Considering that food prices continue to rise—up 2.4% in the last year—you might be feeling the pinch with your food budget. One way to tackle those costs is by making the most out of a standalone freezer. Food staples like meat or bread are cheaper when bought in bulk and can last for months in a freezer, and could save just under $100 in grocery costs each month.
How standalone freezers can save you money
Since food tends to be cheaper when bought in bulk, you’ll save more money if you can store the food in a large freezer. The personal finance site Tough Nickel ran an analysis that compared a family of four buying with and without the use of a freezer and found that the family would save $689 every year in grocery costs. Of course, the more mouths you feed, the more those savings will scale up.
Member-driven wholesalers like Costco and Sam’s Club will have the best deals, as they have comically oversized portions that will stretch your dollar the furthest. Here’s a look at some examples of how frozen food can you can save money when bought in bulk:
- Meat can be stored in your freezer for up to six months, although ground meat and raw sausage will be closer to four months. Looking at prices, a pound of boneless chicken breast typically costs $3.35 in most cities, but you can often find them on sale for under $1 per pound when sold in 40-pound boxes.
- Bread can last up to six months in a freezer. When buying in bulk, a single muffin in a 60-count flat of double chocolate muffins will cost you 47 cents, compared to over a $1 dollar each if you were to buy a four-count pack at retail prices. You can get similar deals for pastries and other bread-related items, too. Plus, owning a freezer also makes it a lot easier to bake and store your own bread. According to the Spruce, a loaf made at home costs $1.58 compared to roughly $3 when bought at the store.
- Cheese can be kept in your freezer for a very long time, although it’s best to stick with six to nine months. Kaukauna Sharp Cheddar Cheese will cost you $4.46 per pound when bought in a 30-pound box, but it costs $9.82 per pound for a small container when purchased from a local grocery chain. A lot of families use shredded cheese for pizza and pasta dishes, too, so grating cheese and storing it in bags will save you money and cut down on meal prep, as well.
Food storage works best for large households that already have a freezer
The trade-off with food storage is that you’ll need to invest in a freezer if you don’t have one already. A decent medium-sized freezer can be bought for around $400-600, and that will add an additional $30-50 to your annual electricity bill, too. In this case, you’d have to use your freezer for just under a year before you’d recoup the investment, but after that you’d be set (of course, making full use of a freezer that you already own is an even better option).
Using food storage and buying in bulk is best for large families with predictable, recurring meals. You have to be organized about it, too. You’ll need to know how long you can freeze items, and make sure everything is labelled so that each item includes the date in which you put that item in the freezer. That said, if you’re okay with the extra planning, freezing food will definitely save you money.