How Long Will Your Food Last In A Freezer?
When trying to save a few pennies from our weekly shopping bill, we can often look to freezing as a way for us to make the most of our groceries. Preparing meals ahead of time can not only save you effort in the future, but it saves you from wasting food and money that would otherwise find its way to the bin. Unfortunately, as with pretty much everything in life, every silver lining comes with a cloud. While shop-bought frozen foods tell us how long they can last in a freezer without going off, we’re left to work out for ourselves how long our prepared meals can last.
Manufacturers add all sorts of additives and preservatives to ensure all of the food types within a dish are able to last as long as the ‘use by’ date states; but our prepared dishes are a potpourri of differing ingredients. This makes it even more difficult to predict when something will go off. After all, 90% of the ingredients could be fine; but one ingredient may go off sooner than others, ruining the whole dish.
But not to worry – we’ve compiled a list of five familiar dishes and food items that are often frozen in homes across the UK to help you work out how long they should typically last in the freezer.
When we say bread, we mean all sorts of different breads – loafs, rolls and even bagels. This can be a smart one to do if you want to save some money. Due to the relatively short self life of bread, it’s possible to find trolleys full of discounted bread at your local supermarket that has nearly reached the end of its ‘best before’ date. Buy a load of cheap loafs and stick them in your freezer – you’ll have cheap bread for weeks to come! While some loafs tend to come with freezing instructions, other breads (such as loose rolls and bakery items) don’t have such instructions. While a little bit of the flavour may be lost, bread can generally last anywhere from 3 to 6 months in your freezer.
A great dish for meat-lovers, vegetarians and vegans alike, chilli has become a firm favourite in British households. Easy to make in big batches, chilli is the ideal dish for either freezing leftovers or creating extra dishes to be frozen. Strangely enough, many people report that the taste of the chilli actually improves after it has been frozen – perhaps due to the flavours marrying over time. In terms of time-scale, chilli is well-suited to batch-cooking – with it likely to last between 4 to 6 months when frozen.
Another one that also has the same benefits as chilli. If you’ve got enough oven dishes, you can easily cook up dozens of portions of lasagne for later. People also report the flavours becoming more intense after it being frozen. Frozen lasagne is a great dish to store away if you get unexpected (hungry) guests, and it can last up to 18 months in the freezer. Just make sure Garfield isn’t around to see you store it away…
If you always thought soup had to be served in liquid form… Well, you’d be correct. But who said it needed to be stored in liquid form? Soup can be frozen in a container. It may concern you to see this once rich, textured liquid now reduced to a slab that could probably knock out Floyd Mayweather in one round, but don’t worry – some heat will restore it to its previously glorious form. The safe duration for frozen soup really does vary by what is in the soup – such as milk or meat – but most soups will last between 2 to 3 months whilst in a frozen state. Yet another one that’s easy to prepare in huge batches too!
Last, not but not least, we come to berries. In general, fruits and vegetables can last quite some time when frozen – and this is especially good if you have some leftover ingredients from a recently prepared meal or dessert. But fresh berries tend to be an incredibly seasonal treat for those with a particular love for juicy fruits and baking. If you’ve sourced some local fresh berries, but are concerned you won’t use them all up, then don’t worry – they can be frozen for anywhere between 6 to 8 months. This ensures that you can enjoy near-fresh berries all year-round.