Invest In A New Freezer And Start Buying In Bulk

Freezer sales are heating up as thrifty consumers spend cash now so they can realize savings later by buying in bulk.

Across the country, shoppers bought more than 1.1 million freezers during the first six months of the year — up more than 7 percent from the same period last year, according to research firm NPD Group.

That rings up to nearly $400 million in freezer sales — a staggering figure compared to the rest of the home appliance sector, where industry data shows shipments are down nearly 8 percent.

And, experts said, it’s a trend that’s expected to continue at least through much of next year as penny-pinching shoppers buy in bulk to take advantage of deals or bundle grocery shopping trips to conserve gas.

We once had an adorably clunky spare freezer straight out of the 50s hiding in our basement. It held ice cream and pasta sauce, and its outrageous power demands easily gobbled up any savings gleaned from buying ice cream in bulk. It’s not the kind of freezer you want. Instead, look for newer, Energy Star compliant freezers that might actually save you money.

Socking it away, in freezers [AP]
Refrigerators & Freezers [Energy Star]
(Photo: Getty)

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  1. junkmail says:

    Captain Obvious: Be sure to check Craig’s List!

    We found a 5 year old Gibson commercial freezer for $50 just a few months ago. I can’t tell you how nice it is to be able to take advantage and load up when you find a good sale on meats or frozen pizzas, ice cream, whatever. :)

  2. oldheathen says:

    I’ll be among those doing this as electricity is relatively cheap where I live. DH will be *thrilled*, especially as we’ll be among those doing a LOT more vegetable gardening.

  3. VA_White says:

    A freezer was one of the first big things we bought when we got married, right after the bed. Couldn’t live without one.

  4. lingum says:

    I got a freezer sitting idle and empty in my shed. No place to put it in the house at the moment.

  5. jusooho says:

    Our three-persons household had a freezer for some time, but we thought the savings were not enough to justify the power costs and also, most of the things we eat does not freeze well for us.

    So, we sold it for more cheaper than we bought it.

    But I can see how a family with many children could use one profitably.

    • floraposte says:

      @jusooho: I’ve got a one-person household and I love my freezer. I don’t use it so much for massive bulk buying as for make-ahead, so I can have tasty homemade lunch stuff at work and microwaveable dinners during hot weather so I don’t have to heat up the house. It therefore helps my power bill as well as my food bill. It’s easy to keep it full for cheapest cooling with bottled water, backup flour and sugar, etc., when its contents start getting low. The size and the fact that it needs to be manually defrosted twice a year or so keeps me from having the freezer-burned twenty-year-old items, too.

      You can get pretty small ones–mine’s just 5 cubic feet or so, and it costs about $20 a year to run. It probably saved me that much the first month. I have a pad on it listing what’s in there, but the advantage of a little one is that you really don’t lose stuff for years the way we did in the huge freezer of my childhood.

  6. BeeBoo says:

    The Andy Griffith Show Episode 120: Bargain Day
    Originally Aired on Mar 23, 1964

    Diamond Jim’s, a new butcher shop, opens and Bea heads there hunting for a bargain. She walks out with a side of beef to put in her last “bargain” purchase-a freezer that she discovers doesn’t work. Now stuck with a freezer full of thawing beef she must return to Foley for help, but even though Foley offers to store the contraband, Andy won’t allow it and instead buys a brand-new freezer.

    [www.zille.com]

    “Aunt Bea, call the man, just call the man!”

  7. maztec says:

    Does not save you bulk if you let things freezer burn and then throw them out.

    Or if you spend too much time looking at the “don’t freeze longer than XYZ” crap . . . most stuff can be frozen easily twice as long, as long as you have it wrapped right and do not keep defrosting it…

  8. EightIsEnough says:

    I live in a rural area 25 miles from shopping…it only makes sense to have lots of freezing (have several) when the costs of bulk buying offset the cost of frequent shopping/travel.

  9. ElizabethD says:

    I miss my second fridge. Our present house doesn’t have room for an extra one.

    Having an extra fridge with freezer, rather than just a freezer, worked best for us. (I inherited the fridge when my parents died. Kept it in our finished basement.) The refrigerator part was great for storing large quantities of juice and other beverages, more apples than our small crisper could accommodate in the kitchen fridge, etc. And I always had boneless chicken breasts, Arnold bread, etc. that I’d buy on sale and defrost as needed. Butter, too.

    Of course, this was when we had 3 hungry kids at home. Now we’re down to one, so we manage pretty well with a single fridge.

  10. dewsipper says:

    My DH wins a lot of meat at target shoots. Our old freezer in the garage is on the fritz (about 4 inches of ice inside and runs constantly). Needless to say, we’re getting a new one in a few weeks. Anyone have thoughts on upright freezer vs chest freezer?

    • Marshfield says:

      @dewsipper: upright freezer vs chest freezer?
      Upright takes less floor space, easier to get at contents.
      Chest freezer keeps cold in better, good if you open it frequently.

      I think stuff gets lost more often in chest freezers.

  11. VA_White says:

    I’ve always had a chest freezer but this one is old and on its last legs. When I get a replacement, I’m getting a small upright.

    Even though it costs a little more to run and doesn’t keep food quite as long, I think that will be offset by the ease of access. Having everything upfront makes it easier to remember what you’ve got in there and easier to rotate older stuff to the front. We’re going to keep it inside to help offset the higher energy costs.

  12. mcjake says:

    I grew up in a family of seven and we had two fridges and full freezer that we kept in the garage. We baught everything in bulk. Meats, cereals, fruits and veggies.

    Now that I’ve grown up it’s just me and my wife and a couple of pets in our apartment. We still buy nearly everything in bulk. And it saves us incredible amounts of money.

  13. LintySoul says:

    What about some solar powered freezers? I just read that United Natural Foods, huge natural foods distributer, had installed four acres of solar panels to power their giant freezer warehouse, keeping a temp of -14… Not that the average consumer needs a giant freezer. I think its a great idea.

  14. ClayS says:

    If you’re buying and freezing meat or fish in bulk, I would highly recommend a vacuum sealer; Foodsaver, Cabelas. Frozen(and refrigerated) foods will keep better much longer.

  15. Dansc29625 says:

    The family just got one the other week, the upright is so nice. The big thing is you may open a freezer once every few days while a freezer part of a fridge you might open ten times a day.

  16. bohemian says:

    We have two. The upright stores things we use frequently like ice cream, bags of veggies, bags of fish, portioned meat. The second one stays turned off most of the time. We start that one up when we get a 1/4 cow or someone gives us bunches of wild game.

  17. GrandizerGo says:

    We have a side by side for the regular everyday stuff, and a full size upright freezer for the longer term stuff…
    We use vacuum bags to store items in.
    Although I tell my mother that Hams and chicken wings don’t do freezing well…
    We have fresh Cod, Haddock, Pollack, Tuna that my brother and I catch that is frozen.
    When people ask for some, we give them the oldest in the freezer first, approximately 2 years old. They all swear that it is better than you can buy in the store…

  18. DrGirlfriend says:

    It’s just my husband and me in our household, and our chest freezer still comes in handy and saves us money. Some things we buy in bulk, but mostly we take advantage of sales. I have been making make-ahead individual meals for a while now, and for while there (pre-summer, as I’m not much of a baker this time of year) I was making extra loaves of bread and freezing them for later, as bread bounces back very well from freezing. Once I finally get a vegetable garden going, I’d love to grow tomatoes and can & freeze them as well. I have to say, our freezer has already saved us a lot of money and has the potential to save us even more. So it’s not just a good investment for families – my 2 person household has benefitted from one as well.

  19. DrGirlfriend says:

    …and I suggest vacuum-sealing bags as well – it keeps your food more protected from freezer-burn for much, much longer. And they come back to life in much better shape than non-sealed.

  20. triggerh says:

    Also, if you don’t want to pay for a vacuum sealer, plastic wrap is your friend. Just wrap the plastic wrap around the piece of meat or whatever and make sure the surface area is well protected (2 layers deep) and then put the item in a plastic bag or wrap it in foil. Things wrapped in plastic wrap will keep much longer than if you just drop it in a normal plastic baggy. Still, vacuum sealing is the best way to go.

    • floraposte says:

      @triggerh: The Lunch in a Box blog has a nice tip–just use a straw to suck the air out of a zip-lock bag. It considerably reduces the air exposure and limits freezer burn. But using the stuff within a few months is best of all.

  21. kittenfoo says:

    If you’re going to do this, you have to be prepared to change your habits, or else you’ll end up throwing out a lot of food. I finally got rid of my freezer after I realized how much forgotten-about frozen food I ended up throwing out. However, for those with gardens, or those with large families who go through lots of food, this could be a great thing to have.

  22. balthisar says:

    Freezer burn shouldn’t be an issue if you don’t have a self-defrosting freezer, and if you have a chest freezer, you don’t really need it to self defrost. It’s not like like a refrigerator-freezer that you’re constantly opening.

  23. mannymix03 says:

    The only problem is that like kittenfoo said, a lot of food is going to get forgotten and then thrown out. And if you live in any area that there are tornado/hurricanes you have to get a generator. Here in florida 2 years ago we threw out a good $200 worth of frozen food when our power was out for a week. Though the first couple of days were fun trying to salvage all the food we could eat.

  24. puka_pai says:

    We have a regular fridge with a top freezer and an upright out in the garage. Our rule is the inside freezer is for opened packages (like half-bags of veggies) and breakfast food, since nobody wants to pad out to the garage first thing in the morning. We keep a list on the fridge of what’s in the freezer and cross things off as we use them, so nothing disappears for years.

    Another tip for saving money on groceries: Find out where your store keeps its markdown items and hit there first. Also, find out when they mark stuff down and plan to shop then. The bakery usually does it at the end of the day and puts it out the next morning, whereas the meat department might do it at 8pm and have it in the cooler for the rest of the day. I’ve gotten ribeye steaks recently for $3/lb and gallons of organic milk for $2.

  25. quail says:

    I remember my parents got scammed back in the 70’s with a meat club. Part of the spiel was you bought into the club, got a freezer from the club, and then you got half a cow or something. They got the freezer, they got the meat, and they discovered that they paid more for their freezer than a comparable model at Sears would’ve run.

  26. BiZarRroBALlmeR says:

    Uhh, how much does a freezer cost a year to run?

  27. neilb says:

    I got a 15-to-20 year old Kenmore off a classified ad. The door fits on funny, but seals well. It is clean and the lines/compressor look great.

    It costs about $250/yr to run (according to the Kill-a-watt).
    That is just around 2300 KWH at about 11c/KWH. Our electricity (Toledo) is a bit pricier than the national average though.

    We love our frozen local produce, side of beef, and ability to pick up specials when we can. It has done wonders for our ability to eat locally (and well!).

    NOTE 1: The old R12 systems (like mine) will likely have a far longer life than the newer “CFC-free” fridges, if kept clean. R12 just works well–it lubricates itself, unlike R134.
    NOTE 2: Have a back-up plan in case your freezer goes out. My $40 freezer had (at one point) at least $800 of food in it (after buying a side of beef).

  28. elanne says:

    This, unfortunately, doesn’t make sense. Fact is, it is really time to get away from freezers. If you live anywhere where power outages are possible (and who doesn’t?), it is time to rethink the whole food storage approach.

    -Buy non perishable items in bulk.
    -Look into other methods of food preserving (canning still works).
    We need to get away from energy using appliances as much as possible (even if they are energy star).

    • shepd says:

      @elanne: Most chest freezers stay cold for at least 24 hours if not opened during a power outage. If you are having multi-day power outages often enough to make this a worry, buy a generator. Or, better yet, figure out some other, less prone to downtime, way of getting electricity!

      Where I am electricity is cheap enough (5.5 cents/kwh) that the non-energy-star freezer I just bought came with an energuide rating that says it will cost me (after working it out) about $21/year. This makes sense, as my hydro company quotes $0.60 – $1.13 / month cost for a deep freezer.

      Energy using appliances are great. They keep food safe! Canning is not going to let me preserve a T-Bone steak!