If you want to avoid making frequent trips to the grocery store, then you need to stock up on food with every trip. In order to keep your food fresh and safe to eat throughout the week, you will probably have to freeze some of your groceries. Over time, you may find that some food items sit in the freezer longer than others and you may be wondering if those items are safe to eat after a certain period of time. Generally, your freezer will keep foods safe to eat over long periods of time. However, your foods will lose flavor the longer they remain frozen, so it is best to eat them while they are in the prime of their flavor. Keep your foods at zero degrees Fahrenheit or lower to ensure that they stay frozen. Once some meats are thawed and re-frozen, they lose integrity in flavor and cooking power.
Meat isn’t the only thing you can store in the freezer; many fruits and vegetables keep nicely in the freezer, which can be handy if you love preserving. Fruits and vegetables stored in airtight bags or containers will keep anywhere from eight months to a year in your freezer. Again, the main concern with keeping them in the freezer too long is that they will experience a drop in freshness and flavor. Some fruits and vegetables will be mushier when they are thawed, so remember that your texture preferences will play a big role in what you do and do not freeze. For easiest use, blanch your vegetables before freezing and all you will have to do is steam them when you pull them out.
Milk and stored breast milk are also common freezer items. If you are storing your milk in a deep freezer like a chest freezer, then it will probably keep for up to a year. If the freezer commonly runs a defrosting program, your milk may not keep as long, since it doesn’t respond well to being re-frozen. In your kitchen freezer, most milk will last a maximum of six months, since the door is frequently opened and closed, allowing the cold air to escape and the temperature to drop. Since milk doesn’t re-freeze, you will want to store it in small batches so nothing is wasted.
Fresh, unprocessed meats keep the longest in the freezer; most of them will keep well for up to one year. This includes:
If these food items are immediately frozen after they are butchered and handed to you, then they will maintain their freshness for a fairly long period of time. However, processed meats usually last a maximum of six months before losing flavor, like:
Remember to keep them near the front of your freezer so you use them quickly. Cooked meats last the shortest amount of time in the freezer, maxing out in flavor retention at about three to four months. If you are pre-cooking and freezing meat to use within the week or month, then this shouldn’t be a concern, but be aware that cooked meats frozen for long periods of time may not be as tasty as their fresher counterparts.