It’s that appliance you can’t live without, but somehow find so difficult to live with. It’s that appliance you can never find the perfect place for in your 12-ft. by 16-ft. dorm room. It’s that appliance we like to call the mini fridge.
For most of us, we are used to our mother’s well stocked refrigerator full of snacks, leftovers and all of our personal favorites. Unfortunately, this makes the college dorm room mini fridge a difficult adjustment.
Never fear… Here is a user guide to all things mini fridge in your college dorm. In other words, the dorm room mini fridge for dummies.
Welcome to the wonderful world of the dorm room mini fridge. This will be the best and the worst part of your college dorm room.
First, most mini fridge’s come with a “large” (it is a mini fridge) refrigeration area and a small freezer section. Second, never, under any circumstance, unplug your mini fridge unless you absolutely have too – we will get to that later. Third, love and care for your mini fridge, and don’t leave half-eaten leftovers or expired food in there. Ever.
Ever wonder why your mini fridge can never be the perfect temperature? Your food either sits in a lukewarm closet or the arctic tundra in a box. For some reason, either nothing is cold or everything is completely frozen through.
For many of us, a small dial controls the temperature of our handy mini fridge. Said dial typically looks like the lock on a locker with a series of numbers marking the “temperature” of the mini fridge. These numbers could range anywhere from zero to ten with zero being the warmest and ten being the coolest (confusing, I know).
To master the art of the perfect temperature, I recommend you try out a few different settings before filling your mini fridge with your most recent grocery store haul. Trust me, if you stock up on a dozen yogurts with the dial too warm, your yogurt will have to sacrificed, and everyone will be disappointed.
#SpoonTip: If your berries or carrots comes out of the mini fridge frozen in the center, you have created a freezer not a refrigeration.
Just like in the rest of your college dorm room, organization is key. This same rule applies to your mini fridge. If you aren’t organized, you will end up with expired food and wasted money.
Here are a few key tips to organization:
- Categorize food and drinks and organize accordingly. This means dairy and dips on one shelf, fruits and vegetables on another, drinks in the door and extraneous items strategically placed together.
- When shopping, check the expiration date. Make sure to buy items that expire in the longest time i.e. if it’s Monday, don’t buy the milk that goes bad by Wednesday. To save money and time at the grocery store, check those dates.
- Upon returning from the store, make sure to not hide the oldest items in the back. #SpoonTip: that is where the peculiar scents originate. It may seem odd, but place your newest items in the back of your mini fridge and the oldest items at the front. This way you eat items in the order in which they expire and save money while doing it.
In my professional opinion, defrosting is the most important part of your dorm room mini fridge. Let me tell you, I learned this the hard way.
When leaving campus for winter break or moving out come spring, most schools will require you to unplug everything from your surge protected outlets. News flash: this means unplugging your mini fridge, and that means defrosting.
To relate the importance of this topic, let me tell a quick anecdote…
Setting: two days before leaving for winter break, my roommate is gone, the mini fridge is full. After emptying out my mini fridge — important to do more than twice a year — I unplugged it from the wall (only shocked once by the outlet). I knew that there would be a lot of water, but I didn’t realize quite how much…
I rolled up one of my towels, placed it on the bottom shelf and hoped for the best. That night, I had the bright idea of going out. Upon returning at 1 am, I checked on my trusty mini fridge. To my surprise, the towel was only somewhat damp and the temperature inside the mini fridge had reached room temp. To me, it looked like I had effectively defrosted my mini fridge.
Score: me – 1, mini fridge – 0.
Unfortunately, looks can be deceiving. Thinking all of the water from the iced over freezer section of my mini fridge, slightly intoxicated me decided to pull the shelf out from underneath the freezer. To my utter shock, all the melted ice came pouring out onto me, my floor and the rest of the mini fridge.
Not wanting to ruin another towel from the river flowing out of my mini fridge, I grabbed the package of cocktail napkins my roommate had bought at the beginning of year and began to sop up the water with 4-in. by 4-in. paper napkins. Needless to say, this was incredibly ineffective.
Score: me – 0, mini fridge – 100.
To wrap this up, I ended my night with a large puddle, wet clothes, a ruined towel and a hangover. Great.
Moral of the story, to effectively defrost your mini fridge, you are going to need a large towel, patience and an understanding that water doesn’t just disappear. If you know that, trust me, you will succeed in defrosting your mini fridge with minimal emotional damage.
Though the world of the dorm room mini fridge may seem daunting, I promise, you will survive. The triumphs and tribulations you face with your mini fridge will make you a better you, and, as long as you treat your mini fridge with kindness and care, you and that plastic box can be friends forever.