If you plan to stock up on meat, you’ll need ample freezer space. A dedicated freezer is highly recommended and we’re here to walk you through what you might need.
We’ve fielded a lot of questions about freezers over the years. Here are our suggestions, in order of importance.
Before getting a freezer, you should have a good idea of what’s going in it. A one-eighth beef would need approximately two-and-a-half cubic feet (the same as a whole lamb). Three of our pasture-raised chickens occupy about one cubic foot. You can scale these numbers according to what works for your family; we generally advise against buying more meat than you family can consume in a year.
Consider everything else that might be going into the freezer, like seafood shares, summer berries, etc. Generally, a seven-by-ten-cubic-foot-freezer is a good size for most families. It has the space for an eighth of beef, half a lamb, some chickens, a box of seafood, and a few flats of berries. If you are thinking about storing fresh and seasonally available products all year, or have more than two adults and two children in the household, consider a 12-to-14-cubic-foot freezer.
Upright freezers need more height, chest freezers need more floor space. Convenience is the key and it should be easy to both get put items in the freezer from your car as well as collecting them as needed when cooking.
Chest freezers are more volume efficient. If you are still after an upright freezer, we suggest sizing up 20% due to inaccessible volume (the extra shelving and door racks help with access and organization but waste total capacity).
Price versus utility is also an important consideration. Upright freezers tend to cost 60-80% more for the equivalent capacity. Meanwhile, chest freezers usually don’t come with a frost-free option and should be defrosted every year (the best time to do so is right before purchasing your products in the summer).
In some upright models, each shelf has its own cooling capability. These freezers tend to be expensive but the ability to cool each shelf independently could be helpful should you decide to freeze a large volume of stuff in a short period of time. Note that our beef, lamb, and seafood shares come frozen so, if anything, they’ll help in lowering the temperature of your freezer.
We have always recommended brand names as something our customers can trust. Beyond this, the next consideration is where to purchase. Usually, local specialty stores meet, or sometimes even beat, box store prices. Service is another consideration. There’s a lot to be said for having someone to call if and when your freezer stops working.
Family Eating Habits
Most importantly, you should be thinking about what your family eats and at what rate. Here’s an example for a family of four that eats meat at home four nights a week (two adults, two kids). This breaks down to cooking roughly one-and-a-half-pounds of meat, four nights a week, or six pounds per week. That translates to about 300 pounds of meat per year.
If you’re starting from scratch and hoping to change your meat-buying habits this year, here are some considerations for scheduling your meat purchases.
The first is to plan your orders so that you spread out costs on a regular, predictable schedule. Another is freezer capacity. Just because you use 300 pounds of animal proteins a year does not mean you need to store it all at once (300 pounds would require about 14 cubic feet but you likely don’t need a freezer that large).
Another consideration is seasonal availability, aka the farm’s schedule. It’s important because not all meats and other seasonal produce are available all of the time.
You can elect to make smaller, more frequent purchases if you want to have fresher meat and be able to keep a smaller freezer (or choose items with a shorter shelf life, like bacon). Or, you might decide to purchase several things at once for efficiency’s sake. In practice, it’s usually a trade-off between the two.
So, read up about different freezer brand and visit your local appliance store to compare styles, features, brands, and configurations. Have a family meeting about your annual protein needs and get a freezer that suits you and yours. It’ll set you up perfectly to place your order of meats and tackle a year of sustainable practices and delicious foods!