Choosing the Right Size Home Freezer for a Frugal Family

by Reader Contributors

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Choosing the right size home freezer is easy with these tips. Read on to determine what freezer size is right for your frugal family.

Dear Dollar Stretcher,
Do your readers have any tips or guidelines on how to select the right size home freezer for your family? I’m in the market for a freezer, but trying to decide the size has me in a quandary.

How Did You Choose the Right Size Home Freezer for Your Frugal Family?

We asked our frugal readers the steps they took to figure out what size home freezer to buy. Read on for their recommendations for choosing the right size home freezer for your frugal family.

Buy a Used Freezer if Possible

When I had several children at home and a large garden every year, I needed a large (21 cubic feet) freezer. After the children left home, I sold the large one and bought a small (9 cubic feet) freezer. It has plenty of room for two people. The small freezer was bought second hand almost 20 years ago and is still working fine. Whatever size you choose, look for a used freezer before you spend hundreds for a new one.

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Consider What You Want to Freeze

It depends on what you want to freeze. If you want to freeze a whole side of beef, then you may want a 14-cubic-foot freezer. If it is to be strictly an extension of your refrigerator/freezer, then 5 cubic feet may be enough.

The other factor to consider is the size that will fit. A 10-cubic-foot freezer and smaller can be the depth of kitchen counters. I got a 10-cubic-foot freezer because it was energy efficient and had two rows of baskets, which I appreciated because I’m so short. It took two months for my freezer to come in this summer, but it was well worth the wait. The new ones are so light weight, too. Save money on delivery and pick it up yourself (with a friend).

If you choose a 7-cubic-foot freezer or smaller and it turns out to be too small, it is an easy size to resell.

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A Chest Freezer is Recommended

The best freezer to buy according to Consumer Reports is the chest-style freezer. I have three freezers. One is the chest type and two are upright. Friends who were moving and did not want to take them along gave two of these to us. The most practical solution for the upright freezers is for the storage of packaged frozen goods. In the event of a power failure, the upright will not stay cold as long as the chest freezer. Therefore, we store our meats and other more expensive perishables in the chest freezer. Obviously, it is more difficult to see what is in the chest freezer, so I have a write on/wipe off board on the side. I keep track of the contents of all my freezers this way.

To make any freezer more energy efficient, if there is unused space, use old bleach bottles. They have never broken in all the years we have been using them. Fill them about 3/4 full with water and put them in any unused space. The freezer will not have to cycle as often if it is full. When the space is needed for frozen food, just put the bottles beside the freezer for future use.

I also keep one old packing blanket for each freezer in a plastic bag on top of one of the uprights. I got these for $1 each at a moving-storage facility. In the event of a power outage, I put the blanket over them to keep them cool and to prevent the kids from needlessly opening them.

You will find that the opportunity to stock up on sale items and being able to have a source of last minute meals will be worth the investment and the freezers will pay for themselves in no time.
Linda, Lawrenceville, Ga.

Base Freezer Footage on Size of Household

I have a fairly large upright freezer at my house because my husband does a lot of big game hunting, and on “slow” years, we buy one-half of a beef or more. I also like to have room to take advantage of frozen vegetable and poultry sales and surplus from the garden. (See A Grocery Stockpiling Guide: How and When to Save.)

I have worked at a retail furniture and appliance store for the last 20 years and this is the information I found.

A cubic foot of freezer space holds about 35 pounds of food. Some manufacturers suggest you calculate 1.5 cubic feet of space for each person eating at home. For energy efficiency, a freezer should be kept at least two-thirds full.

If you are not able to keep your freezer 2/3 full, then you should freeze water in leftover milk containers. I would also suggest you buy a newer model versus an old model from someone. The newer models are much more energy efficient. Of course, it will be up to you to decide if you prefer an upright or a chest. I would also recommend a manual defrost. You don’t have to defrost very often and a self-defrost model tends to dry everything out.

Reviewed March 2022

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