Guest Author - Jane Bouey
If you are living the frugal lifestyle or just trying to save some money, your freezer can go along way towards helping you make ends meet. It can also ensure you a constant supply of food that isn't always in season but special recipes might call for.
In order for your freezer to help you out, you need to invest in an energy efficient model, preferably second hand so that you are not paying out your first year of savings to a retailer. Keep your energy bills down by keeping your freezer in the coolest area of your home, and leave at least 2” of space between a wall and the appliance's intake/exhaust.
The first way to save is to buy fresh, in season and in bulk. Fruits and vegetables can be purchased in season directly from the farm gate, often at a discount of $0.25 to $1.00 per pound. You can feel good about money going directly to a farmer and his/her community's well-being. Food grown with love tastes better and is healthier for you. You will have the added benefit of making a new friend, teaching the kids about where food comes from, and a short story to go along with your pie.
Also, if you have fresh fruits and vegetables about to over ripen (or if you are about to go away and can't use all of your produce up), the freezer can be very helpful. Think of all the money you waste every week on off-produce, and moldy dairy products. Just do a weekly fridge and countertop inventory and freeze everything that is about to expire. Make sure to label and date everything using a permanent marker on a zip-lock bag or a resealable container.
Thirdly, save some time and money by doubling or tripling every recipe you make. Put the extras in your freezer and save:
1) by not eating out when you don't feel like cooking
2)energy by cooking multiples at the same time
For those who eat meat, you can also save by buying entire or halves of animals and freezing. Just make sure you buy the animal direct from the farmer. Save even more by hunting it yourself or by buying from an auction house and hauling your steak to the processors.
Most everything freezes well, you just need to be creative. Lettuce and other greens can be steamed before freezing. Cheese is best shredded first. Apples, potatoes, onions, and garlic can be stored in a cool, dark place and don't need to be frozen. For bulky fruits that could freeze in weird formations and take up a lot of space (such as peaches), slice and freeze separately on a tray before placing in a bag and back in the freezer.
If you are worried about lengthy power outages in your area, freeze a large block of ice (buckets of water work well) and put it in the center of your freezer. It will keep everything from spoiling if the power is out for an extended period.