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 an unpleasant scent, there’s no getting rid of it.

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freezer with assorted frozen foods
Taste of Home

Forgotten Freezer Meals

Look at you with your stash of healthy freezer meals! It’s great to plan ahead but don’t get overambitious with your meal prep. Freezer meals should be eaten within three months. Keep track of all your hard work with freezer-safe food labels and try a first-in first-out approach.

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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 different tastes and smells around them, so make sure to use them within three months.

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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 you notice freezer burn.

Check out our complete guide to how long food lasts in the freezer.

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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 needs to be thrown out to avoid salmonella and other bacteria. So if you started defrosting it and then changed your mind, don’t refreeze it.

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Frozen Beef

Freezer-Burned Meat

Given enough time, freezer burn 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. You can prevent freezer burn by tightly sealing your meat before freezing.

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Old Deli Meat Gettyimages 182853415 E1613760203833

Old Deli Meat

Deli meat is one of those items that is very convenient to have on hand, but it 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’s 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.

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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. Pastries and other treats with cheese or creamy filling don’t keep well in the freezer; toss them after a month. Or just eat them to avoid this problem altogether!

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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.

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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, 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!

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Freezer Burned Breadgettyimages 639412230 E1613760414135

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. 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 bread 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. And slice your bread before freezing, so you only ever have to remove what you need.

Carrie Madormo, RN
Now a freelance health and food writer, Carrie worked as a nurse for over a decade. When she isn't hunched over her laptop with a baby in hand, you will find her cooking her grandmother’s recipes, lacing up her running shoes or sipping coffee in the bathroom to hide from her three young children.