Are you thinking about investing in a chest freezer or upright freezer? I get asked all the time by friends and readers alike if a deep freezer is worth it. To each of them I answer a resounding YES! A deep freezer has been totally worth it for us.
Before I gush about all the reasons we love our deep freeze, let’s look at the costs of a freezer first, then weigh them against the benefits.
How much does a deep freezer cost?
There are two costs associated with a deep freeze. The first is the initial cost to purchase the freezer. The second is the ongoing cost of running the freezer.
Initial Cost of a deep freezer
For us, the initial cost was zero, as we received a brand new freezer as a graduation gift from my parents. Now if that sounds odd to you, it’s because it is! My siblings and I are the only people I know that got a deep freeze as a graduation gift. Well, it has turned out to be the best gift!
A deep freezer probably isn’t as expensive as you think. You can get a brand new 7 cubic foot freezer for just over $200. You can also find used ones for very reasonable prices too. The downside of a used freezer is that older models aren’t as energy efficient as newer ones, so you may pay more in the long run.
To get the best deal, keep your eye on the market. Once you know the size and type of freezer you are interested in, start paying attention to prices so that you know when a sale is really a good sale (and not just an advertising gimmick).
Ongoing Cost of a deep freezer
I have had friends hesitate about getting a freezer because they worried about the ongoing cost of the electricity to run the freezer. After all, it needs to stay plugged in all the time! Plus, appliances that heat or cool are known to be the ones that use the most power.
So how much does energy does a deep freeze actually use? If you buy a new freezer, this information is readily available on the tag and in the sales materials, which makes comparisons really easy. In order to know what it really means for you, you should be familiar with your electric bill. Do you know how much a kilowatt hour costs for you?
I decided to do a little research so I could give you some actual numbers. First I spent under $20 to get a Kill A Watt meter so that I could measure the power that my deep freezer is actually drawing (I’m planning to use the meter on some future posts on saving electricity, too).
Here is what I found:
Our 7 cubit foot chest freezer (which lives in our garage) uses on average 1.1 kilowatt hours of electricity each day. During the winter, a kWh costs 15-18 cents, depending on the time of day. In the summer (four months), each kWh costs 30 cents for the peak time (3-8pm) and 23 cents for all the other time, which averages out to about 25 cents.
In the summer, it costs about $7.50 per month to run the deep freezer. During October through May, it costs about $4.68 per month. Annually, that’s $67.44 per year or an average of $5.62 per month.
Keep in mind that your freezer will run most efficiently when it’s full. It’s easier to keep frozen things cold than to keep the empty air space cold. When you’re first working to fill your freezer, consider freezing bottles of water to take up some of that air space so your freezer doesn’t have to work as hard. Also, a chest freezer is generally more energy efficient than an upright freezer. You’ll lose less cold air opening a chest freezer (cold air sinks) than an upright where cold air spills out.
Benefits of a deep freezer
There are lots of benefits of having a chest freezer at home and many of them involve saving money. I’ll go through some of the reasons that matter most to our family and some that might be a big deal for you.
Storing garden produce
If you’ve had a high producing garden, you know that it can be impossible to keep up with all those wonderful fruits and veggies during the busy harvest time. Having a deep freezer buys you some time in dealing with your produce.
For example, I currently have somewhere around a dozen gallon-sized freezer bags full of blackberries that we picked last summer. I make the majority into jam (but make plenty of syrup too), but I like to save them all to jam at the same time so the mess is consolidated to one day (and preferably in the fall when it’s not so hot). With our move and my pregnancy, I haven’t gotten around to making jam, but since they’re frozen I can take my good old time (and they’re great for smoothies and cobbler when they’re frozen)!
Also, the method I use for canning tomatoes works great with frozen tomatoes. I don’t even have to blanch or peel them!
Having plenty of freezer space makes harvest time much less hectic!
Buying Meat in Bulk
As one of the most expensive items on your grocery list, stocking up on meat can really save money. Whether you’re hoping to get lucky with markdowns at your local butcher’s counter or you buy meat in bulk, you need somewhere to put that meat while you’re waiting to use it.
I order meat in bulk from Zaycon Fresh,the least expensive, good quality meat I’ve found. I do a combination of freezing meat cooked and uncooked. I usually brown up half of the ground beef and divide it into portions I will use and then freeze the rest raw in normal portions. With chicken, I’ll cook up and shred some of it and freeze the rest in normal portions for my family or in freezer meals.
If you’re looking for easy-to-follow, scalable freezer meal plans for lots of different dietary and cooking method preferences, check out MyFreezEasy. After deciding that freezer meals weren’t for me, MyFreezEasy helped me see the light.
Shopping less often
I started making once-a-month grocery shopping trips when we lived very far from town. Having a deep freezer really makes once-a-month shopping simple. I could stock up on milk that would last us all month by sticking some gallons in the freezer. There are lots of other foods that you might not know that you can freeze. Once you learn about all of the foods that can be frozen, you’ll be able to stock up when you make your shopping trip, especially if you find a great deal.
Take advantage of clearances and sales
I like to shop at a discount foods store that sells foods near their expiration or “best by” date. Food prices drop drastically when food gets near the end of it’s prime. If you have freezer space you can score big when this happens. Here’s one example, but I seriously do the same thing when ever I find a killer deal on any freezable food that our family eats.
I like to make homemade yogurt because it saves tons of money over store-bought yogurt (plus it’s simple to make a gallon at a time). Still, when I find the individual school lunch size yogurts for a super deal (like 8 for $.47 or something crazy like that) at Grocery Outlet, I grab all I can. I put them straight into the freezer, then pull them out one at a time to put in school lunches. Freezing them puts a hold on the expiring process, so when I take them out it’s as if it were the same day I put them in the freezer. Not only is the yogurt still good, by lunch it is thawed but still cold.
Bulk baking sessions
I’m a go-big-or-go-home kind of girl when it comes to baking. If I’m going to the effort to bake and make a mess in the kitchen, then I am quadrupling recipes left and right. My family loves homemade baked goods, so if I don’t get them into the freezer, even six loaves of pumpkin bread will disappear in a day or two!
Using the freezer in conjunction with bulk baking allows me to store breads, muffins, cookies, and granola bars for snacks and school lunches. Making homemade lunch snacks is a great way to save money.
Once or twice a year I will make pie crust dough in bulk and then freeze individual dough balls. For the rest of the year, we’ll have delicious pies, pot pies, and quiches with very minimal effort on my part.
Speaking of packing lunches, my freezer saves me from having to make sandwiches every day, which is one of the things that drives me bonkers about school time. Between my husband and three school-aged kids, I make at least six sandwiches a day. If the little one and I have sandwiches, that’s two more!
One of my greatest discoveries of the past decade is that you can freeze peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And they are wonderful! After our monthly grocery shopping trip, I will make something like eight loaves of sandwiches to go into the freezer. I go through several large jars of peanut butter and several jars of jam all at once, but it is so satisfying to not have to make sandwiches for a while.
I put each sandwich in a fold-top sandwich bag and then put all the sandwiches into a bread bag with a twist tie to go into the freezer. I save the store bread bags, so even when I make my own bread I use the store bought bread bags for the freezer.
Is a deep freeze worth it to YOU?
Before you dive into investing in a deep freezer, here are a couple of questions to ask yourself.
How will a freezer save ME money?
I’ve shared some ways that a freezer saves US money (not to mention time and sanity), but what are the reasons that matter to YOU? What would you store in your deep freezer?
Is it worth spending $6 each month in order to have these benefits?
I figure that it takes $67 each year to run our deep freezer, or averaging under $6 per month. For us, that money is well-spent. What is the estimated energy cost to run the freezer that you are interested in? Looking at the benefits you will receive, is it worth the cost for you?
What else is holding you back?
There are other legitimate concerns about getting a deep freezer.
Where will I put my deep freezer?
A common concern about investing in a chest freezer, aside from the cost, is space. If you have a small house or apartment, you might think there is no way that you could ever squeeze a chest freezer into your place. And you might be right (we’ve lived in some pretty tight quarters, too). BUT, before you discount the idea completely, be sure to think through all of the possibilities.
One of my sisters, who also got a freezer for college graduation, kept hers in a coat closet by the front door in one of her newlywed apartments. You can keep your freezer tucked away in the garage (that’s what we did during law school and are doing now). I’ve seen small chest freezers in kitchens and dining rooms too.
When we lived in my in-laws’ unfinished basement (while we paid off $144,000 of law school debt), we kept ours in the “living room” (if you saw it you would understand why I put it in quotes). In fact, at Christmas we perched our small artificial Christmas tree atop the freezer which I adorned with a cute plaid tablecloth.
What if I lose power?
I have a funny story about that (though at the time it was anything but funny)! If you’ve got a minute, you should go read about our freezer nightmare (and find out a solution to prevent it from happening ever again).
With any electric appliance, there is always a risk of power failure. When we lived in the boonies, it was normal to lose power for days at a time in the fall and winter storms. Still, my in-laws don’t hesitate to keep their enormous chest freezer (which could literally be a coffin for NBA players) stocked full all year long.
Your freezer would need to be without power for quite a while for anything to spoil, especially if it is well-stocked. Chest freezers are kept at a lower temperature than the freezer portion of your refrigerator, which means it will stay frozen and cold for much longer. The best thing to do is to keep our freezer closed during the power outage so you don’t let out any of the cold air.
Of course if you have a generator, you don’t have to worry about your freezer. Just plug your freezer into the generator periodically to keep the temperature down.
How about you?
- Do you already have a deep freezer? Do you love it?
- What makes a freezer worth the cost for YOU?
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