Frugal NationFrugal Nation

Why you need a freezer

It hasn't hurt my electric bill. But it's had an impact elsewhere.

By Donna_Freedman Jun 4, 2012 7:23PM

Image: Groceries (© Jeffrey Hamilton/Getty Images/Getty Images)Almost four years ago I bought a 5.5-cubic-foot chest freezer. I live in a small apartment with just a sliver of kitchen, so I had to put the freezer in the bedroom. It makes a great valet.

The freezer hasn't noticeably affected my electric bills. But it sure has had an impact on my grocery budget.

When whole fryers are advertised for 89 cents a pound, I'll buy six. If I find 99-cent multigrain bread at the bakery outlet, I'll put three or four loaves on ice. Frozen peas, corn and mixed vegetables regularly go on sale; when they do, I get 10 or 12 packages at a time.

When wild blackberries ripen, I'll freeze quarts of them to mix with my homemade yogurt. I freeze butter, margarine and even milk when they go on sale. When I find great deals in the "used meat" section, I stock up.

Back in 2008 my freezer cost about $180. I still see freezers advertised for $200 or less. In my opinion, they're a great way to bring down food costs.

Amy Dacyczyn, the author of the "Tightwad Gazette" newsletters and books, noted that freezers allow for long-term storage of bulk and on-sale items and for items donated by friends who garden. Both singles and families would not only save money but eat "a healthier, more varied diet."

Another reason for freezin'

It isn't just the chance to stock up on loss-leader products that saves you money, however. Having lots of food in the freezer (and cupboards) means fewer shopping trips.

That not only saves gas, it forestalls the chance for impulse buys. Ever run to the store for bread for tomorrow's lunches and wind up buying a bag of chips, too? (Post continues after video.)

A well-stocked freezer means there's always something to cook. Even if some of that is convenience food, nuking a frozen pizza is cheaper than ordering one. (It's cheaper still if you bought it on sale and/or used a coupon.)


If you do buy takeout? Freeze what you don't eat, rather than leaving it in the refrigerator. It will make a great brown bag lunch or solo supper a couple of weeks from now when you’re in a hurry or too tired to cook.

And a stand-alone freezer is a great help for those who practice batch cooking. Imagine having a month's worth of entrees wrapped, dated and frozen.

More ways to save

"Dated" is the operative word. "Unidentified frozen objects" can be a big money waster, according to blogger Kelly Hancock. If you don't know what's in that frosted-over container, you might pass it over; if it's there long enough, it could wind up being tossed out.

Hancock, who blogs at Faithful Provisions, suggests using a black permanent marker to label all wrappings and containers with date plus contents. That way you'll be sure to use up the broth and meat from last year's Christmas turkey before Thanksgiving rolls around. (For more of Hancock's tips, see her "Using your freezer" post.)

A few more money-saving ideas:

Readers: Do you have a freezer? How much has it saved you?

More on MSN Money:

Jun 5, 2012 9:44AM
You can also get freezers "for free" sometimes through the local grocery stores. It is a couponing thing,  It costs around $200, but you get $200 worth of grocery coupons (for free products). I haven't done it yet, but I know people who have and they were very happy with it.
Jun 6, 2012 3:40PM
I too live alone. I bought my freezer about 15 years ago. I buy and freeze lots of seasonal produce. Until I move 18 months ago I had access to a fabulous meat market that had great sales. But you had to buy in quantity. I keep old milk jugs filled with water or bags of ice cubes when the contents get low. It helps with the energy use if the freezer stays full. Although I can't say that I could ever see any difference in my electric bill.

I love your writing Donna.

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Donna Freedman's Frugal Nation blog is for readers who want to live cheaply -- whether due to necessity or a lifestyle choice. It explores living sustainably and making life more meaningful at the same time.


Donna Freedman

Donna Freedman, a writer based in Anchorage, Alaska, writes the Frugal Nation blog for MSN Money. She won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. Donna also writes about the frugal life for her own site, Surviving and Thriving.