Our refrigerator got fried a couple years ago when the power came back on after an outage. *Luckily* it was right around the holidays so a lot of stores were having Black Friday sales on appliances. Instead of replacing our standard side by side fridge/freezer with another one just like it, we ended up buying a professional refrigerator instead.
A year before that, we had used some credit card rewards in the form of Best Buy gift cards to get a small chest freezer, so we had stand alone freezer space already and thought we really didn’t need more on top of that. The professional Is awesome in that it is as wide as a normal fridge freezer combo and not as deep, so all of your food is easily seen an accessible.
Like a lot of people, we are guilty of pushing things to the back of the fridge and forgetting about them, so the new fridge that we have really helps us reduce food waste and use our leftovers because we can see everything that’s in our fridge.
I absolutely HATE wasting food. Food waste in the United States is 30 to 40 percent. While some of this is in the stage before it gets to the consumer, there is just an atrocious amount of food that is thrown away just because it was purchased and then went bad before it was consumed. We do compost, so it doesn’t go in the landfill, but that doesn’t solve the problem by any stretch.
In order to really reduce our family food waste, the two biggest things we’ve done are 1) grown a lot of our own produce during the summer months and now 2) gotten a shallow fridge so we can see all the food we do have.
We’ve never been successful at long term meal planning, but we have recently cut down our grocery shopping to once or twice a week. We used to go almost EVERY day and just buy what we needed for that night’s dinner, and while that was good for not wasting food, it definitely wasn’t good for not wasting money. Unsurprisingly, not buying in bulk costs a lot more.
Now that I’m planning ahead at least by 3-4 days or more and looking at our pantry options before grocery shopping again, our food bills have come down significantly. At this point though, in order to really reduce our food spending, we need to be looking at bulk purchases and batch cooking for the freezer. Not only would this allow us to buy in bulk, but we would be able to make larger quantities of some of our favorite meals and freeze them for future dinners, freeing up our time as well.
Since we bought a quarter cow back in July, though, our freezer is still relatively full. We had completely emptied it prior to then in order for it all to fit, and while we’ve cooked a lot of ground beef and steak dinners, we still have quite a bit left.
The freezer is reasonably full with the addition of some other food as well, mainly bulk bacon from Costco, a variety of frozen vegetables, and local salmon caught by my husband or my dad. All of these are great to have on hand for quick dinners, but it doesn’t leave a lot of extra space until we’ve eaten most of the beef.
My husband is also going out hunting this weekend (and likely the weekend after that), and if he is successful, we will have a ton of venison that will need to go in the freezer. At this point, I think we would have to beg freezer space from family and neighbors in order to make room.
Unfortunately, the cost factor of a second freezer is not the biggest reason for why we’ve hesitated on this purchase. When we first got our stand alone chest freezer, we installed it in the garage, but we learned the hard way that the electrical couldn’t handle the setup when the breaker blew and we didn’t notice until the food had already thawed.
We made space in the dining area next to our kitchen, but as we live in a smaller home, there really isn’t space for another one. We would have to rewire the electrical in the garage. While it wouldn’t be terribly expensive to do ourselves, we already have a number of more important items on our house to do list (namely finishing the last 10% of our exterior house paint).
Unless we can come up with an affordable alternative, I think we are stuck at the one chest freezer (and will possibly be begging freezer space from people this winter). If you have a brilliant idea, please let me know, because if it was as easy as getting a new one (or one off Craigslist), we’d get one this weekend. We would get more than enough use than the cost of the electrical bill.