HOW LONG DOES MEAT LAST IN THE FREEZER? HOW LONG IS FROZEN MEAT GOOD FOR?
How long does meat last in the freezer might not be the most important question. The more important answer to that question might be: how do I create a system of cleaning out my freezer, labeling everything, and ensuring that meat and other freezer fare is always fresh? We will discuss how long meat lasts in the freezer, as well as other common freezer foods.
The first thing to do when organizing your freezer is to purchase some fridge/freezer bins to keep everything organized. You will be sorting your food one food type at a time, including your meat so you will always know how long it lasts in the freezer. There is no need to set aside hours of time and clean out your freezer all at once, unless that is your style. If it is, you do you! You are going to organize your freezer much like your pantry.
ORGANIZE YOUR MEATS
If you are anything like the average household, you have a few packages of unlabeled mystery meat in your freezer, along with year-old ground beef, an entire turkey you got from your company last November, and half a package of boneless chicken breasts with as much ice as chicken.
While some meats can last up to twelve months in the freezer, you will want to plan on using them within three months as a general rule.
In my cooking, I try to use fresh meat whenever possible without freezing it. If I only shop once a week, however, the meat I use at the end of the week usually needs to be frozen. Because of this, I prioritize recipes that use chicken breasts and fish at the beginning of the week. I find the texture of chicken and fish changes the most when it has been frozen.
ORGANIZE VEGGIES & FRUITS
There are several veggies that I keep on hand and use in many recipes. Spinach freezes well and is often easier to cook with than fresh spinach. I also always have frozen peas in the freezer.
In the fruit category, I have frozen cherries on hand to add as dessert toppings, as well as frozen peaches, blueberries and strawberries for my kids to make shakes.
Whenever I cook soups, stews, chili or casseroles I usually double the recipe and freeze the second batch. Soups and casseroles freeze so easily and make an easy real-food meal when you don’t have time to cook. Soup generally freezes for about three months, while casseroles can be frozen for up to six months.
We have waited until you are almost four months in the Eat Well program to go through your quick freezer meals. Many households use quick freezer meals as their dinner staple. Whether that means chicken nuggets, pot stickers, coconut shrimp, frozen lasagna, or TV dinners, you have probably not used much of your freezer meals since you started cooking.
After four months of this food sitting in your freezer, it is time to throw out anything you no longer eat. Feel the resistance of throwing out all of that expensive food, remember that it is breaded and fatty and filled with preservatives, and then do it anyway.
It is easy to hold on to the food you used to eat because of economics and waste. When I am stewing in a save-or-toss decision I usually ask myself: if this were on the shelf at the store today, would I buy it? If the answer is no, you can throw it out.
SAVING STARVING CHILDREN
Growing up, you may have heard from your parents that you shouldn’t waste food while there are starving children in the world. While starving children truly is a terrible problem and something that we should all care deeply about, it has nothing to do with you eating every scrap and morsel of food in your freezer.
You eating poorly won’t help starving children. You eating poorly won’t help landfills. You eating poorly won’t help itinerant farmers. You eating poorly helps no one.
Your body doesn’t need to be the ground where you fight injustice in the world.
Feed yourself really good foods so that you have energy and health to fight those injustices!
You can also feel good about your daily cooking habits. This eating lifestyle leaves very little food waste, very little packaging to throw out, and much less money spent than on prepackaged foods. Cooking real foods is better for you physically, better for the environment, and better for your budget.
When you take the time to clean out your freezer, get organized, and ensure that meat isn’t left in your freezer too long, you will feel organized and ready to cook healthy foods! To continue your organization journey, try organizing your pots and pans next. Have fun cleaning out your freezer, and knowing how long meat lasts in the freezer!