Chest vs Upright Freezers

This is the sum of my research into what to look for when deciding on a standalone freezer. Chest versus Upright? I'll help you decide!

Read More

Best Mini Freezer List of 2017

Here's my Top 3 Mini Freezers of 2017! These chest freezers are in the compact category, and are perfect for small families.

Read More

Upright Freezer : My Buying Guide

Here are the Top 5 Upright Freezers for 2017, mostly in the compact category. Make the right investment for your family!

Read More

Frozen Food Recipes That Taste Great and Are Easy to Cook!

One trepidation people seem to have about freezing meals is that it will detract from the taste. This isn’t necessarily true! There are a ton of great frozen food recipes that are healthy, budget-friendly, and taste delicious. Here is my compilation of some excellent frozen food recipe resources to try out when you are meal prepping for your family.

Best Dinner Recipes

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime – Comfort Classics, Freezer Food, 16-minute Meals, and Other Delicious Ways to Solve Supper

This cookbook has some excellent recipes for Dinner recipes for your family. It’s a very practical book with no exotic ingredients required for the recipes, which I really appreciate. It has a lot of “down home” type of cooking, so basically classic American suppers like Oven Barbecue Chicken, Beef with Snow Peas, Mexican Tortilla Casserole, and my favorite: Ready-to-Cook Freezer Meatballs.

Frozen food recipes such as these meatballs are awesome!

Meatballs straight from the freezer…Mmmmm…

For CrockPot Enthusiasts:

Freezer Meals: 39 Gluten Free Meals From Freezer To Crockpot Plus Shopping List To Save Time And Money-Cook On A Budget And Eliminate Gluten … Cooking, Freezer Crockpot Meals) (Volume 6)

For Crockpot enthusiasts (who are also trying to eat Gluten-Free), this cookbook is an excellent collection of frozen food recipes with instructions for how to prepare in a Crockpot. I’m a huge fan of this way of cooking because I can wake up, grab a prepped dinner for my family out of the freezer, empty into a crockpot and set the temperature and a timer. Then go about my day, and typically for slow-cooked recipes it is ready around 5pm. Perfect!

Recipes in this book include Apple Pork Roast, Sweet Potato Stew, and Cuban Ropa Vieja (try this one…seriously).

Frozen Food recipes often involve a crockpot

For Casserole Lovers

The Casserole Queens Cookbook: Put Some Lovin’ in Your Oven with 100 Easy One-Dish Recipes

The simplicity of the recipes in this cookbook are why I like it a lot. Casseroles are awesome. Chop up a bunch of stuff, shove it into a baking dish, and bake in the oven. Boom! Your family is fed. This is a well-organized cook book of frozen food recipes that are designed for oven preparation.

Frozen Food Recipes like casseroles are tasty!

Cheesy bean and corn casserole! Cheap and tasty.

Mini Fridge and Mini Freezer in One?! Yes.

Mini fridge or mini freezer? You can have both…

My home office is my sanctuary. It’s where I can shut the door and focus on my work, free from the constant and repetitive distractions of my family. I love them but having that sanctuary to focus on my work is important to me! It actually makes me a better husband and father as working in my sanctuary helps me recharge my batteries and look forward to being with my family again when the work is finished.

A mini fridge completes this picture...

What’s missing here? A mini fridge…

Here’s the challenge, though: the second I step out of the home office I’m hit with SOMETHING, every time. My daughter has a question. My son has a question. My wife has a favor to ask. I love them but these interruptions set me back in my focus on the current project.

So my goal has become to figure out how to stay in my office for long chunks of time. This means: a) I installed a half bathroom in it (for the win!), and b) I am fully self-sufficient with food by having mini fridge. But it’s not just any mini fridge. It’s a mini fridge and mini freezer all-in-one! How cool is that?

Spoiler Alert: This is the model I recommend at the end of this post: EdgeStar 1.1 Cu. Ft. Convertible Refrigerator or Freezer w/ Lock – Stainless Steel

The benefits of having a convertible mini fridge/freezer are:

  • During normal business hours I keep it stocked with refrigerated items such as bottled water, fruit, yogurt, hummus, and vegetables (yeah, I’m a health nut…gotta look good for the beach!)
  • When I am going to be out of the office/not working for a long weekend or for a trip, I switch it to freezer mode to preserve everything inside.
  • It has a LOCK so that my curious son can’t get in there! Because sometimes daddy likes to keep a few IPAs in there at a cold temperature to reward himself 😉

This way I don’t have to empty the mini fridge every time I’m going to be out of town. I just flip a switch to preserve its contents.

Which Mini Fridge / Freezer Combo to Buy?

I highly recommend the model below from EdgeStar. Why? Because:

  1. It is just 1.1 cubic feet of interior capacity. Perfect for a personal-use mini fridge.
  2. It has a LOCK!
  3. It converts to a freezer as mentioned above.
  4. EdgeStar is a very reputable brand that backs its products with a great warranty and customer service.
  5. It looks slick with a stainless steel exterior.
  6. It is a great value buy, being very energy efficient for its size and class.

 

Freezer Food Storage Strategy and Family Fun!

Buying a freezer may seem like a costly luxury in your kitchen’s arsenal of appliances. I thought so, too. That was until at the end of 2016 I sat down and analyzed how my family spent money during the year. With a wife, two small kids, and a dog, our food bill was shocking. We don’t even eat out much, but what we were spending on groceries was eating into our ability to take vacations or pay for much needed home improvements.

So I decided to completely overhaul the way my family consumed food. I did not want to sacrifice their nutrition intake or health to save a few bucks. However, I realized that I needed to figure out how to make everybody happy and healthy without making my wallet un-happy.

So here’s what I did:

I broke down how much we were spending per month in these different food categories:

  1. Meat (beef, poultry, lunch meat, bacon, etc.)
  2. Carbs (bread, rice, etc.)
  3. Fruits
  4. Vegetables
  5. Beverages
  6. Condiments

I identified the categories of food we could start buying in bulk in order to save money. It ended up being primarily meat and vegetables.

I visited all of my grocery store options to figure out what items I could really save on by buying in bulk. With an Executive Costco membership (which I highly recommend! Pays for itself with 2% back rebate each year), I realized that buying big bags of frozen chicken, for example, would save me significantly versus buying smaller packages from Safeway.

Costco Executive Membership is Worth It!

2% Rebate Annually plus Bulk Savings Makes the Costco Executive Membership a No Brainer!

I ponied up and bought two standalone freezers:

  • A large Upright Freezer to store large quantities of big-packaged bulk items
  • A small Chest Freezer to organize each month with serving-sized meals that my family could quickly thaw and cook.
  • I designated Sunday as my FOOD PREP DAY. I enlisted help from my wife and kids and made it a family activity! Here’s what we’d do:
    • Go to the store (if needed) to replenish bulk items if the upright freezer (long term storage) was running low.
    • Sit down and make a list of meals we’d like to have for lunch and dinner (breakfast is cereal or eggs for us…easy!).
    • Break up into teams (2 people each) and cook the meals for the week.
    • Separate meals into serving sizes of 4 (for one bag = one family meal)
    • Label and place into chest freezer (short term/weekly storage)

This is so much fun for my family, and it’s win/win. I have been saving a ton of money by planning and prepping meals this way. Also, my kids and wife get involved and we make it competitive to see who can come up with new, creative recipes with the ingredients on hand!

Soon I’ll write about our top recipes so far…hint: shredded pork enchiladas are way up the list…

freezer ready shredded pork enchiladas

Shredded pork for the win!

 

Organized Freezer is Pure Bliss

An organized freezer is a beautiful thing to behold! There’s nothing I dislike more than digging through my freezer looking at bags of unidentifiable green, brown, and red “stuff” wondering what the bags contain, what the expiration dates are, and if I’ll be accidentally poisoning my family if I thaw one out and cook it…

That’s why I have a system in place to that I’ll share with you to help you Organize Your Freezer!

Here are my Top 5 Ways to Organize Your Freezer:

5. Vacuum Seal Produce in Bags

This accomplishes two things: it saves space and it allows you to see the produce for quick identification.

vacuum seal frozen food to preserve freshness

4. Use Plastic Milk Crates for Organizing Your Chest Freezer

This is a must for an organized freezer, especially if you’re organizing your chest freezer. Try to obtain different sizes so that you can customize how the chest freezer is organized. Separate your food into whatever categories make sense. I sort by Meat, Poultry, Seafood, Produce, etc.

Personally, I just bought a Sterilite 16928006 Storage Crate, White, 6-Pack on Amazon to organize my chest freezer.

milk crates create an organized freezer

 

3. Freeze in Serving Size Portions

Thawing out 10 pounds of chicken in order to cook 2 pounds for dinner leaves you with 8 pounds of thawed chicken. You don’t want to refreeze it, so now you’re either eating chicken for every meal this week or wasting food. Instead, freeze food in serving sizes for one or two people, and thaw as needed. This includes condiments or sauces, too.

freeze food in serving size portions

2. LABEL EVERYTHING! 

An organized freezer requires labels. Place an outward facing label on all items in your freezer, containing the following info:

  • Name
  • Quantity
  • Date Frozen
  • Best Used By Date

Trust me. This eliminates guesswork and TONS of frustration.

label frozen food is essential for an organized freezer

 

1. Use Wood to Create Separators in Your Chest Freezer

Cut plywood or “one-by” pieces to create separate compartments in your chest freezer. This eliminates digging and shuffling through freezing bags to find what you want. Again, separate food by whatever categories make it easiest for you.

wooden crates are helpful for an organized freezer

 

Best Mini Freezer Options of 2017

A Mini Freezer is an excellent appliance to own, and are investments that pay for themselves. Storing frozen food in bulk for your family is a great way to save money on your grocery bill in 2017.

But what size should you buy? How much space do you actually need? Try to estimate the amount of food you’ll need to freeze and store for your family in the future. The industry standard is to allow for 1.5 cubic feet per family member. Give yourself a wide margin, in case you purchase some items in bulk that require freezing. The most common mini freezer sizes are:

  • Compact (5 cubic feet)
  • Small (6 to 9 cubic feet)
  • Medium (12 to 18 cubic feet)
  • Large (18 to 25 cubic feet)

This is my list of the best Mini Freezers in 2017. If you think you’ll need a different size, simply click on the desired size above to navigate to my other guides!

  1. Haier HF35CM23NW Mini Freezer – 3.5 cu. ft. Capacity with Removable Basket, White

This mini freezer from the well-known Chinese manufacturer Haier is a solid choice. The main selling points for this great chest freezer are:

  • 3.5 cubic feet capacity, which translates to approximately 125 lbs of frozen food storage
  • Adjustable thermostat control (manual)
  • Power Indicator Light
  • Space saving design (the back of it is flat for close proximity to walls)
  • Manual defrost
  • Removable basket for easy access to items on bottom
  • 25 x 21.2 x 33 inches and 60 lbs – truly compact

Here is the Amazon (affiliate) link:

 

  1. IGLOO Cubic Foot Mini Freezer

This compact mini freezer option from Igloo is a great choice, with all of the features you’re looking for in a space-optimized chest freezer. It’s main selling points are:

  • Adjustable thermostat
  • Defrost drain (makes cleaning much easier)
  • Organization shelf so that you’re not cramming food into it, but can do it neatly
  • Available in black or white
  • Power-on indicator and thermostat adjustor on front of freezer for easy access

My recommendation is to get this one in Black, as it looks sleek and hides some of the scratches and stains that chest freezers can accrue.

Here is the Amazon (affiliate) link:

1. midea WHS-129C1 Single Door Mini Freezer, 3.5 Cubic Feet, White

This mini freezer from Midea ranks as Amazon’s #1 best selling chest freezer, and for good reason. It is of high quality construction, has a modern design to it, and has all of the features you want in a compact chest freezer, such as:

  • Manual temperature control with an adjustable thermostat
  • Interior designed for easy cleaning
  • Hinged lid with cushioned weather stripping/padding so that it closes quietly
  • Manual defrost (no risk of freezer burn)
  • Full 1 Year Warranty / 2 Year Compressor Warranty

I can’t recommend this model enough if you’re in need of a mini freezer. Midea is a solid brand, and their warranty is the best you’ll find in this product category.

Here is the Amazon (affiliate) link:

 

 

Chest Freezer and Upright Freezer Buying Guide

Chest Freezer or Upright Freezer? Maybe you should get both. (I did). If you’ve run out of space for food in your main freezer, purchasing a standalone chest freezer, or perhaps an upright freezer, is an excellent solution. In fact, if you do the math you’ll often find that the savings you experience from being able to freeze a greater quantity of food more than compensates for the cost of the freezer and the energy to run it.

The choices can seem a bit daunting, though, which is why I’ve created this comprehensive guide to purchasing a standalone chest freezer or upright freezer. Like most appliance purchases, you are considering buying something you’ll own and use for a decade or more. So take your time and make sure to consider which model is right for you.

**SPOILER ALERT** If you don’t have time to read this guide, here are the results of my research for the best standalone chest freezer and upright freezer:

Best Chest Freezer (affiliate link):

 

Best Upright Freezer (affiliate link):

How to Choose a Standalone Freezer

The main consideration when considering a standalone freezer is first: do you need one? To answer that question, consider the following:

  • Are you cramming food into a freezer of inadequate size, constantly shuffling bags of frozen food like bricks in a Tetris game?
  • Does your family eat meat? If so, do you have the capacity to buy in bulk to freeze with your existing freezer? Buying half a cow from a butcher can yield huge food savings for a family that normally buys hamburger and steaks in piecemeal.
  • Do you have space for a standalone freezer?
  • Do you have adequate power (ideally a dedicated circuit, meaning no other major appliances on the same circuit) for a standalone freezer?

Your next consideration, once you established that you would benefit from buying a standalone freezer, is deciding whether a Chest or Upright Freezer is the best choice for you.

Difference Between Chest Freezers and Upright Freezers

Chest Freezers are standalone freezers that open from the top. This means that they are much shorter than upright freezers but require more surface area on the floor. Basically, they have greater width than an Upright freezer, but much less height.

Pros of Chest Freezers:

  • Large capacity
  • Greater energy efficiency than uprights
  • In the event of a power loss, food spoils slower in a Chest vs. an Upright
  • Quieter than Upright Freezers (no fan built-in to circulate air)

Cons of Chest Freezers:

  • Items on bottom require moving top items to access
  • Hinges can wear after heavy usage
  • Defrost is manual, which takes up to 24 hours and can be messier than Upright freezers

My most recommended Chest Freezer is the Midea WHS-258C1 Single Door Chest Freezer, 7.0 Cubic Feet, Whitebecause it has 7.0 cubic feet of space, an adjustable thermostat, a recessed handle (which is really nice because handles can often break after repeated use), quiet and sturdy hinges, it has a full 1-year warranty and a 2-year warranty on the compressor (excellent coverage in this appliance category).

 

Upright Freezers

Upright Freezers are different from Chest Freezers in that they are tall and open like a refrigerator. They have greater height and smaller width than a Chest Freezer, so they fit through a standard doorway. They are more expensive than Chest Freezers, but have more convenient features.

Pros of Upright Freezers:

  • Fit easily through standard doorway
  • Flash-freeze options available (quickly lowers temp when loaded with food)
  • Automatic defrost options available

Cons of Upright Freezers:

  • Less capacity than Chest Freezers
  • Greater energy consumption
  • Greater risk for freezer burn with automatic defrost
  • Take up greater vertical space

My most recommended Upright Freezer is the Danby DUFM085A2WDD1 Upright Freezer, 8.5 Cubic Feet, White because it has a high capacity for an Upright (8.5 cubic feet), is Energy Star rated, has 3 shelves, a reversible door hinge, manual defrost (helps avoid freezer burn) with adjustable thermostat, and has an astonishing 18-month warranty on parts AND labor!

Buying Considerations

Before pulling the trigger on your freezer purchase, it’s important to keep in mind the following buying considerations:

Chest Freezer or Upright Freezer Size:

  • How much space do you actually need for your chest freezer or upright freezer? Try to estimate the amount of food you’ll need to freeze and store for your family in the future. The industry standard is to allow for 1.5 cubic feet per family member. Give yourself a wide margin, in case you purchase some items in bulk that require freezing. The most common freezer sizes are:
    • Compact (5 cubic feet)
    • Small (6 to 9 cubic feet)
    • Medium (12 to 18 cubic feet)
    • Large (18 to 25 cubic feet)

Square Footage Available for the Chest Freezer or Upright Freezer:

  • Make sure you have a location that can fit your desired freezer, so that it does not stick out into a walking path or door frame. Measure the width, length, and height of your designated area, and allow for at least 4 inches of clearance between the freezer and any walls for the power cord and to allow the compressor to have air to “breathe”.

Dedicated/Shared Circuits for the Chest Freezer or Upright Freezer:

Almost all standalone freezer units are on standard 110 volt outlets. Keep in mind multiple outlets usually share the same circuit, which has 15-20 amps of available power. If you connect your freezer to a circuit that has other major appliances on it, such as your refrigerator, you could have issues with both appliances working properly. Freezers and refrigerators typically draw up to 8 amps of power at a time. For this reason, make sure to review your home’s wiring diagrams and circuit breaker, and make sure to add your standalone freezer to a circuit that is either dedicated (no other devices drawing power from it) or shared with low-power-consumption things like lamps.

Chest Freezer or Upright Freezer Care and Warranties:

The only moving part on a freezer is the compressor. Unlike refrigerators, freezers do not have fans. The freezer coils are built into the walls of the freezer unit. Moving parts are typically the first to fail on any appliance, so making sure the warranty on the compressor is at least 2 years is important. The freezer as a whole should have at least a 1 year warranty.