When to Toss the Food in Your Freezer

To toss or not to toss? That is the question we all face when cleaning out the freezer. As long as your appliance is working properly and keeping foods at 0 °F, its contents can safely be stored indefinitely. How it tastes after spending months (or years!) covered in ice crystals is another question altogether. Use this times provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a quick reference guide to know when it’s time to say goodbye to the fillings of your freezer.

  • Bacon 1-2 months
  • Casseroles 2-3 months
  • Soups/stews 2-3 months
  • Gravy 2-3 months
  • Fish (fatty) 2-3 months
  • Frozen dinners 3-4 months
  • Beef 3-4 months
  • Pork 4-6 months
  • Fish (lean) up to 6 months
  • Soft cheese 6 months
  • Butter 6-9 months
  • Chicken (parts) 9 months
  • Chicken (whole) 12 months

It’s a good idea to use a Sharpie to write the dates on the package when you put it in the freezer so there is no question as to how long it’s been in there. It will still have the same nutritional quality if you keep it longer than recommended, but the taste and texture will likely be less than appetizing. You can also use the Best Before App to keep track of expiration dates and prevent excessive waste.

If you aren’t sure how a certain food has been in your ice box, try one of these other tests.

Changing Colors

Steak, hamburger roasts and other red meats tend to turn brown after freezing them. This is normal and they do not need to be thrown out. If you see grey, leathery spots on meat or other items, however, this means it has freezer burn and you should either toss the food or cut of the grey area before cooking it. Fruits or vegetables that have become lighter in color have dried out and are probably belong in the trash can rather than your smoothie glass.

Offensive Odor

Any type of food that doesn’t smell normal after it has thawed should be thrown out immediately. Foul odors usually indicate that it hasn’t been stored at the right temperature and will make you sick.

How often do you clean out your fridge and freezer? Do you use an app or have another system for keeping track of the contents of your ice box? Let us know by commenting below.

Amy Johnson

is UDR’s budding social media guru, and has been instrumental in constructing the brand’s content strategy. After graduating from University of Colorado- Boulder, she started working for UDR as a marketing intern. When she isn’t perusing the web for the perfect pins and Facebook posts, she can be found hiking somewhere with her dog Rory.

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