Stocking up on staples is a great way to stretch a budget and minimise waste, so a good chest freezer is a boon to the budget-minded home cook. Sadly, common misconceptions about their energy usage and footprint size discourage the people who would benefit the most from a chest freezer — apartment-dwellers with decrepit, barely-functional appliances — from buying one.
Even if you’re cash-strapped and live in a shoebox, you can almost certainly fit a chest freezer into your life. For one thing, their reputation for being pricey power-guzzlers is thoroughly undeserved. Upfront costs are pretty minimal — the list price on a brand-new, 142L freezer is about $200-$300, which is less than most food processors.
With a little legwork, you can find a really good deal. New chest freezers go on sale in the spring and summer months, and used ones frequently pop up on Gumtree and Facebook's Garage Sale pages for less than fifty dollars. Operating costs are low, too; a good quality, medium-sized model should use around 200 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year. Just don’t forget that a full freezer runs more efficiently than an empty one: if you can’t fill up your chest freezer right off the bat, use freezer-safe containers full of water — or ice blocks — as temporary placeholders.
Apartment kitchens aren’t exactly known for thoughtful, spacious layouts, so physical size is an equally important consideration. While it’s true they’re not exactly small, I think chest freezers more than earn their space, especially if the fridge that came with your apartment is both small and old. Most models are around 80-90cm tall and 50-60cm deep; width varies with capacity. The smallest you can get from most retailers is approximately the same size as a 100L trash can, but it contributes a little bit of usable prep space. If you have room for an IKEA kitchen cart, you have room for a chest freezer.
All of this, of course, also holds true for homeowners, but I wanted to explicitly encourage renters to rethink their assumptions about chest freezers. If you’re feeding a family on a budget, or just want the freedom that comes with ample, functional freezer space, buying one will markedly improve your quality of life. Run the numbers and do your research first, of course—but chances are you won’t regret it.