I was pretty spoiled for five years. Three years at the casino and I got a free meal each shift. That was my main meal of the day, fatty fries and a lot of meat on a sandwich. Then the last two years I got two free meals a day, both bread. A white flour item for breakfast and a whole wheat bread for lunch. Hey, bread was free for the taking ( about my only perk there ). Now, I have to buy all of my food and it sure hurts financially. The last time I fed myself all three meals a day meat was an average of $1 a pound. Now it is more like $3. And on top of that I have no freezer to buy sale items. I will eventually substitute canning for the freezer, if things hold together that long and meat is still affordable.
Not having a fridge is really no big deal. In actual fact the only thing one is good for ( assuming the average urban worker lifestyle ) is leftovers and condiments. If you plan your meals carefully you won't have leftovers. And most condiments will survive without cold. We started living without the fridge in the middle of summer so it was a good test to what could and couldn't survive in a hot metal box. Mustard and relish and ketchup are all okay without an icebox. For mayonnaise I had to buy the little packets at a restaurant supply place. Almost twenty bucks for two hundred, but mayo is a luxury we decided we really wanted. Try eating a tuna fish sandwich without them ( and don't forget the scurvy scum sucking bastards raised the price twenty percent while reducing the sized by 15% as the can size went from six ounces to five- thanks for the overfishing! ). I'm not really too sure about the survivability of jelly. It looks okay but I seem to get a bit ill after eating it. Well, it could be the peanut butter. I'm still alive, so it didn't kill me, but just to be sure I'm eating honey now instead of jam.
Monday, Wednesday and Friday are meat days. I pick up whatever is under three bucks at the store on my way home. We eat rice or canned beans or noodles along with it. Tuesday is tuna sandwich day. Thursday is rice mixed with a can of chili. Eating rice along tastes bad and eating chili alone gives me indigestion. Combining the two works much better and relatively cheap. Saturday is fried egg sandwich day, at least as long as I can afford to drive into town each Saturday and don't have to cut back on my gas consumption. If I go into town by bike every other weekend I could still do eggs. I have a 45 minute commute each way by bike and nothing goes bad in the heat except fresh hamburger. On Sunday it is fried potato day. So fresh meat is under ten bucks a week. Canned meat and eggs about $3 or $4. I won't eat meat with preservatives in it so I insist on buying the fresh ( to speak nothing of the taste ).
Yes, as time and money permit, I'll get an icebox. And right now I could easily do the buried ( dead ) fridge for a insulated hay-box type. But we can't afford much produce except potatoes so we don't have to protect that from the heat. And if we could I could always just buy it a day or two at a time since I'm already in town for work. Instead of butter, which is expensive, we sparingly use a room stable margarine ( the Parkay squeezable is $1.50 and is refrigerator recommended, all other types are refrigerator required ). There is the butter crock method, but as I said about cost... ( and the wife won't eat room temperature stored butter, I've tried in the past ). For cheese you could always use a lightly wetted with vinegar cheese cloth for hard cheeses.
I don't know how much this will help you. Back East with the humidity it won't be this easy. And it is cheap and easy to build your own icebox and ice block maker ( detailed previously ). But perhaps due to power grid failure or loss of income or going to live grid free you might find this information helpful.