Arrow-right Camera


Freezer hunt takes food for thought

Sometimes you’ve got to spend to save.

At least that may be true if you’re buying meats or other perishable items in bulk at warehouse stores or on sale. Where do you put it all?

Here are some suggestions for what to look for when shopping for a stand-alone freezer, from Mike Goodwin of Lowe’s Companies Inc. and the Chicago Tribune:

1. Know the landscape. Home freezers typically run from 5 cubic feet – which Goodwin calls the “smallest footprint for a family of three” – to 25 cubic feet, which is the size of a commercial-grade freezer. Prices range between $150 and $700.

2. Pick your size. The rule of thumb, Goodwin says, is to multiply the number of people in your home by 1.5 cubic feet. Then figure out how much food you need to store at any given time – a cubic foot stores about 35 pounds, though packaging could account for a lot of that. An average family of four would do well with a deep freeze of 8.9 to 15 cubic feet in a chest freezer, and 16 to 20 cubic feet in an upright freezer.

3. What’s your style? Choosing a chest or an upright is the big “style” decision, Goodwin says, and it depends largely on how much space you have. Chest-style freezers, at 48 to 65 inches wide, require lots of floor space. Uprights are better if you have limited floor space – or if you don’t want to do a lot of bending over.

Chests, though, are great for people who want to freeze lots of one item – e.g., hunters with game or gardeners/farmers with crops – as they are more energy-efficient.

4. Middle ground. If you need a new freezer and a new fridge, think about the relatively new French-door-style refrigerators, which have freezers below.

5. Extras. Unless you love defrosting, look for a frost-free freezer. It will cost about $75 to $100 more. Look for good interior organization. If you have kids or simply need peace of mind, look for a locking system.

6. Energy-efficiency. Look for an Energy Star-rated freezer, particularly if you’re buying an upright model.

Another way to pay

If you’re running short on cash for Christmas gifts, consider what one marketing executive calls “the other American currency” – credit card points.

Mark Lacek, a partner at loyalty marketing company Denali Marketing in Minneapolis, estimates that more than half of the consumers who have earned rewards take advantage of them, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. But “it is very viable that a consumer could look at the balance in their credit card program and probably find many, many options” for gifts, he said.

You can use your airline miles not only to send someone on a trip, but also to shop online or buy magazine subscriptions.

To figure out the value of your rewards, points and airline miles generally equate to 2 to 3 percent, Lacek said. So if you have 100,000 points at 2 percent, you’re sitting on the equivalent of $2,000. But many programs redeem more at the 1 or 1.5 percent level. Learn the ropes of your reward program quickly so you can be sure to receive the gift before the holidays without paying for expedited shipping.