Save grocery costs by buying a freezer

Buying food in bulk is a good idea if you can afford the initial, up-front cost. But then what to do with all of the food that won't fit in your refrigerator or freezer?

Buy a stand-alone freezer. You'll save money on grocery sales and at warehouse club deals. But only if you use what's in the freezer. Filling it and forgetting it defeats the purpose.

Here are some tips on how to buy a freezer and how to use it best, according to a MarketWatch story:

  • Estimate the amount of capacity needed and if it should be an upright or chest model. Freezers range from 5 cubic feet to 18 cubic feet and more. Upright freezers are more convenient to get in and see what's there, while chests are more energy efficient. With chest freezers, be careful that things migrate to the bottom or people take things from the top. Chest freezers stay colder longer without electricity during a power outage.
  • Decide on a self-defrost freezer or a manual-defrost model. Manual ones are usually more efficient and quieter, but can take 24 hours to defrost. Buy a freezer thermometer to ensure it runs at 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • When buying things in bulk, break them down to usable portions so you don't waste food.
  • Keep an inventory of what's inside. There's no use in buying fruits in season and making applesauce, for example, only to forget it in the freezer.

That may be the biggest problem about owning a freezer -- there's so much inside that you forget what's there and don't use it soon enough.

The good news for freezer sellers is that while big-ticket purchases are down during the recession, shipments of home freezers were up 5% in 2008. Someone must be storing a lot of food out there.

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