The energy hog in question
The energy hog in question

Last month, Mr. Frugalwoods and I made a startling discovery: we’ve been harboring an energy hog in our basement. When we bought our home three years ago, it came outfitted with a behemoth, aged refrigerator in the basement in addition to the newer, smaller fridge on the main floor. Huh, we thought at the time, a second fridge! Not a looker to be sure, but it was already there and we figured we could put it to good use. We proceeded to store a few items in it, dub it “The Hulk,” and not think much more about it.

Enter: The Energy Use Monitor

Until… Mr. FW was beset by a nagging suspicion a few weeks ago that this hulking downstairs cooling machine was responsible for sucking up the vast majority of our energy bill. The horror!

To corroborate this theory, he trotted out our energy use monitor, which measures the amount of electricity a given device uses over time. The beauty of this gadget is that it averages energy usage over time and thus, isn’t merely measuring what the appliance utilizes in a given moment.

Mr. FW demonstrating our energy use monitor
Mr. FW demonstrating our energy use monitor

This averaging capability is crucial for fridges since they naturally cycle through higher and lower periods of energy consumption. And, the monitor translates this usage into cold, hard cash–you type in how much you pay per kilowatt hour (printed on your handy dandy electricity bill) and it displays how many dollars per month, kilowatt hours, and pounds of C02 the device in question consumes/emits.

We have this monitor because we like the interface, which has a monitor with a lovely external display–much easier to employ with an appliance such as a fridge that’s difficult to snake behind in order to read an outlet-mounted monitor.

After allowing the energy use monitor to gather data for four days, we inspected the results and were faced with the grim realization that our benign assumptions about this monstrous fridge were entirely suspect. There was no doubt about it, the basement fridge was gobbling up a shocking amount of our otherwise meagre monthly energy usage. A fie upon you, monstrosity fridge!

The Never-Ending Quest For Strategic Frugality

Here we witness the Frugalwoods confronted with yet another instance of discovering a lapse in frugality (not to mention environmentally-friendliness!). Much like our Costco coffee reckoning whereby we learned we can save $214.11 per year on coffee beans, and last month’s great homemade seltzer discovery in which we unearthed savings of $483.84 per year, and last year’s notorious revelation that Mr. FW can (and now does) cut my hair at home, netting us a whopping $200 more in our pockets annually. Oh yes, it’s another one of those. And to be frank, if we weren’t so darn honest here on Frugalwoods, I don’t think we’d even admit this lapse in judgement to ya’ll since it’s quite obvious we should’ve ameliorated this problem when we first moved in.

The current freezer, minifridge, old fridge line-up (w/photo bomb by our dryer)
The current freezer, minifridge, old fridge line-up (w/photo bomb by our dryer)

This particular frugal shortcoming is primarily driven by our negligence. We’d periodically wonder about the energy usage of monstrosity fridge, but we never actually did anything about it. This is a prime example of how inertia can quietly and stealthily steal your money… It’s often easier to keep spending money unnecessarily than it is to implement frugal change.

Remaining vigilant about our opportunities for saving, streamlining, and creating efficiencies in our spending is a trait of the inveterate frugal weirdo. We try not to rest on the laurels of our 71%+ savings rate–nay, fair readers, we’re on constant alert for innovative ways to further trim our spending. And the crucial element of every one of these discoveries is that they don’t involve us eliminating something we enjoy from our lives. Quite the contrary! They facilitate our lifestyle of luxurious frugality by enabling us to have the things we love (like coffee, seltzer, cut hair, and a supplementary refrigerator) for less. This, my friends, is strategic frugality.

It’s not about never spending any money–it’s about spending money in the most optimized way possible. And yeah, we feel pretty dumb each time we uncover one of these arenas for saving, because we should’ve been doing these things all along. But that’s the nature of being a foible-filled human being and, there’s no use harboring any guilt over it. Plus, since I get to share these stories with you all, it makes our mistakes totally worth it! Mr. FW and I love exposing savings like these and it’s a constant game for us to ever-frugalize our lives. It’s telling that, despite our extreme frugality lifestyle, we still manage to find new ways to save all the time. Keeps us on our frugal toes!

The Case For Secondary Refrigeration Capabilities (aka we’re having a baby)

Ok enough frugal philosophy, back to the dire refrigeration situation at hand! Now thusly confronted with the undeniable fact that this energy hog needed to go, we suddenly realized we’d come to depend upon our auxiliary food-storage system. Oh woe is us! We’d experienced lifestyle inflation of the refrigerator!

Our kitchen fridge
Our kitchen fridge

Since we never eat out, don’t waste any food, buy in bulk at Costco, and Mr. FW cooks all our meals at home (often in large quantities), we’re forever in need of ample vaults for our vittles. As we wanted to unplug the beast ASAP, we did manage to cleverly consolidate all of our foodstuffs tetris-style into our kitchen refrigerator and freezer.

And while this would suffice for our family of two (Frugal Hound’s kibble, mercifully, is stored at room temperature), the arrival of a certain Babywoods in less than three months will be the harbinger of more food–for us and for her.

To prepare for our first few weeks as new parents, chef Mr. FW intends to whip up and freeze a number of meals for us to consume as we navigate the bleary-eyed sleepless trenches of early parenthood. We’ve heard from many a new parent that they ordered take-out alarmingly often, which strikes fear and loathing in our frugal hearts. Our solution? Make the “take-out” ourselves in advance and then take it out of the freezer when we’re starving and wholly unsure of the day/time.

In addition to this prepper-style survival method of frozen meals for harried parents, I plan to breastfeed Babywoods and thus, will need space to both freeze and refrigerate pumped breastmilk. Looking further down the road, Mr. FW will be homemaking all of Babywoods’ little baby meals, which will all require some form of modern food cooling. Hence, we anticipate a lot more perishable food in our not-so-distant future.

Since our kitchen fridge and freezer is packed to the gills with our current retinue of food items, we quickly accepted the fact that we’d need to devise a solution for all of these baby-related foodstuffs. But what to do…

Enter: A Great Trash Find

Free minifridge!
Free minifridge!

As most of our best stories do, this one features a perfectly timed great trash find. On my way home from (free) yoga the other evening, I spied a minifridge positioned by the side of the road with a tempting “Free! It Works!” sign taped to the front. I confirmed the veracity of this claim when I opened the fridge and felt it was still cold! Bonanza!

Ever the trash opportunist, I called in the cavalry of Mr. FW and Frugalwoods-mobile and we carted home our new baby fridge, defrosted it, cleaned it out, and toted it down to the basement (ok I should clarify here: Mr. FW actually did all that stuff, I just spotted the fridge). Minifridge is now happily plugged in and chilling our food (namely a large watermelon I bought on sale because, yum watermelon).

We anticipated we’d find a free fridge during the epic September 1 Cambridge move-out and have actually since spotted three other free fridges by the roadside… so if you live in Boston and need a minifridge, now’s the time to scope the trash!

Thus solving our refrigeration problem in one fell, free swoop, we turned our attention to the slightly more nuanced and complex challenge of a freezer…

Enter: One Chesty Freezer

The Frugalwoods chest freezer
The Frugalwoods chest freezer

After ample exploration into the subject of modern freezing options, Mr. FW arrived at the conclusion that our needs would be best met by a chest freezer. Large freezers basically come in only the chest varietal as that configuration is exceedingly more efficient than the traditional freezer-with-fridge layout.

Chest freezers are well insulated and when you open the top, the cool air doesn’t all rush out with a whoosh (a phenomenon that does occur with a front-opening freezer). Thanks to the swell science fact that cold air is denser than warm air, it stays where it belongs: inside the freezer.

We didn’t want to buy more freezer than we need, but we also didn’t want to get a minuscule freezer we’d soon outgrow. And so, Mr. FW commenced researching freezer prices online at retailers including Amazon, Wal-Mart, Best Buy (was not even aware they were still in business), and Sears (similarly unaware of their continued viability). Mr. FW quickly zeroed in on Energy Star certified freezers, which are especially efficient. He discovered that the Igloo brand sells an Energy Star model in our desired size: 5.1 cubic feet.

Me as hand model w/chest freezer
Me as hand model w/chest freezer

After exhaustive price comparison work, Mr. FW deduced that Amazon and Sears were the most expensive, Wal-Mart would deliver it to us with free shipping, but that we could get the freezer for $50 cheaper at Best Buy if we went to pick it up.

Thanks to the fact that we live in the city, can drive 15 minutes to the nearest Best Buy, and are in possession of the stalwart Frugalwoods-mobile, our decision was easy. If we were out on the homestead, we likely would’ve gone the route of free Wal-Mart shipping, so I’ve filed that intel away for future use.

Shelling out the cash ($159.36 to be precise) to purchase this chest freezer is a fabulous example of the ways in which frugality gives us options. Having the ability to make relatively spontaneous, large purchases without the need for financing or gnashing of teeth is a luxury that frugality enables in our lives.

But Mrs. FW, I Thought You Said To Buy Everything Used?!?

My minifridge watermelon
My minifridge watermelon

Too true, too true. I’m usually an ardent devotee of the venerable used market, but in this case, the used market was not panning out. Mr. FW spent several weeks scouring Craigslist and perused many an ancient chest freezer for sale. However, when he researched the energy use of these antiquated freezers, he learned that they consume 2 to 4 times the energy of a new version. Another hidden energy hog!

Evidently, there’ve been improvements in chest freezer technology in recent years. Plus, the used versions weren’t even that much cheaper than the brand new ones. In the size we wanted, used freezers were going for $100 on Craigslist and we bought our new model for $159.36.

We’re happy to pay the $59.36 extra in order to enjoy the reliability and increased efficiency of a new freezer. This is a great example of the power of informed frugality–and its key differentiation from cheapness. Investing in a superior product that’ll save us money in the long run is a wiser, more frugal selection than immediately pouncing on the dirt cheapest option.

The Frugal Weirdo’s Secret Weapon: Research

A central component of this story (and most of our epic frugal hacks) is the power and necessity of ample research. We don’t just know this stuff off-hand folks (nifty as that would be). Nope, we research it to freaking death. Mr. FW estimates he spent 8 hours or so researching this decision to migrate us to a minifridge and chest freezer. Why? Because research always yields the most economic, strategic purchases. He admits he probably could’ve gotten it done in 1.5 hours, but he’s a research fiend–the man will research any topic ad nauseam (a trait I’m most grateful for). This research also yields–for your express enjoyment–the below numbers!

Energy Consumption Costs (data courtesy of our energy use monitor):

  Kilowatt Hours Per Month Kilowatt Hours Per Year Cost Of Electricity Per Month Cost Of Electricity Per Year
Old Fridge 133.23 1,598.73 $27.18 $326.14
Minifridge 18.91 226.91 $3.86 $46.29
Chest Freezer 14.33 172.00 $2.92 $35.09

Money And Energy Savings:

  Kilowatt Hours Per Month Kilowatt Hours Per Year Cost Of Electricity Per Month Cost Of Electricity Per Year
Old Fridge Total 133.23 1,598.73 $27.18 $326.14
New Minifridge & Chest Freezer Total 33.24 398.91 $6.78 $81.38
Savings 99.98 1,199.82 $20.40 $244.76

According to Mr. FW’s calculations, our new minifridge and chest freezer scheme will pay off in 7.8 months and we’ll save $244.76 per year with this energy efficient configuration. Well worth the start-up cost of $159.36 to ensure lowered energy usage for the duration. Plus, we anticipate our utilization of this chest freezer will only increase on the homestead, making this a sage longterm investment.

Monstrosity Fridge: An Unresolved Situation

This fridge is huge
This fridge is huge

You might be wondering what we’re going to do with our old fridge. Well, we’re wondering this too. Initially, we thought we’d avail ourselves of Massachusetts’ fantastic incentive program for recycling junker second refrigerators.

It’s an excellent system–the state will come and remove your energy-vampire fridge and pay you $50 for no longer using so much electricity! A total win. However, there’s no provision from the state if you can’t actually fit the thing out of your home…

Based upon rigorous calculations conducted with a measuring tape and our eyeballs, our ancient fridge is a hefty 31.5 inches square, which makes it WIDER than the basement staircase (the only method of egress).

The entry to our basement stairs: decidedly not huge
The entry to our basement stairs: decidedly not huge

How does such a thing happen, you (and we) wonder? We posit that the previous owners, who lived in our home for over 25 years, must’ve put that fridge in the basement prior to finishing the current basement staircase configuration.

At some point in time, the previous owners quasi-finished the basement with carpeting and drywall and must have somehow made the staircase narrower in the process. We can’t think of any other explanation besides possibly UFOs and/or divine intervention. Hence, I think monstrosity fridge will reside in our basement for time and all eternity as an unplugged, unused appliance… unless anyone has an angle grinder with a cutoff wheel we could borrow to cut it into pieces/remove the doors?

Updated to note: the real issue is that, aside from the narrow entryway to our basement stairs, the stairway itself is too narrow to facilitate the turning radius of monstrosity fridge (which is perfectly square).

Do you have auxiliary freezing and/or cooling capabilities in your home? What hidden savings have you unearthed lately?

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  1. We also splurged on a chest freezer 3 years ago, and bought new because the difference in energy consumption is considerable. (I used to write for an green energy education company, and the hubs is an electrical engineer, so we’re always whipping out the watt meter and finding ways to save.) We decided to invest in one because we raise backyard chickens and we couldn’t have anything else in our freezer after processing them. I also make and freeze chicken broth, beans (instead of buying canned), pesto, sauces, etc. that go in the freezer. And it allows me to buy ALL the 50-cent per pound chicken and pork and get on sale at our local ALDI. So in the long run it’s definitely saved us money.

    1. Glad to hear you felt the same way about a new freezer for the energy savings! I love that you guys use your watt meter all the time–we need to be doing that more :). And, sounds like you’ve got a great system going on with your chicken freezing, etc! Looking forward to expanding our repertoire of frozen goods to your level.

  2. Ah, such great information you both gleaned from your research!
    I love your detailed cost savings breakdown!

    Additional info you probably know- keep the freezer relatively full and it’s less expensive to run. Even filled containers of tap water work just fine!
    Though I sure Mr. FW will have it lovingly filled with tasty post-Babywoods meals in short order!

    These last few “pre-parenthood” months are filled with such anticipation, excitement, and flashes of minor terror ( haha- that’s pretty normal when you realize the awesome, life changing event that’s about to happen!) savor and enjoy it!

    1. I second the filled containers of tap water idea! Not just for keeping the freezer full but for ready-to-go ice packs for the cooler. If you fill a plastic gallon jug with water and freeze it, you can have ice in your cooler for a couple days at least. Much better – and drier – than bags of ice!

      *Reminder – don’t fill the gallon jug all the way, because when the water freezes it expands and can split the plastic jug.

      1. Kim–Haha, these months are definitely filled with anticipation, excitement, and terror–you totally nailed it ;). And, good call on the frozen water. Hopefully we’ll have ample food in there soon!
        Julia–Great idea on the ice packs for the cooler! I like it.

  3. My fridge was the same size as yours for many years so I totally get the need for additional storage capabilities! We have a chest freezer about the same size as yours and I calculated it costs us right at $40 / yr. We have plenty of room in our current fridge and I find myself not using the chest freezer; except to store food that should of been cooked and eaten long ago! Which is ridiculous, I know! So I got a good deal and now I’m paying to store it! Ugh! I think the unplug may be a priority this weekend!

  4. While we do have a chest freezer in our basement, sadly I am not able to use it for food. It stores beer, or wort to be more specific, in the process of becoming beer. Someday, when I have more than two mouths to feed, I do plan to have a chest freezer for food use as I think that cooking ahead can save lots of time and money, and my side by side fridge/freezer in the kitchen just isn’t quite big enough to accommodate frozen meals and all the ice cream we need to keep on hand.

    I am also aware that if you don’t own an energy monitor, you can check one out of the public library! I need to do this, as I’m pretty convinced that several of our electronics are costing us a pretty penny in monthly electricity bills.

    1. Yes! I was just going to post this. In New Hampshire, where I live and work as a librarian, there was a state initiative a few years ago that provided them to public libraries. I searched the Cambridge Public Library catalog and they have them as well. Search your library’s catalog for Kill A Watt or energy meter, or ask your librarian.

      1. Oh that is so fantastic! I love libraries! Thank you both for sharing that awesome tip.

        Ali–your wort is cracking me up! At least it’ll be tasty beer someday 🙂

    2. i do ales in the summer, lagers in the winter. Lagers for well in my garage keeping cold to ferment slowly. I even move the batch I am drinking from the corny keg out there and turn off the mini-fridge I use in warmer weather to keep my beer cold for drinking. God gave us multiple types of yeasts to make lagers and ales. Why waste the electricity? There is a season.

  5. I love the idea that frugality is about optimized spending, not never spending. Sounds like you’ve found a great way to do just that! I’ve definitely been toying around with the idea of second freezer, but right now I’m focused on baby steps into canning and drying.

    1. Yeah, I’m all about optimized/efficient spending :). And, I’m impressed with your canning and drying–very cool!

  6. We have a chest freezer as well in our garage. With three little ones, two of them being seemingly never full boys, it has been put to great use by us. The best part is we got the freezer for free. The employer I worked with at the time gave all employees a $500 gift card after having a child so we put part of it to use on the freezer. 🙂 Smart thinking on preparing some meals beforehand too. We did that as well before all our kiddos and it was a lifesaver when the last thing we wanted to do was cook up a meal.

    1. That’s awesome you got yours for free! I like the idea of a “baby gift card” too :). And, glad to hear we’re on the right track with the prepared meals. We’re trying to plan as best we can (for the un-plannable)!

  7. Older major appliances are real energy hogs! Re: disposal question.
    Are doors removable and would that give you enough clearance ?

    1. Sadly, the fridge is still too big even without the doors. The issue is that it’s a huge square box and the stairwell itself is too narrow. It’s a bizarre situation for sure :)!

  8. Love this post! When I used to live in Wyoming, chest freezers are a must! Sometimes, when your closest grocery store is 30 minutes away and your closest bulk discount store (like Sam;s or Costco) is a few hundred miles away! You might not experience anything that extreme up on your homestead, but I bet this will be valuable training on how to plan ahead for months at a time using a freezer. I’ve always been amazed at how ell bread freezes. Congrats!

    1. Yeah! We definitely plan to use it even more on the homestead. The properties we’re looking at aren’t that remote, but we’ll still want to have ample food storage space. Bread really does freeze well, it’s amazing!

  9. I am chuckling, in a good way at your fridge adventures. I had a friend with a pool table problem (getting it in actually) and they cut a hole in the wall. That is always an option! LOL!
    We have had the same chest freezer for like 15 years. I am now wondering about the energy it is using. Our fridge, which came with the house is 9 years old. It was a top energy star at the time, so hopeful that it will last a few more years. I think often about a mini fridge as our fridge is always bursting at the seams!
    Enjoy your freezer.

    1. We too are chuckling at our fridge adventures ;). The thing is just so huge! No clue how/if it’ll ever come out. A minifridge could be a good addition to your set-up!

    1. Sadly, the fridge is still too big even without the doors. The issue is that it’s a huge square box and the stairwell itself is too narrow. It’s a bizarre situation for sure :)!

  10. We have a condo so it forces us to be minimalist and there is no room for a chest freezer. But we don’t really need one considering are regular freezer is pretty empty right now (there is only 2 of us).

    1. You should try to find someone to go in on a side of beef with. It’s much cheaper if you do it yourself (instead of paying for a cow share). The quality is unbelievable and it’s close to regular beef price for organic quality – and that’s just for ground beef. All of the good cuts are many times cheaper!

      1. We don’t really eat much meat, but if we did, that sounds like a great deal! Maybe on the homestead we’ll find ourselves eating more meat.

  11. I feed a family of 10 and I would not be without a chest freezer. Mine is full of sale priced meat and bread. Just this week we found brisket mismarked at $1.59 lb. I was able to buy as much as I wanted. I buy a lot of meat but treat it as a luxury item and stretch it by freezing it in smaller portions. I had gotten away from serving a lot of meat but found the savings weren’t great when egg prices shot up and I realized we were relying way too much on expensive cheese/dairy.

    1. Oh wow–a family of 10! Now that must take some serious meal planning. I’m impressed! Nicely done on snaring that discount brisket 🙂

  12. Another vote for measuring without the doors for disposal but if that doesn’t work, you’re free to borrow our grinder. Just need to come to FL I get it. =). Might be easier (and cheaper) to just rent one at Home Depot. I don’t know what rates their getting for scrap metal these days, but our local junk guys would be all over a fridge left out to turn it in for recycling. So you may recoup the cost of a grinder rental in recycling $$.

    1. Sadly, it’s still too big even without the doors. It’s such a bizarre situation because the stairwell itself is just too narrow. Who knows. Good call on local junk guys–we might have to start getting creative!

  13. This might seem obvious and you have probably already considered it, but did you measure how deep the fridge is? Maybe it was moved in sideways.

    1. I thought the same thing. We live in an old house with difficult basement entries, so we’ve measured a lot of things in a lot of ways before taking them down or getting them back up. What would fit was one our main considerations for which chest freezer we would buy.

      1. Unfortunately, the fridge is perfectly square. It’s like this gigantic square box! A bizarre situation for sure 🙂

  14. Ah, I wish you’d talked to me first. They’re most likely going to go on sale again on Black Friday! We got ours that day. It was the first time I’d gone out shopping on BF in years. I went to there, paid, and got out within 20 minutes. It’s fantastic and fits all of our cow meat when we buy that! I also set a nice reminder for a year ahead to scrape the sucker.

    1. Ahh well. Next time! We also needed to get it now so that Mr. FW can start loading it with our post-Babywoods meals. She’s due before Black Friday so we’ve got to be meal-prepared ;).

  15. i had to do the same thing when removing an old countertop, I used a sawzall to dismember it in easier to remove pieces. Chest freezers are great, I bought one to be able to store the deer I shoot each year with my bow. Tasty free range, antibiotic free meat. I also fill up water jugs to fill the empty space in the freezer as it empties to reduce the cooling required to keep the space cold.

    1. Sounds like a good plan! We’re thinking we similarly might have venison to store in our chest freezer once we’re living up in the woods.

  16. We had a chest freezer in the basement when I was growing up and it seemed like a place where food went to die. During the winter my brother and I would freeze snowballs and say we would bring them out in the summer for snowball fights in July. Over the spring, the snow hardened into ice so that did not work.

  17. If the lived there when the house was built, they could have set it down into the basement after it was poured (or built if it’s cinder blocks) but before the main floor was constructed. My dad used construction equipment of some kind to do the same thing when they built our house 15 years ago. Now that thing will never come out of the basement unless it’s chopped up.

    1. Yeah, the house is actually over 120 years old, so it has undergone quite a few renovations over the years. What I think happened is that they put the fridge down there and then later finished the basement, which caused the stairwell to become narrower than the fridge :(. Such a bizarre situation, but hey, now we have a decorative fridge :).

    1. Noooo… Do NOT do this. The walls of that fridge are filled with cooling coils that contain freon. You don’t really want to be releasing a bunch of toxic gases in your basement.

  18. I’m a huge chest freezer proponent. As someone who needs to eat a omnivorous diet for blood sugar reasons, I’m a big believer in getting high quality meat from a farm, paying a large quantity up front for a quarter/half of an animal. I’m getting a pastured pig this November and I can’t wait. You need the quality chest freezer space to do this.

    When we go ours, we actually lived in big city and AJ Madison .com. actually turned out to be the cheapest site with free delivery so we ordered through them. We had previously ordered a portable washer through them so I recommend them. But if they’re not the cheapest overall, go with what seems like a good price!

    Also, you might be interested to learn about converting chest freezers into refrigerators. It does require some additional parts and monthly clean outs (to deal with inevitable condensation) but they are SUPER energy efficient. It’s a great idea when you move to your homestead to keep electricity usage down:

    Also, did you take into account taking the doors off the old fridge to make it fit? Or was it even wider than that, with the doors removed?

    1. Glad to hear your chest freezer is serving you well :)! Unfortunately, even with the doors off it’s still too large to fit in the narrow basement stairwell. It’s a weird situation for sure :).

  19. It seems like every house comes with some weird old refrigerator in the basement. We have one, and I’ve never dared plug it in. I’d also love it get it out, but that would be wending it around our (for the moment) cramped basement. I think it would fit out the door, but I don’t know if it would get past the hot water heater where the space gets narrow. Maybe one day.

    For extra energy savings, what I do is fill up extra space in our fridge freezer with 2 liter bottles of water. Once it’s frozen, they helps the freezer stay cold so I doesn’t cycle on as often. Ice stays cold much longer than air. That’s why, if you’re camping with a cooler, you should get one big block of ice, then fill up the rest with ice cubes and water. The less air the better, and the huge block stays in tact for a long time.

    1. Heh, I was just reading an article on about the migrant crisis, and on the sidebar it says, “How This Couple Is Able to Retire at Age 33.” And I’m like, “Well I know who this is going to be!” Congratulations on the latest media mention!

      1. Glad to hear we’re not the only ones with a weird old fridge in our basement ;). I’m thinking it can become an art object. Thanks for the congrats!

  20. 3 Options for Fridge Removal:

    1: Remove mega fridge doors and hinges
    2: In addition to 1, take basement door out of rough opening (should increase size by 2-4 inches). This involves removing door trim and cutting nails.
    3: Call the state fridge removal service and see if they will just reclaim the freon. Once evacuated, cut the ol monster into manageable bits with a sawzaw.

    1. I only wish these would work! Sadly, the fridge is still too large even with the doors off. And, the problem is that the entire basement stairwell is too narrow (they finished the basement and drywalled the stairwell, thus making it super narrow).

  21. Freezer meals will absolutely SAVE YOU when you have a new baby. You’ll be so glad you prepared those! We love our chest freezer (but with fishing in Alaska, a freezer is a must!). And I agree that research is the key to so many good financial decisions. And medical decisions. And life decisions. Just do the research!

    1. Yay–glad to hear we’re on the right track with frozen baby meals (for parents, that is 😉 )! And, for sure, research is the key to happiness. Yum, I’m jealous of your freezer full of fish!

  22. We have no auxiliary food storage. My understanding is that a chest freezer keeps food fresher longer than a regular front-opening combo unit, but I’m not sure. I like the idea of having one and storing more seasonal food longer, but on the other hand, our side-by-side is basically adequate for our needs, even for the four of us. I just rotate things out ASAP. It would be nice, though, if I could make a few more batches of pesto and know they would keep until I used them and that I would have enough room for them!

    True story: I was looking for a particular frozen dessert at Grandma FP’s house. It was not in the upstairs freezer. Did you look in the downstairs freezer? Yes, I said, meaning the combo unit in the little downstairs kitchen.

    Turns out the “server room”–a neglected, partially finished sort of large closet tucked away in the far corner of the basement–contained yet another freezer, a full-size, front-opening unit, and THIS was the site of the desired sorbet. Yes, friends, my parents have more fridge/freezers than people in their house!

    1. Haha, your parents sound like mine! My folks have so much food frozen it’s amazing. But the thing is, they do eventually eat it all. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them throw out food.

  23. Enjoy your new freezer! My mother-in-law is the queen of freezing food bought on sale. She always has her freezer organized and lots of good food at her fingertips.

    Funny about your old fridge not fitting up the stairs. I have an old gigantic chest freezer in my barn (used to keep rodents out of grain, no energy required!) and it was put in first and the doors/walls built after. The only way to get that sucker out would be lots of sawing. 😉

    1. Glad to hear we’re not the only ones with a permanent fridge resident ;). I’m starting to think of it as a sort of art object.

  24. Wow awesome work! Crazy how much more efficient appliances have gotten in the past 20 or 30 years. You’ll be able to store so many meals in the chest freezer for when Babywoods arrives.

  25. I thought about getting a chest freezer at one point because I, too, like to make big batches of food and stash some away for the future when time is scarce and hunger is imminent. I decided against this “extra freezer” option after perusing through the contents of our regular freezer and realizing that some of the stuff was not being eaten and was just taking up space (4 lb bag of Costco green beans, anyone?). This discovery spurred a month of Frugalwoods-inspired “Eat all the things (in your freezer)!” and lo-and-behold, my current freezer has plenty of space for all the stashes of vittles my family of two (and holding) should need after vanquishing (i. e. consuming) all the residents who had overstayed their welcome. I aim for a turnover rate of 6 months now for all items in the freezer by dating everything and rummaging through it at regular intervals.
    The REAL reason for my comment, though, is to say I love when you say things like “fie upon you!” and “nay, fair reader” because it is just so much fun to read. I love that you guys are such NERDS (reference the above kilowatt spreadsheet and Shakespearean tone), and I say that with the utmost respect and affection that a fair reader can convey through (alas!) such feeble and limited manner of these blog comments.

    1. Haha, true confession: we once had that same 4lb bag of Costco beans! It was actually was spurred the “eat all the things” post! Never again will I buy those ;).

      You’re awesome–thank you for appreciating the “fie” and “nay.” We’re total nerds and I love when people call us out on it. I’ll be sure to sprinkle in more phrases in the same vein just for you ;).

  26. Have you guys considered that you may possibly change your mind about going back to work after the baby arrives? I say this because, since you haven’t given birth before, you’re unaware of how this little person will immediately change your plans/feelings/goals. I have seen no mention of the possibility that you may not be emotionally able to leave your little one full time. It happens to many of us!
    (I am usually loathe to give advice, just throwing this out as a sort of kind suggestion to have a contingency plan. You’re about to meet the second love of your life!)

    1. We actually haven’t written yet about our plans for after Babywoods’ birth, but fear not, it’s a topic we’ll cover before too long. Stay tuned :)!

  27. I love all the calcs! I’ve never really delved into understanding our energy usage because as renters we have no say over our heavy appliances. No joke – I think the main thing I’m looking forward to as a homeowner is being able to have a chest freezer!

    1. We definitely relish the ability to control our appliances now after years of being renters! Although clearly we’re not as smart as we look since it took us three years to figure this one out… 😉

  28. I love your comment ‘lapse in frugality’! Since discovering your site a few weeks ago & right after receiving our annual car insurance bill (which had increase $120 from the previous year). I researched other car & home insurance options & ended up saving $650 annually between the two! DOH! Thanks for the recommendation for the energy use monitor. I now look forward to looking for ways to cut our electric usage as well. Your site has been a godsend!

    1. That’s some fantastic savings, holten! Nicely done! Have fun with the energy use monitor–it’s definitely an eye opener ;). Thanks so much for reading and for your kind words!

  29. I live three doors down from a general surgeon and his wife who is his nurse in his practice. They are friends of ours. Before you think anything, these people live in a very modest ranch-type home on about 30 acres of land with a large barn. She loves horses. Now, based on their occupations, you would think they live large. Hardly. This guy will research the death out of anything they intend to purchase. Their riding mower is over 20 years old. His wife is always asking for a new one, since she mows, but he won’t budge until the thing dies a long and painful death. My husband always sharpens the blades for him. (He can’t/won’t because he is a surgeon and he doesn’t want to have an accident unnecessarily.) But he does do most everything himself around the property. Just another example of frugality when you believe people don’t need to be but still are because they enjoy that lifestyle. I admire them immensely. They are very simple people at heart, obviously well educated, and living a typical Vermont lifestyle.

    1. Love it! They sound like wonderful people (as do you!). I enjoy your Vermont tales so much–can’t wait to join you as a Vermonter :).

  30. This was super, and I liked the comparison chart.

    We have a mini-upright freezer, bought from Craigslist a few years ago, and it’s great for bulk meats, veggies, and pick-your-own fruits. I also am considering using it for ice (I make my own ice – no automatic – so it seems like a good place to store ice for parties and such). I also store my Costco frozen pizzas in there.

    We also have two mini-fridges from Craigslist. Both at our offices. At one point, my company was so large that I came in Monday at 7 am and the fridge was already full. Got a $50 “bar fridge” from Craigslist that day. I store my lunch there, and my officemate does too, and sometimes the company admin manager will fill it with sodas for the meetings (because if she puts it in the main fridge it gets taken).

    My husband bought one for work with a coworker for the same reason – their fridge gets too full.

    Now, speaking of babywoods – I made a lot of homemade baby food with baby #1 (not as much with #2), but then #2 ate regular food faster.

    Here’s my recommendation from a former breastfeeding mom – I got lots of free stuff from friends who were cleaning out garages. This thing, that I only had with #2 from a friend, was AMAZING. Definitely worth having for compact storage of breastmilk and ease of “rotation”. Presses everything flat and takes up way less space. If you can score one of these…

    1. Just wanted to add, totally depends on supply and such, but the organizer helped get into a regular “rotation”. Generally, Friday’s milk (pumped at work) goes into the freezer. Sat/ Sun I would just nurse/ no pumping. Monday’s milk sent to daycare came out of the freezer (first in – first out). Plus freezer was great for supplementing days that came out “low”.

      Pumping sucks (ha! literally) but it was worth it to me. I nursed my boys for 13.5 months and 10 months.

      1. Thanks for the breastmilk tips! I have a ton of those tiny bottles that hook up to my pump that I can pump directly into, so we’ll have to see how that goes–Mr. FW is thinking of how to most efficiently stack them in the freezer. But that bag storage thing looks nifty too and would definitely take up less room than the bottles! I figure we’ll have an era of trial and error at the beginning ;).

  31. Well, since you’re stuck with it, you could turn it into a nifty piece for storage of some sort. Use chalkboard paint on the front door of the fridge and maybe store some of Babywoods’ toys in the fridge along with some chalk. It would be a nice keep her busy activity when she’s older and one of you guys are doing laundry.

    1. Ooo nice idea! I like it! I’m definitely starting to view the fridge as a sort of art object since I think it’s there to stay ;)…

  32. We recently moved out of a house we’d been in for 12 years and had to take our refrigerator out by taking off all the fridge doors, the hardware that supports the doors, AND the house’s door that went from dinette to garage, and even then it just barely passed through. I don’t even remember 8 yrs ago when we bought the thing how the delivery guys got it in the house.

  33. Not to sound like an alarmist but freezers and refrigerators are dangerous for toddlers and kids; if the thing has to stay down there either don’t let your child near it or take the precaution of taking the doors off.

    1. I was going to say the same thing, I’m glad you posted this! Old refrigerators are kid magnets and EXTREMELY dangerous so please take the doors off before Baby Frugalwoods is able to crawl.

  34. Oh my! I feel so hip right now. We just bought the same chest freezer, for the same reasons, also at Best Buy. If anyone is wondering, “would that chest freezer fit in the back of a VW Golf?” the answer is Yes.

    I love it because I have a deep need to make and freeze casseroles at the moment. I have just been making two lasagnas (or whatever freezer-friendly casserole type thing) at a time, then we eat one and freeze one. This is much more compatible with my current energy level than an all day freezer cooking marathon.

    1. That’s awesome. I just laughed out loud about your VW Golf. Thank you for sharing that helpful and informative PSA ;)! I like your make-two-freeze-one style—that’s smart! Glad to hear I’m not the only pregnant lady nesting via cooking right now (although technically I, of course, am not cooking since we want this food to actually be edible 😉 ).

  35. Just a heads up on freezing breast milk, if you plan to do that. . . I thought I was being smart by pumping and freezing, but my kids always refused to drink it after it was frozen. Well, one refused a bottle no matter what was in it, but the other would take a bottle, but not with breast milk in it. Left me with a lot of milk in my freezer that I hated to throw away, seemed like such a waste! This was before the days where you could donate it or I would have. So make sure she’ll drink it once it has been frozen before you stock up too much.

  36. I’m fortunate enough to rent a tiny flat with all bills included – and yet I read this post with much relish and gusto. I don’t know what that says about me, but it says a lot about your writing and storytelling skills! 😉 Thanks for yet another interesting read!

  37. I think you’re making the right choice by buying a new chest freezer. The energy efficiency and the reliability is well worth the extra money.

    As for the monster basement fridge – try taking the doors off the fridge and removing the trim in your house. That may be just enough to get the thing out of the basement. Good luck!

    1. Woohoo for energy efficiency :)! Sadly, the fridge is still too big even without the doors and the trim. The issue is that it’s a huge square box and the stairwell itself is too narrow. It’s a bizarre situation for sure :)!

  38. Oh no!! You joined the dark side of chest freezer ownership! 😉

    I’m sticking to my theory that a chest freezer would end up costing us more money over the long haul than sticking with just our fridge (with freezer on top). The $35 or so in electricity each year is part of it, but I also think we would forget what’s lurking at the bottom of the deep freezer (they don’t call it deep for nuthin’!). Sure, we might be able to store extra deeply discounted stuff, but I’m afraid we would lose it to freezerburn before we ate it all. There’s also the risk of losing the contents during a hurricane or ice storm when the power goes out for extended periods (maybe 1x every 10-15 years??).

    In the mean time, we have our 5.2 cubic foot freezer (the top part of our fridge) stuffed full of goodies for later consumption, some pre-cooked and other things like raw shrimp, salmon, pork, chicken, and steak purchased at deep discounts on sale or clearance and standing ready to do battle with the “there’s nothing to eat blues”. I read that you can shove 40 pounds of meat in a cubic foot of freezer, so by that measure we can get around 200 pounds of meat (!!) in there. Which is just a ton of meat and probably more than we can eat before it gets freezerburn.

    Speaking of freezerburn, the deep freeze shouldn’t suffer from freezerburn nearly as much so you could probably leave stuff in there for a year and not worry about it. Just keep up a good rotation system or checklist on the door to manage the contents. 🙂

    1. I agree Justin! We had a chest freezer for awhile, but I hated it. I am only 5′ 3″ and couldn’t reach most of the food at the bottom. The neatly organized hamburger would topple every time I grabbed something to the side of it, so food would get lost and ‘forgotten’. Mrs. FW maybe post the fridge on CL as scrap and explain the situation, you might get it cut and hauled off for free.

      1. Hopefully we’ll be able to stave off the dreaded forgotten frozen food dilemma! We’re pretty good about not wasting food now, so hopefully we can translate those tricks to our new deep freeze obsession ;). We shall see!
        Amy–I would love to post it as scrap… the issue is that it won’t fit up our very narrow basement stairwell (a totally weird situation for sure 😉 ).

  39. I just want to add: pillowcases! We use old pillowcases as bags in the freezer to organize things by month — so when we buy bulk hamburger in September, equal-ish amounts of it go in the pillowcases marked (permanent marker) October, November, December . . . up to the time of the next big buy. Same goes for bulk-made meals, and so on. This way, each month, we move one pillowcase worth of stuff from the chest freezer to the indoor freezer, where we then can use it for that month’s meals. It’s one way of making sure things get used in a timely way. (It also encourages a monthly use-up of the indoor freezer, to make room for the next pillowcase-worth of freezer food).

  40. If you’re still going to homestead in Vermont, look into shipping rules. Most major big box retailers don’t have a physical presence in vermont due to some strange laws relating to land use, taxes, blah, blah, blah. Anyhow, the lack of physical presence may have a negative effect on the free ship deal.

    1. Very true! Fortunately, the area we’re looking at buying a property in isn’t too far from several big box stores, so we’ll have those as back-up options if needed.

  41. Wow… I really did not know old fridge costs a fortune in electricity. Who really knew? Thanks so much for sharing this info. Although the current electricity is included in rent I will keep it in mind when buying a house or condo. Thanks for sharing!

  42. Don’t forget about canning! As long as you’re careful about time and pressure there’s almost no risk.

    My wife and I canned 5 gallon of soup before our first child and it’s lasted us for months. We did them in 5 quart batches which is what the pressure canner can hold in one go. Basically, we made a huge batch of soup, ate it for dinner and the following lunch and then canned the rest. 6 months later and we still have a small supply left.

    They keep indefinitely on the shelf. No fridge/freezer required!

    1. That’s wonderful! Nicely done! We should definitely look into canning–it’s certainly on our agenda for the homestead 🙂

  43. I’m so glad I read this! My husband has been watching Craigslist for a freezer, and we never even considered pricing new ones! If the cost is pretty similar and a newer one will be much more energy efficient, that sounds like the right move to make!

  44. Definitely worth the research! I did something similar a few months ago when – as a single person with access to a freely powered fridge at work, I considered disconnecting my own fridge/freezer, but it turned out that since my base electric rate (i.e. regardless of usage) is $26 and I’ve never paid more than $28, I’m really paying a flat fee for the convenience of home electricity, so unless I significantly increase my usage, there’s no point to further optimizing.

    But anyway, if there were room to cut back, I’d definitely be willing to seek out the savings.

  45. Shhh, don’t tell the environment, but I don’t have to pay for my electricity use. (Of note, I almost wrote hydro, but then remember that it’s a weird Canadian word based on the fact that most of the electricity where I live is generated by hydroelectric damn.)
    We have both an apartment size chest freezer and a full size vertical freezer, on account of our hunted meat and proclivity for buying whole animals from good sources.
    Oh golly do I love the vertical configuration, but they are oh-so-much worse for the planet. I have seen quite a few “freezer hacks” for the off-grid and environmentally conscious crowd, where folks turn freezers into fridges, so the cold air cannot escape when the door is opened.
    That’s fun that you have an energy monitor, I would be afraid to plug one into my mini fridge from university. It was used when I bought it and I would like to think that they have come a long, long way in terms of electricity consumption, as they are notoriously horrible.

    1. I love the word “hydro”! Sounds very fancy. Also, that’s pretty awesome you don’t have to pay for it!

  46. I only wish that we had the space for a chest freezer. We love to take advantage of good grocery sales on meat and other freezable items, not to mention batch frozen meals, and our poor standard freezer (sitting atop our fridge) is already filled a la Tetris. Our only option here is to store extra freezables in my mother-in-laws extra fridge, but with a 30-minute ride between us, it’s not very practical. Glad you found the options that are working out for you and if you truly can’t remove the old fridge, perhaps you could use it to store non-perishables.

  47. I’m rather new to the Frugalwoods field of followers but being frugal has become so much more fun since we’ve met! I’m introducing our adult sons to your blog and am hoping for grand and glorious things for them. And, not to get all mushy or anything… I love you guys! You are one of my happy places. Thank you.

  48. I recently discovered your blog and now have a not-so-secret wish to be friends! (We are in worcester which I know probably seems hideously far West to you Cambridge folks 🙂 )
    Anyway slightly off topic but my favorite freeze ahead meals are these quesadillas:

    I make 20 at a time and freeze them in large ziploc bags. Super easy to pull one or two out and heat in a pinch when we get out of work and nobody’s thought of dinner. Also saved me many times in the haze of maternity leave.

    1. Mmmmm, those quesadillas look awesome. I just sent the recipe to chef Mr. FW with a request that some of those make their way into our freezer ;). Thanks for the recipe! And, Worcester isn’t that far out at all–we should hang out!

  49. I can see the usefulness of the freezer , but I still think it’s very unnecessary. Which you illustrated clearly with you statement of life style inflation of the refrigerated kind. 🙂

    For you it makes sense since you were already spending the money anyways but I don’t think people who live fine of a fridge should go out to get one.

    Like the goblin cheif said if your( in the plural sense) not careful it could cost you money in higher food waste.

    I think it’s my lean engineering mentality that really finds it less ideal. High inventory is never encouraged.

    But like you said for you its actually a savings. So congrats on another improvement!

    1. Yep, everyone has to figure out what works best for them. There’s certainly no one-size-fits-all freezer solution!

  50. Every new momma needs a great freezer. I was so worried you were going to tell me about some trash find and I was going to cry for you. Why? I have had a freezer go out and I lost all my frozen breastmilk. Hundreds of ounces. Once it begins to thaw – it’s down for the count. I cannot tell you the feeling of losing it. The expression “don’t cry over spilled milk” does not apply to breastmilk. You will bawl like a loved one died.

    We have also found that new appliances have better deals at Best Buy. In the past few years we had to replace our fridge and our dishwasher. Our fridge totally went out, so we had no time to peruse Craigslist. We needed something that day and my mother-in-law offered some assistance, so we ran to Best Buy. Then our dishwasher went out about 3 days before I was scheduled to move to New England. With the house on the market and movers crawling all over our house, we again went the “new” route because it’s an easy button. Best Buy delivered and installed it – something I couldn’t manage without my husband around.

    1. Oh I’m so sorry you lost all that breastmilk! I would be heartbroken too! I’m hoping this freezer will do right by us for Babywoods. I totally didn’t realize Best Buy had such great prices on appliances, but they definitely had the best deal on our freezer. Glad to hear you’ve found good values there too!

  51. Another great post, although I wish you had published it a few weeks ago! My main fridge was old – the company that made it isn’t around anymore and I’m pretty sure it was original to the building. Anyway, I thought it might be a huge energy-sucker, but I had never heard of that gadget you used. I would have liked to have figured out just how much it was costing me. I wish I had Mr. Frugal woods penchant for research. I just went to Home Depot and picked one out without price-comparing or anything. I feel like now that I am a regular reader of your blog now, that I won’t make that mistake again. The next appliance that will need replacing is the dishwasher, so I’m going to start research now so that I will be prepared for when the time comes!

    1. Hooray for research! It’s amazing how different the prices can be between retailers, so it’s definitely worth it for your dishwasher search. I wish you all the frugal best :)!

  52. Chest freezers are fantastic as are freezer meals for baby. We have been home about a week with our new one and it has been so wonderful to pull a meal or two out and eat on it for a couple of days. My one caution with freezer meals is make sure they don’t have foods that may upset baby tummies when breastfeeding. I made a list of freezer and crockpot meals and made like 3 of each. The 40 or so meals filled my chest freezer which is the same size as yours.

    We learned how much an old fridge used in energy when ours died and we replaced it. It cut about $15 a month off our bill. We figured in the long run it pays for itself.

    1. Many congrats on your new baby :)! Glad to hear the chest freezer and freezer meals are working well for you–and happy to know we’re on the right track. And, I agree, the energy savings definitely pays for itself in the long run.

  53. How do you prevent the dreaded freezer burn of the food? I remember reading lots of frozen meals as a kid and they were always tainted with freezer burn flavor! I shop at Costco and would love to use this method of saving! Congrats on job well done!

    1. Our strategy for avoiding freezer burn has always been to not leave stuff frozen for too long. Also, chest freezers freeze the food harder than traditional freezers and so food is supposed to last longer in there. We shall see if that proves to be true :)!

  54. Just a heads up a Best Buy has a HUGE amount of products listed in their “open Box/ clearance” (listed under the store page for each store location) that are reduced from list price. If the new on box goes on sale, the open box are still marked to be cheaper than list price. The last thing I bought this way was a $99 DVD player for $59 (my roku box broke and I wanted a way to streams tv!) , but I’ve also used this to buy new fancy appliances for over 30% off since they had a scratch on the back or smtg I wouldn’t see. If the scratch/dent/ECT is somewhere visible, it can be 50% off or more!!

    1. Scratch-and-dent is such a fabulous route to go! We definitely would’ve gotten a scratch-n-dent freezer, but they didn’t have one in stock. Nicely done on those deals you snared!

  55. My in-laws brought a chest freezer with them when they moved into the guest house. Both are several years old, so energy consumption probably is an issue. It’s especially bad with the chest freezer, since that has to stay outdoors. We didn’t think there was any electricity in the garage, and we only recently found that there is. Meanwhile, in an effort to make our garage less break-in-able (totally a word), we put one of those reeeaaally good bike locks through one of the hinges to keep it from being able to open.

    And recently, when we wanted to remove it, we discovered my husband had lost the key. It was one of those “I’ll put it some place I’ll never forget” things. The hot water heater stand means that we can’t open the door at the back of the garage all the way. So the freezer will have to stay put. In 100+ degrees, the poor thing has got to be gulping down energy to keep its contents frozen.

    But… not much to be done at the moment. We need to figure out how to cut through the bike lock, which is so far down the list that the zombie apocalypse will probably happen before then. And I’ll be very glad for our foresight as we huddle in the garage, listening to the sounds of the undead shambling around, unable to lift open the garage door.

    1. Haha, yes to surviving the zombie apocalypse! Oh locks without keys… hate it when that happens! Good luck to you in cutting through the situation.

  56. We do not have an additional fridge/freezer. Even though we do freeze additional meals etc., our system is such that we do not need additional freezer storage space. In fact, I am fairly certain that we would end up with a lot of food waste if we got an additional freezer specifically because we would forget about what was in there.

    Re: chest freezer, be sure you child-proof that thing. Another reason we don’t have a chest freezer is because kids like to climb into things, and climbing into a chest freezer is extremely dangerous.

  57. We have an auxiliary cooling system in our basement and it saves us a ton of money. Whenever we see staples on sale at the store, I love that we can take advantage of them by storing them for a later day. Last week we did a clean out the freezer week and only spend $15 on groceries for the week because of it. We could do this because we had the backup freezer on the ready.

  58. We had the same problem with our installing our new washer….it didn’t fit. We had to take the door and molding off in order to make it fit. It wasn’t too bad but definitely unexpected.

  59. I have a 50 year old freezer in my garage. When I was using it as a freezer it took about $15 a month electricity. When my kids were gone I shut it off and started using it as a pantry. . I put newspapers down on the shelves and filled it with pantry items. Since my garage is not heated I can keep canned goods and jars in the turned off freezer and they do not freeze because my garage is so cold in the winter. I love having my extra pantry. And believe it or not it still works very well as a freezer. If it were not 50 years old I would try selling it.

    Once you turn off your refrigerator in the basement, be sure to keep the door ajar or it will get all moldy and yucky. So I cleaned out my freezer, washed it, lined it with paper and began my second pantry. By the way the doors of your basement refrigerator are magnetic so any child who crawled inside could easily get out . If the refrigerator was out on your tree lawn lying on its back, that would be a different story.

    1. What a wonderful idea to use your old freezer as a pantry. Great use of space! We definitely have the old fridge’s doors propped permanently open with some cardboard–mold would be very bad!

  60. I forget — do you own a microwave? In grad school, my roommate and I got a kill-a-watt from the library. We figured out that “unplugging” our micro (we kept it on a power strip and turned it off when not in use) saved us several dollars a month. We managed to get our electric bill for a 2 bedroom apartment down to a thrifty $20-35 a month, depending on how much daylight there was. It was awesome. I once even had a $9 electric bill when we went home for Christmas and unplugged our fridge.

    Homemade baby food, btw, is awesome. See if you can glean some free reusable “green pouches” for the baby food. Pouches are also super awesome and handy once baby is about 10+ months and wants to feed herself.

    1. You and your former roommate sound awesome (well, I already knew you were awesome). We do indeed have a microwave, which lives in the basement because it’s rarely used. We like having it though for the rare times when we need to nuke something. Good to know re. unplugging it!

      A friend gave me some of those baby food pouches you speak of (at least I think that’s what they are… )–they’re plastic squeezy tubes with lids. Looking forward to Mr. FW’s homemade baby food–let me know if you have any recipes you recommend!

      1. I never did anything too fancy with food. We did a mix of baby food and baby led weaning (which our kid handled just fine). I just threw veggies in, steamed them, and processed them. We have a baby food maker that we were gifted. IF you see one drift across a free list . . . it’s a specialty item that is totally not necessary but will make your life easier.

        Our kid loved acorn squash, carrots, and homemade peas. You start with separate and then can combine stuff. I threw spinach in regularly.

        Oh, one big tip: definitely start with veggies, and only do veggies for quite awhile. Your kid will have a better taste for them. If you start with fruit, you may have to mix fruit in with everything. We had some store baby food too, and we always had to mix plums (her fav fruit) in with the peas because she didn’t like store bought peas.

        Tofu, mushed banana, applesauce, and cottage cheese were other favorites. Mostly, just feed stuff that is interesting and gives your kid a chance to explore and have fun with food. We didn’t do many spices, but you totally can. I did give peanut sauce early (and watch carefully) because new research says you should not wait too long to introduce. She had her first peanut sauce at 7 months on some tofu.

        Look up how to make something like teething biscuits. We just bought ours — we liked mum mums — but I’m sure there’s a way to make them. Our kid also loved plum organic puffs (another pricey thing but quite convenient, and we reuse the containers for homemade toys), and they really helped her fine motor skills.

        baby food is a lot of fun! Enjoy the process and don’t stress about what exactly baby likes and doesn’t like. Just keep offering her variety.

  61. We have a chest freezer in our basement, that we bought when we put in the vegetable garden. When the green beans are producing 1 lb of beans per DAY (no exaggeration), freezing is the only way to keep up. We also make and freeze our own tomato sauce and pesto, as well as any other garden veggies that we can’t eat fast enough. I also store chicken parts and bones until I have a big bag and can make stock. Homemade stock tastes miles better than the store bought stuff.

    1. Fabulous! Your garden yield sounds amazing! I can’t wait ’til we’re on the homestead and are hopefully bringing in a similar haul. And, agreed, everything homemade tastes better 🙂

  62. We have a stand up freezer which we got as a Christmas present years ago. My parents asked me what I wanted and I told them a freezer for the basement was the only thing that my husband and I wanted. They went in with other people and got us exactly what we needed. It is a stand up freezer that you have to defrost once or twice a year. I cook huge batches of brown rice and freeze in two serving size bags. I cut and marinate chicken into serving size bags which freeze pretty flat to stack on each other. I make enchilada sauce, spaghetti sauce, bread crumbs, and other homemade goodies to fit in the freezer for later use. When I am really good, I make bags of cooked taco meat, salsa sloppy joes, french dip sloppy joes and more so that I have those “take out” meals when we are in a rush. It is great to have an extra freezer because it keeps things much better quality then the freezer in the normal fridge because things aren’t thawing. I hope you get lots of good use out of it!! Good luck with the old one and if you can’t get it out with the doors out, you might be in trouble 🙂

    1. That’s wonderful! You are really getting good mileage out of your freezer–awesome! Gotta love having those frozen meals on hand! I think the old fridge may become a permanent art object at this point… 😉

  63. Don’t forget to see if you can get a rebate for purchasing the new chest freezer – I got $25 for ours! We have a monstrous 20 ft^3 upright freezer in our basement – $845 delivered by Home Depot. It’s currently packed to the gills. We prepare in massive quantities and then freeze right before cooking – all we need to do is (sometimes) thaw, pop in the oven or crock pot and we have dinner that night. That’s just our normal operating mode now with a kiddo – it really does help!
    We prefer the upright because we’d have a chest freezer of that size open for way too long to hunt for what we were looking for every time, so we can easily separate our chicken meals, from our beef meals, from our pork meals, from Dad’s lunch soups and chicken stock and butter. My only complaint is that I wish we had one more shelf to put in it!

    1. That’s awesome you got a rebate for your new freezer–nice!! Preparing food in advance seems like such a smart move as our lives get busier with Babywoods. Sounds like you have a fabulous system worked out!

  64. If you still want to cart the freezer out – measure the sides without the doors on it – mine is 34 in the front but only 24 in depth (without the doors on it). And for the stairs – take the banisters off if it’s too tight at a drop off.

    1. Unfortunately our basement stairwell is enclosed in drywall, so we’d have to remove walls in order to get it out. And it’s still too big even with the doors off–bummer 🙁

  65. Hi Mrs. FW,
    Thank you for this blog! I homestead on coastal Maine and try to live very frugally with my family. We have a lot in common, actually. I have to say, chest freezers are vital in a modern homesteader’s life. Especially when you start growing much of your own food, you will have a dearth of frozen goodies to keep throughout the year, not to mention being able to buy bulk frozen goods when they are on super sale, individually packaging them and freezing them. I have a couple of chest freezer tips that you probably already know but here they are anyway:
    One, always keep it full. It increases the efficiency. You can fill plastic bottles with water and use them if needed. (Then you have ice for your cooler at the beach or party or what-have-you).
    Two: Organize it and have a whiteboard or poster with a tally of what you have in there so you don’t have to dig through and waste energy with it open. Just glance and your list, get what you need and check it off.
    Three: Now that you are homesteading, you may want to scout a cheap generator. When you lose power and a years worth of work is in the freezer, that is NOT good. I think harbor freight has them cheap, too. I also wanted to tout the merits of a PRESSURE CANNER and free canning supplies!! Frugal awesomeness. We pressure can soups, BEANS, broth, chili, veggies and more. But beans are where its at. When we go hiking all day and just want some quick beans and rice, or chili, and I didn’t plan ahead, its a lifesaver. Plus with broth, I have a ziplock with lots of veggie scraps/bones that go into the freezer, when five or six are full, I make a huge pot of broth and pressure can it. SO easy, SO cheap, So healthy, So convenient and nothing goes to waste. Win win win. Thanks for listening and thanks for your inspiring blog! -Laurel

  66. At the very least strap the old freezer/fridge closed so your little one can’t get trapped in it. Or turn the door to the wall.
    All the other appliances in the picture need locks on them also

  67. Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT buy an upright freezer to save money. The design is inherently flawed. We have on several occasions somehow left the door slightly ajar and overnight, there goes all your expensive frozen food.

    I’m searching now for a chest freezer.

  68. So basically instead of an old refrigerator, you are left with a insulated shell, rodent and insect proof, capable of holding shelves and bins. Not such a hardship if you can spare the floorspace. Sounds like a great place that could morph into storage for: dry goods/canned goods, pet food, lots of other stuff. One word, since you are expecting baby – probably want to put a lock or childproof latch of some kind on the doors for safety sake.

  69. I just found your blog so you may have found a way to remove the fridge. We too had an old fridge in our basement. My mom used it for out of season clothes and blanket storage. If the doors are kept open a crack it works great. I know a little weird but hey storage is storage.

  70. I liked your article a lot, as it contained my exact thinking of whether you can actually save money with having the chest freezer with electricity costs, etc.

    On a separate note, have you measured that old refrigerator’s dimensions minus the doors? When our last refrigerator was delivered, (we had it delivered) it came with the doors unattached. The way it came into our home was that it was first removed from the box outside. the box contained the fridge, the doors, and the shelves guts.

    The refrigerator was brought in through the front doors sideways, or if it’s easier to imagine, as the refrigerator came in through the front door, you would be looking at it’s side coming toward you.

    So with the front doors removed that old fridge might be less deep, than wide, and be safely removed from your basement without the aid of UFOs, jaws of life, or sawzall.

  71. Hey, great article! I just bought a new chest freezer to save energy and allow for buying more frozen foods at once when I see avoid sale. Also, I just replaced our fridge, and it wouldn’t come close to clearing our doors. Just thought I’d ask, but have you checked into removing the doors? It only takes about 10 minutes and a screwdriver. Most fridges have 1 or 2 screws/bolts on the corners where the doors hinge, and then a bracket on the bottom that has to be removed. Hope this helps, and keep doing what you’re doing!

  72. I have a sad freezer story to relate…a cautionary tale. We recently ensconced our quarter of grass fed beef into our second small chest freezer (which had been unplugged as it was empty). the light came on, the motor whirred. It was cold for at least two weeks. But a month into it, we began to smell something off in the garage. Yep, our second freezer had died (despite all outward appearances). $900 of beef spoiled. As soon as we opened the lid, the flies arrived by the hundreds and literally vultures were circling our house. Since we have two freezers, and some beef from the last years cow was still in freezer number 1, I had not been doing my normal freezer checking. Freezer two was only ten years old…but it was dead. I learned to not trust outward signs that an appliance is functional. And we decided to eat less red meat, as we will not be replacing that cow.

  73. I know this is an older post so not sure if you’re still responding to comments but I’m curious on how the size of the freezer you chose is working for you. We’re in a similar situation right now as we just had a baby so I will have breast milk to freeze, and I also already freeze a lot of food by making extras of almost everything, and we buy a lot of frozen products from Costco so having the extra space to more easily store things will be great as right now we’re often out of space in our existing freezer. 5 cubic feet initially seems a little small, but larger seems like it could be overkill, but it’s really hard to know at this point.

  74. Seems you stopped commenting on this old thread but wanted to comment- I have been debating a chest freezer, upright freezer or buying a used/inexpensive second fridge. I’m not at your level of frugalness but I think along the same lines and could totally learn from you! (all the articles about “Trim money from your budget and save!” Never help me because we are already doing those things! I want to meal prep and freeze. But we like to host parties. Never considered a mini fridge plus chest freezer would be so much less money to run and would be perfect for beer, could be unplugged when not in use, and I didn’t think about why a chest freezer is more efficient! Great info. Now to debate between auto defrosting or not. Oh, and thanks for all the commenters about adding jugs of water to the freezer to help it run better. Never would have thought of that. Now to decide on size. My boys aren’t big eaters now but I expect that to change. I stock up on frozen veggies when on sale. We get costco sized frozen things other times. So many things to consider! But thanks!

  75. Holy cow…we have a refrigerator in our garage that moves between barely- and never-used. Right now it currently holds exactly one 25-lb. bulk bag of gluten-free flour. This fridge is old, probably 15-20 years. I’m marching my electrical engineer husband out there with the watt meter tonight (thanks to one of the original commenters, now I don’t have to go buy a gadget on Amazon since hubby already has one!) and we’re unplugging that bad boy. Thanks for this awesome tip!!!! Another Frugalwoods save for our family…

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