You Tell Me: Is a Freezer Worth the Money?

We’re two weeks out from moving into our new house. I don’t remember if I updated you on our refrigerator buying decision or not, but we discovered we needed more appliances than just a refrigerator! We ended up getting a package deal on new appliances from a local dealer. In the end we decided that since all of the appliances would need to be replaced sooner rather than later (and in the case of the range, immediately), it would be better to get the deal on a package with warranties than try to hunt down individual items on Craigslist.

By shopping locally, we worked with a dealer to get the best package deal available. So now I have a refrigerator, range, dishwasher, and an over the range microwave thrown in for good measure. And in the end the microwave didn’t cost any more than a regular oven hood.

But now that I’ve made the refrigerator decision, I’ve got my sight set on a freezer. There’s room for a chest freezer in my laundry room. I tell myself that having a freezer would be great for purchasing meat on sale, rather than purchasing it at full price as I need it. I tell myself that buying a new energy-efficient freezer would be more cost effective in the long run than getting an old one on Craigslist.

I’m not even close to taking the plunge on a freezer yet, but I want to make sure my thinking is in the right place. Will a freezer save me money in the long run? Is it better to buy new or used? Is a chest freezer better or an upright freezer? And what size freezer do I need?

I never thought I’d spend so much time thinking about appliances! Any insight you could offer would be great! Do you have a freezer? Did you buy it new or used? If you had to buy a new freezer, would you get the same thing? I want to know all about freezers!



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By , on Sep 12, 2008
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.

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{66 Comments}

  1. Marci:

    Yes- Buy one!!! Yesterday!
    It will save you TIME as well as money.
    No last minute trips to the store for milk or bread or butter. Meals ready to pop into the oven on busy days. etc.

    Chest:
    Advantage: more economical, less cold escapes when you open it, stuff doesn’t fall out, top can be used for folding table or cutting table. Might last longer in power outage?
    Disadvantage: Not user friendly to dig stuff out of the bottom, stuff gets lost (for me) in the bottom, I’m too lazy to dig clear to the bottom, I lost a contact lense in one leaning over:( Stuff piles up on the top/lid of it and you have to clear it off to open it. Takes up more floor space. I worry about little grandkids falling in and not being able to get out… (ok, so that’s just one of my big fears in life…maybe they come with locks these days?)

    Upright: Advantage: Almost as economical, easy access and user friendly, I like stuff at eye level, no straining to lift up/out a 20 lb turkey from the bottom – it pulls right off the shelf. Top can be used for permanent storage, such as my recycling milk crates. Uses less floor space. I feel it’s easier to organize and inventory.
    Disadvantage: Might last 6 hrs less in a power outage, but cover it with a blanket and tape it shut. Little kids can pull the door open and get to the ice cream :) Less economical? as more cold flows out when the door is opened.

    Right before Thanksgiving last year (when the remodeled kitchen was finally usable) I bought an 18 cu ft upright for the pies, quiches, cookies, breads, and meals I was making ahead for holidays, etc. I like the easy access convenience of the upright, especially as I am getting older. And as I had limited floor space in the mudroom, it was the best choice for me.

    Even being single, I can’t imagine having to get by without a freezer. Game meat, bulk meat, my garden surplus, meals ahead for busy times, leftovers saved for lunches, and sales items: milk, butter, cottage cheese, Tillamook cheese :) Tomatoes whole in a brown paper bag, etc. The family favorite meals for gift giving – my kids want mom’s lasagna!

    Word of advice: Keep a good Inventory, by shelf or location – and keep it updated! I circle the oldest things in red on the inventory list so I will focus on using them up asap. Keep it as full as possible, even if just with frozen water jugs.

    Yes- I would buy the same NEW 18 cu ft upright freezer again – for me. If for a family, I would get a larger upright, probably 25 cu ft.
    The cost has been about $4/month on my electric bill – it’s worth it!
    My freezer new cost $349 thru a local dealer.
    New/Used: New ones are lighter and more economical. I would buy used only if broke or for a 2nd freezer. Many dumps have a charge for disposing of a freezer due to removing the freon from it.

    I bought my son a $199 small chest freezer(what he wanted) for his anniversary one year – with 4 kids he says it’s a necessity!

    Yes, having a freezer (and using it correctly) will save you LOTS of money in the long run! Happy shopping :)

  2. Mary:

    It my opinion a freezer is a necessity for being frugal. It allows you to take advantage of sales and eliminated extra trips to the grocery store. They are worth every penny!

  3. Kari:

    We got our chest freezer on sale, and the manufacturer just happened to be offering a rebate at the same time. We wanted one for a long time and shopped around a lot before getting this bargain. Right now it’s absolutely packed full. I feed our dags raw, so when the stores have meat on sale, I stock up. We also have a friend who processes game, so we get windfalls of deer bone and meat scraps for the dogs. On top of it, my husband hunts, so it’s nice to have the space. We actually talked last week about getting a second freezer, but we decided that’s probably over the top.

  4. Shelley:

    I forgot to mention that the freezer doors have locks, so the doors never pop open if they get too full.

  5. Shelley:

    I feed 9 people daily but usually 12 – 14 with company and grand kids. I have 2 upright freezers and a large fridge with a bottom freezer. I bought upright freezers because I’m not as well organized as I’d like, and I know I’d never be able to keep up with rotating older items up to the top in a chest freezer.

    I bought a new 21cu.ft. a year ago. I put meat, veggies, and fruit in there. We went to pick your own berry places, and planted a good sized garden this year, so I needed the space. I also buy local beef and chicken at the farmer’s market and through others, so I need to store a lot over a season. New models are more energy efficient, but they have more temper mental parts. The power went out, and it sent the freezer into defrost. It was fixed by simply unplugging and plugging it back in. I had it plugged into a power strip that went bad, and the lack of a ground confused the brain in the freezer, so the motor turned off. The food kept fine for over a week, with only the top shelf thawing.

    The other freezer is a 17cu.ft. We keep half price bread from the organic bakery, raw milk (bought in 8-12 gallon quantities to save on gas as the dairy is way out in the country), and any convenience items in that one. I bought it new about ten years ago and have never had a repair on it.

    Having enough freezer space saves a lot of money and time, as I can stock up on food when it’s inexpensive, and it saves us tons of gas money by running to the basement instead of the store to get items, plus it saves me tons of time not having to run to the store all the time. The kids can take something out to cook even when I’m not home, so it’s very convenient.

    Just an additional thought here on service contracts for your appliances. Most folks say that they are a rip off, but I love them! I have them on all my appliances, except for the freezers, since they have few moving parts. If the repair exceeds the value of the item, they give you an allowance to shop for a brand new item. In 11 years, they’ve replaced 3 washers, 1 dryer, 2 refrigerators, 1 stove, 1 over head microwave/vent hoods, and 1 dishwasher. It has been a blessing!

  6. Vanessa:

    I have a deep freezer and quite honestly I could not tell you anything about it. I got it for my birthday and only reason is, it was on clearance at sams club because the latch that allows for a dead bolt to be used, was missing. It is definetely not a high-efficeny freezer and I really am not sure whether we are getting our money out of it or not. If your dedicated to running to the store to buy meat in bulk that is on sale, I am sure in a few years it would pay off.

    Don’t get me wrong, I do love having it. It works great for freezing different left over soups, bread (when I make more than two loaves), etc.

  7. Marj M:

    A freezer is definately a “frugal” purchase. You will never regret it. We have an upright that is energy efficient. Since there are only 2 of us with, ahmmm, back difficulties……this is the way to go.

  8. Susy:

    I would not be able to survive without mine. Mine’s an upright, it’s much easier to organize & get stuff in and out, and I don’t have trouble with it popping open, not sure how that would happen.

    You would save money by buying sides of beef & pork, and it would be much healthier for you & your family if you can get local grass-fed beef (not to mention it’s better for the local economy).

    Freezers are much more effecient when full so fill it with bags of ice until it’ full. You do have to be careful though to make sure you’re eating things from the freezer and not just stocking it. My grandmother was always throwing things away she hadn’t used.

  9. Janelle:

    I think a freezer is worth every penny. They even make small chest freezers that cost less to run.

    Especially when the turkeys go on sale, you’ll love having one! Plus there is so much beyond meat you can freeze. Do it, you won’t regret it!

  10. Nonny:

    Yes!! I bought a chest, energy efficient one from Home Depot last August. Cost under $200 and my electric bill only went up about $5 – $7 dollars.

    I now buy meat, frozen breakfast stuff, fruit (my son loves frozen blueberries) and other stuff when ever they are on sale!!

    This is one of the best *splurges* I have even purchased!!

  11. Val:

    I bought one a couple of months ago, which is mostly full with deals and extra meals and appetizers that I’ve made. Last night at Kroger there were packages of smoked sausage which were buy one get on free–plus each package had a 75 cent coupon on it, which double. The result? I got 18 packages (of 5) smoked sausage. All but 2 went into the chest freezer (about 5 cu). Most of them will be used by the end of the month for specific events, but the ones that aren’t will remain frozen until we need them. Had I bought them all at regular price, I would have spent over $50. Before I got the extra freezer, I would have never been able to take advantage of this deal. The freezer was about $165, brand new on sale…just last night I recouped $50 of the price.

  12. I was given a very small used (but not very old, it is energystar) chest freezer to store breastmilk when my baby was in the NICU. It was a Godsend for that because otherwise we would not have had enough room in our freezer. Although all that is gone now, I plan to keep it so that I can buy a lot of meat when it is on sale and cut it up and freeze it. There is no way we could have used a full size chest freezer!

  13. Kelly:

    I don’t have the room, but we are looking into cleaning out and re-arranging our garage just to get one! I would love to be buying sides of beef and pork. My parents have an upright freezer and let me tell you, growing up, it was awesome. When we were ravenous teenagers, my mom would say go check the freezer and it was always stocked with snacky type foods, as well as meals and meat (and ice cream!) It was nice to have ready made meals (store bought and homemade!)that just needed to be popped in the oven for night when my mom had to work late (my dad was not a cook!)

  14. Tracy:

    I have a 7 cubic foot chest freezer and I love it! It isn’t too big and isn’t too small. We get a side of beef once per year and save a lot of money by doing that. I rarely buy meat at the grocery store.

    We were told that a chest freezer will run most efficiently when is it one-half to three-fourths full.

  15. jeff:

    My coworkers go in on a whole cow and a whole pig every year. They get the cuts they want, and it lasts the entire year. It’s cheaper than buying meat every week/month and way more convenient, but you need a freezer to make it happen. I rent right now, so I’m in a perma-jealous state. If you have the space, get the freezer.

  16. My parents paid for one for us as a holiday gift two years ago, and it has been a godsend. It lets me stock up on unexpected discounts on meat, it lets me freeze excess produce, and I can bake large batches of bread, cookies, brownies, etc- and freeze them and just take out what is needed. Also, if you plan to have another baby (I do!), it’s nice to have a place to store extra lasagna and meals prepared ahead.

  17. I’m with everyone else here…I’d be lost without our freezer. A chest type is supposed to be more efficient and will retain cold longer during a power outage. And if it’s in your laundry room, it can double as a folding table! :)

  18. Something else to consider…you may be able to get one for free through freecycle. I see freezers and other large appliances on my local email list because people don’t want to move them. Things to consider: you’ll probably have to go get it pretty quickly, so be ready; it won’t be energy efficient.

  19. AngelSong:

    A freezer is a must for a frugal household. You can shop less often. My husband and I bought a freezer while we were still in our old apartment (none of the other appliances were ours, and the freezer was the only appliance we brought to our new home), and we stocked it completely. Then, we had a period of time when I was only working half time, and our income was also cut by half. We ate out of the freezer for a full six months. You can freeze leftovers, foods from a home garden, herba, nuts, ….anything.

  20. A freeze will save you money if tend to buy ahead when things are on sale. My freezer is stuffed with meat, bread, and a few frozen dinners that I found for almost nothing on sale. I prefer an upright because I hate digging deep into the bottom of a chest freezer. Also, I think things tend to get lost in a chest freezer because it is harder to see everything.

  21. We bought a new upright about 4 years ago for our garage. I absolutely love it. Our kitchen refrig/freezer is a small one my husband bought as a bachelor and I couldn’t do nearly the amount of batch cooking without a supplemental freezer in the garage (and we could delay buying a new one for the kitchen).

    My favorite items to freeze are diced tomatoes, black beans, kidney beans, and garbonzo beans. I buy the huge cans at Cash and Carry, use what I need for a recipe and freeze the rest. Our local organic grocery also has a half-off rack of prepared quiches, lasagna, etc. when they reach their “expiration date” so I buy those and freeze them for emergency meals, or to give to neighbors in times of need. Other staples in my freezer include: homemade chicken stock, meats from the local smokehouse, bags of ice for making ice cream, and frozen berries bought from the Kiwanis. It all helps me avoid panic-shopping at the grocery store which saves lots of cash.

  22. Kirsten Jeffers:

    I bought a brand new upright freezer (no room for a chest freezer) and never looked back. It costs about $50 a year in energy and saves me HUNDREDS every year. I freeze EVERYTHING. Once a month or so I go to the Stroeman Outlet nearby and buy about twenty loaves of whole wheat bread at a dollar a loaf and freeze. I’ve made lunch sandwiches ahead of time and frozen them when I’ve been able to get deli meat on sale. I stock up on BIG packages of veggies from BJ’s (don’t have a membership, but go with a friend who does). I buy meat on sale (duh). I freeze produce from my garden and the excess from friend’s gardens. I freeze my fresh herbs at the end of the season. I freeze whole gallons of milk when found on sale (defrost over night in a large pot of cold water). I freeze cheese.

    I save so much money in not having to shop weekly or even monthly (in my current bout of unemployment I actually went three months without grocery shopping) that not having a freezer would be inconcievable. I went years without one because I couldn’t figure out where to put one and in the end gave up asthetics in one of our living spaces for the economics of freezer possession. I keep plants on top and my kids art on the door. So in the end it does look pretty homey.

    No doubt about it. Buy a freezer. Buy it new. Buy it now.

  23. I LOVE having a chest freezer. I’m able to stockpile when there are good sales on meat, bread, and frozen veggies. I also have room to freeze meals I make in advance for those busy nights when I don’t feel like cooking.

    We just replaced a 1980s chest freezer with a new, energy star freezer. New freezers are much more energy efficient than the old ones – I’ve noticed a difference in my utility bill already.

    Chest freezers are more energy efficient than uprights, and in my opinion, it is easier to store things. You can cram a lot in a chest freezer without worrying about the door popping open (unlike uprights).

    Also, if you have an extended power outage (which happens frequently where I live), a chest freezer will retain the cold much longer than an upright (up to 72 hours if you don’t open it). When you’ve invested all that money in stockpiling, it’s important to protect that investment!

    To me, a chest freezer is worth EVERY PENNY!

  24. Katie:

    LOL, I am posting about my freezer later today!

    My freezer broke a few weeks ago and we frantically stashed our food in our above the fridge freezer and in my mom’s chest freezer. Thankfully nothing was lost!

    I can’t live without my freezer. Its older (not Engery Star) and my co-worker gave it so us. I figure paying the higher eletric bill is worth it. (note my summer electric bill is about $45 so not sure how much it cost to run it).

    I love being able to stock up on things when they are on sale! I keep an inventory list so that I always know what I have on hand, no more mystery packages found months later!

    I freeze just about everything: Bread, baked goods, meat, cheese, veggies, leftovers, freezer meals, etc. Not only do I get to stock up on sale items, I can cook/bake when I have the time and just pull them out later when I’m rushed!

  25. We got a deep freeze after doing much research. (Ours was given to us and we often have meat given to us–hunters in the family, so for us there was no question after researching.) I also buy a lot of bulk items because I shop once a month for frozen and canned foods. It also allows me to stock up purchasing food at cheaper places further away (we have a trader joes an hour away and I can stock up on frozen items our family can eat and not have to run out to the MUCH more expensive local store.)

    The following two articles at Dollar Stretcher were part of our decision making.
    http://www.stretcher.com/stories/05/05feb28a.cfm
    http://www.stretcher.com/stories/04/04apr05a.cfm

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