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How Much Will A 5 Cubic Foot Freezer Hold?


If you’re looking for extra food storage, buying a freezer is a great investment. You can take advantage of food sales and stock up on meat. If you don’t have a lot of space or need for a large freezer, you may wonder, how much will a 5 cubic foot freezer hold? A general guideline is to multiply the number of people in your household by 1.5-2.5 cubic feet of freezer space to determine your storage needs.

Why the variation? To account for packaging which takes up space, and also to account for various appetites. If you have small children, multiply by 1.5 cubic feet.

It’s important to buy the right size freezer for your needs and space availability. A freezer that’s too small won’t meet your needs. In our opinion it’s safer to buy one that’s slightly larger than needed. This way you won’t run out of room, and you can always fill up the empty space with ice to maximize efficiency.

So, how much will a 5 cubic foot freezer hold? Let’s take a closer look.

Freezer Sizes

Most freezers come in four sizes. Determining the minimum size freezer for your household is a good starting point. 

TypeFreezer Capacity (cubic feet)
Small6 to 9
Medium12 to 18 
Source: Lowe’s

How much meat does a 5 cubic foot freezer hold?

One of most common items to stock up on is meat. With a short shelf life in the fridge, it makes sense to freeze extra meat in the freezer. Whether you have a hunter in the family, or prefer to buy your meat in bulk, having freezer space is a good thing. 

According to Cove Creek Farm, one cubic foot of freezer space stores roughly 35-40 pounds (16-18 kilograms) of packaged meat. This guideline accounts for variation in packaging size and shapes.

A 5 cubic foot freezer would snugly fit a quarter beef. Note that this is a dedicated 5 cubic foot freezer to hold only a quarter beef. If you have other frozen foods, they may need transferring to your fridge-freezer if possible. Otherwise, you may need to get an eighth beef.

Credit: Home Depot, 5.0 cu. ft. Chest Freezer in White from Magic Chef

How much will a 5 cubic foot freezer hold: different scenarios

We mentioned above that a general guideline is to multiply the number of people in your household by 1.5-2.5 cubic feet to determine your freezer storage needs.

Here’s a chart outlining a rough guideline of freezer storage needs based on household composition. To be on the safe side and allow for extra space, we’ve multiplied adults by 2.5, and children by 1.5.

HouseholdFreezer Storage Needs (cubic feet)
Two adults5
Two adults, two young children8
Two adults, three young children9.5
Four adults10

Generally speaking, a 5 cubic foot freezer is sufficient for a two-person household.

Another guideline to consider is: 1 cubic foot of freezer space holds roughly 35 pounds (16 kilograms) of food. A 5 cubic foot freezer holds approximately 175 pounds (79 kilograms) of food.

Freezer considerations

There are many factors to take in account when deciding on the proper freezer other than size.

Household needs

Are you planning on making extra meals to freeze? Do you like to buy food in bulk? Do you have someone who hunts in the family and needs a lot of space for meat? Do you have a large garden that requires freezing of fresh fruits and vegetables?

Or, maybe, you prefer to buy your food fresh and are only looking to freeze the occasional lasagna or loaf of bread.

Evaluating your household needs is one of the most important considerations when determining the freezer size.

Freezer style

There are two main styles of freezers—upright freezer or chest freezer (aka box freezer). 

Upright freezers look similar to fridges with a door that swings open horizontally. They have adjustable shelving and take up less floor space. People like upright freezers for easy-access to food and the freezer compartment. 

The downside to upright freezers is they hold less than chest freezers. According to Consumer Reports, the shelves and bins of upright freezers take up about 20 percent of the available storage space

Chest freezers have doors that open (like a treasure chest). While they take up more floor space, they also hold more food per cubic foot. Food also tends to stay cooler better in a chest freezer. In case of a power outage, food stored in a chest freezer is generally able to keep cool for a longer period of time than an upright freezer. New or used chest freezers are typically less expensive than upright freezers.

The downside to chest freezers is that food that’s on the bottom is often forgotten about. To keep frozen foods organized, consider buying freezer bins or wire baskets. 

Available space

How much space do you have available in your home? Or will your freezer go in the garage? No matter where you decide to put your freezer, you’ll need adequate space to accommodate a freezer.

Make sure to allow for at least 1 inch of space between the back of the freezer and the wall, as well as several inches clearance all around. This ensures adequate airflow and helps your freezer work well.

Ensure you have a cool, dry area to put your freezer away from windows and sunlight, and other heat sources.

Credit: Home Depot, 5.0 cu. ft. Chest Freezer in White from Magic Chef

Why it’s important to get the right freezer size

When it comes to freezer efficiency and food safety, it’s important to get the appropriate size for your household needs. Why?

Freezers that are stuffed to the brim don’t have adequate air circulation. Some foods stay cold, while others aren’t cold enough leading to potential food safety issues. The freezer compressor also works harder when your freezer is too full. Try to leave room at the top and along the sides of the freezer compartment for better airflow.

On the other hand, freezers that sit mostly empty are also inefficient. A large empty space requires a lot of energy to constantly keep cool. 

So, how do you fill up an empty freezer?

Try filling clean milk jugs or other juice containers with water (remember to leave room at the top for expansion). You can also fill Ziploc bags with water or ice cubes. When your freezer is adequately full, it helps better retain the cold air every time the door is opened.

Tip: Aim for a freezer that’s around 70-85 percent full. This allows proper air circulation while also maximizing energy efficiency. 

The takeaway: how much will a 5 cubic foot freezer hold?

While there’s no black-and-white answer, a 5 cubic foot freezer should be sufficient for a two-person household. It may accommodate a family of four (but it’ll likely be a tight squeeze!) if the freezer is not used frequently. If you’re wondering how much meat this is, it’s roughly a quarter beef. A freezer of this size holds approximately 175 pounds (79 kilograms) of food. 

Whether a 5 cubic foot freezer is right for you really depends on your personal needs and usage as well as home space availability.

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  1. Lowe’s, Freezer Buying Guide, Accessed November 2020.
  2. Sparacio, Micah (23 March 2020). “How Much Beef Can I Fit in a Freezer?“, Cove Creek Farm. Accessed November 2020. 
  3. Consumer Reports, Freezer Buying Guide, Accessed November 2020. 
  4. Sears Home Services, 5 Most Common Freezer Problems and Solutions, Accessed November 2020.

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