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11 Things in Your Freezer You Should Toss Out

Need to make some room in the freezer? When in doubt, throw it out.

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Ice cube tray filled with ice cubes and three lose ice cubes against dark wood.
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Smelly ice cubes

There’s nothing refreshing about taking a big gulp of ice water and tasting the garlic you put in the freezer last week. Once ice cubes have taken on the scents around them, they’ll never get rid of them. Toss those and start fresh. If this is a problem you have found yourself facing, it might be time to invest in ice cube trays with lids—they can help preserve the ice cubes’ freshness and keep them odor-free. This 4-pack from Amazon has silicone bottoms that make popping out a cube or two extra easy. Plus, they stack neatly so you can keep your freezer neat and organized!

Food Packaged
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Forgotten freezer meals

Look at you with your freezer full of healthy freezer meals! It’s great to plan ahead but don’t get overambitious with your meal prep. Prepared freezer meals should be eaten within three months. Try a first-in, first-out approach, and keep track of your freezer’s contents using labels. These freezer-safe container labels from Amazon give you space for a date and the container contents, as well as instructions for re-heating.

Overturned container with roasted coffee beans on table
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Stale coffee beans

Storing ground coffee in the freezer can preserve freshness but be mindful of how long those beans have been sitting in there. Coffee beans absorb moisture, as well as the various tastes and smells around them, so make sure to use them within three months. Not sure what to do with extra beans in such a short amount of time? Here are some uses for coffee you didn’t know about before.

Frozen vegetables in a plastic bag. Healthy food storage concept.
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Freezer-burned veggies

How long has that bag of frozen mixed veggies been sitting in the back of your freezer? If it survived your last move, it’s time to toss it. Frozen veggies can be kept in the freezer for about three months—or shorter if freezer burn has crept in.

Four drawer freezer, full meet and chicken in studio shot
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Thawed meat

We love keeping a supply of chicken freezer meals on hand for busy weeknights. Once meat like chicken begins to thaw, though, it starts to grow bacteria. If your freezer isn’t functioning at the optimal freezer temperature, the meat inside can start to thaw without anyone the wiser, which can be unsafe. But what if you took something out for dinner and had a change of heart—or plans? You can safely refreeze your thawed meat.

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Frozen Beef with freezer burn
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Freezer-burned meat

Most commonly, though, it’s freezer burn you should fear. Given enough time, it will render your meat dry and tasteless. If you notice small ice crystals in the packaging, or can’t remember how long the meat has even been in the freezer, it’s time for it to go. Tightly sealing your meat before freezing it is a good way to ward off freezer burn. This preservation system from Amazon will vacuum seal your fresh foods so they maintain their freshness while in the freezer.

Black Forest Ham
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Old deli meat

Deli meat is one of those items that is very convenient to have on hand, but which spoils quickly. The good news is that you can definitely freeze deli meat. Even with proper preparation, however, it can only last up to two months in the freezer. After that, even if it remains safe to eat, it won’t taste very good. Just as with other meats, deli meat should be tightly sealed and wrapped before it’s frozen.

Bread Roll with raisins and cottage cheese filling
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Pastries with creamy filling

Once you’ve gone to the trouble of making a heavenly cheese danish from scratch, the last thing you want to do is throw away the leftovers. But pastries and other treats with cheese or creamy filling don’t keep well in the freezer; in fact, many of the foods that cannot be frozen are dairy products. Toss those cheese danishes after a month (or just eat them to avoid this problem altogether). And if you are currently lamenting because you were hoping to freeze your surplus of milk, fear not!

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Unrecognizable leftovers

We love finding creative ways to repurpose leftovers; they just won’t last in the freezer forever. Most leftover dishes will keep for two to six months in the freezer. If they’ve been sitting for a while and you can’t remember what the food was in the first place, pitch it and start over.

overhead view of a carton of black raspberry ice cream with chocolate chunks and spoon on wooden tabletop
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Old ice cream

Most of us don’t have the problem of ice cream lasting too long in our homes but if you happen to have more self-control, you may find yourself in this predicament. If your tub of ice cream is older than three to four months, it’s time for it to go. So grab a bowl and a spoon before time is up!  If you have a new large tub, try dividing it up and storing it in individual serving containers to help preserve that fresh flavor. This set from Amazon features tight-fitting silicone lids to ensure no ice crystals form.

Freezer Buns
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Freezer-burned bread

If you have more fresh bread than you know what to do with, and don’t want it to go stale before you have a chance to enjoy it, then popping it in the freezer is a great idea. But bread only lasts in the freezer for about six months. After that, freezer burn will likely have ravaged its good taste and texture. If you find a loaf in the back of the freezer that’s been there for who knows how long, then it needs to go. To keep it fresh as long as possible, make sure to wrap it tightly in a layer of plastic wrap, and then in a layer of foil or freezer paper. Pro tip: slice your bread before freezing, so you only ever have to remove what you need. And learn more tips on the best ways to store your frozen foods.

Taste of Home
Originally Published on Taste of Home

Carrie Madormo
Carrie Madormo is a business and wellness writer for internationally recognized publications, and her writing has been featured in Working Mother, USA Today and the Huffington Post. As a former nurse, Carrie loves to translate complex health studies into engaging content, and she's passionate about empowering readers to live their best lives by taking control of their health.