You might be surprised.

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It's always a good idea to have a pound (or more!) of ground beef in the freezer. This quick-cooking protein is the foundation of so many comforting meals—spaghetti sauce, meatloaf, casseroles, meatballs, tacos, and of course, burgers. I think of ground meat—whether it's beef, turkey, chicken, or pork—as a secret weapon that can be combined with whatever's in your refrigerator or pantry to make dinner happen at a moment's notice. (Just don't forget to defrost it in the refrigerator!)

As you may know, foods that have been frozen are safe to eat indefinitely, if they have been stored properly at the right temperature. As you may also know, just because something is safe to eat doesn't mean it will taste good. For the best flavor and texture, the United States Department of Agriculture says frozen ground beef should be cooked and eaten within four months.

Watch: 10 Sunday Dinner Ideas With Ground Beef

So if you picked up a few pounds of "buy one get one" ground meat at the grocery store and want it to last for four months, you need to know how to store it so that the meat is exposed to as little air as possible. This will prevent freezer burn and discoloration. While you can freeze meat in its supermarket packaging (typically a shrink-wrapped plastic container), it's not ideal. The plastic wrap is permeable enough for air to get in. Instead, wrap the container with a layer or two of heavy-duty aluminum foil and write the date on the foil so you'll know how long it's been in the freezer.

If your beef was sold wrapped in butcher paper or in a plastic bag, you also need to create a barrier to protect it from air. Wrap the meat tightly in plastic wrap or put it in a ziplock freezer bag and push out as much air as possible. Then, cover it with a layer heavy-duty aluminum foil and date the package.

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