If opening the freezer compartment of your refrigerator unleashes an avalanche of frozen food, you know the challenges of cramming groceries into this small space. The limited storage area severely restricts your ability to stock up on frozen foods when they go on sale or to buy them in bulk. That’s why I suggest investing in a chest or upright freezer.
In a blog focused on saving money, it might seem strange that I’m encouraging you to spend money on an optional item. But I believe you’ll save money in the long run because of the added buying power a dedicated freezer space provides.
Because I have a chest freezer, I can buy beef in bulk from a local farmer. He sells half of a steer for $2.99 a pound. While that is higher than what I’d pay for ground beef at my local supermarket, it’s considerably cheaper than store prices for the steaks, stew meat and roasts that come with my order. Plus, I can buy beef from a trusted member of my community who doesn’t use antibiotics, steroids or hormones to enhance his cattle.
Stand-alone freezers also come in handy for meat and other items that go on sale at the supermarket. I can stock up on chicken breasts, pork ribs, pizzas, ice cream and frozen vegetables when they reach their buy prices. If there’s a hunter in your family, having a chest or upright freezer gives you storage space for that meat, and you only pay the cost of processing it.
You’ll find two main types of stand-alone freezers. Chest freezers get their name from their design. Similar to a treasure chest, they have a horizontal lid that lifts up. Inside, you find a large storage cavity that typically offers some hanging storage baskets and possibly a dividing wall to help you organize items. Upright freezers, on the other hand, look much like refrigerators, with horizontal shelves for organizing food and a vertical door. Chest freezers typically offer more space per dollar than uprights, but it can be harder to find and dig out items buried at the bottom of their storage space. Chest freezers also require more floor space than uprights.
Freezer prices vary by size. If you can afford it, I’d recommend buying at least a 15-cubic-foot freezer. If you have a household of more than four people, consider a model with 20 cubic feet or more. Large retailers selling chest and upright freezers include Lowe’s, Home Depot, Sears and Best Buy. Right now, Home Depot has the cheapest 15-cubic-foot model, a Maytag priced at $314 with free shipping. Plus, you can get 5 percent cash back on your purchase if you go through the Ebates website to order. (Learn more about using Ebates.) You’ll spend about $3.18 a month on electricity to run this model, but you can easily save that much when buying one family pack of chicken on sale. Look for the bright yellow Energy Guide label in stores or online to see the operating costs of other models.
Sometimes, spending money helps you save in the long run. Such is the case with chest and upright freezers.