Before you stockpile this budget-friendly beef, make sure you know how long it'll last you.

By Melanie Fincher

There's a lot of things you can do with a pound of ground beef. This versatile meat can be used so many ways (like in your Instant Pot). Not to mention it's a relatively budget-friendly choice. There's just one problem: it has a short shelf life.

We've all purchased a pound of ground beef at some point only to have it end up all brown and slimy (and in the trash) in a matter of days. So how long does ground beef actually last in the fridge? And how can we make it last longer? Here's what you need to know.

How Long Does Raw Ground Beef Last in the Fridge?

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but raw ground beef only lasts one to two days in the fridge, according to FoodSafety.gov. Although, there are a few extra measures you can take to try and extend the shelf life of your ground beef.

First, the quality of the ground beef you buy will inevitably affect its shelf life (or the period of time for which the food can be stored before the quality deteriorates). Your best bet is to purchase high-quality ground beef for the longest shelf life.

You'll also want to pay attention to how you store it. Keep unopened, store-bought ground beef in its original packaging, and store it in the bottom shelf of the refrigerator towards the back.

How Long Does Cooked Ground Beef Last in the Fridge?

Say you've cooked up a pound of ground beef for taco night, how long will that last you in the fridge? Like all leftovers, cooked meats will last in the refrigerator for three to four days, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

How to Freeze Ground Beef

The only surefire way to make your ground beef last beyond just a couple days is to freeze it. When kept in the freezer (at 0 degrees F or below), ground beef and other ground meats will last for three to four months.

To freeze ground beef, leave it in its original packaging, and wrap it in heavy-duty aluminum foil, plastic wrap, freezer paper, or place it in a freezer-safe plastic bag in order to prevent freezer burn. If you've already opened the packaging, you can transfer the ground beef to a freezer safe bag and label it with the date.

When you're ready to use it, place the packaged ground beef in a large bowl of cool water. Use a heavy weight to keep the meat submerged. Allow it to thaw for 5 to 10 minutes. Previously frozen ground beef should be used immediately and should not be refrozen.

How to Know if Ground Beef Is Spoiled

It's better to be safe than sorry, so stick to the two-day rule. But if you want to use the ol' sniff and sight test, you might be able to tell that ground beef has gone bad if it has a sour smell, dull (brownish-gray) color, and a slimy texture.

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