With all of that extra frozen storage space with a chest freezer, you can be sure to have all the ingredients you’ll need on hand for any special dietary need. You can buy meat, nuts, flours and other foods in bulk to save money and store them in your freezer until use. To save time, cooking in large batches and freezing makes dinnertime fast and easy. With the extra freezer space, you can always have nourishing meals on hand.
From a quick post I made on Facebook about my new chest freezer, I received many responses and questions from clients and friends. I’ve been asked to share my research and experience.
Chest Freezers vs. Upright Freezers
At first, uprights are intriguing—namely, it is so much easier to store food on shelves and find things and are no-frost. However, for many other reasons chest freezers are the way to go.
Chest freezers are more energy efficient. I have a 7.2 cu ft. freezer by Frigidaire and it’s estimated to cost $30/year to run it! Cold air sinks, so when you open the door of an upright, you’ll notice the cold air come down and out toward your feet. When you open the lid of a chest freezer, the cold air sinks mostly in and toward the bottom of the freezer, saving energy.
During a power outage, a chest freezer will keep food frozen for 3 days, where as an upright is only 1 day. Unless you have a backup generator, this is important so your food doesn’t go bad.
Capacity in a chest freezer is significantly better. While the shelves of an upright are convenient, they do not provide an efficient use of space.
While you may be initially turned off by a freezer that needs manual defrosting, there are significant advantages that make it worthwhile. Freezer burn is dehydration, due to exposure to air. No-frost (upright) freezers pull the moisture out of the freezer to keep ice from building up, but this promotes freezer burn, particularly with non-airtight packaging. Wrapping your food is important but the freezer you choose is important as well.
Storing in the freezer
It’s best to store in manufacturer sealed packaging like some meat comes in. If it’s not air-tight, wrap it in freezer paper or plastic wrap (if you choose), then in a ziplock-style freezer bag.
Butter freezes perfectly, so you can buy butter for making ghee and freeze it. You can save 50% or more doing this. Staples like nuts and flour store well in the freezer when stored in an airtight bag. Soups, stews, stocks, and other homemade food store very well in the freezer. (Yes, you can store in glass, as long as you leave room at the top so the container doesn’t break.) On the other hand, yogurt and potatoes do not store well in the freezer—yogurt separates and potatoes have a mushy texture (although I don’t mind this and freeze stews with potato frequently).
Label food and when you froze it – I typically do this on the freezer bag. Keep an inventory of what goes into the freezer and mark it off when you use it. This will help you keep track of what you have.
Organizing the Freezer
With a chest freezer, there is a lot of room but everything is piled on top of each other. Use the wire basket for things you need to use first or small items. I organize the rest with in bags. I use Eco Bags that are made with a netting of string – so air circulation is not affected—and I group like foods together. This way I can pull out two bags of frozen food and get to what’s at the bottom. Place newer items at the bottom if possible.
Chest freezers will hold 20-30 lbs or more of meat per cubic foot. Depending on your needs, a 7 cubic ft freezer is often sufficient for a family of 4. After researching on Consumer Reports and other sites, I found the 7 cu ft. GE and Frigidaire freezers to be two good entry-level options for around $200. I have one and have a good friend with the other. I’ve heard good things about both.
Extras. You may want to think of getting a few extras (either built into your unit or purchased separately), particularly a lock for safety with children, and an alarm if the temperature rises too high. You also may want to consider a back up generator if you have a large investment of food in your freezer.
My chest freezer is one of the best investments I’ve made to make my kitchen life easier.