Unless you have the time (and inclination) to shop daily then freezing food is basically essential. Keeping food in the freezer doesn’t have to diminish it’s taste or nutritional value, as long as you follow the right steps. Knowing how long you can keep food in the freezer is also important to ensure the best flavour and quality.
Important tips for keeping food in the freezer
- Make sure foods are wrapped well or stored in air tight containers.
- Remember to rotate food regularly so you use the things that have been frozen the longest.
- Label and date all foods when you put them in.
- Don’t put hot foods straight into the freezer. They can cause the foods around them to partially defrost and put you at risk of food poisoning.
- The higher in fat a food is, the shorter it will keep frozen.
- Keep your freezer at the right temperature. -18 degrees centigrade is ideal.
- Allow food to defrost in the fridge overnight rather than on the bench. If you need it quickly, use the defrost setting on the microwave.
- Don’t refreeze food. Once it has been defrosted, use it! You can defrost raw meat, cook it and then refreeze.
- Freeze foods in usable portions, it’s much easier when it comes to cooking or reheating.
- A full freezer is more economical to run than a partially empty one.
- Guidelines for frozen food are more about nutrients and taste than food safety but it is still best to be cautious.
How long can you keep food in the freezer?
Raw meats and seafood
Whole or roasts: 12 months
Pieces (steaks etc): 6 months
Minced: 3 months
Cooked meals and meats
Stews and casseroles: 6 months
Soups: 9-12 months
Rice and pasta dishes: 3 months
Other meals (eg roasts): 3-6 months
Fruits and vegetables
Snap frozen (prepackaged): 12 months
Berries: 12 months
Bananas (skin goes black but still ok to use): 6 months
Pureed: 9 months
Potato (cooked): 3 months
Other vegetables (cooked): 4-6 months
Milk: 3 months
Cheese: 6 months
Butter: 6 months
Muffins, cookies and cakes: 3 months
Bread: 3 months