My mom is a fabulous chef. Every time I call her, it seems she has to get off the phone to put something in the oven, take something out of the oven, turn something, knead something, frost or garnish something. Yet her available freezer space does not reflect her passion. So I've been researching deep freezers to see if we can upgrade Mom's storage capacity.

If you love to cook like my mom does, read on to learn an easy formula to help you decide if adding a deep freezer to your household is a cost-effective purchase—as well as some handy tips for how to freeze different items for best results.

The costs of a deep freezer

The goal of purchasing a deep freezer is to save money over the long-term. As such, evaluating these elements will help you decide if your purchase will be justified.

  • The cost of the freezer itself.
  • The cost of the electricity it will take to run it.
  • The amount of useable space it will take up in your house or garage.
  • How much you will use the extra capacity it provides.

Average deep freezer costs:

Life expectancy will vary by the model and year (the newer models are more energy-efficient but have smaller compressors, which reduces lifespan). A new deep freezer can last 10 years; a pre-Energy Star deep freezer may triple that life expectancy, but at a higher energy cost per month.

  • Average new deep freezer cost (larger upright model): $850
  • Average new deep freezer cost (smaller chest model): $250

Average electricity costs:

Use this Energy Star calculator to determine specific costs by state and model.

  • Upright freezer: An average-size unit will cost around $93/year ($7.75/month).
  • Chest freezer: An average-size unit will cost around $46/year ($3.83/month).

Calculate your break-even

Of course, there’s an initial cash outlay to invest in a deep freezer. Here’s how to calculate what you need to save per month to make the investment worthwhile.

  • Deep freezer cost (by month over the lifespan) + monthly energy cost = $$ savings

Example: Let's say you buy a new model upright deep freezer with a 10-year lifespan.

  • You will have it for 120 months (10 * 12). Divide $850/120 = $7.08 per month cost.
  • You will spend $7.75 per month in electrical costs to run it.
  • $7.08 + $7.75 = $14.83 is what you need to save monthly in food costs to break even.

What to do: You can juggle this formula by varying freezer size, life expectancy and energy costs to find your personal break-even. 

Find the (frozen) savings

Now, how does buying a deep freezer help you save cash? In a nutshell, by helping you capitalize on ingredients when the price is right and freeze meals for the future!

  • First, you need to be aware of when the price is right to stockpile an item (KCL's Stock-Up Price Sheet can help here).
  • Next, you need to know which stockpile ingredients do well in deep freeze: fresh or flash-frozen fruits and veggies, meats and fish, dairy products.
  • Finally, you need to look at your cooking style: if you cook up to a week or a month ahead, you can cook when ingredients are cheapest and then freeze the finished meals for later.

Other (unexpected) ways a deep freezer helps you save:

  • Because you have ingredients on hand, you don't end up making extra "impulse purchases" when you run to the store to get that-thing-you-ran-out-of.
  • You save on time and gas because you don't need to shop so often.
  • You can cash in on unexpected windfall savings because you have the extra space.

Handy how-to-freeze tips

Once you have your new deep freezer home and ready for action, you can start using these tips right away to make the most of your newfound storage capacity—and its potential for grocery savings!

Freezing dairy products:

Freezing produce:

Freezing meat & protein:

How to freeze prepared ingredients & meals:

P.S. Be sure to visit KCL's whole "How to Freeze" series on Pinterest!

How a Deep Freezer Can Help You Save Cash