Here is everything you need to know about freezer food storage — how long things last, where to get the best deals, how to freeze, and more! It’s a great way to save money and have ingredients for meals at all times!
As I scroll through Pinterest, I often see pins for food storage and for freezer meals. Both are great topics that I need to learn more about. As such, I have two boards on Pinterest dedicated to both these purposes. When I was looking at some of these posts one day, I thought…why not write a post about freezer food storage? It’s not something I feel like a lot of people address (though maybe they do – I just never see it!), but I think it’s a great way to save money (by buying in bulk) and having a lot of resources for your meals.
Foods We Always Have a Supply Of:
Shredded Cheese (We buy a large bag from Costco or Sam’s Club and divide it into multiple smaller freezer bags)
Fruit — either pre-frozen, bagged fruit, or I will freeze strawberries, bananas (unpeeled), etc. to use in smoothies or other recipes.
Rotissiere Chicken – We love rotissiere chicken, but one is much to large for our little family to eat in one sitting. Whenever we get rotissiere chicken, I shred it, use what we want that night, and then put the rest into freezer bags to freeze. It’s great to have four soups, casseroles, and salads!
How Long Foods Last:
Chicken or Turkey (uncooked): 9 months
Butter: 6-9 months
Cookies: 3 months
Ground Beef, Turkey, etc. (uncooked): 3-4 months
Chicken, cooked: 4 to 6 months
Turkey, cooked: 4 to 6 months
Bacon, Lunch Meat and Hot Dogs: 1 to 2 months
Fruit: 6 to 12 months
Tips for Freezing Foods
After you’ve invested the money into stocking up your freezer, you’ll need to invest a little bit of time into making sure it lasts! Here are a few things I recommend having:
- Good quality freezer bags (both in the gallon and quart size)
- A jelly roll pan
- Good quality storage containers (Rubbermaid is the way to go!)
- Plastic wrap
- Tin foil
And here are a few tips:
- Make sure your freezer is below zero degrees farenheit. This is very important for the safety of your food.
- Flash freeze chicken to make it easier to store them all in larger bags, but so you don’t have to unfreeze the entire bag to use one or two pieces. For this, you need to place the pieces of chicken onto a jelly roll pan (not touching) in the freezer for about two hours. After two hours, remove from freezer, and place into gallon size freezer bags. When you need a piece of chicken, you should be able to remove it pretty easily from the bag, because it didn’t initially freeze all clumped together with the other pieces!
- Label, Label, Label! There’s nothing worse (okay, maybe a few things) than going to the freezer and not knowing how long something you froze has been there. You should put the date it was frozen, how long it will last, and what it is. I didn’t label what some of the meat in our freezer was once, and I kept having to guess if something was ground turkey our sausage!
- Wrap foods tightly, and, if you are using freezer bags, make sure to press out any of the extra air. This will prevent freezer burn.
- Defrost in the refrigerator — this is the safest way to ensure your food doesn’t grow any extra bacteria while it’s defrosting, making it much safer to eat.
- Freeze foods in a single layer
- When freezing fruit, remove stems, peels, or skin.
Foods that Don’t Freeze Well
- Sour Cream
- Egg Whites, cooked
- Cream Sauces
- Citrus Fruit sections
- Fried foods
Pros of Freezer Food Storage
- You can stock up during sales and not feel like you have to eat chicken for two weeks straight in order to use it
- You don’t have to go to the store as much
- Nice stock pile of food that can easily be used in a variety of different meals
Cons of Freezer Food Storage:
- If the power goes out for an extended period of time, you may lose out on a lot of food (which, of course, is a lot of money too!)
- Takes up a lot of space, especially if you don’t have a dedicated freezer
- If someone accidentally leaves the freezer door slightly open, and you don’t realize it for awhile, your food can go bad
- Takes time to prep
Where and When I like to Buy My “Freezer Food Storage”
- The discounted meat section: Most grocery stores have one of these, and it’s basically filled with meats that have been marked down because they are about to go past their “best by date.” If you buy these, you’ll need to freeze them right away, but the meat is still good and great for freezing! We’ve gotten some great deals on this. Some stores have specific days where they have a discounted section, so check with your local grocery stores. I believe Sam’s Club even has a section like this.
- The meat counter: Sometimes, the meat counter at the store has cheaper meat than in the prepackaged section. For instance, for a long time at our local Smith’s store, the ground turkey that was prepackaged was 2.99 a pound, but if you bought it from the counter, it was 1.99. It’s worth checking out!
- Zaycon Foods: This is my favorite place to get chicken. We’ve gotten chicken orders from Zaycon a couple of times, and I’m not sure we ever will go back to just buying it at the store. They sell extremely high quality chicken breasts (100% natural with no artificial ingredients, additives, or hormones) and never frozen. It’s not a store, but a company that goes around the company and has events where you can go pick up your order. The only downside is that you have to order 40 pounds of it, but you can easily split that with friends. I believe it comes to about 1.94 a pound, which is crazy, considering how high quality the meat is.Their website has a location locator where you can see if they are coming near you — and if they aren’t, they are always looking for a new locations! I think they usually have two chicken events a year at every location.Zaycon also has events for sausage, bacon, chicken thighs, milk, hams, fruit, and more, but I’ve never tried them so I can’t personally vouch for them. However, I know that everything they manufacture is high quality, and the chicken is better than any I’ve ever bought from the store.
- Always shop sales (and price match!): I’m not really into couponing, but when stocking up on any food, it’s important to check out the sales. There are tons of sites out there that will post the best deals for your area, and I recommend subscribing to those. And, if you see a store that is having a sale on some kind of food, but you don’t really like the quality of that store, you can most likely price match it at another store! For instance, a few years ago, a grocery store near our house was having a killer sale on chicken, but their meat was kind of gross, so we price matched at Walmart no problem.
- Costco or Sam’s Club: We love to buy things in bulk at Costco and freeze it! I think my favorite things to buy are shredded cheese and Jimmy Dean Natural sausage. These are the only places I’ve been able to find that kind of sausage from Jimmy Dean, and it’s all natural with no nitrites. I believe it’s 5.98 for three pounds, which is a great price. I usually divide it into 1/2 pound increments to freeze. With the cheese, I just usually divide it into small freezer bags, about 8 ounces per bag.
I’d love to hear any tips I might have missed, or where you buy your freezer food storage! Be sure to check out this round up of freezer meals you can make if you want to take things a step further.
photo credit: riekhavoc via photopin cc
Katie is a Colorado-native, BYU graduated, and most importantly, wife to one and mother to three beautiful boys. She is passionate about sharing her experiences with others – especially about pregnancy, breastfeeding, cooking, and crafts. She is currently training to be a Certified Lactation Educator. She loves spending time with her family and helping others find joy in family life.
Thomas J Batchelor says
have a roll of jimmy deans pork sausage that has never been opened or defrosed for 10 months can I still use it for my stuffing,
Technically it stays good for 1-2 months, but I’ve used frozen sausage well after that.
How does the shredded cheese hold up to the freezing? Does it change the texture at all?
Nope, not at all! I just throw the bag of cheese in my refrigerator to let it thaw, and I would never know it was frozen after it thaws. 🙂
Thanks for the tips and the time table.
You are very welcome!