Cost vs. Benefit Analysis: Extra Chest Freezer In The Garage?

Now that we have a home that we plan to stay in for a while, we are considering buying a chest freezer to place in the garage. Growing up, a lot of my friends with larger families had either a chest freezer or a second refrigerator in the house, and I’d rather not have another appliance inside the house. Also, I love the convenience of frozen foods and our current freezer is always packed. Is the worth the investment? Here is a quick cost/benefit analysis:

Costs

There is the obvious upfront cost of the freezer, monthly electricity costs to run it, hopefully minimal maintenance costs, and I suppose we’ll lose the space in the garage. Here is the rough breakdown for various sizes of chest freezers (Energy Star rated, name brand):

7 ft3: $210 + $25/year in electricity. Assuming 10-year life, that’s $3.83/month. For a 20-year life, that’s $2.96/month.

15 ft3: $410 + ~$38/year in electricity. 10-year life: $6.58/month. 20-year life: $4.88/month.

25 ft3: $710 + ~$52/year in electricity. 10-year life: $10.25/month. 20-year life: $7.29/month.

Potential Benefits

Less Eating Out
To be honest, I really just want to stock up on a large variety of frozen foods so that there is less of the daily question… “What am I going to cook for dinner?”. Too often, the answer ends up as “let’s get take-out”. I want staples like frozen chicken breasts and veggies, as well as having a few Trader Joe’s pizzas and burritos tucked away.

Ability To Stock Up During Sales
If there is a sale on something like frozen vegetables, now I can buy in bulk instead of waiting around for the next sales cycle. You can also freeze everything from bread to milk.

Storing Fresh Fruit
You can do some fun (and cheap) U-Pick at local farms during the summer and not have to eat it all at once. Blueberries, strawberries, peaches, yum. Home gardeners can do the same.

Less Shopping = Less Driving = Less Gas
I try to grocery shop in conjunction with commuting or other errands, but living in suburbia has still definitely increased my fuel usage.

Buying Half A Cow
Although I’ve never done so, it might be cool to buy a whole cow. I guess I’d need one of the bigger freezers for such an undertaking.

Cooking In Bulk
I have tried a few times to cook an entire week’s food ahead of time, but I’d often run out of freezer space. Also, this way one can make their own soups or stocks in large batches. My mom always used to freeze her homemade chicken stock into “pucks” using old margarine tubs.

In addition, there are also the make-your-own-takeout places like Dream Dinners and Super Suppers, which I have never tried before because I never had that kind of freezer space.

I would imagine that I should be able to make up the $5-$10 a month in costs, especially if I can cut down on the dining out. Everyone I know with a chest freezer likes it. Anyone out there disagree?

Comments

  1. Just be careful if you get one and plug it into a GFCI outlet. I had a friend who bought half a cow and had it spoil because lightning tripped the GFCI and he didn’t know.

  2. Try a quarter cow, half a pig, or a giant pile of organic, cage free chickens… leaving the meat in there too long (ie half or full cow) could leave you with less than desirable results down the road, depending on how fast you eat all that meat.
    I have a small extra deep freeze in the basement that I got for free. I too keep frozen pizzas, meats, veggies, fruits, and desserts in this for a rainy day. Just try to empty it out at times so nothing spends 3 years in there.

  3. We actually have an upright freezer in our garage. It adds about $12 – $15 a month to our electric bill, but the savings you mentioned cancel it out (especially the eating out thing — now instead of ordering takeout or delivery when neither of us feels like cooking, we just use one of our pre-prepared meals, which cost less).

    At any rate, the upright is nice because you don’t have to rummage around for stuff at the bottom. We have things arranged on the shelves so that we can easily see what we are running low on, and so that we can easily access what’s inside, without having to leave the freezer open while we try to find what we are looking for.

  4. I was hoping you would discuss the cost of operation more. Just this weekend my wife was suggesting that we get one… and I’m concerned that the cost to operate was going to be exorbitant.

    My main concern is that I’m in the Houston, TX area and it can easily be 100+ degrees in the garage for more than 6 months of the year… I would think the amount of power needed to operate it in our climate would be quite a bit more than in say Maine or California.

  5. auntie_green says:

    wow, I wish my garage was big enough! The builder said it was 2 car and it technically is, 2 cars can go in there. If it weren’t for the cutout for the washer and dryer, those wouldn’t fit. Most people in my neighborhood don’t even keep their trash cans in there, as it packs things in too much.

  6. We bought a 7 ft chest freezer a couple of months ago and I was surprised on how much food it actually holds. (Kenmore from Sears) I haven’t noticed a difference in our electric bill either.

  7. The house we bought last year had a standup freezer in it – it’s the size of a normal fridge and opens like one, but it’s all freezer. It’s great! I think it’s far easier to manage than a chest freezer, because you can separate the different meats on the different shelves, and there’s racks on the door as well. With the chest freezers it seems like you’d always be digging for what you want.

  8. My fiance and I have been looking into the same thing. it’s definitely a good idea, especially because of the no-eating-out bit. Every time you spend $12 eating takeout, or $35 going to a restaraunt, you could be spending $7 having a really great home-cooked meal.

    Also, like someone else said, you don’t have to buy a whole cow, you can almost always get a quarter or a half. It’s a lot, but with a deep freezer, you can keep it for months and it’ll encourage you to try new recipes with cuts of meat you haven’t had to work with before.

    Also, consider joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture http://www.localharvest.org/csa.jsp), they have them for meat and for veggies, and not only is your money going *directly* to the farmer, you know exactly where your food comes from, and you just can’t get it any fresher. The meat CSAs deliver it frozen already, so all you have to do is drop it in the freezer.

    Deep freezers make cooking large batches of food a viable option, which means taking advantage of economy of scale (buy a whole chicken at 1/2 the price of chicken breasts, eat the breasts and make the rest into soup/stew).

    It’s just an all-round good idea. The main reason my fiance and I don’t have one is lack of space. We live in an apartment, and don’t have a garage or basement space for one.

  9. We bought a used one on Craigslist last year for $65 and it fit right into the space where the garbage can used to go in the garbge (not inteferring with parking two cars in there) (we moved the garbage can outside on the side of the house behind a bush). I didn’t know the cost of electricity so thanks for that. We used it for 8 months and were just overjoyed with the convenience of making meals in bulk and freezing them. Then one day, it stopped working. We saved most of the food (cramming into our freezer in the house – a side-by-side). Now we’d desperately like to find another one on craigslist because it is just so convenient to have meals at the ready.

  10. My wife was just researching these as well. One important thing to note – depending on the climate you live in, putting the freezer in your garage might not be the best idea.

    http://www.consumersearch.com/www/kitchen/freezer-reviews/review.html

    “Although many people like to keep a freezer in the garage, manufacturers say this isn’t a good idea if your garage gets very hot or cold. In hot weather, compressors have to work overtime to keep food frozen, reducing the overall life of the compressor and making it more prone to breakage. We contacted Frigidaire, and a representative told us that the ideal temperature for keeping a chest or upright freezer in the garage is between 55 and 85 Fahrenheit. So if you live in a mild climate, keeping the freezer in the garage isn’t a problem. For others, however, the basement is a better option.”

  11. Jeff Davis says:

    I had no idea this was so cheap in terms of electricity. In addition to savings in terms of less time eating out, it is also savings in terms of less trips to the grocery store, so less gas and less time spent there.

    I believe ours will be in the basement, but that is only because I am putting my office down there and will be able to grab things on the way back up.

  12. We have a large upright and frankly I don’t think we could ever go back to just having the top of the frig. One tip I got several yerars ago is that if you don’t use all the space put jugs of water on empty shelves. The freezer has to work less to keep itself cool (mainly because when the door is opened the space occupied by the jug of ice is not filled by warm air from the outside that wiould have to be cooled).

  13. We have an upright in the garage, too. Our CBA was a little easier because it cost me a 6 pack of Budweiser.

    One marginal factor to consider, and believe me, it’s probably de minimis, is that if you just have the one freezer and you overpack it, it costs a lot more to run because it’s very inefficient if there isn’t good airflow.

  14. I bought a big chest freezer used for $75 through the classifieds, and it cost $100 to move it but it was still cheaper than buying a new one. I liked having the extra space to stock up on sales plus to freeze produce from the veggie garden. My grandmother had one and she said that freezers keep best when they are full, so I filled the bottom layer of the freezer with bags of ice cubes or bottles/jugs of water to hold the cold. She also kept hers at -10F, saying that it kept food fresher.

    The freezer finally died after 10 years. I think on average it added maybe $10-15 a month to the electric bill.

  15. I’ve been looking into this and can offer a few more tips.

    Upright freezers, while more convenienet, are not as efficient as chest freezers. This is because everytime you open them, the cold air comes rushing out. In a chest freezer, it stays put. So less time spent cooling back down. Not sure exactly how much this changes operating costs.

    Also, you probably want to get a manual defrost, not auto-defrost. Manual defrost uses less electiricy and auto-defrosters are said to make food more suceptible to freezer burn because they remove moisture from the air.

    I’ve also read that in regards to sizing, you need about 3 cu. ft. of space per person.

    I think when I get one, I’ll put it in the basement.

  16. Uncommonadvice says:

    I’d say don’t bother. A large chest freezer is a good thing to let you buy meat in bulk – but if you are trying to be frugal then you should be cutting back on meat as opposed to making it easier to buy and hold.

    Switch to a fresher diet. It’s cheaper and better for you.

  17. Greg, this doesn’t sound like a very good tip to me. By freezing water you’ll spend so much energy upfront, that you’ll need to open similar freezer that doesn’t hold water jugs 3398 times just to break even! I’m sure you’ll need that space sooner and remove those jugs loosing the energy spent on freezing them.
    My calculations are based on:
    thermal capacity for water: 4183 J/kg/K, dry air: 1005 J/kg/K
    density for water: 1000 kg/m^3, dry air: 1.225 kg/m^3
    assuming both air and water are cooled to 0C(32F) – water freezing temperature to avoid including ice into estimation to make it simple.
    If you are never going to use that freezer volume, then more efficient would be either buying a smaller freezer or filling that space with empty (filled with just air) jugs. But avoid using water by all means, it’s an energy sucker!

  18. Greg, this doesn’t sound like a very good tip to me. By freezing water you’ll spend so much energy upfront, that you’ll need to open similar freezer that doesn’t hold water jugs 3398 times just to break even! I’m sure you’ll need that space sooner and remove those jugs loosing the energy spent on freezing them.
    My calculations are based on:
    thermal capacity for water: 4183 J/kg/K, dry air: 1005 J/kg/K
    density for water: 1000 kg/m3, dry air: 1.225 kg/m3
    assuming both air and water are cooled to 0C(32F) – water freezing temperature to avoid including ice into estimation to make it simple.
    If you are never going to use that freezer volume, then more efficient would be either buying a smaller freezer or filling that space with empty (filled with just air) jugs. But avoid using water by all means, it’s an energy sucker!

  19. Ted Valentine says:

    If you have friends that hunt, they may just GIVE you a bunch of deer meat. I’ve hardly met anyone that could tell the ground from real beef in spaghetti, chili, casseroles, etc.

  20. You discussed Costs and Potential Benefits but never got to Potential Liabilities?

  21. Ditto DaveD’s comments on manual defrost.

    We have 3 deep freezes. Two are 15 cubic feet and the other is about 10. We have been known to raise our own beef, pork, and chicken as well as freezing vegis from the garden. Only two of them are in use at this time, though. My wife likes the upright ones better because they are much easier to keep organized.

  22. I can’t believe how many people have freezers in the garage! It’s the dirty secret of the suburbs. :-) Personally, I don’t understand why two people need that much frozen food in storage. Sounds like a) your refrigerator freezer needs to be emptied of expired or undesirable food, and b) a freezer in the garage is a bandaid for an eating-out habit. It seems difficult to justify the expense until these things are addressed. And if you don’t cook now, do you really think you’re going to take the time to butcher a whole (or even half) cow? How about using some of that money you would have spent on a freezer for a fun cooking class you and your wife can take together?

  23. And I would also add that, unless you have a generator, you open yourself to the possibility of hundreds of dollars of food spoilage in a power outage. Personally, I like my money in the bank rather than in the frozen food commodity market.

  24. Wow, what a timely article! We just bought a 5 cu. ft Kenmore chest freezer yesterday after lots of research!

    Pro’s to Chest Freezer:
    1. More efficient/Less $$$ for reasons already mentioned
    2. In power-outs, can hold food for 24hours!
    3. Cheaper per cu. ft.

    One Issue: We had a HARD time finding a freezer in-stock this time of year — apparently your blog readership is huge! :)

    We also got the recommendation from the salesman to put it in the basement vs. garage — apparently very high temps and very low temps in summer/winter may damage the unit.

    Also, we were told that Once a Year we have to pull all the food out & manually defrost it to prevent excessive frost build-up on the walls (effectively reducing your storage space).. This involves hooking up a garden hose to the bottom and letting the water drain out.

  25. We went to an upright when our old chest was retired. Trying to organize and retrieve items from a chest was dfficult. We ended up emptying half the chest quite frequently to retrieve items and also found it harder to rotate. With the upright, we can store faster moving items in the door or upfront and easily reach things in back when needed.

    We store our freezer in the garage and do not see any noticable effect on electric bill. In the winter, we get to benefit of much cheaper cooling. We waited until HD had a good sale and bought a medium sized freezer for family of four. Using jugs of water helps a lot.

    Being able to buy in bulk is great. We store whole hams, turkeys, bread and much more that we purchase at a discount. We always cook extra portions with every meal that go right into freezer for work lunches during the week. The lunches more than pay for the freezer and I’m the only person at work that has steak for lunch regularly.

    Just don’t buy to big of a freezer. You’ll be more efficient about what your storing and can always upgrade later and resell current freezer.

    Happy Shopping!

  26. Now if you bought the freezer used then you could easily cut your upfront costs in half. Check out Craigslist in your area. There are several of these available in Austin for under $100.

  27. I’d seen a neat little hack a while ago, and your article about chest freezers just reminded me of it.

    http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/Conservation/chest_fridge.pdf

    I don’t know that I would necessarily want to do this, but it’s an interesting idea, nonetheless.

  28. Get the freezer. Always can use more space, the Costco trips will be larger but less frequent, especially when you really can get a deal! Plus if someone needs to store something you can even charge em! It has happened to us many of times! Great blog. I am new to the game! Be easy!

  29. i just use mine to keep dead bodies.

  30. I took a look at large upright freezers as well. They seem to cost more and use more electricity per cubic foot. I wonder why? They would save some floor space, though.

  31. Hey Jonathan: the extra freezer is definitely a cool idea for a family. We had both an extra fridge and an extra freezer (with 5 people in the house).

    But why do you need it for 2 people? How often do you grocery shop? How much do you value fresh produce?

    There are two of us, with a regular size fridge and we can easily keep two weeks worth of groceries in the fridge. I can definitely appreciate the desire to keep a frozen pizza or two in the freezer, but I don’t particularly relish the concept of stocking an extra freezer just to hold my frozen burritos. Let’s look at the reason here:

    Less eating out
    To be honest, I really just want to stock up on a large variety of frozen foods so that there is less of the daily question… “What am I going to cook for dinner?”

    Yeah, but you’re still going to get home and say “ah great, now I have to go to the garage and find the 3-month old frozen chicken breast and then thaw it…. An extra freezer isn’t going to solve the problem that you haven’t planned dinner. Taking 15 minutes to make a weekly meal plan will solve that problem.

    Ability To Stock Up During Sales
    OK, so there are two of you, what are you stocking up on? How good are these sales? Saving 25 cents / frozen dinner is a great deal, except now you have to eat frozen dinners.

    From your simple dollar link.
    Buying a side of beef is a good choice if you like to cook, you eat a lot of meat, you have storage space, and quality is important to you.

    Storing Fresh Fruit
    Not really cost savings, unless you are an addict to some specific fruit. Otherwise you just buy whatever fruit is in season and inexpensive.

    Less Shopping = Less Driving = Less Gas
    Again, meal plan one week in advance and make one trip to the grocery store. My wife and I have tried going more and less, but we keep finding ourselves at the grocery store once / week for the regulars (eggs, milk, bread, fruits).

    Cooking In Bulk
    My wife and I can easily store a week’s worth of chili in our freezer. If you’re prepping one week at a time that’s like 10 to 14 bowls of chili. For us, that’s about one 4 gallon pail, that’s 2 gallons in the fridge, 2 in the freezer, that’s not really a lot of space.

    As always, you can do as you feel. But for two people, I just don’t see a big benefit to operating an extra freezer, not when you can fit two weeks of fresh groceries into a regular fridge and a regular pantry.

  32. To maintain taste and texture, you really can’t store frozen food for a very long time. Nothing is worse than taking something out of the freezer, thawing and cooking it and finding it tastes “funny”. Here are some guidelines for optimum length of frozen storage:

    Raw foods:

    Bacon: 1 month
    Chicken pieces: 6 months
    Ground meat: 3 to 4 months
    Hot dogs: 1 to 2 months
    Pork chops: 4 to 6 months
    Sausage (pork, turkey, or beef): 1 to 2 months
    Steaks: 4 to 6 months
    Whole chicken: 8 months

    Cooked Foods:

    Beef: 2 to 3 months
    Breads and cakes: 3 months
    Casseroles: 3 months
    Chicken pieces: 4 months
    Hard sausage (pepperoni): 1 to 2 months
    Vegetable or meat soups and stews: 2 to 3 months

  33. Good post. My mom would tend to overstock ours with cheap generics and loads of frozen meat so any cost saving I’m sure was lost on a majority of the food never getting eaten and it just seemed to be a wasted space for the most space or a nice counter top to fold laundry. Anyways I hope yours comes in handy if it does.

  34. rather than jugs of water, I might suggest bags of ice that could be used if you threw a party. even better for filling space in a freezer is styrofoam, which simply occupies the space, rather than requiring the freezer to cool it, potentially wasting more energy, as Vlad pointed out. This is an old carnie tip, passed down through the generations.

    My aunt uses an upright fridge freezer in the garage, which effectively doubles both spaces. Seems most useful when hosting people or party planning.

    While many posts favored it, I tend to agree that it isn’t necessary for 2 people. froze veggies are good as backups to fresh produce, and you should eat leftovers more regularly.

  35. They seem to cost more and use more electricity per cubic foot. I wonder why?

    Well, the most obvious reason for this is that heat rises, so it’s easier (takes less energy) to cool the entire horizontal freezer to a given temperature than the vertical freezer.

  36. There is a supermarket chain that gives away a free freezer if you buy certain foods. They have done it for the past 2 years now. I can’t think of the name. We don’t have them in the Northeast.

  37. I also like the idea of a seperate freezer to store extra food, items purchased on sale, etc. Cooking enough meals to last a week or more is a great idea. I remember my mom and I doing that when I was younger and boy was it convenient to just pop the meals in the oven at dinner time. And the taste was out of this world. We would usually make two different kinds of meats and two or three different vegetables for variety. We’d take about 3-4 hours on a Saturday to do all the cooking, freeze in individual aluminum storage containers and then stack the freezer with our very own T.V. dinners.

  38. I wonder if they have little gauges you can put on outlets to see how much energy you are using for a particular item. Those electric prices seem really low. I live in Austin though, so my garage is often 90+.

    I leave my hot tub off and unfilled most of the time in great part because I don’t know how much energy it costs to run. (It came with the house…)

  39. Costco has a nicely reviewed small one for $200. Of course, costco is the reason we need one! I believe it might be 7 cu/ft.

    It is about 1/4 inch from the most energy efficient models. It says $36 per year.

    Flash frozen food is the best thing ever!

  40. Is power outage a problem?

  41. We have (inherited) an upright freezer, but if I were in the market I’d go for a chest freezer. I’ve heard that less cold air “falls out” of a chest freeze when it is open, so they tend to be more efficient. We try to make a once-a-month trip to Sam’s or Costco to stock up on meats for the month. Then weekly grocery store trips are to restock perishables and produce, mostly.

  42. Timely post for those of us in FL… If you live in hurricane country, than a chest freezer can be your best friend. If you have one that is too large, ice bags can be a great idea… they will act as filler, but will not be a waste as Vlad suggests. When the power goes out (as mine did for Hurricanes Wilma and Katrina), the ice (as well as frozen vegetables become freezer packs to assist in keeping more perishable and more expensive foods colder longer.

    It’s also a good idea to keep and in/out list. We have a magnetized paper list right on the freezer that keeps a running tally of what we have in the freezer and the date that it went in. It really helps. Getting that great buy on 24 lamb chops is one thing. But when you get them home and divide them into freezer bags of 4 each… well, all those little bags can get into the nooks and crannies easily and get a bit lost and confusing in the shuffle.

    Also, get into the habit of marking the zipper bags with a Sharpie. What is it and what’s the date.

  43. We got a 7 cubic feet chest freezer off of craigslist for $70 and we love it! My wife has a really strict diet of mainly unprocessed foods for health/allergy reasons, so we really needed the extra space to store frozen berries, veggies, etc.

    I really like having it. If steaks go on sale I know we have enough room to stock up on them!

  44. based on the posts, a Phd in thermodynamics, a psychologist, and a serial killer all read this blog regularly.

  45. Definitely buy a used freezer, like from 5-15 years ago. They were made to last longer then. My grandma had a chest freezer built in the 80s and it still works!

    My Maytag fridge was built in 2002, recently broke, got the maytag guy to fix it and he let me in on a secret: All fridges and freezers built after 2003 are only gonna last 2-3 years before breaking. All the warranties are only for 1 year now, no matter what brand. Do the math.

    You’ll have to pay for repairs after 1 year, unless you buy an extended warranty for 2 years. I dunno if you’ve hired a repairman recently, but they charge so freakin much is it worth it?

  46. Thanks–I am going to send this to my mom–she LOVES to freeze things.

  47. I’ll be needing to buy a new freezer, as our one-year old freezer was damaged due to a recent flood in our basement (3 feet of water + sewage). It’s good to have a few numbers to back things up. We’ve been without a deep freeze for almost two months now, and it sure makes like different, not having the ability to buy and store in bulk. We’re waiting for the insurance claim to go through a little further, as well as waiting for some re-construction of the basement to happen before we get the new freezer in.

  48. I wish I had a basement. People don’t want to cut through limestone here to make them, though. Or maybe the water table is too high. If you have one of those basements that floods, it’s probably not a good place to keep your freezer, what with water and electricity not mixing well.

    I wouldn’t want a freezer except that my boyfriend hogs all the space in ours and says he would like an extra freezer. His philosophy is that there is always room for something else. But then I can’t find anything. I barely even buy things that need to be frozen anymore except ice cream which has a sacred designated spot.

    Chest freezers do use less electricity than the others, and the newer (easily breakable?) energy-efficient ones use less electricity than the older ones. We’re talking about getting a small chest freezer but haven’t yet done it. Our garage is boiling hot in summer, but one option would be to use the freezer only the other nine months of the year. A good system of wire baskets could really help with the organization.

  49. Upright freezers use more electricity because heat rises, cold air sinks. So when you open a chest freezer, the cold air stays put, but when you open an upright, all the cold air falls to the floor and the freezer if flooded with warm air.

    I just wanted to mention that the old freezers that you find on craigslist may be a good deal initially, but if you intend on keeping them a decade they may not be. First, they are older units which may just decide to die and you have to replace it. Ok, you can counter that by looking at the manufacture date on the serial plate. But second the older freezers are more inefficient. Yes, the old ones probably used better material in the chest and will not dent/break as easily, but that compressor and the insulation are horribly less efficient. Living in a state where the electricity costs are WAY higher than most of you, that electricity cost is VERY important for me to consider.

    With my electrical rates, I decided I could ‘dig’ in the chest freezer the few times I want to get things and I picked up a tip I believe right on this very forum of using milk crates to organize it. I have managed to keep my electric bill down by putting timers on the hot water heater, switching to a clothes line instead of a dryer, but I will NOT get rid of my freezer. My electrical usage right now is about 5kw per day in my house (with 3 computers on most days to boot) down from about 21 kw a year ago, but I am NOT going to touch that freezer.

    To combat food getting ‘forgotten about’, put your food in milk crates and rotate the bottom crates with the top crates every so often. Yes, occasionally you will have to defrost the freezer to keep the crates from getting stuck, but I just get a couple thick blankets and wrap up the crates in one pile in the kitchen and then pour hot water on the frost in the freezer. Take out the now floating chunks of ice and put them in sink, whipe out the freezer and putt he crates right back in the freezer. So those crates make the job much faster and easier than handling every piece.

    Another tip is to try to write the date on each thing when you put it in there. Yes, you can look for the ‘use by’ dates, but it’s easier if you know everything is in black permanent marker.

    Back to the crate system, I keep the groceries that I buy today in one crate. Yes, it is not as organized for ‘quick pickings’, but then I can keep the older crates on the bottom, newer on top. When one gets near empty, I will combine it and make a list of things I need.

    With a chest freezer, unlike the standup, you can ‘look’ at what’s available for dinner a lot longer without things defrosting, so you can look at the old food (now conveniently on top) and get ideas for dinner. Unlike standing in front of the fridge, the cold air will stay in since it sinks and hot air rises. Yes, it will warm up, but at a much slower pace.

    Unlike most of you who are putting the freezer in the basement/garage, mine is right there in my kitchen. I covered the top with a butcher block and use it as a workspace. Yes, I now need a stick to hold open the lid, but I like having a nice place to work and since I rent, I wasn’t able to replace the countertops which are just plain unusable in my apartment. Another benefit of being in the kitchen, the fridge is where my ice cream/treats for the kids are stored and my main meals are in the freezer. If it was in the garage/basement (I don’t have one) I doubt I would ever go look in the freezer as it was too much effort to go do it, so we would end up having MacNCheese more often.

  50. Freezers might be a good way to store things but could be used in a good and bad way.
    Good way: Make food and store it or store raw ingredients to make something.
    Bad way: Get millions of frozen dinners. Save grocery time but mess up with stomach problems.

  51. My family had chest freezers growing up, and they certainly were handy (especially for ice cream treats ! :-) ). However, there is a risk that is hard to ignore, and that is the inevitable power outage. Granted, it might take several hours to cause a problem (?), but I can remember ending up with quantities of spoiled food in ours growing up.

    Just something to consider …

  52. Years ago I had a chest freezer and bought a half side of beef, plus the deal came with pork and chicken. It was a great bargain for the meat, but extremely difficult to find what I was looking for or keep the food rotated in order for it not to spoil, or get “freezer burn”. It was like having a grocery store in my house, so was very handy.

    These days we have an extra refrigerator in the garage, but only use it for holiday cooking and storage and turn it off for the rest of the year. When we leave it on, it’s an extra $30 a month on the electric bill. Here in Texas it’s just too hot to run an extra freezer in the garage.

    My husband’s parents have an upright freezer in their garage, and are constantly sending meat that has freezer burn home for our dogs. I won’t even feed it to the dogs because it looks so bad.

    We try to stock up on meat when it’s on sale, but our space is limited to our inside refrigerator. I would love to have another freezer, but it’s just not cost effective for me with the extra energy used, spoilage, and power outages we have during the storms we have here, which sometimes last for days.

  53. noone has brought up the issue of kids getting stuck in one.
    my folks got a stand up simply because they didnt want us kids falling into a chest freezer…. or putting eachother in!

  54. In an inflationary environment freezers make sense. As you’ve witnessed this year, we are trending in that direction.

    The inflationary asymptote hasn’t started yet (wage / price spiral hasn’t kicked in) but when it does, hoarding will be a national pastime.

    As you can imagine, hoarding makes inflation worse. But when it’s every man for himself (or rather, middle class America against the billionaires with the printing press), camp out at Costco next to the loading dock.

    I’m somewhat surprised no one has even mentioned the connection between hoarding and freezers in this popular post. Prepare to hoard people…

    p.s. Any talk of “deflation” you hear going forward is flat-out a deception and a lie. The men who own the printing press will never let deflation occur. Ever. Period. These printing-press owners are also the same friends of big business and Wall Street, which totally survive on more liquidity. Hearing a Fed mouthpiece or Wall Street stooge spread fears of deflation is absolute total word spin to cool down an inflationary moment. When you hear ‘the fear of deflation’ on cheerleader CNBC, dismiss it.

  55. I’ve always had an extra chest freezer. My parents and grandparents did too. Freezing summer vegetables and extra portions of cooked food is a way of life to us.

    Learn to use your freezer effectively and you will not regret the initial expenditure. You will make up your electricity costs instantly as you reduce your ‘take out’ trips. To protect against accidental loss of contents, due to power outage etc, you could see if your household insurance covers this. Ours did in Europe.

    Here’s a link to everything you could ever want to know about freezing food: http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/food/cooking/guide-to-freezing-food?click=main_sr

    Good luck!

  56. You need to buy a “foodsaver” vacuum packer to make food storage a real advantage because the food will last far longer and the flavor remains.

  57. I like the vacuum idea. Saving space and getting your food to last longer is a good idea. It is so convenient to have the “extra” stuff you may need instead of having to go to the grocery store so often. And you can always be prepared for unexpected guests that may happen to drop in.

    Be well.

  58. Just found this blog. Today, bought a frigidaire 5.0 chest freezer. Been wanting one for awhile.

    Im a single guy and Frozen Dinners and Frozen Pizzas are a big part of my diet. (Too big)

    This week, they had great specials on both and a beer company had $15 rebates on pizza to boot. (Im doing 3 or 4 of them to different addresses)

    Anyway, to make a long story short. The cheapest they had them new was Samsclub and they were $163.32 after tax and after 1.25% credit card cashback. Thats not including the $29 delivery charge they get.

    Found one nearby. 2.5 miles away. An older lady said she had it about 4 years. The manufacturer date was 2/03.

    It was in good shape.She listed it for $75 on 2 community forurms but no craisglist or anywhere else. Negotiated it down to $55 with me getting my neighbor to help and using his truck. He ended up working late and the lady had her son in the neighborhood so I ended up paying $60 and they brought it to my garage. (I would have felt bad just giving my neighbor $5 for gas even though it was just 5.5 miles round trip.)

    Im not exactly sure how long its reasonable for it to last without service. Nor do I know how much it will increase my power bill.

    I think I computed approx $26 a year. Looked at a Lowes website and added about 15% because our rates are going to go up that amount soon.

    Anyway, assuming it lasts me 6 years and then dies, my cost of operation will be about $216 which means I need it to save me well over $3 per month which it SHOULD do.

    For an example of what I loaded up on, Hungryman dinners at publix were buy one get one free $3.49 for 2/.

    Got a bunch of $1 off 2 coupons. One cashier let me use one per dinner despite what it says (Several of the experienced ones let me) A young kid would only let me do it face value.

    Still not a bad deal. $2.49 plus tax for two. Or 7.45 for 10 if they let me use 10 coupons. Either way, it beats the heck out of walmart prices.

    On the pizza, a local grocery chain had Jacks thin crust 5 for $10. They are really good and I cant find tombstone for less than $3 even on sale nowdays.

    I loaded up on both and got rainchecks on both. Although I dont think the one store will carry the Jacks when their current supply runs out. They were out of Supreme, I only like the meats but I told them they were out of “spme and they wrote it for me.

    Im new here, have never posted before.

  59. Instead of a 1/2 cow or whole cow, there is a new kind of cow they are breeding called the one and a 1/2 cow. Yes, as the name implies it’s a special breed and part of a genetic experimental which yields a cow with two heads, 6 legs, 2 tails, and 3 eyes. It’s 50% more cow and most economical. Plus your freezer will likely hold it all..

  60. Gee—memories!
    Gma bot a huge 7′ long freezer for her mortuary biz, probly back in about 1940.
    She moved it home to use, when the biz changed equipment.
    Folks inherited the freezer.
    They used it “forever”, then sold it to clear out garage.
    The unit was always in a garage.
    Moved 3 or 4 times.
    Always worked well, no repairs, modest dent in utility bill once unplugged, showing fairly efficient.
    In constant use for at least 45 trouble-free years when it was sold last.
    Probably a Frigidaire, as that company was making freezers like that then??

  61. Oh–save energy with freezer and refrigerator use!
    We put our units on heavy duty appliance timers, and have them shut down about 5 to 7 hours per night.
    I couple that by placing 2″ solid foam insulation only on sides, top and front of units, simply using heavy duty clear packing tape.

    That combo saved all our refrigerator contents during 3-day power outage, at ambient room temps of about 50 degrees.

  62. I guess I am not a freezer person, having read so much health advice I have eliminated most red meat from my diet, would never touch hamburger meat unless ground in the past few hours, avoid pizza entirely except for a very rare treat,
    hate to have to label and search, need space in my freezer for cold bags so I can travel with some frig food, loathe the idea of frozen vegetables except for peas,
    am distressed with what freezing does to blueberries, hate frozen corn and like to know that my frozen food has been around less than 2 months. I would be ashamed to feed my husband a frozen dinner. Tho an occasional Stauffer’s frozen spinach souffle has added a nice touch to my daily dinner ideas.

    That means I buy a few things and make myself use them before I buy more. Nothing old, nothing burned, nothing so mystery I would rather throw it that try it.

    A lot of salads helps me keep my weight down and there’s nothing in a salad that comes from a freezer.

    On the other hand, I have never had to cook for more than 3.

    If you add up initial cost, repair cost, lost food from it becoming mystery lumps,
    lost food from over-age, lost frood from power outage, the energy bill for an aging tho cheaper freezer, lost food from the freezer dying or stopped by a basement flood, the energy bill for a freezer in a hot garage, the hassle of stocking and searching, is the convenience of “shopping at home” rather than shopping in the the refrigerator freezer really worth it?

    Times when I have not been able to get to the grocery store for 2 weeks have been an education for me: I have enough in the frig freezer, in the frig, in cans and in the pantry to innovate plenty of meals.

    • So you will eat canned veggies and fruits but you claim to ‘loathe’ frozen ones. That absolutely does not make sense. It is far healthier to eat frozen veg and fruit, because the canning process removes all the essential vitamins and minerals that you get from the food itself, as well as all the added sodium. Even getting ‘low’ sodium canned goods does not make the food as healthy as frozen.

      Veg and fruits are FLASH frozen (instantly). This means within hours of being picked, they are being frozen at the factory. Canned veg and fruits as picked, carted off to market where they are sold to the highest bidder, taken into a factory where they are machine sorted, then they are cooked to prepare them for canning.

      If you truly were as ‘health conscious’ and as snooty as you are pretending to be, you would have known this.

  63. I strongly disagree that it isn’t worth it for two people :) I am just a one person now and I LOVE my chest freezer. I have a very small cute one (I think maybe 7 cu. ft. or smaller) but it is awesome. I do once a month cooking, but because of how many dishes I make the food ends up lasting me 3-6 months. I go weeks and weeks without going to the grocery store. My meals end up between 50 cents to maybe $3 at the most per meal.

    The best part, I bought it for $150 delivered from a guy off craigslist and it runs great.

    Here are some meals I freeze:

    BREAKFAST
    Whole wheat egg white french toast sandwiched with Fruit preserves – (Each sandwich is wrapped in wax paper and then they are all loaded back into the bread bag for freezing.)
    Cranberry walnut banana pancakes – (Freeze in fours or fives in sandwich bags, reheat in microwave)
    Double Corn pancakes with mozzarella cheese slices. (Each sandwich wrapped in wax paper,reheat on a skillet till cheese melts).
    Breakfast burritos with eggs, salsa, ground turkey, veggies and cheese. (Again individually wrapped in wax paper).

    LUNCH/DINNER – all in individual serving size containers
    Eggplant casserole/lasagna
    Beef/bean burritos
    Spanish rice with carrots, cabbage and italian sausage
    Spinach soup with smoked turkey
    Stuffed cabbage (stuffed with ground turkey and rice)
    Barbeque chicken and steamed veggies
    Various casseroles.
    Meat sauce* and various soups.
    * I don’t freeze pasta… doesn’t taste right lol

    $15 worth of casserole will last me months! I only make bulk food when the main fresh ingredients go on sale. Like BOGO arnold whole wheat bread goes on sale with 3 for $5 egg white cartons. That week I’m making two loves of French toast. I use a large griddle so I cook 6 at a time. And my food is much healthier than most restaurants.

    The containers also stack up nicely, you can order them on amazon but I get mine free when I get deli salads that come in these containers. http://www.amazon.com/Delitainer-Deli-Food-Containers-Lids/dp/B005RPQLW4/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1325574136&sr=8-5

    It is healthy food on the go without thinking, I grab a small cooler bag, throw in a frozen dinner container, throw in an apple and run out the door. I always have a delicious lunch. I don’t even need to refrigerate because it just about comes to fridge temperature by lunch time if I don’t and it keeps my fruit cold.

    I have not noticed any changes in my electric bill but I am also cooking much less frequently. Also a tip for people who lose things in chest freezers. I have a system of reusable shopping bags and one or two small cardboard boxes (shoebox size). Raw bulk meats etc go in a bag in the bottom and meals go towards the top. Meals that were really plentiful and have some larger frozen containers go in a box just above the meats. It is easy to just lift out one or two bags, get what I want and put them right back.

    I also use avery mailing labels and label the containers before I freeze them. As you can tell, I think having a chest freezer had been the best thing for me all around but I enjoy cooking and I like to plan and organize ahead so I don’t have ot think about it later.

  64. I’m single and the temptation to eat out is always ever present.
    Now that I’m a vegetarian I can store all my frozen vegetables in my chest freezer and cook up all sorts of delightful meals.

  65. I love to cook and I also like to save. I keep separate lidded containers in the freezer for & veggie”trimmings”, bones, and pan juices from roasting and keep adding to them–then I make stock when a container is full. I then freeze the stock in ice cube trays for small portions and in 1c. measure containers to add to soups, stews and reduction sauces. I also blend herbs with oil in the summer & freeze those in ice cube trays to pop into a container for winter use. And after buying & throwing out egg whites regularly because they had expired I now freeze the individual containers they come in and am not wasting money.

  66. I have started using my chest freezer more the last couple of years. I buy local pasture raised beef, pork and chicken now and started a garden a year ago. Having a full freezer forces us to eat at home more and there is much less to purchase from the grocery. I try to stop by the farmers market from time to time and can find good deals on fresh veggies there as well. A year ago I lost 15 pounds just by changing our diet away from fast foods and restaurants. I have a 9 cu ft in the basement and think I will add a little 5 cu ft. for the extra veggies and frozen fruits. I like knowing our food is local and fresh.
    As the green peppers have been doing well this year I both dice them and also cut them into slices fresh and freeze them in quart bags. Dice an onion as well each week for the frig. Then they can be added to a scrambled egg in the morning for a quick breakfast. :)

  67. @uncommonadvice says: “I’d say don’t bother. A large chest freezer is a good thing to let you buy meat in bulk – but if you are trying to be frugal then you should be cutting back on meat as opposed to making it easier to buy and hold.”

    Not really. It’s true you can be frugal by buying less meat or, as Woody Allen once said, skipping meals entirely to save money for food. But that’s really not what we’re talking about here, is it?

    “Switch to a fresher diet. It’s cheaper and better for you.”

    Unfortunately buying fresh is how many of us end up throwing food out.

  68. I grew up on a farm. We ate what we grew, and grew what we ate. We made our own butter and even homemade bread. Back then, we were considered poor, today we would be considered ‘health conscious’ lol.

    I learned a lot, however, by growing up utilizing the deep freeze. First thing you need to do is create a storage system that works for you. We also get a dry erase board to mount to the top or front door of the freezer. This way you can create a sort of plot/chart that lets you know without even opening the door where the item you are wanting is located it. This will prevent you from standing in front of an open freezer and digging for 10 minutes. This not only saves times, but saves frost buildup on your food.

    Next, leave room within your plot/chart of each area so that you can write in anything you add to the freezer and make sure you erase anything you take out of it. This way you know at a glance of the board how much you have of each item. You can also date your items on this board so that you know what needs to be cooked first. If you don’t date them on the board, then definitely date them on the packages inside. Best bet is to date and label both door and individual packaging.

    Stock up on whatever you know your family will eat, whenever it goes on sale. In the beginning, you will be thinking “omg! i’ve got 75 pounds of hamburger and nothing else!” but that will sort itself out. Most grocery stores rotate their meat and veggie sales so that over the course of 3 months, everything in the store freezers will go on sale at some point. Within 3 months, your freezer will be well balanced with all the things your family loves.

    Use the freezer inside your refrigerator for things your family is planning on eating within the next few days or one week, and for things they reach for often. For instance, when my kids were little, we kept the ice cream, ice lollies, pizza pockets, french fries, etc, in there. Now that they are teenagers and adults, we keep the items for my weekly meal plan in there. This will save you from opening the deep freeze every day. The purpose of a deep freeze is for longterm storage – you do not want to spend too much time with the door open.

    Invest in high quality storage systems. I love my food vacuum sealer, as well as my tupperware containers made specifically for the deep freeze. I also frequent yard sales and thrift stores because the older tupperware beats everything on today’s market. It is more expensive but you will have it for decades so it is worth the investment.

    There are also little tricks you can learn such as buying your fresh eggs from a local farmer. Bring the eggs home and do NOT wash them OR store them in the refrigerator. Generously coat your eggs in MINERAL OIL, then store them in the cabinet or on the cabinet. I keep old egg containers friends have given me from their store bought eggs, coat my fresh eggs, then stack them in one of my cabinets. They will last 9-12 MONTHS if you store them this way. The reason an egg goes bad is because the big chains wash the eggs, which removes the protective coating from the outside shell. This allows oxygen to penetrate the shell, which allows the egg to spoil. The mineral oil keeps the eggs fresh. Before you use your eggs, simply put them in a small bowl/glass of water. If the egg stays at the bottom, it is fresh. If the egg floats – it is ruined and you need to discard it into your compost pile.

    I have a few other tricks and tips that I have learned over the years and will add them as I think of them, but I hop this has helped at least one person!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Cost vs. Benefit Analysis: Extra Chest Freezer in the Garage. Jonathan from MyMoneyBlog runs the numbers to determine whether it is worthwhile to buy an extra freezer. This is a good example of an analytical approach to decide whether the potential benefits of a large purchase are worth the cost, but as always, a number of assumptions are involved. [...]

  2. [...] Freezers Apparently, I was not alone in doing cost/benefit analysis on an extra chest freezer, as this AP article shows: Once relegated to the dank corners of the basement, freezers are being [...]

  3. [...] Chest Freezers – Not really much of a gift idea, but still something to consider as food prices are still going up. [...]

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