My wife and I purchased a deep freezer over the weekend; we researched a bunch of models, figured in purchase and delivery costs, and wound up selecting a 21 cubic foot Frigidaire model. It cost us about $450 after our gift cards (we collected a pile of Home Depot, Target, and Bed Bath and Beyond gift cards as housewarming gifts), had free delivery, and will consume about 750 kilowatt hours of energy per year, meaning $75 worth of electricity (assuming a dime per kilowatt hour, roughly the national average).
According to our research, the life span of a new deep freezer averages eight years. So, factoring in our cost per year, the cost of owning and maintaining the deep freeze is about $130 per year, or about $11 a month.
This means that for the deep freeze to be worthwhile, we have to get $11 or more in savings per month out of it. What are our possibilities?
Storage of garden produce Let's say, hypothetically, that I can store and use twelve meals worth of home-grown vegetables a month in this freezer. If a meal's worth of vegetables at the farmer's market is a dollar, then this alone pays for the freezer. However, it does require that I store several months' worth of tomatoes during growing season, for example.
"Once a month" cooking I
discussed this concept earlier. It saves money because you can buy several pounds of whatever's on sale at the store and then use it in several meals at once while it's still fresh, pop them in the freezer, and eat them later. It's hard to quantify this savings, though, until we utilize it.
Purchased foods My wife and I often buy bags of frozen vegetables (we're almost vegetarians, it seems) to shore up what we don't have on hand that's fresh. Quite often, we'll see that the large bag of frozen broccoli is less expensive per ounce than the smaller bag and if we had freezer room, the larger bag would be the one we'd get, but the extra freezer room wasn't true until now.
For us, these three items alone make the deep freezer worth the cost. It might also be worth the cost if you eat primarily prepackaged meals (I have a friend who literally lives on Healthy Choice frozen meals) because you can really, really maximize on sales.
However, if you don't cook at home much, a deep freezer is likely not worth the cost. A few years ago, I would have appreciated the novelty of a deep freezer (and likely bought one), but it didn't mesh with my life at the time. I would have thrown a few things into it and simply eaten the cost of the item on a month-over-month basis.
To put it simply, if the cost of an appliance doesn't save you money month over month, then don't buy it. A washing machine is well worth it for almost everyone, for example, but a deep freezer merits some evaluation of your own lifestyle. Spend the time figuring the true monthly cost of the unit - and whether or not it will save you money (or your health - or a lot of time) over the course of a year. This analysis will reveal pretty quickly whether the unit is worthwhile or not.