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Ask the Readers: Is a chest freezer worth the investment?

Today’s question is from Corrie:

I am thinking of purchasing a chest freezer. I have a family of six and the refrigerator in my apartment is so small. In fact, it is shorter than I am and I can only fit enough food in it for one week. I wish I could get a bigger one but the cabinets above it won’t allow anything larger.

My question is, is it worth it to buy a freezer so I can stock up on sale items?  Am I going to pay the difference in electricity for a five-cubic-square-foot chest freezer?

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  • Cori says:

    The convenience alone is worth it for me. Knowing I always have back up meals for my family or others is worth every penny it costs to run it. By, the way, I haven’t noticed even a slight difference in our energy bill and we have an old, upright freezer in the garage.

    • jean says:

      I have a freezer and it is definately worth it. We got an upright and I’m feeling like the deep freezer (chest style) may be a better buy. Every time we open the upright the warm air comes in it. I love it anyway. I wouldn’t want to be without it for the ability to cash in on things when they are on sale.

  • Elizabeth says:

    TIME is money and nowadays with gas running off…think of savings in gas as well, when not having to shop as frequently. I do not know how much extra electricity a small freezer costs, but we have a large chest freezer and keep it full…even with ice if necessary. If you keep it full, it does not run so much. If it is inside in a hot climate, it will run less too. I have had to pass by some incredible deals on frozen veggies, esp. because I simply did not have any more room. We also have to store alternative flours, nuts, etc that others do not, due to food allergies so it is easy to fill up a big freezer.

  • Rae says:

    LOL so I guess the question is not “should you get one?” it is “should you get an upright or a chest?”. I have to give another vote to the chest freezers. They use less energy because the opening is smaller, hold more because you are able to pack in one big compartment not around shelves, and most importantly to me, I hate stacking things like roasts, turkeys, etc (not rectangular stuff) on shelves so I always end up having stuff fall on my toes (with my over the fridge freezer). The only con at all to the chest is obviously you have to be good about rotating food a couple times per year so that you don’t forget about stuff at the bottom.

  • sue says:

    i am looking at buying a chest freezer. I am wondering what is the best way to wrap items so they don’t get freezer burn.

    • says:

      If you can afford to save for one, I’d say buy a FoodSaver vacuum sealer. You can keep meats frozen up to 3 years and it defrosts VERY quickly. You can even wash and reuse bags if you’re into that. The foodsaver website will sometimes run great deals on them as well (I got the older model-which is my favorite model anyway- for my mother-in-law for Christmas for $26! and I got a good deal on the bags at the same time too!) Hope this helps!

      • Judy says:

        Holly, you mention the foodsaver being so inexpensive so I went on their site. Which one did you get? The cheapest one was the mini at 42.00 and I am wondering if this is as versatile as the larger? And you say you can reuse the bags? Please let me know the details.

    • Edith says:

      If you are freezing bread, three grocery bags work well per two loaves. 1 around each bread, then one around the two wrapped breads. Then I only have to buy bread once a month.

  • says:

    We bought a small (5 cu ft or less) chest freezer for around $150 2 years ago. I love it! I love being able to stock up and buy in bulk. We didn’t notice any difference in our electric bill at all. I would suggest Craigslist for a used one, but I’m always leary of buying electric items used.

    • Jenna says:

      Camille makes a good point about craigslist and electric appliances! I am normally a big fan of craigslist, but we had a bad experience with a refrigerator we recently purchased via Craigslist. We soon discovered the fan underneath was broken (something you wouldn’t notice until it’s been plugged in for a little while) which required a 70 dollar part…thankfully, my husband figured out how to fix it himself so as to avoid a labor bill… AND to make matters even worse, it had a horrid fish smell all throughout it- both freezer and refrigerator. Sorry to vent about my bad experience- just be careful!! 🙂

    • Heather says:

      I know there can bad things on Craigslist but my hubby and I found a great deal last summer on a standing freezer and a fridge/freezer combo. It was $75 for the pair! (They’re ugly but they’re in the garage so who cares!) We’re able to save so much by buying and freezing discounted meats or venison that our friends give us. Plus, it’s great to freeze leftovers like soup and then pull them out to use as a quick instant meal a few weeks later.

      • says:

        i’m pretty sure Jewel will be having there freezzer sale pretty soon..i saw it somewhere adverised for 159.00 and you get 160.00 in free freezer coupons..i would suggest you call them and ask them when they will get them in…good luck

  • Renee says:

    I couldn’t live without my freezer now that I have one! We got a super deal on, which was a big bonus, and never really noticed a difference in our electric bill since we got it. I don’t know if you have Jewel Osco grocery stores near you but, if you do, you might be able to score the deal we got. Every year, usually in Feb. they have had a special where you pay I believe $200 for the freezer (it is smaller than what you were wanting but has been more than enough room for our family of 5 and we have the small apartment size refrigerator w/ limited freezer space too). When you buy the freezer you get $200 worth of coupons for FREE frozen products to fill it with! I never shopped Jewel because they were usually more expensive than everyone but, this was a fab deal we couldn’t pass up!

  • Mrs. M. says:

    I bought a small upright freezer 13.5 cubic four shelves inside and four shelves on the door $399 and I don’t regret it. A chest freezer brand new costs less than $250 and is worth the investment. Try Frigidare on sale at the big box store or Sears, make sure it has a lock and key. Frozen premade dishes can be stored and make your own TV dinners and freeze them. Yes buy the freezer on sale and get a small one.

  • Nonaa says:

    TOTALLY WORTH IT! But I recommend getting a deep freeze if at all possible! They are more efficient by far!

  • kiki says:

    yes it is worth it. I acutally have two fridges and a freezer (chest) I had one of the upright deals and let me tell you. Stuff fell out on my feet all the time. I rotate pretty well but it allows me to stock up on chicken during the summer for the winter when they are higher and I can freeze. Love freezing whole tomatoes for sauces and soups later…… Mine doesn’t have a lock and key though. But sears was great for a good one. Watch for the sales.

  • VwgasVickie says:

    I had two sons and I could not have done without my chest freezer! Being able to stock up on sale items was great but I also bought beef by the side. The meat company cut and wrapped the meat into the cuts that I needed. At the time, it made the meat cost a little more than stew meat or ground beef for all of it, including the good cuts.

    I also would make ahead dishes and freeze them so all I did was pull something our in the AM and heat it up when I got home. It made my life a LOT easier.

    As said before, it’s not if you should get a deep freezer but which is better for you, chest or upright!

  • Tiffany says:

    We bought an upright freezer 4 years ago after our first daughter was born. I knew we could save some money if I was able to stock up on items while they are on sale but to be honest I haven’t been good about doing so until this year. Now with two growing girls the grocery budget has to stretch even further. I can’t imagine life without my freezer now! I took advantage of Target’s frozen special this week and went in hand with all my frozen coupons. Our freezer is packed!
    We went with an upright for space reasons mostly. Our freezer is in an attached but outside storage closet of our house and a chest freezer would not have fit. But I love it and we did not notice any change in our energy bill when we got it.

  • gayla says:

    we have a family of five i do not know how you do it with a small fridge for six. we have a med size fridge and it seems i dont know how to stack right or pack right i cant get a whole lot of nothing in it. we do have a large chest freezer though the only thing with it is i think it is too big sometimes because things seem to get lost in it. it was given to us, so i cant complain but a smaller one would be the right size.

  • Damita says:

    I have an upright and a chest freezer! I Love them both!! with a family of 5!! Great Investment!! I love stock piling cheese..meats..butter..frozen veggies…

  • Gail says:

    Really good deal at 30% off Kenmore this week. They have a 5 cu ft. for $146.99. FREE SHIPPING when you use the code shipfeb. I also saw this model had great 4.5 star rating based on 54 user reviews, because no one wants to lose a freezer full of food! Sounds pretty good, especially the Free Ship! You might also want to check larger ones while on sale and see if you have the room for one of those while on sale. Hope this helps. Can’t help with electric costs, but you can check with Sears.

  • Kathy says:

    GET ONE! We use ours to store sale items and also our side of beef that we buy every year. The savings alone on the beef has more than paid for the freezer, it is better meat than I can buy in the store. I also buy turkeys and hams around the holidays (when they are cheaper) and have them year round. I have a large chest freezer and often wish for another one so that we can start buying a hog also.

    • says:

      How does it work getting a side of beef? Where do you get it?From a farmer or a butcher or something like that? My husband was asking me about this and I had NO clue!

      • Kate says:

        We get our’s from a local beef farmer. Just let them know a few months or so that you are interested in purchasing part of a cow. My farmer sells a whole cow, 1/2 cow, and 1/4 cow. This year we bought 1/4 and there’s a ton!!! I love it because it’s soooo fresh and yummy! Our farmer does not add any hormones or gross stuff so it’s practically organic. The price ranges between $2.60lb-2.80lb. Not too bad! Our farmer even delivers & helps me load it into the freezer : ) Buying local is the best!

      • Kathy says:

        We have a local locker that you can buy beef or pork in many different quantities and cuts. You also have the choice to bring in your own animal (or one you bought from a farmer) or they will process one that they have brought in by a local farmer. I love our locker because you can make so many decisions about what you want and this locker will only accept livestock from our county, so I know it is local.

  • Rebecca says:

    We have a 5 cubic foot freezer in our apartment in Brooklyn and I can’t imagine life without it. I love being able to get things on sale, cook all day Sunday for the week (or month) ahead, etc. Once you go freezer, you’ll never go back.

  • alison kauffman says:

    I have to say that ever since we lived in an apartment, we’ve had an extra freezer (when it was just myself and my husband). I’m actually saving up for a larger freezer now. Whatever the extra energy costs are to run it, we save in gas for not having to make extra trips to the store and also being able to stock up on things when they are on sale.

  • cynthia heber says:

    Yes, it is well worth it. I have a small chest freezer downstairs in the cellar. I have it packed with bread that I bought at the thrift store. Meat and chicken, and fish. I also purchase vegetables. I prepare them for the freezer in individual packages. I make sauces, and soups. Right now I cannot fit anymore in. I wish I had a bigger one to fit more stuff for at least a months worth of food. But until I save for another one. This one will do. When that time comes, I will then give this one to my brother-in-law. The top of the freezer is loose(after so many years of use) I put heavy stuff on top to hold the top down so the freeze is still there. good to take advantage of all the sales. Since, the gas prices are going way up. Limit on shopping trips. Conserve wherever I can.

  • Lisa S says:

    This is what worked best for me. I was in the same boat. My baby refrigerator that fit in the kitchen fridge spot just didn’t hold enough for our family of 5. I thought about a freezer since we had two in the garage when I was growing up. However, when I sat down to see what things I really was running to the store for most often, I found a lot of it was refrigerated items that I really didn’t want frozen. And we don’t have a garage in this house we are renting, so it would have to go in the house somewhere anyway. So we decided to get a big refrigerator/freezer instead and get rid of the baby one. We put a microwave cart where it used to be, and put the big refrigerator in the area of the house where the kitchen table is supposed to go. Yes this is a small inconvenience as you cannot get in the fridge and sit at the table at the same time. But it has been way worth it to have the extra fridge and freezer space. And this actually saved me electricity as the 1970 model fridge I got rid of was not energy efficient and the new-to-us one we got was energy star rated. So, I don’t think you could go wrong with a chest freezer, but you need to analyze was all you are wanting to house more of, and see if maybe more fridge space would benefit your family more than just freezer space. I found that adding more of each was better for me.

  • Hannah says:

    It’s TOTALLY worth it! We bought ours at our local Habitat for Humanity Restore and they guarantee that their electronics work, I think you have 30 days to them with problems. Having a large freezer has allowed me to purchase healthier meats – my parents usually raise a hog for us every year, and I can buy grass fed beef by the half (or whole if I didn’t have so much other stuff!) simply because I have the room to store it. In November 2009, butter quarters went on sale at our local grocery for .99!!!!! I just ran out of the butter that I bought then and I use absolutely no shortening or margarine. (I think I bought like 40lbs) Since that time I have not seen butter at all for less than $2/lb and it has just gone up and up. The money saved on that purchase alone was well worth having the freezer.

  • says:

    Yes, get one! Remember, OLD units use MORE electricity than new units. Therefore, the cost savings to purchase a new one is justifiable. My hubby did the math on this one, he knows energy use numbers, as this is part of his work. 🙂

  • Kristy says:

    Hi there,

    I don’t know if getting an upright freezer would be better for your space, but we purchased one (it isn’t huge) because I was afraid that what was on the bottom would stay there. Having an upright also allows me to organize and easily see what I have and I can also easily send one of my kids or husband down with specific location directions to get something. It also prevents things from getting put on top of it and then having to move things to get into it.

    A freezer is a great investment for a family and I tend to do bulk cooking and then freeze additional meals which really helps on those days that you are either crazy, tired, sick, etc. It is also great because if someone in your community/church needs a meal you may have one already prepared.

  • Allison Pappenfus says:

    We got a medium-sized upright freezer from my grandmother after she sold her house and moved in with my parents. Back then both my husband and I worked and we weren’t very good about planning meals and hated defrosting meat so my husband joked that the freezer was his “ice cream” freezer. Now that we have moved and I stay home full-time with my children, I’ve cut our grocery budget in almost half and can’t imagine life without my freezer. I stock up on meats when they are on sale and freeze fruits and vegetables from my garden. Since it is so cold where I live now in the winter, I don’t think the compressor has to turn on very often to keep it cold so I don’t notice much by way of energy usage (other than the light!). I have heard that chest freezers are more energy efficient but I’m short and have a hard time reaching into the bottom I got my up-right for free so that made the decision easy. Just make sure you rotate your food and make a list of what is in there with expiration dates if you can’t see everything like you would on a shelf. Good luck!

  • says:

    We are researching getting one as the summer gets closer (a girl can hope right?) and we found that most 7.0 cft only use between $25-30 electric to run per year! I know that I will save that amount by buying in bulk and freezing the health benefits of having food from its peak season is worth it!

  • says:

    I think a freezer is definitely worth the investment. You can stock up on food when it goes on sale. You can also make double portions or more and freeze extra meals for busy days. You can freeze produce from your garden. If you hunt, you can freeze the meat you get. And, you don’t have to be running out to the store if you run out of something because you have a lot of other food at your fingertips. We have a freezer and I am so glad that we do.

  • Jessica says:

    I have a good size chest freezer in my garage and it looks like it’son its last leg. But it still works great and I have been using it for 3 years now and I haven’t noticed a hike in my energy bill. I went without it full for a couple of months because I moved to a different town and I realized how much money I was losing just by not usung it. It may be pricey to initially fill it up, but in the long run I save so much money…I freeze pretty much everything!!

  • Jean says:

    We bought an upright freezer early in our marriage because I was raised in a home that had a freezer. I have been married almost 36 years. We bought another upright last year so we could buy a side of grass-fed beef and 18 free range chickens. I estimate that we have saved thousands of dollars on food since we bought a freezer. I have never paid full price for any meat, since I could stock up on sale items. I have heard that chest freezers are hard to get food out of, so I have always had uprights. I love, love, love my freezers. You have to have a system to keep track of what you have so you don’t waste any food, but I heartily recommend that you buy one. :o) I also am able to freeze leftovers or complete meals to use on busy days so we don’t have to eat out when we’re overly busy…money savings again.

  • Julie Huey says:

    We bought an upright over a chest freezer because I’m no longer able to get to that heavy frozen turkey or roast sitting at the bottom…or several 5 layers of seafood like I use to due to my aging body (i.e. illnesses). We found that layering the food on top of each other doesn’t allow for very easy access to the food underneath. We’ve always been a fan of an extra freezer ever since we had a family of four. The kids add a lot more food intake to our budget, so we need the extra storage in order to avoid running to the grocery store so often (gas/time). Plus, you can buy more using coupons without worry.

  • Sue says:

    I would definately recommend a chest freezer, and if you’re in an apt and have limited space, I have seen others put a table cloth over it, in their dining room and it serves as extra counter space.
    I inherited a very large one that we keep in our garage/basement but if I had less space, I would have to still have one.
    I don’t think you’ll regret it ! 🙂

  • Debra Lovell says:

    Regarding the Food saver system, I use the Ziplock vacuum system and it works very well. It takes up very little space and is cheap.
    I have a side by side and a small chest freezer. If I had to give up one it would be the side by side. The chest holds more and is less hassle.

  • jennifer says:

    My MIL bought our upright freezer 2 years ago as a Christmas gift. The other two boys got remote car starters. I think we got the better gift!

    Very handy to have. Easy to stock up on bread, frozen veggies, butter, etc when you have the space.

  • sammy says:

    Sure its a great idea to invest into buying a deep freezer I got one it holds all my frozen items like ice cream, hamburger meats and chicken.

  • Shannon K says:

    I have an upright one(big one), and yes I had some things frozen in there(just the three of us)….but with this Target deal it is stuffed!!! love my freezer!!!

  • Lynn says:

    I have a family of 6 and I have 3 freezers with 2 refridges. I could not live without them. We purchase a full beef and when all things are on sale or in full garden season we freeze. Along with our own chicken which are sized as turkeys, we need all three freezers

  • Kathy says:

    I will keep it simple for you. Yes it’s worth it…I read some of the other comments re: chest vs upright freezer. I like my upright because you can see everything in there and stuff doesn’t get buried in the bottom and then “die” of freezer burn before you notice it’s in there. Also I think it’s easier to lift the big stuff off of a shelf than out of a deep compartment but yes a freezer is worth the money. I would suggest frost free because they can be messy if they frost builds up and it also impacts the energy consumption. I say yes…get the freezer so you can stock up on the sales on meat and frozen foods.

  • Mary says:

    I have a family of 3 and don’t always have thefull freezer, so we fill plastic milk jugs with water and freeze them in the bottom. This way the freezer seems cooler and doesn’t work as hard to keep half a freezer of food cold.

  • Christin says:

    I don’t have a chest freezer (yet), only the fridge/freezer combo in the house. Luckily, the freezer is a really good size on the model we have. I just bought 22 frozen food items at Target to take advantage of the gift card deal, and was amazed that they all fit in my freezer that was already “full”. But, I just wanted to remind everyone that you can freeze milk! Buying milk when there’s a really good sale and freezing it is worth it. Just take it out and it thaws back to normal and you can’t even tell that it had been frozen. Also, another tip to get the most out of your money: when a recipe calls for an amount of a seldom used ingredient, but it is only sold in a bigger package, freeze the rest! Don’t put it in the refrigerator thinking you might come across another recipe to use it in really soon. Chances are, you won’t find a recipe, you won’t want a similar recipe so close together, or you’ll forget about it, and it will go bad. I use this rule in particular with tomato sauce in the can, buttermilk, whipping cream, etc.

  • says:

    We have had both types, I find that I like the upright. It seems that I was always forgetting the things on the bottom in the other freezer and wasting food.

  • Heide says:

    I got a smaller chest freezer (it’s about waist high, but is a square instead of a larger rectangle one) and I have to say that I haven’t noticed a great difference in my energy bill with or without it.

    It particularly comes in handy when thanksgiving rolls around and they have the turkeys on sale. I buy one for Thanksgiving and one for Christmas. Cheaper prices + storage areas + gas (& extra grocery $ when you go in to buy that one item and walk out with 10) = enough savings to pay any small difference in electricity.

  • armycouple says:

    My husband is a hunter and I haven’t had to buy meat (besides chicken) for the past 7 yrs because of my chest freezer. Without it, I wouldn’t have the room. That alone has saved us a TON of money. I know one person said that with an upright you can see everything and nothing gets lost but if you use the baskets that come in it and maybe even order a couple more, it all stays well organized and you don’t lose stuff.

  • Cheryl says:

    Definitely worth it! We have 5 kids, and this has been a life saver. We buy items on sale and stock the freezer. Right now, I have 99 cent a pound london broil, a free turkey, veggies, bread, coffee and more in there. I buy whatever meat is a good deal, and stock the freezer. Before long you have enough variety to eat a good selection of meals every week. Fill empty milk jugs with water and freeze to fill up empty space, it costs less to run a full freezer than a half empty one. We have an upright bigger than our fridge, but did use a chest freezer when the kids were small.

  • says:

    You’ve already got so many comments I doubt you’ll read mine, but we love our chest freezer. We basically stock our chest freezer with sale stuff (we love our vacuum sealer for meats that we buy in bulk), and once it’s stuffed to the gills we do an extended “freezer/pantry challenge” and avoid grocery shopping for as long as we can other than for necessities like eggs and milk.

  • Diane says:

    I think a chest freezer (a NEW one) is a good investment. The new ones use less energy and have LOTS of baskets so you don’t lose things in them (one of the only pitfalls to them, I think). Look for one that has an alarm if the temperature falls too low for any reason and put a list of what’s in the freezer on the outside so you don’t forget what’s in there and when you put it into the freezer! Kenmore makes great chest freezers in all sizes.

  • says:

    Crystal, I would say that for us, the freezer has definitely paid for itself, though it may make sense not to get the self-defrosting kind. Those use more energy and actually the freezing and defrosting and refreezing function is what causes freezer burn, which is why things in your fridge’s freezer will get freezer burn much easier than foods in a regular deep freezer.
    I empathize with this woman’s situation since she has so little space.

    We have been able to take advantage of so many sales since we got our big freezer. The best have been banana clearances at Aldi when they have them for 25 or 10 cents per bag, or like today when I got the $5 gift cards at Target for 7 frozen food purchases (thanks to the tip from Crystal :-)). One other is when the Meijer near us had free range lamb legs on sale for $3.59 per pound and $50 gift cards on sale for $45. I was able to get 5 legs of lamb for 3.23 per pound!

    Anyway, I hope that helps!

    Oh – and make sure that your electric system can handle the freezer before you buy it. Ours almost couldn’t and that would be a real shame to have to return the freezer after buying it for only that reason.

  • mary jo says:

    i love my freezer. because im from michigan. i hate buy vegetables and fruit from mexico. and in the winter time if you go to the store thats all you can get. so in the summer time i buy enough to last us till next season. and yes you can tell the difference in a mexico strawberry to a michigan berry. know you might have trouble with the kids stealing the berries. and i go pick mine. strawberries is 1.29 lb the store cost 2.5o pint. blueberries to pick 1.5o lb to the store 2.5o pint.

  • Julie says:

    Once your freezer (or fridge for that matter) is a couple years old, the seal may start to lose some of its grip, which will make it less efficient. Easy fix: spread a thin layer of vasoline on the seal. It makes a huge difference. I need two hands to open my freezer now because the seal is so much better. No more cold air escaping into the garage!

  • Alyssa says:

    Old post, I know…. but just wanted to mention that we got a great chest freezer on Freecycle! I just posted a “wanted” a couple times, and a couple weeks later someone emailed me saying that had one in their house that they never use. It has been fantastic for our family of 6!

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