SUPER-COUPONING: A second freezer enables additional stock-up storage

SUPER-COUPONING: A second freezer enables additional stock-up storage

Jill Cataldo

Dear Jill,

I am considering purchasing a second freezer. I'd like your thoughts on whether this is worth the investment and if the costs of it will save me money in the long run. I'm thinking it would be nice to stock up on meats and other frozen foods.

Nancy U.

While I realize that not everyone has space for a second freezer, if you do have room for one, it can be a fantastic way to save money on perishable foods. When I was a child, my parents had a chest freezer in our basement, so I grew up understanding that the “big freezer” was for anything that my mom got on sale or was too large to store in our refrigerator’s attached freezer.

After I got married and became an avid couponer, I realized how beneficial having a second freezer would be to my family. While it’s not always easy to find coupons for ground beef, pork tenderloin or fish fillets, it’s easy to play the sales-cycle game and purchase these kinds of things when prices are low. A second freezer gives you plenty of space to stock up on frozen foods, and then you can plan meals around what’s in the freezer versus what’s on sale this week.

For example, in my area, pork chops go on sale for 99 cents per pound about once every three months. Outside of that great sale, I will see them on sale for $2.99 or $3.99 per pound — three and four times the best price I know I can purchase them for. By buying multiple packages when the price is low, then storing them in my freezer, I’m able to save quite a bit of money.

I also like taking advantage of seasonal sales on different meats and seafood. During Lent, we traditionally see some of the lowest sale prices for fish fillets, shellfish, and other seafood products. Around Thanksgiving, turkeys sell for 39 cents per pound — a steal! I stock up on these and store them in my freezer too to eat at a later date.

You do not need a huge freezer to enjoy the benefits of having some extra freezer space. I have a five cubic foot chest freezer, which is a little smaller than a washer or dryer. Freezers this size retail for around $150. My freezer’s Energy Star rating estimates that it costs $26 per year to run. That’s just $2.16 per month on my electric bill — I know I save much more than that by being able to stock up on low-priced foods when they are on sale.

If you’re in the market for a freezer, you’ll notice that manual defrost freezers typically cost less than those with automatic defrost. However, manual defrost freezers are more useful for long-term food storage, as they lack the warming elements that heat the freezer’s perimeter to prevent frost.

This warming-and-cooling cycle is what’s responsible for ice crystals growing on top of your ice cream carton and freezer burn on meats — problems I never experience when ice cream is stored in my manual defrost freezer! If you keep the freezer relatively full, you may not need to defrost it often at all.

With a second freezer, you can also take advantage of seasonal sales. Did you know that March is National Frozen Foods Month each year? We tend to see lower-than-average prices on all kinds of freezer foods during March. Some supermarkets even have sales on compact chest freezers! My supermarket offered the freezer for $150, and it also came with free-product coupons for $150 worth of frozen food. Is there any better time to buy a freezer than during a “Buy Freezer, Get Food Free” sale?

If you’re crunched for space or lack a basement, you may have room for a second freezer in the garage. My chest freezer stays in our Chicagoland garage year-round, so during the winter months, its compressor doesn’t run very often at all — likely saving our household even more money!

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The Savor the South Shore - Restaurant Weeks event starts Feb. 17 and runs through March 1. The event highlights menus from more than 30 Region restaurants. Savor the South Shore is presented by The South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority and stars eclectic eateries in Northwest Indiana and their assorted lunch and dinner menus.

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