How Long Should Food Be Kept in the Freezer?

I am one of the many people in the preparedness business who has warned that frozen and refrigerated food may not be usable following a crisis.

That’s because the electrical grid could get knocked out and many of us will be without the power needed to keep it frozen or cold. Of course, a generator might be able to solve that problem, but only a small percentage of Americans own generators.

Now, just because you might end up losing most of your frozen and refrigerated food if an extended blackout occurs, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep plenty of food frozen in the meantime. In fact, it’s a good idea to do that.

It’s just that you shouldn’t depend on that frozen and refrigerated food to feed you and your family in an emergency. You need dry food with a long shelf life to be prepared for a crisis.

For now, however, freezing food is a good way to keep it from spoiling before you or your family can get at it. But how long is too long for food to stay frozen?

The keys here are to properly wrap and package these foods before you stick them in the freezer, put a date on each of them as a reminder, and then eat them before they go bad. Even when frozen, food will slowly lose some of its quality, so make sure you consume it before that happens.

Here are some general guidelines regarding how long different foods can stay frozen and still be healthy to eat. None of these are guarantees.

  • Meat. Figure on about one month for bacon, two months for hot dogs and ham, four months for raw hamburger and chicken, nine months for lamb, and up to a year for steaks and pork roasts.
  • Seafood. Aim for two months for canned seafood, three months for shellfish and fatty fish, six months for shrimp, scallops and lean fish, 10 months for crab, and up to a year for lobster.
  • Fruits and vegetables. The general consensus is one year for vegetables and non-citrus fruits. Nuts and citrus fruits would be three months each.
  • Desserts and Breads. Figure on two months for baked pies, three months for pancakes, cheesecake, baked bread and cookie dough, eight months for baked cookies and baked fruit pies, and up to a year for baked muffins.
  • Eggs and Dairy. Aim for one month for raw eggs and cottage cheese, two months for ice cream and yogurt, six months for cheese, nine months for butter, and up to a year for margarine.


Like what you read? There’s more where that came from. See how your stockpile stacks up… Click here!


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