Are you looking for a list of foods that freeze well? Do you want to stock up on sale items and turn your freezer into a huge money saver for your family?
Those are great goals. And we’ve got the answers for you.
The $2000 Chest Freezer is the final article of a 5 Kitchen Tools series designed to empower you to save thousands of dollars on your food budget.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve shared how we save with the humble SpoonUla, a set of glass bowls for lunches, a slow cooker, and a Meat Slicer. We’ve calculated the annual savings from using these four kitchen tools to be about $4500.
But, hold on to your wallet, we’ve held back the biggest savings for last.
This tool will assuredly pay for itself quickly and truly help you build a stockpile of cold, hard cash.
Save Money on Your Grocery Budget with a Freezer
A freezer is one of the best money-saving tools a family can invest in.
Because a freezer allows you to stock up on sale items and enjoy eating steeply discounted food for weeks or months to come. We regularly freeze bread, milk and shredded cheese. But we also stock up on things like turkeys at Thanksgiving, hams at Christmas, corned beef after St. Patrick’s Day and pork ribs over the summer holidays.
Plus, because we have the storage space, we’re constantly watching for marked-down meat prices when grocers have overstocks – recently we bought 60 pounds of chicken legs for $.19 per pound.
What Kind of Freezer Should you Buy?
We like non-frost-free chest freezers because they don’t dry out food as quickly.
Frost-free freezers have a fan that constantly runs to reduce the build-up of frost. However, that same fan removes moisture from food that isn’t vacuum sealed.
Years ago we started with a 9 cubic foot chest freezer, then graduated to a 17 cubic-foot upright. Now we have a 27 cubic foot chest freezer.
We also like chest freezers more than upright freezers, as most upright freezers are frost-free, and we prefer not to have that feature.
Should you buy a new or used freezer?
This is a great question. We’ve done both – bought used and new. The key is to know what you have to spend and to patiently look for a deal.
Buying a Used Freezer
Freezers can easily be found gently used on CraigsList. Our book, “Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with Americas’ Cheapest Family,” describes our secrets to researching and buying quality used appliances, very inexpensively. In the book, we also provide a list of the best items to freeze and how to organize a chest freezer for maximum efficiency.
Buying a New Freezer
You can also pick up inexpensive freezers from Amazon – if you’re a Prime member, shipping is free – and that makes it really affordable. Here’s a list of Amazon’s best-selling chest freezers. They aren’t that expensive, ranging in price from $199 to about $320.
Savings: We’ve calculated that our chest freezer saves us at least $2000 a year—not bad for a $400 investment. And this cool little workhorse will keep saving you money year after year, after year.
How to Organize Your Freezer
Watch this video where Annette explains how we use canvas bags to keep our freezer organized and easy to access.
Using the Food in Your Chest Freezer
If you have a freezer stocked with food, but don’t keep track of what you have, that’s a problem.
Doing a monthly inventory of your freezer will:
- Keep you on top of what you have in stock
- Help you use what you have
- Keep foods from going bad
- Save you even more money
Food Items You Can Freeze
One of our greatest tools for saving on groceries is our freezer. Over the years, as our family has grown, so has the size of our freezer. We started with a used 9-cubic-foot chest freezer, then five years later purchased a used 17-cubic-foot upright. Now we have a 27-cubic-foot chest freezer that we purchased at a steep discount when our local Montgomery Wards went out of business.
A mainstay of our money-saving philosophy is buying storable food on sale — stocking as much as we can — and slowly depleting that supply over several months. We trust that another great sale will come along by the time that stockpile is used up. Our goal is to always eat food purchased at its lowest price. Our ancestors had to rely on smoking meat, root cellars and canning to preserve their food so they could survive from harvest to harvest. Ours is not a battle for survival, but a fight to keep our food expenses low.
We’re often asked, “What can you freeze?” Our answer is, “Just about anything—if you know how.” Below is a compilation of foods we have frozen, successfully and unsuccessfully. If you know of others that work too, please let us know.
Four keys to successful freezing food are:
1) Keep air out— Air dries out food, giving it that unpleasant “freezer burn” flavor. Using multiple layers of plastic wrap or a vacuum sealer prevents this (we don’t use one, but know a few people who swear by them.)
2) Containers— Beyond plastic wrap, we employ a variety of plastic containers. Try to fill the container as much as possible to minimize air, but still allow for expansion. These containers are fine for short-term storage (1 to 2 months).
3) Minimize moisture— Moisture forms ice crystals that, when thawed, can turn absorbent foods soggy. This is especially true with breads and muffins. Cool them completely before freezing and double bag whenever possible. When defrosting, add a paper towel inside the bag to absorb moisture. Read this popular article: How to Freeze Store Bought Bread
4) Blanching— most vegetables and some fruits will not freeze well unless they are cooked first. Blanching is the process of lightly cooking by boiling for a brief period of time (2 to 10 minutes). Most basic cookbooks describe this process. If you overcook and then freeze, the veggies will be very mushy when defrosted.
The Food Freezing Guide
Freezer Organization Tip from a Reader
I just reorganized my freezer using plastic bins. It’s great and really easy to find what I need. I marked them “Beef,” “Chicken” and “Pork.” This has really helped me to know what I already have in the freezer so I can shop more carefully. Leslie Wilson – Jacksonville, FL
If you missed any of the posts in this series, you can catch up here.
- Week 1: The Humble SpoonULa
- Week 2: $1000 Lunch Hack
- Week 3: $3400 Crock Pot
- Week 4: $500 Sliced Savings
- Week 5: $2000 Freezer Tool
This TV spot describes the five tools in a little more detail.