Have you ever wished you had more room in your freezer? Are you tired of cramming it full, only to play an intense game of Tetris trying to sneak in one more item? The solution is simple: get a chest freezer.
Chest freezers are a game changer when it comes to extra frozen storage and saving money on groceries. Unlike the small freezer attached to your refrigerator, a standalone chest freezer gives you tons more space to take advantage of bulk deals and freeze leftovers, homemade meals, and fresh produce.
But not just any chest freezer will do. For families or avid freezers looking to make the most of their space, a large-capacity model is the way to go. With 20 cubic feet or more, you can stock up on a whole lot of food.
However, choosing the right big chest freezer for your needs does require some research. In this article, we’ll walk through everything you need to know to pick the perfect unit for your household. We’ll also provide our top recommendations and tips for using your new appliance.
Let’s dive in!
How Much Freezer Space Do You Really Need?
The first step is determining just how much freezer space your family actually requires. Here are some factors to consider:
- Household size – Are you shopping for a family of 4 or 8? The more people you’re feeding, the more room you’ll need.
- Food budgets – For savings, buy in bulk then break down into meal-size portions. More bulk food purchases = more space needed.
- Meal prepping habits – Freezing leftovers and homemade TV dinners means needing extra room for storage containers.
- Entertaining frequency – Stock up on party foods when on sale then freeze for later get-togethers.
- Shopping trips – Limit them by buying freezer-friendly foods in big batches.
For most families of 4, a 15 cubic foot chest freezer should suffice. But considering Americans throw away $1,500 worth of frozen food annually due to lack of space, don’t skimp. For hardcore meal preppers, more than 20 cubic feet is better. Just remember: it’s easier to fill a big freezer than cram a small one.
Chest Freezer Types and Important Features
Before picking a specific model, let’s explore the two main types of chest freezers along with must-have features:
Upright vs Chest Styles
Upright freezers are tall and narrow like refrigerators, while chest freezers are shorter and wider with lift-up lids. For maximum space, chest freezers are vastly preferred. However, uprights can fit better in narrow spots.
Energy Efficiency Ratings
Since freezers run 24/7, energy efficiency is crucial. Look for ENERGY STAR certified models. These are 10-30% more efficient than standard units.
Fast Freeze Option
Choose a model with a “fast freeze” setting to rapidly cool foods to their safe temperature. This preserves freshness and nutrients.
Temperature Alarms and Safety Locks
Handy alarms alert you if the temperature rises to unsafe levels, while locks keep kids out. Both help prevent food waste.
Baskets, Dividers and Organizers
Baskets let you neatly arrange items while dividers customize sections. This helps you find foods fast!
Automatic Defrost and Drainage
Manual defrosting is a pain. Automatic defrost units save you time and drainage systems neatly divert water.
Opt for at least a 1-year warranty. Even better, choose an extended warranty for parts and labor. It’s worth the investment for such a major appliance.
The Best Large Capacity Chest Freezers
Now that you know what to look for in a quality chest freezer, here are my top picks for large-capacity models:
Frigidaire 20.5 Cu. Ft. Chest Freezer
For outstanding space on a budget, I recommend the Frigidaire FFTR2021. Highlights include:
- High capacity yet energy efficient
- Sliding storage baskets and interior LED light
- Fast freeze option and automatic defrost
- Reversible door and front leveling feet
- Lock with pop-out key
With 20.5 cubic feet of storage, this roomy freezer comes in under $750, making it a great value. Frigidaire is also a leading freezer brand.
GE 16.6 Cu. Ft. Chest Freezer
Here’s a great mid-size pick: the GE FCM16SL. Key features:
- Generous 16.6 cubic foot capacity
- Durable steel cabinet with reversible door
- Lock and two lift-out sliding baskets
- Automatic defrost system
- Costs just $600
For families who don’t need an ultra-large freezer, this GE model gives you ample space at a reasonable price point.
Costway 15.7 Cu. Ft. Chest Freezer
My budget pick is the Costway 15.7 cubic foot chest freezer. It delivers excellent space under $500:
- Roomie 15.7 cubic feet to store food
- Efficient CFC-free insulation
- Manual defrost but includes drain plug
- Reversible door and adjustable thermometer
- Sliding basket for organizing
While you lose a few bells and whistles found in pricier models, you still get serious freezer space at a very wallet-friendly cost.
Whirlpool 21.4 Cu. Ft. Chest Freezer
For extra massive capacity, I suggest the Whirlpool WZC3115. Notable features:
- Cavernous 21.4 cubic feet
- Fast freeze option drops interior temp fast
- LED interior light and alarm
- Defrost drain and 2 baskets
- Energy Star certified
With its huge size yet energy efficient design, this model delivers both ample, organized space and savings – just under $900.
Danby 18 Cu. Ft. Upright Freezer
Finally, for those wanting an upright design, check out the Danby DUFM18A1WDD. It offers:
- 18 cubic feet in a narrow upright build
- Frost-free operation and auto defrost
- Reversible door hinges
- Interior light and 3 shelves plus bottom basket
- White cabinet blends into most spaces
Priced around $850, this is my top upright recommendation thanks to its generous capacity and efficient operation.
Tips for Organizing Your Chest Freezer
You picked the perfect large-capacity chest freezer. Now it’s time to get the most out of all that beautiful frozen space. Follow these tips for an organized, clutter-free freezer:
Use baskets – Take advantage of provided baskets or add more. Use them to group like items.
Utilize bins – Plastic bins add vertical storage for oddly-shaped foods. Label the fronts.
Sort by category – Give foods their own basket or shelf. Example sections: Meats, Fruits/Veggies, Baked Goods, Ready Meals.
Label diligently – Identify contents and dates for all bags and containers. This prevents mystery items or wasted food.
Keep an inventory – Track what you have frozen and where. Update it when adding new items or removing food.
Practice FIFO – Follow the “first in, first out” method by putting new items behind older ones and using up oldest first.
Store flat – Freeze liquid or messy foods in zipper bags laid flat to maximize space.
Turn up the cold – Keep temperature at 0°F or below so food freezes faster, preserving freshness and texture.
Save More with an Energy Efficient Chest Freezer
Since chest freezers run 24/7, energy efficiency is key for saving on operating costs. Follow these tips:
Size it right – Buy the right capacity for your needs – bigger isn’t always better for efficiency.
Look for ENERGY STAR – These models meet stricter energy guidelines – a worthwhile investment.
Seal in the cold – Ensure door gaskets are in good condition for an airtight seal.
Keep it cold – Optimal freezer temp is 0°F to -10°F. Higher temps make it work harder.
Fill ‘er up – Keep freezer at least 2/3 full at all times. More content helps it retain cold better.
Limit openings – Don’t open freezer door more than necessary. Know what you need before opening.
Regular cleaning – Dust condenser coils every 6 months and clean interior with baking soda and water yearly.
Unplug when away – Unplug freezer during extended absences, like vacation.
Follow these tips and your chest freezer should run at peak efficiency for serious savings.
Meal Prep Like a Boss with Your Chest Freezer
Your chest freezer isn’t just convenient for stashing frozen pizzas and ice cream. It’s also the ultimate tool for prepping healthy, home-cooked meals.
Take one day to cook up big batches of soups, casseroles, stews, and more. Portion into containers and fill your freezer with ready-to-reheat options for busy nights.
Here are some of my favorite freezer meal recipes:
- Chicken and veggie skillet – Sauté chicken with potatoes, carrots, green beans then freeze.
- Slow cooker beef chili – Make a big pot then freeze chili in servings.
- Broccoli cheddar soup – Creamy, comforting and freezes beautifully.
- Burritos and tamales – Assemble, wrap and freeze for grab-and-go dinners.
- Pesto pasta bakes – Toss pasta with pesto, freeze, then bake from frozen.
- Berry oat breakfast muffins – Make a batch then warm as needed for quick breakfasts.
With your spacious new chest freezer, you’ll save time and money while eating healthier. It’s a win all around!
Maintaining Your Chest Freezer
Regular maintenance keeps your chest freezer in top working order. Be sure to:
Defrost regularly – Manual defrost units should be defrosted every 6 months when frost reaches 1⁄4 inch thick.
Clean the condenser coils – Dirty coils mean the motor works harder. Clean every 6 months with a brush or vacuum.
Check the door seal – Ensure the door seals tightly. Replace worn gaskets to prevent cold loss.
Keep it clean – Wipe the interior once yearly using a baking soda and water solution. Avoid harsh chemicals.
Frequently Asked Chest Freezer Questions
If you’re still feeling chilled about choosing and using a chest freezer, here are answers to some common questions:
How cold should a chest freezer be set?
For optimal food safety and preservation, set the temperature between 0°F to -10°F. Cold air circulates better in a full freezer.
How much electricity does a chest freezer use?
On average, a 20 cubic foot chest freezer uses 476 kWh per year. Look for an ENERGY STAR model for lowest electrical costs.
What size chest freezer is best?
Choose a capacity based on your household size and freezing needs. Allow for future bulking up on sales. Between 10-20 cubic feet works for most families.
Where’s the best place to put a chest freezer?
Ideally, basements or garages make the best spots due to cooler, more stable temps. Indoor climate-controlled spaces also work well. Avoid putting in hot places like attics or sunrooms.
How long does food last in a chest freezer?
If kept at 0°F, foods last 6-12 months in a chest freezer. Use freezer bags and airtight containers and follow “first in, first out” for maximum freshness.
Can you organize a chest freezer with baskets and shelves?
Absolutely! Look for models with sliding baskets or add your own. You can also buy and install chest freezer wire shelves or racks to add layers.
Should I keep my chest freezer locked?
Locking the freezer is smart for safety and energy savings. Look for auto-lock models or use a padlock to keep kids and snoops out. Just be sure others know where the key is hidden!
How long do chest freezers typically last?
With proper care and maintenance, expect around 10-15 years of reliable freezing from a new chest freezer. Higher-end models may last up to 20 years.
##The Chill on Chest Freezers
There you have it – everything you need to know to find the perfect chest freezer for your family’s needs and budget.
With so much space for the money compared to uprights, chest freezers are ideal for serious savers and meal planners.
Be sure to measure your space, consider convenience features, and choose an energy efficient size. And don’t forget handy organizational hacks and regular maintenance to get the most out of your investment.
Frozen food will last safely for months and you’ll always have room for one more thing! Here’s to keeping your budget – and your food – frozen!