if your freezer has thawed. If you open your freezer after the power outage and discover the ice in the bag has melted and refrozen as a solid block of ice, it means your freezer thawed and the food is unsafe to eat.

6. Know Where to Find Dry Ice, Locally

Simply knowing where you can purchase dry ice will make a huge difference in how much food you can preserve when the fridge goes out. 

A 50-pound block of dry ice will keep the contents of a full 18-cubic-foot freezer frozen for 2 days. 

Just remember to wear gloves or use tongs when handling dry ice.

5. Use Fresh Eggs

Fresh Eggs

Fresh eggs can last weeks outside of a refrigerator – as long as you don’t wash them and you keep them in a cool, dark place.

This is different from store-bought eggs. Store-bought eggs have been washed and have lost their natural coating.

Help your fresh eggs last even longer by wiping mineral oil on the raw eggshells.

4. Learn Other Methods for Preserving Foods

Another way to preserve your food if the fridge goes out is to practice traditional food preservation. Knowing how to preserve food with these methods ensures your food won’t go to waste.

  • Dehydrating – You can dehydrate almost everything – fruit, meat, vegetables, etc. You can dehydrate food using an oven, a dehydrator, or even just using the sun. 
  • Canning – Process and can food, such as fruit, meat, and vegetables, using a pressure canner.
  • Pickling – Food is pickled by submerging it in a vinegar and salt solution. This is a type of fermentation process that turns vegetables into pickles. 
    • Making Jerky – Cut raw red meat thin, sprinkle with salt, and hang strips of jerky to dry in the sun. 

    3. Close the Doors

    It can be tempting to keep checking the temperature inside your refrigerator and freezer when the power is out, but don’t give in to this temptation! 

    The National Center for Home Food Preservation explains, “Items in the freezer potentially can stay frozen for 2 to 4 days, depending on the size of the freezer, how full it is, and how well insulated it is. A full freezer that had been operating at 0°F will keep foods frozen for about 48 hours if the doors remain closed; a half-full one can only be expected to keep food frozen for a maximum of 24 hours.”

    Just like keeping the doors of your house closed keeps the interior of your home cool in the heat of the summer, keeping the doors of your refrigerator closed keeps the interior cool.

    2. Know What Is Safe and Unsafe to Eat

    Spoiled Food

    It is also important to have an idea of what food can be safely eaten and what should be discarded after a refrigerator power outage. suggests, “Discard refrigerated perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and leftovers after 4 hours without power.”

    The basic motto is, “If in doubt, throw it out!” 

    However, there are some foods that are safe after even a couple of days, such as butter, hard cheeses, and opened jars of condiments like mustard and ketchup.

    In contrast, there are some foods that should be discarded immediately if they have gone without refrigeration for a couple of hours or more. These include:

    • Raw or cooked meat, poultry, and seafood
    • Lunchmeat
    • Foods containing meat products
    • Casseroles, stews, or soups
    • Milk/cream, yogurt, or soft cheese 
    • Mayonnaise, tartar sauce, or creamy dressings
    • Pastas, rice, and salads prepared from these types of foods.

    [Related Read: 5 Tricks to Test If Your Food’s Gone Bad]

    1. Stock Up on Emergency Shelf-Stable Foods

    One of the best ways to prepare for a power outage that affects your refrigerator is to stock up on emergency, shelf-stable food.

    Emergency food, such as Emergency Essentials in #10 Cans, is designed specifically for these types of situations.

    Emergency Essentials survival food does not require refrigeration and is made with water only. 

    You can purchase it today and keep it on your pantry shelf for years until the day comes when you need to use it. 

    Title: Preserving Food When the Fridge Goes Out
    MetaData: There will come a day when your fridge goes out. Will you have to throw all your food out? Learn how to prepare beforehand and what to do during a power outage.




    all good ideas……..
    In our rural setting, our power goes out way more often than our frig. stopping. If you can afford it, a dual fuel generator can save frig food in a blackout using gas or LP. I am afraid rolling brown outs may be part of our future.



    Another way to create a home “fridge”: put a clay pot inside another bigger clay pot. In the space between the pots, fill with damp sand. Place items to keep cool in smallest pot. It would also be advantageous to put this in a darker, cool room/spot.

    Jeana Lancaster

    Jeana Lancaster




    Also, if frozen food becomes unfrozen, yet is still below 40 degrees, it is safe to cook and eat it, the same as if it just came from the refrigerator. Obviously, you cannot save all of the contents of your freezer this way. But you can choose what to save. A grill or smoker can save a significant quantity.



    When the power goes out, wrap your entire freezer in layers of sheets, blankets, quilts, and any other insulation materials you may have on hand. This will lengthen the time stuff will remain frozen. Combined with a freezer thermometer with a separate sensor inside and the readout outside, you can safely keep your stuff frozen longer. When the power comes back on, you must remove the added insulation so that there is access to the surrounding air.



    So, in one case you can leave eggs on the counter, as is done in most of the world. Yet, if you lose power for the refrigerator, you should throw out the eggs. Which is it?

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