Frozen food won't spoil as quickly as fresh food in the refrigerator, but quality will deteriorate over time. Use as soon as possible, and know that nothing lasts forever - even if you put it on ice.
The guide below details how long various common food in your freezer can be stored and still safely used.
Be sure to properly package steak, fish, burgers, and chicken if you plan to marinate and ice them - and don't leave meats in their supermarket wraps. These wraps aren't designed to breathe so it will go south quicker in the freezer.
Instead, use zippered plastic bags or containers designed for freezers, or wrap food in foil or a plastic bag. Always make the bags as airtight as possible around the item you're freezing.
Packing food right has the added benefit of helping prevent that icky freezer burn. Sure, it looks gross, but if you cut away the dry ("burned") areas, the rest of the item is usually safe to eat.
Finally, get in the habit of writing the date on your bags before you freeze them, and always try to use the oldest item first.
Here are the general guidelines for how long food lasts in your freezer:
Breads: 2 months
Butter: 9 months
Chicken: 6 months
Fish and shellfish: 6 months
French fries: 6 months
Fruits: 4 months
Ground beef: 2 months
Guacamole: 3 months
Ice cream: 2 months
Pancakes and waffles: 2 months
Breakfast entrees: 3 months
Vegetables: 8 months
Note: Never store your future meals in cans or glass.
Finally, remember to check your ice-box temperature regularly to make sure it's between 0- and 5-degrees F.
About the Author
Tara Aronson is a native Californian. Having grown up in San Diego, she studied journalism and Spanish to pursue a career in newspaper writing. Tara, whose three children - Chris, Lyndsay, and Payne - are the light of her life, now lives and writes in Los Angeles. She also regularly appears on television news programs throughout the U.S.