I've posted on the usefulness of full-size freezers before, but the recent severe uptick in consumer food prices suggests another look at freezers.
Someone asked me at what point the cost of buying and running a freezer gets paid for, and is there really any savings to the consumer. Let's see. Sears Kenmore products are highly rated. They recently had an upright freezer, 22 cubic feet, on sale for $547, tax already included in this price. It's Energy Star Efficiency rated, and the cost to run is approximately $51 per year. That puts the cost of the freezer at $598 for year one of ownership. So, for that first year, how much does that freezer have to save you in order to pay for itself? Approximately $50 a month, or about $12.50 a week. That $12.50 a week is a truly doable figure, especially since having a large freezer allows you to expand your notions of what you can freeze. In the second and subsequent years of ownership the only cost is to run the freezer--$51 dollars. That's about $4.65 a month, a figure that a freezer can save you many times over.
Corn has become an expensive food to purchase. Before Pesach corn was selling at 4 small ears for $4.95. It's in season now and the stores have it at anywhere from 4 for $1.00 to 6 for $1.00. One store ran a special this morning at 12 for $1.99. The catch was that you had to buy 12 in order to get the price. What if you can't use that much corn before it starts to get below par? That's where the freezer comes in. I bought 24 ears of corn. The time for blanching the corn (necessary before freezing it) was 21 minutes for three batches of 8. The corn was medium and large in size. The mediums were packed together and the larges were broken in half, still producing a nice sized portion. Those 24 ears of corn made 8 frozen meal packages. In the freezer section of the store 4 frozen ears of corn, small, were $2.99 a package. A package of 24 tiny half-ears was $6.99, the equivalent of 12 small fresh ears for $7.00. The cost of 8 family servings of corn I froze myself? $3.98. The cost if I would have bought them from the store? $23.92. A $20.00 savings.
Still not convinced. Milk prices are going, going, gone. We happen to like a milk that is generally termed as fat free plus--it's skim milk that has been fortified so that it has the feel and taste of full-fat milk without the fat and with extra calcium and Vitamin D. The price has gone sky high. Some markets sell the Tuscan brand at between $4.29 and $4.99 a half gallon. The Skinny Cow brand sells in the range of $3.69 to 4.29 a half gallon. We're average milk drinkers here and 1 to 2 half gallons go a week easily. Even at the lowest usual price that is $7.38 in milk per week. Today the Skinny Cow was on sale at 2 for $5. I bought 8 and put them in the freezer. I have at least a month's worth of milk at a savings this month of $10 on milk alone. Not to mention not having to worry about running out of milk. And it freezes without any loss of texture or taste or nutrition.
Most supermarkets sell Empire chicken. And heavens knows it comes with enough different hechshers on it to make most people happy. A few weeks ago I was in a market that I don't usually shop in but I found myself in the vicinity of and stopped just to see what might be on special. I hit the jackpot. Food products come with "Don't Sell Past" dates on them. This is not the last date of use but the last date the store can sell the products. The last sale date for the Empire chicken in that store was for the next day, a Saturday, but I guess the manager knew that the people who buy the chicken wouldn't be in the store. First the store reduced the price to $1.69 a pound. Then they put a $2.00 off per package manager special sticker on each package. Basically, a 3-1/2 pound chicken ended up costing $3.90 for the package. The average cost before the sale for those same chickens was $8.50 to $9.00 I bought the 13 chickens available for a savings of about $75-80 dollars.
In just two weeks I saved enough on three purchases to pay for over two years of electrical usage for my freezer. And what I've mentioned are not the only things I managed to save on. Or look at it this way--I cut my food bills by $110 for this month just on these items.
Shopping smart + a freezer used right can equal savings, convenience and a way to cope with the food price blues. You might want to give freezers another look if you've "resisted" buying them before.
Oh, and the frosting on the cake today? It's BBQ season coming up and light hot dog buns were 3 for $2.19 for a package of 8 instead of $2.19 each, a savings of $4.38. The freezer is "eating" well today.
You may be able to save money up front in using a large freezer but quality also has to be considered. I've never found anything other than ice cream that is as good frozen as it is fresh. If it doesn't taste good or right then people won't want to eat it and then you end up throwing it out, so where is the savings in money?
My experience has been different Laura. But you have to know how to use a freezer. Food that hasn't been packaged right for freezing or packages that have been left for months or years beyond the best use by date are not going to be good eating. But if you package correctly and if you put on a label with the date (large enough so you can see it clearly when you open the freezer) then there should be no difference in taste. You need to remember that when you are putting things in the freezer you need to put the newer things towards the back and move the old things towards the front. It's really about getting used to including the freezer as part of the way you shop and cook.
It happens to be that I strongly dislike defrosted milk, because in my experience it just doesn't come out the same. However, I wouldn't mind buying and freezing other things. When I get married, I'll have to look into getting a good freezer. :)
Scraps, it depends on which type of milk. The milks with more solids in them have to be shaken up really well after you defrost them because the solids settle down towards the bottom. Shaken mixes them back into all the milk.
I'm more than certain I've saved two years worth of electricity in just the past 3 months. I got a loss leader my husband insists on having for $0.70 less a package. Since I bought 30 packages, that is $21 saved. I got meat on special that we regularly use for $1 less a pound. I'm not sure how many pounds I bought, but I believe it was 20 , so there is $20 more.
Then there are the savings I can't quantify as easily. I regularly pick up produce past its prime, take it home and make an entire stockpot of soup. I did this twice in the past two weeks. Shavout is taken care of and so are a lot of Shabbats. I bought the produce for next to nothings, e.g. a bag of 12 huge tomatoes for $2.50 and some sweet potatoes for a dollar which also were made into soup.
And, the real unquantifiable is the "shopping around" factor. Gas is super pricey and time has value too. If I am going to save money I need to make it as easy as possible. I don't run to a bunch of stores every week, but I do hit a store when there is something really valuable for me and then I can stop thinking about that thing for a while.
I think a freezer is a necessity for anyone with a large family and a lot of little kids. Going shopping with 6 kids along and having to do that 2 or 3 times a week used to make me crazy. I spent more time watching the kids then watching the prices. And they all wanted everything they saw on the shelves. Now I shop only once a week and without the kids. Takes me less time and costs me less money. I use the freezer a lot so that I don't run out of things I need and that we eat.
Sorry I forgot to add that because I have the freezer I can get case prices from some of the stores and those are a lot cheaper then buying one piece at a timel.
Tehila you are so right. If you have to shop with little kids you pay more just to get out of the store still sane. The freezer helps me too to not have to shop as often and to get a better price on things I use a lot of and can have in the house.
I'm one of those who always thought that things from the freezer just didn't taste right (based on my mothers old icebox). I'm also cheap, sorry thrifty, so I am looking in to getting one of the new freezers. My wife is in shock because she's been after me for years. She jokingly asked me if there was another woman involved so I sent her to your blog. She says to say thank you to you.
ProfK stares into a mirror trying to decide whether she is pleased or not at being the "other woman" in a husband, wife, freezer, blogster liaison. Since the wife is happy, she'll accept the designation, but please, let's not spread it around.
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