extra freezer (good in theory or good in practice?)
i'm thinking about buying a freezer to put in our cellar. i understand that, in theory, this can save me both time and money by buying in bulk when on sale and cooking large quantities for use later. but does it work in practice, or will i forget to defrost or forget what's in there because it's not in the kitchen?
and what kind to buy? is upright preferable to chest in order to see all the items easily?
thanks in advance!
I am EXTREMELY happy to have an extra freezer in our basement - we use it a lot. There is a risk of forgetting you have certain things in there, especially the non-staple items (e.g., I know there's likely to be extra boneless chicken breasts or Italian sausages; I forget that there's a pound of some specialty sausage that we got as part of a mixed order from New Braunfels Smokehouse.)
I've tried to get into the habit of taking occasional freezer inventories, and of crossing things off the inventory when we use them - I admit that I'm not entirely efficient at this, but it does help.
Ours is a very old upright - it probably is a bit easier to see what's in there, but my understanding is that chest freezers are far more energy-efficient. Again, keeping a list of what you've got would probably help a lot, and if I had a chest freezer I'd probably just tape a copy of the list to the lid, to annotate and to refresh my memory of what's in there. (Way easier with a flat surface to write on!)
Very good in practice in our house. We buy in bulk and stock up. Our chest freezer isn't huge, but big enough to store a good amount of stuff for the two of us. I can also keep my inserts for my ice cream maker frozen at all times this way too.
Allstonian has a great idea about keeping a list of things. It's a great way to keep track of what you have in there. Also, make sure you label all your packages and date them, that way you'll know exactly what's in each pack and how old it is.
Upright is more convenient if you're going for a big freezer. Also double the price almost. But it saves you from having to dig through all the stuff on top to get to the bottom. Again, because our chest freezer is small, we don't have that much of an issue. I have to dig a little, but not much more than I would have to with an upright.
It really depends on how much you think you will use it. If you feel you'll fill it up on a regular basis and it will save you money and trips to the store (I hate grocery shopping!), then it's definitely worth it. Like anything else, you'll have to get used to remembering to get stuff out of the basement to thaw, but I don't think there will be much of a problem, considering if you can't find it in your regular freezer, you'll most likely just head downstairs and grab it right then.
I love it. I actually just have an extra fridge - when I got a new fridge, I put the old one in the basement. I can't store as much as a dedicated freezer, but in return I have plenty of room for beer, and when you're entertaining you can move stuff you don't need to the other fridge to make room.
I'll echo Allstonian's comments that it can be tough to remember what's in there. Keeping a list helps. I also label and date everything so I know what it is and how old it is.
One thing that helped us immensely is making sure we look in there when we prepare our shopping list each week so that we use stuff we have.
A vacuum sealer is also a great complement to an extra freezer.
Here here! A vacuum sealer will keep the stuff in your freezer around for ages without deterioration. Otherwise, you just end up cleaning out the freezer every few months and throwing away stuff that you can't recognize.
I use my extra freezer to take advantage of seasonal items and I eat better (and cheaper) because of it. From fresh picked blueberries to wild Alaskan salmon, it's available year round because of the deep freeze and the vacuum sealer.
Chest freezers are more energy efficient.
We have an extra fridge, too, as a matter of fact! We bought a small dorm-type fridge two summers ago that lives in a corner of the dining room and usually holds nothing but beer and soft drinks. Not only does it relieve the main fridge because we don't keep any beverages but milk and juice in there, but when we're doing parties or Thanksgiving dinner it's great to have overflow storage for pre-cooked dishes and the like.
Labeling AND DATING individual packages is essential, as others have noted, but that doesn't really help me keep on top of moving through things in the basement freezer as much as the separate list and regular inventories do. As the OP speculated, it's easy to forget about what's there besides the basics because it's inconvenient. (As a matter of fact, I'm overdue for another review of what we've got downstairs...maybe Sunday!)
BTW, we also keep at least one of our ice cream maker inserts in the downstairs freezer as well - both when we can, but sometimes it gets too crowded and one of them has to move out.
We have a dorm-size refrigerator in our laundry room (no room for anything bigger right now), and it amazes me how much difference it makes! I can pack it full after a weekly shopping trip since I'm not in and out of it all day long, and I can let it get empty before a big event so that I can store food that's prepared in advance. It's not so big that it gets out of control (at least ours isn't), and it saves the hassle of keeping the extra milk, OJ, etc that we need for the week in our kitchen 'fridge.
I'm still dying to have a freezer, though.
Yes a chest freezer is more efficient, we have a large one and you can save a lot by buying in bulk, but my wife and I almost always go crazy trying to find anything in it. Most times we have to pull out half the freezer just to find something and some stuff gets so burried that we forget we had it in there. I would never buy another chest type, our next will be a large upright that is also frost free.
Extra freezers do come in handy, but if you are going to put it in a low-traffic area and not open it every day I would sugest investing in a cheap ($10) freezer alarm just in case a breaker trips or the compressor fails. My parents lost a whole freezer worth of food that way when I was a kid. I agree with the vacuum sealer comment earlier, they are fairly cheap and will keep frozen food in good shape for a VERY long time. Vacuum sealed items can also be thawed out very quickly in a bowl with cold running water if you forget to take them out to defrost the night before. I also suggest writing the date an item is added to the freezer on the package (as well as what it is) so you can be sure to pull the oldest stuff first.