Get Started: How Long Do Meals Last?
One of the most frequent questions we get asked at Once a Month Mom is how long do meals last? How long can you keep them in the freezer before they get freezer burn and go bad? Using a freezer inventory worksheet is one way to keep track of your meals and make sure you use them before they’ve succumbed to freezer burn, but this post on preventing freezer burn is a great resource for not only how long to keep the meals, but for ways to wrap and store them so that you get the maximum amount of “freezer time” out of your food!
I highly recommend checking out that post, as well as the links Tricia lists at the bottom of the post, but the short version is this: most food items will keep 3-6 months, if wrapped and stored properly. Of course, if you’re anything like me, you enjoy “cooking” from the freezer so much that meals are barely kept for more than a month before they get eaten!
With freezer cooking it is rare that the food goes “bad” as much as it loses quality. The longer the meal is in the freezer the longer it is exposed to opening and closing doors and susceptible to freezer burn. The USDA states “Because freezing keeps food safe almost indefinitely, recommended storage times are for quality only.” The microorganisms aren’t growing as they would be in a refrigerator, organisms are frozen; however, the longer you leave the dish in the freezer the less appealing it can become. I have eaten meals that have been in the freezer for nearly a year and still lived to tell about it though! :)
This list can be used as a general guideline for keeping common items in the freezer.Some of us like guidelines though, so here are some to keep in mind:
- Fruits and Vegetables – 8-12 months
- Poultry, uncooked – 12 months
- Poultry, cooked – 4 months
- Fish – 3-6 months
- Meat, Roasts, Steaks, etc; uncooked – 4-12 months
- Ground Meat, uncooked – 3-4 months
- Meat, cooked – 4 months
- Cured or Processed Meats – 1-2 months
- Casseroles – 2-3 months
- Soups and stews – 2-3 months
How long do you store your freezer meals? Any tips or tricks to share with Once a Month Mom readers? We’d love to hear them!