Using Your Freezer as a Long Term Food Storage Solution

For many of us, our freezer consists of frozen basics such as soups, meats, and some bags of our favorite fruits and vegetables. Have you ever put any thought into using your freezer as a food storage source? There are many different ways to create a food pantry – you don’t even need an actual pantry! Many preppers have 8 – 5 jobs and do not have time to spend hours on end packing up food. They prefer the more time-efficient route: freezing.

Pros

Freezing food for long-term storage is by far, the fastest and easiest way to have a large quantity of food on stand-by. The aspect that I love the most about this method is you can literally throw items in a bag, seal it up and you’re finished. Although there are some vegetables that require blanching before they are frozen, you can put entire meals together and freeze them for those crazy days of running the kids around town. Another reason why I like this storage method is that freezing keeps food safe almost indefinitely. The USDA recommends these storage times for quality only.

Freezer Storage Chart (0 °F) Note: Freezer storage is for quality only. Frozen foods remain safe indefinitely.

Item

Months

Bacon and Sausage 1 to 2
Casseroles 2 to 3
Egg whites or egg substitutes 12
Frozen Dinners and Entrees 3 to 4
Gravy, meat or poultry 2 to 3
Ham, Hot Dogs and Lunch Meats 1 to 2
Meat, uncooked roasts 4 to 12
Meat, uncooked steaks or chops 4 to 12
Meat, uncooked ground 3 to 4
Meat, cooked 2 to 3
Poultry, uncooked whole 12
Poultry, uncooked parts 9
Poultry, uncooked giblets 3 to 4
Poultry, cooked 4
Soups and Stews 2 to 3
Wild game, uncooked 8 to 12

Learn about which foods are best and worst to freeze. With this storage method, you also don’t have to worry about insects or eggs being on your food. By freezing your food source, the frigid temperature kills any insects or eggs that may be present on the food. 

Cons

The largest downside to this method is you are entirely dependent on electricity to maintain an adequate temperature. What happens if the electricity goes out while you are out of town or while you are away at work? When the electricity goes out, as often happens during emergencies, your food storage runs the risk of going bad. Having a backup generator can circumvent this, but you will need to have extra fuel stored. According to the USDA, if the electricity goes out in your home, a freezer full of food will usually keep about 2 days if the door is kept shut; a half-full freezer will last about a day. The freezing compartment in a refrigerator may not keep foods frozen as long. If the freezer is not full, quickly group packages together so they will retain the cold more effectively. Separate meat and poultry items from other foods so if they begin to thaw, their juices won’t drip onto other foods. Discard foods that have been warmer than 40 °F for more than 2 hours and any foods that have been contaminated by raw meat juices. If you find your stored frozen foods thawing, and believe the food can be saved, consider cooking them and using another form of food storage such as dehydrating or canning. Keep in mind, if the the foods on this list have been stored above 40°F for more than two hours, they should be discarded. Another drawback is you are limited on space with freezers. You could get a deep freezer, but that will require an additional investment.

Storing Frozen Food for Long Term Use

Stay Organized

With this food storage method, ensure that your foods are properly stored and labeled with the food source and month/year of being frozen. In some cases, adding the quantity of the food may be helpful in future preparation. When storing your frozen food, stack the foods close together and try to maintain a full freezer. That way, if the electricity does go out, having the freezer fully stocked with foods stacked closely will help maintain a more continuous temperature and take longer to thaw.

Inventory

Creating a freezer inventory will help you keep track of your food and how much you have. Keeping an inventory list on a clip board next to your freezer will help keep you organized. I have found that it can be difficult to see how much food is in your freezer. In this case, be sure to properly organize your freezer (raw meat on the bottom, meals above that, fruit and veggies above that and baked good on the top) and do inventory checks every 6 months to ensure you have an adequate amount of food stored away.

Protecting Your Frozen Food Supply 

As with all food storage, you need to protect your food investment. When using the freezing method to store food, you run the risk of food getting freezer burn if the food is not properly wrapped. Ensure that you protect your foods  by wrapping them in materials that will not expose them to air or moisture.Packaging materials must be moisture-vapor resistant; durable and leak proof;  resistant to oil, grease or water; protect foods from absorption of off-flavors or odors; easy to seal; easy to mark, and must not become brittle and crack at low temperatures. Good freezing materials include:

  1. vacuum seal pouches (these are great for refrigerated foods as well)
  2. rigid containers made of aluminum
  3. glass
  4. plastic
  5. tin or heavily waxed cardboard
  6. bags and sheets of moisture-vapor resistant wraps
  7. laminated papers made especially for freezing

For prolonged storage, overlap these packaging methods as you would with any other type of long-term storage. It is not necessary to rinse meat and poultry. It is safe to freeze meat or poultry directly in its original packaging, however this type of wrap is permeable to air and quality may diminish over time. Freeze unopened vacuum packages as is. If you notice that a package has accidentally been torn or has opened while food is in the freezer, the food is still safe to use; merely over-wrap or re-wrap it.

To conclude, if done properly, freezing your emergency food source is a great way to ensure a long term supply. Further, it is the most efficient as far as time management is concerned. If you plan to use this method, be sure that you follow the suggested ways to protect your food.

 

Prepper's Cookbook

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals. When a catastrophic collapse cripples society, grocery store shelves will empty within days. But if you follow this book’s plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply, your family will have plenty to eat for weeks, months or even years. Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published January 25th, 2013
If you found this article useful, please Vote for Ready Nutrition as a top prepper web site.
share this article with others
related reading
featured today

Leave A Comment...
Ready Nutrition Home Page

  • eileen

    Food Saver vacuum sealers should be recommended.   We sometimes store beef and poultry for 18 months or longer.  Also, we have not had any problems with bacon or sausage frozen more than a couple of months, but the store bought bacon comes vacuum sealed.
    In case of power outages and you do not have a generator, try to get dry ice. 
    Freezing pork less than 6 inches thick at 0 degrees for 3 or 4 weeks kills trichinosis.  Sorry but it doesn’t work on wild game.

52 Weeks to Preparedness
Ready Nutrition Articles By Category
Looking for something specific on our site? Start your search in our list of articles by main category topic.