Can a deep freezer save you money on meals?

This is the first in a two-part series on how you can use a deep freezer to help with meal planning.

Eating nutritious food is essential for my health. If I eat more than two high-fat, low nutrition meals in a week it takes longer for me to heal after injury and my energy level plummets. For most of us, more than two high-fat, low nutrition meals in a week also adds unwanted pounds and can mess with our hearts and arteries. The easiest way I’ve found to keep on track with healthy eating is to have the majority of my meals at home where I can control the ingredients.

On Unclutterer, we’ve written in the past about how to make eating at home easier with meal planning techniques. The process allows you to plan for healthy meals, create a simple shopping list, and avoid the stressful “what’s for dinner” moment in front of the open refrigerator.

Since our meal planning article initially ran, I’ve received dozens of emails asking if we use a deep freezer in addition to the refrigerator/freezer we have in our kitchen. We currently don’t have one, but it is something we discuss a couple times a month. One of the questions we’ve been trying to answer is if the expense of the deep freezer plus the cost of the electrical energy to run it is less than the amount we spend buying in smaller portions and driving more frequently to our butcher and local market.

Then, a PR guy from Frigidaire sent me a press release, and instantly I could ask someone all of my weird deep freezer questions. (I am certain this guy thinks I am one of the strangest contacts he’s ever made.)

So, to start off our brief series on using deep freezers for meal planning, I want to address my initial question of cost. Is it financially prudent to own and use a deep freezer?

Sticker shock?

The commonly purchased model chest style deep freezer is around $600. Upright freezers cost considerably more than chest freezers. If we were to buy one, we would go for a small chest freezer (under 10 cu. ft.), which has an MSRP of about $300.

Most freezers use between 100 and 400 W of power per day. This translates to roughly $175 of electricity per year depending on the size of freezer and your electricity rates. I would have a difficult time justifying the expense of a larger freezer solely based on convenience. But, if I lived in a rural area and shopped less frequently, had kids and more mouths to feed, then the increased costs would be reasonable.

The cost of food

To get a good comparison of food prices in bulk versus smaller portions, I want to look at the price of beef. I know not everyone eats beef, but I had to pick something to compare and beef figures are easily obtained.

I purchase my beef from an organic butcher who gets the majority of his stock from regional farms. In his butcher shop, I can order half a cow twice a year (butchered and vacuum sealed into meal-size portions) or I can make weekly trips into his shop to buy cuts of beef as I need them. Half a cow roughly translates to about $5 per pound, and beef I buy on a weekly basis usually starts at $5 per pound on sale and can be as much as $30 per pound for premium cuts. Without argument, it is cheaper to buy half a cow and freeze the bulk meat than it is to buy weekly.

Even if you don’t buy your meat from an organic butcher and pay grocery store prices, you’ll still spend more than $5 per pound for a cut of beef.

Final answer

Ultimately, the expense of a deep freezer plus the cost of the electrical energy to run it is less than the amount we’re currently wasting when we buy our food in smaller portions. My final answer is that it is financially prudent for us to purchase a deep freezer and buy in bulk.


This post has been updated since its original publication in 2008.

74 Comments for “Can a deep freezer save you money on meals?”

  1. posted by Karen on

    True, but would the same savings hold up for chicken? It’s easy to get sick of beef when you eat it all the time.

    When I was a kid, my grandmother had a farm and she would give us a cow for Christmas. Our freezer and the meat locker at the butcher’s were well-used, but not always appreciated by us. What’s for dinner Mom? Not steak! Again!

  2. posted by Melissa A. on

    I would like to have a small freezer for my apartment, but I don’t know where I’d put it. But I think it would help me a lot in saving food for future use. Less waste.

  3. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Karen — Tomorrow we talk about foods other than beef. I’m with you that only eating beef would be boring and not the most healthy of choices if it’s all you eat.

  4. posted by Rue on

    That’s great for those of you who buy lots of meat all the time! My husband and I don’t keep a lot of it around, and what we do buy mostly is chicken in 3lb bags (which we can easily fit one or two in our regular freezer). So if you don’t really keep meat around, is it still worth it to buy a deep freezer? I wouldn’t think so.

  5. posted by dana on

    You can order bulk chickens. I prefer to buy the pieces I want flash-frozen from the big club store.

    In our 12 year old upright freezer, we have 1/3 of a cow and will pick up 1/2 a hog this week (locker called last night to let us know it is done). Not organic, our beef is less than $2 a pound when purchased this way and our pork worked out to about $1 a pound. We do order both from local producers, since you can end up getting beef that is trucked in from another state if you don’t ask the locker about their sources.

  6. posted by dana on

    If you want to talk about more than meat, let’s hit farm-fresh produce – corn, tomatoes, peppers, beans – all can be frozen easily (forget canning equipment)when they are cheapest and best in the height of the growing season in your area. Quality is significantly better and it’s generally cheaper – almost free if you garden.

  7. posted by Jude on

    I saved $40 a month on my electrical bill once I donated my deep freeze to charity. It was definitely not worth owning one. But then again, I’m a vegetarian, so I didn’t have that much to freeze in the first place. Meat, yuck.

  8. posted by H.d.B. on

    We bought a freezer last year, and found that there’s another type of cost savings that we realized without expecting it: When we don’t need to run to the store for something that’s in the freezer, we don’t end up buying the $40 of “other things” that we don’t really need while we’re there. It also saves us a fair amount of time. Even a “quick” run to the store is realisticly 40 minutes for many of us, even in suburban areas: 10 minutes drive/park each way plus 20 minutes to hike the interior of the store and checkout.

    I would definitely recommend the Energy Star rated ones. The extra $20-$40 in price quickly pays for itself. I measured our new 2007 Woods 21.7 cuft freezer for a month and found it used 47W on average (120W startup, 100W stead-state, running a little less than 50% of the time, measured with a Kill-A-Watt meter) compared to several hundred Watts for conventional or upright freezers. I couldn’t believe how little it used. “The guy” that does our appliance repair says that what makes the biggest difference in the Energy Star freezers is that they use high density foam (with a higher R- value) instead of fiberglass in the lid, where most of the heat loss occurs.

  9. posted by sarah on

    we “had” to buy a chest freezer when i had my baby for storage of, well, um… you know, milk.

    now that it is free of said milk, we love it. we can buy the huge-mongous packs of meat at costco and divide them up and store them in the freezer. my husband likes to keep an arsenal of lean cuisines on hand for his work lunches, so we can pick them up in gobs when they go on sale. i am currently freezing baggies upon baggies full of homemade sauce from tomatoes fresh from the garden that kept me from having to deal with canning. when i make one casserole-y type dish for dinner, i can make an extra for the freezer and it’s ready to go on some other date when i really am not up for cooking. (line your casserole dish with tin foil while assembling, freeze, remove foil and food and rewrap without the dish. when you’re ready to cook it, pop it back in the same casserole dish and have at it!).

    it’s nice, because i can keep all that stuff out of my tiny freezer in the kitchen too.

    we love our chest freezer in this home!

  10. posted by Matt on

    …and if you happen to live anywhere serves, you’re bound to find a few for sale there. My wife and I picked a 16 cuft freezer for $75 about a year ago to store a side of beef and it’s been worth every single penny in saved food cost.

  11. posted by R on

    Ours is not really a meat-eating household, so my wish for a deep freezer is more so I could cook ahead and freeze more than I currently do and preserve some fruit and veg. It would also be handy for a bit of stocking up- it’s amazing what can go into one’s freezer.

    As Erin’s post demonstrates, there are certainly savings to made financially, but also in terms of time (and it would be lovely to have raspberries the whole year round to use in my cooking!).

  12. posted by Erin Doland on

    @H.d.B. — You make a really good point about Energy Star rated appliances. I only recommend getting a deep freezer with an Energy Star rating. Otherwise, like you said, you’ll waste unbelievable amounts of energy and your monthly electricity costs will be unnecessarily high. Great point.

  13. posted by OogieM on

    Meat is the easiest to save a lot on with a freezer because it costs so much. We just butchered our 50 chickens for the year. Processed after slaughter into boneless breasts, 3 bags of wings and thigh/leg portions they take up less than half the freezer. Right now we do have a bunch of chicken carcasses but they will get turned into stock this week and that will reduce the size needed.

    Fresh corn blanched and cut off the cob and frozen in single portion ziplock baggies makes the best way to save corn. Frozen peaches and cherries are now always ready for use in winter with much less hassle than canning. Freeze tomatoes whole and then run them under hot water to peel the skins and they are perfect for hearty soups and stews. Raspberries are available at any time, frozen whole on trays and stored in ziplocks. We make homemade pizzas in bulk and freeze then for quick meals when we are tired.

    I have always had a big chest freezer, even when it had to live in the living room as an unusual piece of furniture. The savings and better food are worth it.

    We use the small freezer of the fridge to store prepared meals and prepared ingredients like spaghetti sauce and prepared ground beef and onions, base for everything from sloppy joes to tacos.

    Try one and you’ll never go back to a tiny fridge freezer.

  14. posted by Springpeeper on

    I personally find this post not a little bit ironic…

    A few years ago, I started planning meals for the week and making up the corresponding shopping list. It was the best life-simplifying habit I ever made. We’ve been eating fresher meals and buying fewer groceries (and saving money).

    I discovered that all our frozen goods fit into the freezer in our fridge. I unplugged the chest freezer we had in the basement and later we sold (decluttered!)it for $75.

    We’d been using the freezer the most back when we were buying frozen prepared foods… you know, those high-fat, low-nutrition meals!

    Besides that, the freezer was mainly an “oubliette” for all kinds of foods that we’d spent money on but had forgotten about. Then it was another chore to clean it out and use up all that freezer-burnt food.

    I have to admit that I’m not a great fan of frozen foods and the freezer was never, for me, a great convenience or money-saver. I’m thrilled that our fridge-freezer meets our needs and that we could simplify our lives by ridding ourselves of the chest freezer.

  15. posted by Gail on

    Something else to consider. We’ve been plagued with multiple power outages in the last few years. (We’re in St Louis – don’t know why it’s been such a problem lately). Anyhow, a couple of years ago we were hit with an extended outage and we lost everything that was in our freezer. We had a lot of meat in there. I don’t keep as much in there now.

    Also, you need to make sure you eat the meat before it gets freezer burn – it’s so good after that happens.

    I also keep flour and some pantry goods in there. I learned this from my Mom. On the farm, there were issues with bugs and this prevented it. Old habits.

  16. posted by Gail on

    I meant to say — not so good after [freezer burns] happen

  17. posted by gypsypacker on

    Do not–repeat do not–store bell peppers in single-wall bags in your freezer or your fruits will get an unwelcome flavor. Peppers are hideously expensive in winter and I purchased a case to freeze. Use double-bags at the least, and preferably vacuum bags.

    If you have u-pick farms within a reasonable driving distance, they will save you bunches of money on summer produce. Check with your Agricultural Extension Agency in your area–most have Web pages.

  18. posted by Carrie on

    I see these come up on Craigslist all the time for CHEAP! Just to be the devil’s advocate though, I could really see myself cluttering up a freezer like this and forgetting about the stuff at the bottom. I personally don’t like to eat food that has been frozen for six months and I think they are a real pain if you ever want to move. Just saying…

  19. posted by Mo on

    An unplugged deep freeze makes for excellent storage of yarn – keeps it wonderfully moth free.

    My parents got a deep freeze but didn’t use it enough to justify keeping it running except at the holiday season. If you are already making good use of the freezer you already have and need more freezing capabilities, then buying a deep freeze is probably a good idea. If your problem is just that the freezer is always full, probably not.

  20. posted by JC on

    We have an upright freezer right now and will probably add a new chest freezer if the men get a moose and caribou this year. (Our ancient chest freezer died a couple years ago.) The most important use for it in our family is fish. I like to can/process all the fish during one week at the end of the season, instead of constantly throughout the summer. So, we gut, fillet and freeze up to 50 fish in the freezer each year, they take up a lot of space that just isn’t available in a regular freezer. After the summer fish is canned, we have space for veggies in the fall.

    We freeze veggies from the garden and baked goods. I can bake cookies/breads once/twice a month and freeze them. This saves time and energy and also allows for better meal planning. I’m also not frazzled when the kids tell me that they need cookies TODAY for scouts or some such.

    Having a freezer can be necessary or clutter depending on lifestyle.

  21. posted by Susan on

    Half a cow roughly translates to about $3.50 per pound, and beef I buy on a weekly basis usually starts at $5 per pound (for roasts) and can be as much as $30 per pound for premium cuts.

    I had an upright freezer years ago and loved having the half-cow down there in the basement. Consider though

    Ask the butcher what weight you will get in waste at $3.50/# And, there will be lots of chuck, again $3.50/#.
    Just be forwarned.
    A 10 cubic foot freezer will probably just about hold that cow!

  22. posted by Aurelia on

    Seriously? You pay $5 – $30 a pound for beef?

    I shop at a small regional grocery store that has a full service meat counter. They don’t put packaged meat on shelves and you have to ask for what you want at the meat counter.

    I shop the sales and don’t pay more than $2.99 per pound for beef and $1.99 per pound for pork. Boneless, skinless chicken breast is available for the same price or less than bone-in thighs at the local supermarket.

    At that local supermarket ground beef is on sale for $1.88 per pound at least once a month, so I buy several pounds. Aldi has ground turkey for $1 a pound. I use that for all my heavily spiced ground meat applications.

    Not to mention seasonal sales. Corned beef is $1.99 a pound or less for approximately two weeks around St. Patrick’s Day. I buy at least a half-dozen for year-round use. Fresh cranberries go on sale for .99 per bag between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I buy several for the freezer because cranberry relish is good year round. Turkey breasts and smoked salmon can also be had a sale prices around the holidays. Ham, too, and the butcher will slice that into steaks for me.

    Because I can buy several pounds of meat on sale, which the guy behind the counter will further process and package for me in any way I want, I can buy meat on sale and when I have money (our income is seasonal).

    I use a deep freeze for longer-term storage and the frig freezer for what I’m preparing this week and for quickly available single servings of from bulk cooking.

    We save a lot of money buying food this way and using the freezer.

  23. posted by Sarah on

    We completely rely on our chest freezer! Several years ago we developed the habit of cooking in bulk (when our toddler HAD to eat dinner by 5:30 pm and we weren’t willing to sacrifice the family meal by feeding her and then the adults eating after bedtime). It is well-stocked with all kinds of meals, not to mention chicken, frozen veggies, etc. As many others have pointed out, it also lets us stock up when more expensive things are on sale. I don’t know if it would have ever occurred to us to buy one for ourselves, but we received it as a gift and have appreciated it every day!

  24. posted by Drew on

    Just something to think of:

    We just got hit by hurricane Ike (yeah Indiana got hit, go figure). It was right on the edge of hurricane force winds when it hit us (the county north of us actually did get Category 1 winds). I’ve been out of power now for three days. I had to cook all the meat in my chest freezer on my gas grill and the cooked meat is now on ice in a cooler.

    Everything else is being thrown away. Veggies, pizzas, ice cream, etc. All gone. The best keeping stuff so far are milk and orange juice. A big frozen hunk of ice keeps a long time.

    I’m not saying they aren’t worth it, but I bought this freezer and stocked it about 2 months ago. A good portion of the money I spent on food is now in the trash can.

    Freezers work as designed when they work. When they don’t a LOT more food goes to waste.

    Just an FYI.

  25. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Drew — Natural disasters can happen any time any where. If you live in constant fear of them and their implications, then I suggest living in a yurt with no dependence on any electric or permanent fixtures. Earthquakes can ruin a home, so don’t own a home! Forest fires can envelope your possessions, so don’t own anything! Tropical storms can knock out your power and flood the roads, so power everything by hand and, by all means, get rid of your car! (Hyperbole is fun!)

    A more practical suggestion is to move to a city that runs its power lines underground. This way, you don’t have to worry about trees falling on power lines or wind knocking down poles.

    My guess is, though, that even moving is a ridiculous idea to most people and they would just rather assume the risk that from time-to-time a natural disaster will make life inconvenient.

  26. posted by Barbara on

    Power outages happen a lot more frequently than earthquakes. After losing two freezers full of food in 3 years due to extended power outages, I gave up on the deep freeze and haven’t really missed it.

    Keep in mind, also, that a chest freezer, although definitely more efficient in terms of power usage, is very annoying to use. When I had one, it seemed that the item I wanted was always at the bottom, necessitating basically emptying the freezer every time I wanted to remove something from it.

  27. posted by Meghan on

    All this “half a cow” business is really disturbing. Bleh.

  28. posted by philip on

    Moving simply to a location with power lines underground is not quite sufficient either. I live in a suburb of Houston and all our power lines are underground. However some parts of our city are still without power. there are far more things than can knock out power than downed lines.

    I have had plenty of meals around the neighborhood of people trying to use some of what they had in the deep freezers. Some people have tried to save items in coolers but ice has been very hard to find around the area also.

  29. posted by Some Dude on

    I really am having a hard time wrapping my mind around how much “meal planning” some of you do. Like eating is a chore.

    If the simple act of eating dinner causes stress, I’d hate to see what the rest of your day looks like.

  30. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Some Dude — My guess is that you do not have multiple children where both parents work minimum 10-hour days outside of the home. I’ll also guess that you are not responsible for the shopping, cooking, and cleaning in the home with multiple children and the minimum 10-hour day job outside of the home. Like I said, just a guess.

  31. posted by Peggy on

    I grew up on a small farm where we always had a freezers full of chicken, beef, venison and pork. My parents had 2 upright freezers and the one in the fridge. There were 3 growing hungary kids in our family (2 were boys) . It saved my parents a fortune of money, since only my dad received a paycheck for his job.

    Now with my own family I don’t have a small farm but my dad still does and I do get a half a cow each year. There’s nothing better. I’ve gotten smarter over the years and I have a list of items in the freezer inside a page protector taped to the door of the freezer. I use a dry erase pen to mark the quanity of the items in there. It’s probably not 100% accurate but it works to keep track of what I have. My kids are small still so they don’t eat much, but I’m sure it won’t be long.

    Whoever mentioned you probably won’t fit half a cow into 10 cubic feet is probably right. Although cow sizes do vary.

  32. posted by Stephanie on

    I picked up a small chest freezer on CraigsList a year ago and it was definitely a great unclutterer purchase. I save time and money with bulk cooking and stock up. It’s worth its weight in take-out prevention alone.

    My one wish was that I had picked an upright. It’s hard to keep a chest freezer organized well enough to always know what you’ve got in there.

  33. posted by martha in mobile on

    I don’t especially like to cook, and I’m not terribly organized, so I love my freezer. I cook larger than needed quantities of sauces and casseroles and freeze the remainders for another meal. We buy meat/poultry on sale (turkeys are on sale right after Thanksgiving — we thaw one for Christmas!) and freeze. I freeze leftover poultry bones and vegetable bits and make stock in the crockpot when I have enough. My daughter and I make freezer jam. We go to “U-picks” and freeze the fresh fruit. Overripe bananas go into the freezer for smoothies or banana bread. Dry ingredients for making bread or muffins are mixed and bagged in single batch quantities.
    It is important (for me) to keep a dryerase board on the front of the freezer to log in/out the contents.

  34. posted by Sara on

    Another thing a large freezer works wonders for – seasonal fruits and vegetables. I froze 50 pounds of blueberries this year, all purchased for 2 dollars a pound at a local farm. Our freezer is utterly full of them, yet I would have frozen another 25 pounds if I’d had the space. We’ve been looking around for an inexpensive freezer for this and other things like bulk meat, homemade pesto, frozen veggies. Mostly stuff from the garden.

  35. posted by maxie on

    I’m curious; if you live in an area subject to power outages, why don’t you have a generator? It’s not that expensive to buy a little one that will run your refrigerator and freezer.

  36. posted by Michele on

    I liked the detailed financial information in the original post, and the comments have brought up a lot of useful information.

  37. posted by infmom on

    We talked about getting a freezer for probably ten years before we finally went ahead and got it. Ours is a small chest model and we keep it in the garage (which is practical in Southern California, where even the water heaters are usually found outside the building). Our original intent was that we would cook on the weekends and freeze meals for defrosting later in the week, when both of us were working very long hours and often didn’t feel like whipping together a meal at 7:30pm when we got home. That actually worked very well and saved us a bundle because we weren’t taking the path of least resistance and going out to eat.

    After I had to take early retirement, it was no longer quite so essential to cook everything ahead of time. But now I stock up when I see good sales on things that we eat regularly, that can stand being frozen. I rewrap the food in freezer bags and get as much air out as I possibly can, then label and date the bags.

    One of the grocery stores I shop at regularly has a huge day-old area, with prices a fraction of the original. Any time I see good looking bread, rolls, hamburger buns, etc, I buy those and freeze them. Bread goes stale almost instantaneously if you keep it in the fridge, but if you freeze it, it comes out fine. I just pull the packages out and set them in the dish drainer for a couple hours to thaw out before opening.

  38. posted by Xavier on

    is this blog about unclutter? Seriously??

    This stuff can only take you to buy more stuff than you need and to occupy an otherwise clear space. And the maintenance (cleaning, occasional repairs, etc), it’s also cluttering your lifestyle. Last item I’d have expected to see here.

  39. posted by Jim on

    I bought a freezer when my 3 kids were little. They are now adults and I have grandkids. In the places we lived most of the refrigerators had small freezers. Hardly would keep a weeks worth of food in them. So we needed a freezer just to keep the ten pizzas my son would eat i a week. The freezer was in a garage, and two different basements.

    When the kids all moved out the freezer was slowly emptied into our new larger capacity refrigerator. My wife and I would hardly fill the freezer when we went 2 times a month so we unplugged the extra freezer. At Christmas, it would be plugged in and used.

    Now the grandkids and 1 daughter live with us. The freezer is back on and full. Pizzas, meat, veggies. But the best is the 5 loaves of bread bought from the discount day old bread store. One trip there a month and we do not run out of bread for PBJ.

    The one thing to make sure is that you maintain the right temps in your freezer to keep stuff frozen but not waste energy. I wrote about that in my blog.

  40. posted by ryan on

    7 cu ft models are usually sub $200 at the members clubs. 5 cu ft @$150.

  41. posted by Monique in TX on

    Having a menu plan and a freezer full of nutritious food (mostly bought on sale) saves our family a lot money and many unhappy hours in the grocery store after work, wondering what to buy for dinner. We used to do that a lot. The dithering, bickering, and buying of strange, hunger-prompted items is largely a thing of the past. That *is* decluttering!

  42. posted by Rob on

    i just got a freezer this year. i would HIGHLY recommend a medium-sized upright freezer (mine is a GE energy star model – 10% off at Home Depot this week!) over a small chest freezer. it’s the same footprint but with much more utility.

    we had a large chest freezer growing up and anything below the “surface” was just an icebound chunk of loss. having the upright model lets us see just about everything in there and reduces waste.

    another reason i love the upright is because i can put sheet pans of individual veggies in to freeze overnight. once they’re frozen separately, i bag them together and throw them back in the freezer. this eliminates the “3 lb. solid frozen block of red peppers” syndrome.

    finally, meat schmeat. i have a bit of meat in there, but i’m most excited about the 30 ears of corn (farmer’s market: $6) that i will enjoy all winter long. now i just have to wait for butter to go on sale so i can freeze enough for all of my corn. 🙂

  43. posted by Charlotte on

    I love my freezer — I bought an upright because I live alone and I’m short and well, childhood terror of falling in! I live in Montana where it’s not only easy and common to buy meat by the animal (or half), but where people also hunt large wild game animals. Currently I’ve got half a pig in there (as of this morning), about a quarter of a lamb, some antelope left over from last year, 6 quart jars of chicken stock, lots of vacuum packed blanched veggies from my garden, a couple of leftover Racine kringles, the inside part of my ice cream maker, lots of pesto … and some other random stuff. For me, it makes sense — I can save money and support my neighbors by buying nice clean meat from them. I can put up the copious produce from my garden. And I can avoid those runs to the store where you find yourself buying a bunch of stuff you don’t need. Love my freezer.

  44. posted by Harris on

    I am a vegetarian and prefer fresh fruits and veggies in season and fresh homemade breads so a chest or upright freezer would be more clutter for me. I can’t imagine looking in a freezer with lambs, pigs, cows and moose!! Gross!!

  45. posted by Harris on

    And another thing….if you don’t eat meat, you don’t need steak or carving knives, broiler, roasting, etc. pans and all the other meat cooking/keeping stuff. Big time uncluttering. Not to mention that big ‘ol freezer and more on your electric bill.
    And then there is that salmonella thing to clean up….Wow, nasty.

  46. posted by Luisa on

    @Erin Doland (RE @Some Dude)

    It really also depends on the person / personality and types of meals you make. I cooked for family of 4, from middle school to when I left home for college. Both parents worked until sometime pass 8PM, my mom would buy the grocery from local market after work or on the weekend, I cook dinner after doing home work, with whatever is available. Usually 2 new dishes, 1 or 2 left over dishes, plus soup and rice, takes about half hour to an hour to prepare and cook, half hour to clean up afterwards. Now I only cook for two, whole dinner usually only take an hour including prep and clean up, grocery is once a week.

  47. posted by Luisa on

    On topic, I live in an apartment, so no room for a separate freezer, otherwise I would love to have one. I only have time to do grocery shopping once a week, or once every two weeks if work gets busy, so I always have my freezer and cabinets well stocked. I probably have food to last a couple weeks if some natural disaster does hit us.

    I wonder how much you can store in a chest freezer, and how big in volume is half a cow. I thought that was nuts when I heard it on John & Kate Plus 8. And if you could power it with generator in case of emergency?

  48. posted by Patricia on

    Eat fresh, own less.

  49. posted by Lisa on

    When we were expecting our first child, my in-laws gave us a small chest freezer for Christmas. A strange present, perhaps, but what a blessing! Friends and family stocked it with meals so we didn’t have to cook while adjusting to a baby. And now it definitely pays for itself by allowing us to buy last-day-of-sale meat, bread, bananas (for banana bread), produce in season, and large quantities of items really on sale.
    And as a bonus, it has made a perfect change table for our sons 🙂

  50. posted by Bernice on

    We have had two deep freezers for about 20 years now, and I have never regretted having them…in fact, they have been a great time and money saver. I had a garden, I had kids that ate plenty, I had a job, I had friends who raised organic meat. I bought both freezers second hand for less than $200 each (they are both huge) and have never had a problem. I don’t know anyone who can’t benefit from the time and money it saves you to shop in bulk (except maybe if you don’t have enough to do and just love to go grocery shopping for excitement.

  51. posted by Angel on

    Plan ahead. Buy smart. Drive less. Save gas.

  52. posted by midlife mommy on

    I’ve been thinking about getting a small chest freezer as well, though my husband would think it’s wasteful (not because of the costs to run it, but because he thinks that we have too many things that aren’t eaten fast enough anyway). My parents had a giant in their basement, and yes, they did buy a half a cow at a time.

  53. posted by OogieM on

    For us with a major winter season having a good stock of food in our house is critical. The concerns about loss of power are valid, but if you live in an area where that is common you should already have an alternate power supply for critical items, either generator and the fuel to run it or solar backups. For us in our area winter is when we are most likely to have power outages and winter if we don’t open the chest freezer much we can go for several days without power just fine. Uprights lose their cold each time you open the door, something to consider and why they are more expensive to run.

    As to eating fresh and local. Fresh isn’t possible in my area for about half the year except for meat, and I’d rather do local, which means either canning or freezing when stuff is in season. Canning takes a lot more energy compared to running a freezer for a year.

    Grocery shipping is a minimum of 10 miles away (20 round trip) , major shopping is 75 miles away.(150 mile round trip) It’s not going to happen to buy weekly for us ever.

    And besides, meat is better when you know where it was raised and ruminants should not be fed any grain. That means buying a grass finished animal when they are ready and that is usually once a year.

    We have an 18 cu ft chest freezer and we can fit half a cow, half a pig up to 2 deer and a years’ worth of chicken in it as well as a lot of veges. Freezer burn is not a problem if stuff is packaged properly and I know that a deep freeze kept at below zero will hold meat for over a year.

    For you vegetarians, in our area it is not sustainable to raise veges on our land. It is only suited to permanent grass pastures so we would not be good ecological stewards of our farm if we raise and eat only veges. Plus humans evolved as omnivores and I think it is wrong to feed any creature, including me, a diet that is not natural. Which is why my chickens are never vegetarian fed, they are true free ranged and eat all sorts of insects, worms as well as grains and legumes. My sheep never eat any meat products at all, and no grains either and I only buy pork from people who provide pasture as well as feed. Beef is all grass finished and of course the deer we hunt are also fed on browse and plants no meat by products.

    Part of decluttering is to reduce your total footprint for your lifestyle. That means not making unnecessary and excess trips in a car, buying locally raised products, eating what can be grown locally as much as possible. Having a big freezer is part of that for us.

  54. posted by Sue on

    Properly packaged, frozen IS fresh. I live in the MidWest, and the ideal situation of eating locally grown, seasonal and fresh produce is not possible 12 months out of the year. In December “fresh” strawberries have been picked green, shipped from a distance, and are hugely expensive. I can pick local berries in June, freeze them and enjoy them in December and value my money, nutrients, time and support local growers.

    Also, growing up in the Tornado and Blizzard Belt—I learned to be self-sufficent and stock a pantry and freezer (supported by a generator when necessary.)

  55. posted by Darren on

    Chest freezers are great, but don’t forget to include the cost of a freezer alarm or power-failure alarm. If the circuit from which the freezer draws power fails (and a dedicated circuit is a pretty good idea), you need some way to be notified so you can fix the problem and not lose a freezer full of food.

  56. posted by Melaniesd on

    We have a chest freezer and get tons of use from it.
    It allows me to buy bread, meat & frozen foods on sale. I often cook & bake in bulk so that I have items on hand as I need them. I also keep my flour in the freezer. It keeps it nice and fresh and I don’t have to worry about flour bugs; otherwise I would only be able to buy a small bag which is getting very expensive.

    After our province was hit with a hurricane 5 years ago, we invested in a small generator that will power a small refridgerator and the freezer to avoid spoilage should we have another long term power outage.

    Some people felt it was difficult to organize a freezer and to keep track of it’s contents. I use milk crates inside mine. They don’t stick to the freezer and it’s perfect for organizing. I keep one with meat, one with bread, one with frozen berries, one for baked goods etc. Just lift and view. Carbboard boes work well too. Just fold in the tops.

    **Thank you to those that posted the tips on using a dry erase board.

    OogieM – I’m going to try freezing my tomatoes whole – thanks!

    Sarah said: (line your casserole dish with tin foil while assembling, freeze, remove foil and food and rewrap without the dish. when you’re ready to cook it, pop it back in the same casserole dish and have at it!).
    Great tip! Thanks!

  57. posted by Ann on

    I’m sure it all depends on where you live. Here in FL, we dont keep our freezers full during hurricane season. Not even the freezer in the fridge. Our pantries are full! But not the freezer or fridge.

    We use the generator to run the Air Conditioning. Not the freezer. Not just cuz its HOT during H season. But you gotta keep the humidity out of your house. YUCK.

    Most everyone has an outdoor grill, so we can cook up the little bit of meat we have.

    Periodic power outages– Small price to pay for living in paradise.

  58. posted by Sue on

    I haven’t seen such polarity since the Great Pantyhose vs Bare Leg Debate! LOL!

    It might be interesting to see what factors play into views on Pro-freezer vs No-freezer.

    1. Do you live in an urban (apartment), suburban or rural area?
    2. How many people are in your household?
    3. What is the distance to your food store?
    4. Is there one person handling the food purchases, meal planning and preparation? Is that person also employed full time outside the home?

    Something is not clutter if you are utilizing it. If I were an apartment-dwelling single guy in an urban area, a freezer would likely be clutter.

    If you don’t have/need/want/use one, that does not negate the value to those of us who do.

  59. posted by OogieM on

    As firmly in the freezer owning camp I am currently very rural, 2 people, long distance to grocery stores, 1 person primarily responsible for meal preparation and planning but also raise most of our own food and need to preserve it from the growing/butchering season until we can eat it.

    FWIW though I’ve had a big chest freezer even when in a small 2 bedroom apartment in a major city. Once you get used to using one you never want to go back to buying stuff from unknown people. Even when I lived in the city I’d contract for most of my meat from farmers where I could be sure how it was raised. Buying vegetables from a farmers market in season and preserving some for later is also much better than buying unknown imported junk from halfway across the world.

  60. posted by Christina on

    I think a chest freezer is a great purchase! I save a lot of money by buying meat, frozen vegetables and bread when it is on sale and freezing it.

    A chest freezer is much more efficient than an upright, and if the power should go out, a full chest freezer will stay colder longer than an upright.

  61. posted by Karyn on

    And if you have a power outage that lasts for several days (as we in Ohio have just had–some are still without power a week later)? You either have to get a generator to run it to save all that food, or watch it defrost and go bad.

    We have neighbors who have those big freezers…and that’s exactly what happened to them. My elderly neighbor has THREE freezers full of food, and ran a generator day and night to keep the food good…and she still lost a lot when the gas ran out or she didn’t run it at night.

    Canned food is the best, most economical food to stash away. If you can your own food, it’s even better. Canned food can be eaten, in many cases, without heating–not so with frozen food.

    While frozen food seems a great investment while the power is running and up, think about “what if”. I’m glad my husband dislikes having a freezer stocked with sale items–we ate much better during the outage than most people, and lost a lot less money!

  62. posted by Staci Mikelle on

    I thought we were the only couple who discussed getting a freezer often. Thanks for the tips…and adding up the cost!

  63. posted by Colleen on

    In calculating the cost savings of purchasing a freezer, I think that part of the cost savings that should be considered is the probable reduction in eating out. I have a small, energy star, compact deep freezer for my family of 5. I try to double meals and freeze them. On a busy night, if I can find “something” easy in the freezer, I’ve saved money on last minute take-out or eating out.

    The small sized freeer is perfect for us so that we use things before the frost takes over!

  64. posted by ellis on

    okay… so i just got my freezer chest on freecycle. what do i do next?

  65. posted by Amanda on

    About 5 years ago, my husband (then boyfriend) and I bought an upright $850 freezer. It’s just the two of us, but handsdown, the best investment in our home we could have made. We buy split sides of beef from a local organic ranch and my husband freezes what he hunts (deer mostly). Recently, when our fridge in our kitchen broke the ice maker, we were able to move and store all the contents of the freezer no problem – still lots of space leftover. The change to our electricity bill was even less than what you projected. Our 10 year old fridge in the kitchen burns waaayyyyyyy more energy! Good luck on your new investment and thanks for a good article analyzing your decision making process!

  66. posted by Laura on

    * Since I have been attempting to eat probiotic, enzyme rich, local, organic and sustainable food, I have been using the freezer more and more.
    The Dairy that I buy my milk from is a 1/2 hour from the house, so I buy from 9 to 18 gallons of (raw, full fat, Jersey) milk every trip. I take off the cream as soon as I get home to make butter and ice cream, which leaves enough head room (in the gallon jugs) for expansion of the freezing milk. So, my freezer normally has milk, meat, vegetables, fruit, bread and cakes. Freezing desserts (potion size) has allowed us to lose weight, since we do not feel like we have to before it can go bad and allows us to have a variety, so that we do not pig out at any one time.
    * I love supporting natural foods for crops (and ranchers) which means natural fertilizer (from animals) – not that nasty petrochemical stuff. When you realize that a normal White Tail Deer “By 9-1/2; years, all cheek teeth are cupped and worn nearly to the gum line” and that a cow by 10 years may have no teeth left – that by harvesting you are supporting a breeding program that allows a healthy gene pool, healthy fertilizer for plants and a natural food for an omnivore that can not hibernate when the local foliage may be covered by ice or snow.
    * I loved canned items but canning does not have live probiotics and I believe that the enzymes are denatured.
    * A freezer saves gas, time in the store, impulse shopping and can help regulate portion size. It also reduces energy use of the stove and oven if you cook for the week or weeks ahead, by allowing you to cook on a day that the air conditioner is not working as hard and since you can cook several meals or breads at one time and then store in the freezer. (I love Sarah’s foil idea)
    * I have also used milk crates (like Melaniesd does) in the chest freezer and Avon type box tops to slide things in and out of the shelves in the upright freezer – to make sure that things are first in first out.
    ** A freezer unclutters my time and lowers my overall energy / gas usage, while allowing us to eat a diversified menu.

  67. posted by Chris on

    I’m single and a vegetarian and I LOVE my compact freezer, which I inherited from my father. If it ever went on the fritz, I’d run out and buy another one. On Sundays I cook huge pots of vegetarian soups and casseroles so I have indiviudal servings for week-day dinners and lunches. I even cook up big pots of Irish oatmeal and freeze individual servings (complete with dried fruit) to microwave for breakfast on busy mornings. Therefore my nutrition is much better and it saves me time by allowing me to cook big. Like others who have responded above, I buy fresh produce in season and freeze to “eat local” during the winter. I often freeze things (pesto, fresh squeezed lime or lemon juice) in ice cube trays so I can take out one or two cubes for individual servings. The freezer is down in my basement so it isn’t in the way. The only “clutter” I find associated with freezing is managing the plastic containers I use to freeze the food in. I tend to collect too many and have trouble figuring out how to store all my odd-sized plastic containers.

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  69. posted by Christian K. on

    Reading an article about a guy who went off the grid & became totally self-sufficient, he talked about the merits of a chest freezer. He brought up a good point, and that’s the simple concept that hot air rises, and cool air drops. He stated that he believes chest freezers are more efficient because the cold air doesn’t come pouring out everytime you open it, like in an upright. He went on to convet a chest freezer into a fridge:

  70. posted by Alan on

    When I was a kid, my grandmother had a farm and she would give us a cow for Christmas. Our freezer and the meat locker at the butcher’s were well-used, but not always appreciated by us. What’s for dinner Mom? Not steak! Again!

  71. posted by Beach on

    I would like to have a small freezer for my apartment, but I don’t know where I’d put it. But I think it would help me a lot in saving food for future use. Less waste.

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  73. posted by Carry on

    After losing multiple freezer’s worth of food b/c of power outages, a flooding basement, a freezer that simply died, and one that didn’t close properly right before we went on vacation … not to mention the wasted food when something gets lost in there for years and you cant identify what it is for the frost … I can definitely say extra freezers waste more than they save.

    Buy what you need in the next few days and eat it. You’ll minimize spoilage, enjoy eating seasonally, and not lose food that goes bad when your freezer does.

  74. posted by SkiptheBS on

    Even a nonoperational freezer can be a bargain. Check online for instructions on converting one to outdoor root-cellar storage for potatoes, winter squash, apples, and other fall crops.

    Do, if at all possible, purchase a freezer with a lock. Thieves AND bears will rob freezers. Mr. and Mrs. Bear will travel into the suburbs to raid a freezer in a shed or garage.

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