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. unclehank:

    BTW.. I bought Sears cheapest model 20 years ago and not a bit of trouble.

  2. unclehank:

    Match that freezer with a vacuum sealer (like FoodSaver from Tilia) and you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them!

  3. Heather:

    We love our freezer! We bought a 5.5cubic ft for less than $200. We are a family of five and it seems like a great size!

    Because full freezers use less energy than partial full ones, right after we purchased ours, before we had filled it completely with food, I would freeze old milk jugs mostly full of water. Then as I filled the freezer with good deals, I could take jugs out insuring that the freezer was always as full as possible.

  4. Joshua:

    Hello!

    First off, I’m happy for you and your family that you’re in your new home. I hope you’ll spend many happy years together in it!

    Now, about the freezer: I think a large chest freezer makes sense if you have a garden and plan on freezing the summer’s worth of produce, but I wouldn’t buy one just to stock up on frozen foods from the grocer’s when they’re on sale.

    One factor you might want to consider is how much electricity a freezer will gobble up, and whether the energy costs will outweigh the potential food savings.

    One more thing: Thank you for this blog. Your articles are always interesting. I really enjoy reading them.

    Kind regards,
    Joshua

  5. We have an upright freezer, and I don’t know how i lived without it. We belong to Sam’s club, and their chicken and meat prices are much lower than the grocery store, but, you need to break apart the packages, and need someplace to put them. So, I have a shelf dedicated to meat. My family also loves these Jimmy Dean Turkey sausage and egg and cheese muffins, and it is much more economical to buy at Sam’s and I buy 2 large boxes. I also stockpile on frozen veggies and keep them in my freezer. I store bread in there, too. It is definitely something that we cannot live without.
    We got an upright, only because my dh was afraid that the kids would fall into a chest and get frozen, seriously! He felt it was safer with the kids around. I like it, because you don’t have to dig down for things.

  6. Lisa:

    I would highly recommend an UPRIGHT freezer. I have a chest freezer now, and it is great to store all the deals I find. However, a chest freezer is hard to deal with because you can’t see what is on the bottom. In our case, we recently bought a whole hog. It is impossible to get to the things on the bottom of our now full freezer. You have to UNLOAD everything to get there. YES, get a freezer, but an upright will service you better.

  7. We just bought a 5.5 cubic foot freezer last weekend. It was under $200. Somethings I’m looking forward to putting in it are bags of individually frozen chicken when it goes on sale, bags of shredded cheese from Costco, (I’m hoping to cut my trips to Costco to every other month instead of every month – that should save some money!) and things like corn dogs and chicken nuggets from Costco (they are cheaper when I buy them there, but I rarely have room for them in our freezer).

  8. Mandy:

    I just love our chest freezer. We thought long and hard about getting one. We lived in a small apartment and our regular freezer just was not big enough. So we purchased a small 5 cubic ft one. For $150.I am so glad that we have. I love buying meat when it is on sale and having a place to put it.
    Psst. I noticed they have the same freezer on sale at our Walmart for $169

  9. Marci:

    We too have the long power outages, but usually if it’s just 3 days, the meat stays frozen.

    A lot of what goes into my freezer is free – meaning my garden produce, game meat, fish, clams, and home raised beef. Therefore, while losing it is not good for the future economics, it is is not a lot of money lost – except the electric.

    Therefore, I’ll keep filling the freezer even tho there is a small reoccuring chances of losing it. To me, it saves me enough in the long run to risk the possibility of the short term loss. Plus, if the electric comes back on in 4-6 days, enough of it is salvageble to be cooked, used or refrozen, or canned, or dehydrated. I do need to learn to use the canner on either my woodstove or a propane stove tho….. something new to learn! :)

  10. Lisa:

    I would like to have one but once every 3 years or so we seem to have a big power outage of 3 to 5 days.
    Since I don’t have a garage I don’t have a place to keep a generator for when the power is out.
    Of course if I learned to can I could can all the meat during a power outage to save it that way.

  11. Rob in Madrid:

    I’m the contarian here, I did the chest freezer and side of beef and never used either ended up giving both away.

    Even here in Europe where things are smaller I couldn’t use a chest freezer. I do lost of cooking but I simply plan carefully, when freezer is empty I cook some more.

    I also allowed my pantry to run down as I found that I was over stocking on things, why have 20 of something if I don’t need it, I buy enought to last to the next sale. Only expection is when some that never goes on sale is on sale (like the wife’s fav cereral)

  12. Aunt Gladys:

    I couldn’t live without a freezer! I prefer an upright to a chest freezer just because it is much easier to find things in. You can store not only the usual things such as meat, prepared dinners, etc; but also many dairy products. When cheese is on special I load up on it. Both shredded, chunks, or slices of cheese freeze well. Butter or margarine I buy on sale and freeze it. I used to have a very frugal neighbor that grocery shopped once a month and bought enough milk for a month and kept it frozen. Just thaw and use. Another item I keep in the freezer is nuts of any kind. Nuts have oil in them and they can get a rancid taste if not kept refrigerated or frozen. Having been raised on a “nut farm”, we always froze a lot of nuts.
    Even my mom when she was in her 70s and 80s kept a very small chest freezer in her spare closet. My suggestion it to go and get a new one immediatel. That way you know it is efficient and you have a warranty if something goes wrong in the first year.

  13. It’s all been said. Uprights are nicer, it’s easy to lose stuff in a chest freezer, I couldn’t live without it.

    Now I just need to get my MealSaver into the loop!

    And I’ve only had mine for about two weeks. It’s a small one my uncle gave when he moved into assisted living, and pretty new. Now I can stock up on staples and sale items. The frozen hamburger in tubes it great, just put it in a bowl in the refrigerator to thaw a day or so before you plan to use it.

    And inventory helps, not just with frozen stuff, but with leftovers, contents of pantry, and spices. Helps when meal planning and when making up a shopping list.

    James

    “Many are chilled, but few are frozen.”

  14. Lis:

    We have a large chest freezer, given to use 2nd hand by my parents (their house already had one) We love it…it’s easy to purchase 1/4 cow once a year at a great price and know how it was feed and processed. It is also handy for DH who is a hunter and fisherman. I also purchase from the Schwan’s truck. Our refrig freezer keeps ice, freezer packs and breakfast sandwiches, our “beverage” frig (kitch frig is only 14 cubic feet, but came with the house) includes icecream and frozen desserts. We keep our chest freezer in our laundry room on the main floor. It’s the best even if the initial investment of 1/4 cow is costly it’s worth it in the long run and better product.

  15. Jnice:

    I have a small upright and it is really starting to ice up. IF I buy a new one I will buy a chest freezer. Kids are grown and we eat out a lot now – I am trying to use everything up and go without for a few months to see if I miss it.

    That said – for a young family – heck yes you need freezer – I vote for a chest freezer with a lock.

  16. april:

    We bought a used upright freezer 16 years ago. It even survived our “Flood of ’06″. We keep it in the garage and have saved tons of $. We’re able to buy meat on sale and my husband and kids are excellent hunters.

  17. mb:

    A word of caution:

    A friend of mine used to keep her freezer stocked continually to save money, right up until she hit several power outs in one year. She lost a lot of food that way, and now finds it to risky to have the freezer full of bargin foods. It’s not a bargin if the food is never eaten.

  18. We just bought an upright at a garage sale for $15. I was thinking about another freezer but not ready to spend a lot. This one is a smaller upright but for the price I felt like I could sell it for $15 if I upgrade later. I have two side by side refrigerators(one in the garage) and my new to me freezer. I feel that the savings of spending $15 vs $200 on this freezer is worth not having a “newer model.” It is supposed to take about $8- $10 a month to run a freezer. I don’t think the cost difference of running them is worth paying the extra $185 on a freezer. Mine is not old looking so it may even be efficient. Keep them filled. If you don’t have food fill milk jugs and coke bottles or bag up your extra ice cubes and fill it up. You can really buy many more things at a better price having a freezer. If I were you I would just watch for a good used one. You can always make whatever you pay for it if you want to buy a new one later.

  19. We just got our first freezer! One way that we are going to fill it up is through Angel Food Ministries. You can get great meat deals and whenever we get more than one box our regular freezer is over flowing. So we are excited to get our first few Angel Food boxes!!

  20. Amy:

    I love my freezer. I grew up with one and it was one of the things I bought with gift money from my wedding. I went with an upright, because for me it is much easier to use and orgnaize. I am also not that tall so reaching down into the bottom of a chest freezer just doesn’t work very well. I buy meat and bread and go berry picking in season and freeze them. I also go apple picking in the fall and make applesauce. That way I have quality fruit all winter. Recently I have also been cooking large batches of things to have redy made meals in the freezer. That has cut down trhe impulse pizza or going out for us a lot. When I first got the freezer I went ot the library and found a cook book that was all about how to freeze different foods. I scanned much of it into my computer for reference. I definately feel I have gotten my moneys worth.

  21. Wow! I’ve been considering one as well, but have been holding off. All these posts make me rethink things. For now, we have a freezer/fridge combo, I guess. I’m not up on all the lingo. Basically, I have almost as much freezer space as I do fridge space. I seem to get plenty in it, so I don’t feel the need for a separate one. I guess it depends on how much freezer space you have with the new fridge and how much you want!

  22. wv_mom:

    I agree with everyone else. I could not survive without my freezer LOL. No really though.
    My DH hunts so I get lots of meat. But I stil buy meat when it is on good sale.
    But I don’t just use it for meat. I store all kinds of veggies, breads, milk, boxed mixes (like pancake and brownies and stuff).
    You can store almost (lettuce is a no no) anything in there.

    I have an upright and I like that I can reach everything (I am a pretty short person). I used to have a chest type freezer and I would almost have to get in the freezer to get anything out. This is much more convient for me.

    On the other hand I have one that the shelves are connected to the unit. So if you have something larger than the space in the shelves (like a while bear hide – worth a ton of $ once turned into a rug) then you are out of luck.

  23. Marci:

    Explanation: I would by new because I used to be in the refrigeration business and saw too many old freezers die. I buy new because of the warranty for the first year, which also covers usually food spoilage for the first year. If a freezer is a lemon, it will usually give you problems in the first 90 days. After that, I trust it.

    I would take a used freezer if it was from someone I knew and trusted – like if they were moving or something similar.

  24. Anne Marie:

    My only advice would be, don’t discount the ability to find a discounted nearly new chest or upright freezer on craigslist. There may be people out there looking to move and dont have space for it in their new home, or remodeling. If it isnt a “Need it Immediately” type purchase, you may just get lucky!

  25. Jane Smith (yes its my real name):

    I would absolutely buy one. They’re great.

    The one thing I do though, is until its FULL, using empty milk jugs or cartons, fill them with water and freeze them. This gives you three benefits:

    1. Your freezer doesn’t have to work as hard if its not completely full
    2. In the event of a power outtage, its not an immediate need to get the food out of there – it took 24 hours for my stuff to start thawing.
    3. In the event of an emergency, you have water.

    Absolutely get a freezer and enjoy!

    I have old crappy ones, but I can’t wait to buy a new one!!

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