Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Frugal Freezer as Vacation Fund

Previously I blogged about frugal road tripping and how I manage it, most of the time. As I mentioned there, my intention is to go to Denver this summer via Route 66, Albuquerque (perhaps), Santa Fe and Taos. Because I have chosen to stay in a historic hotel in down town Santa Fe, this road trip will be a bit more costly for me, even with my frugality. I want to stay in the city, right off the main square and I want to eat one night in a very nice restaurant (and yes, I'll do it alone!).

This is where extreme couponing, loss leader prices and my full sized freezer skills come to fruition. In order to have that extra cash, I intend to spend no money for the next month in terms of food and household supplies. The exceptions will be milk and fresh produce, which I could not live without. I'm able to do this because I have a full pantry and fridge (not shown) as well as the freezer shown above. Admittedly, the freezer is also evidence of my general lack or orgaination (we can't all be givted in every area.)

This freezer is full of (mainly) healthy foods all bought at loss leader prices. At this moment it holds boneless breasts (bought at 1.89, for example), chicken thighs, ham slices, pork chops, pork stir fry, baby back ribs and country ribs.  There are steaks (bought at fifty percent off in a family pack and repacked individually), salmon, scallops, shrimp, ground beef and ground turkey to name a few.  These items were all bought when they were at my lowest price and I got enough to last at least three months. There are also lots of beef hot dogs, boxes of frozen vegetables gotten for fifty cents, Lean cuisines for my diet lunches, and Sister Schubert dinner rolls. Lest I sound too healthy, the bottom shelf holds some gourmet pizzas gotten for a dollar, Sarah Lee cheesecakes, frozen shredded cheese, and many weight watchers desserts.

I don't buy my groceries at loss leader prices or keep a freezer to fund vacations per se. I do so because it keeps my grocery costs very low on a month to month basis. But not having to shop for a month is obviously a side benefit, as are having it available for other circumstances. Earlier this year I had a bug that just held on for a couple months. I was on my feet, but felt punky and when I went out, I sounded like a barking seal. Contagious or not, it was an experience. During that six weeks, other than having a friend pick up some fresh fruit, I was able to eat well and healthily without going to the store

Some might say that I'm robbing Peter to pay Paul, and in a sense that's true.  When we live within a budget, that's the norm.  Eventually, I'll have to refill that freezer. But Ill be able to do it at my own pace, within my own budget. If I had to simply shop each week and eat what I bought, I would either have a more expensive grocery bill, or I would be eating very repetitively (not the end of the world, as my previous post on living seasonally). In my case I can do that, but I prefer my "proteins" to be varied. Even within my guidelines for this month, if there were a knock down drag out special on something I needed, I would buy it and store it.

By taking advantage of my "stockpile" and eating from what is on hand, I will save a couple hundred dollars minimum. Is this a huge amount? No, but combined with controlled spending in other areas (along with judicious use of online discounts and codes), the difference will allow me to eat a gourmet dinner and enjoy an overnight at a pueblo style hotel in the city. As I said before, we can have it all, not just at once.


  1. That's a really nice freezer. I always wanted one of them. Something to think about and plan for.

    Have a good vacation. Maybe you can share some photos of the trip?

  2. That's a good way to save the money. It sounds like a fun trip. I've been through Albuquerque, but never been to Santa Fe and Taos. Maybe someday.

  3. I've relied mostly on my freezer for meat the past month or so except for some boneless skinless chicken breasts that were on sale but I didn't restock. I wanted to pay my tires and car repair without touching emergency savings and will continue that somewhat this month as I have flood insurance to pay and a car loan I want to pay off asap.


  4. Thanks MOrrison-I wont be leaving until mid July, and I will takelots of pics

  5. I have freezer envy too...enjoy your road trip :)

  6. We have always thought about a freezer but our house is too small to hold one. That leaves the garage. But, in the summer it stays well over one hundred degrees out there, meaning the freezer would be burning a lot of electricity, all day, every day.

    A problem unsolved.

  7. Morrison, this one cost a couple hundred bucks, (granted four years ago) and is the smallest or second smallest upright.

  8. Bob, while I dont live in AZ, I do live in texas and its a hundred degrees right now. Both my freezer and my water heater are in my garage. Most everyone I know has a garage freezer. My eletric bills are not higher and you cannot "hear" the freezer all the time. My electric bills, with three people in the house and a base temp of 78 run less than 200 annually (averaged)


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