Episode 121 Tips for Freezing Meat
Why would you want to freeze meat?
There are two main reasons to freeze meat, price and convenience.
In Episode 120 I talked about shopping grocery sales. One of the biggest ways to make an impact on your grocery budget is to buy meat that is on sale. When you can buy meat on sale and freeze it you will get the best price but will still have a variety of types of meat to use in your meals
Convenience is another big reason to freeze meat. It is nice to make fewer trips to the grocery store. (Episode 119 dives deep into helping you make fewer grocery trips.) Having meat in the freezer is much easier than making several trips to the grocery store.
The best way to store frozen meat is in a deep freeze that is not frost-free. I have an Instagram highlight all about the different kinds of freezers and why you want one that gets frost.
Freezer Rule #1:
Air is the enemy of frozen food! Everything you do to prepare meat for the freezer needs to honor this rule. You should try to keep air away from the food as much as possible. You can do this by using a vacuum sealer. (I have not invested in a vacuum sealer, but if you have one, use it.)
Tips for freezing meat:
Remove the meat from the original packaging before freezing.
- You want to take it out of the packaging for several reasons.
- It is easier to thaw. (Large packages are difficult to put in a container to catch drips and take a long time to thaw.
- It takes up less space in your freezer. The packaging can take up lots of unnecessary freezer space.
- You can freeze the meat in portions that make sense for your family. You may want to make individual servings or pack it in a meal-size for your family.
Tips for Freezing Chicken
I personally treat chicken breasts and chicken thighs differently when I freeze them.
I like to freeze them uncooked and wrapped individually. There are two ways to freeze them individually. You can put them on a parchment-lined baking sheet spaced out and freeze until solid or you can wrap each chicken breast in plastic wrap and freeze on a baking sheet until solid.
Once the chicken breasts are frozen solid, remove them from the baking sheet and place in a zip bag.
You can pull out the number of breasts you need for each meal.
In the summer, I like to butterfly the chicken breasts before freezing because I prefer to grill thinner pieces of meat. They cook more evenly on the grill. (You can see a video of how I butterfly and prepare chicken breasts for grilling here.)
I like to cook chicken thighs before I freeze them.
I have two main recipes I use to cook chicken thighs for freezing, Instant Pot Chicken Tacos and Lemony Chicken. I use the lemony chicken in other recipes like chicken soup, chicken fried rice, and quesadillas.
Tips for Freezing Ground Meat (Like Hamburger or Ground Turkey)
I do three things with ground meat.
- I freeze it uncooked. If it is already in a tube (like sausage or ground turkey) I put it directly in the freezer.
- I cook it before freezing. I will often make the mixture for Cheeseburger Baked Potatoes which is ground beef, onions, salt, and pepper. This can be put in lots of recipes like tacos, and chili. I also make it into meatballs.https://feedyourfamilytonight.com/classic-chili/
- I season and shape it before freezing. I will make homemade turkey sausage and freeze it in logs or individual patties that are uncooked. I also make hamburger patties at the beginning of the summer for easy grilled burgers.
Tips for Thawing Frozen Meat
There are three safe ways to thaw frozen meat.
- The best way is to thaw it in the refrigerator. Most frozen meat will thaw in 24-48 hours. If you have a large roast or whole chickens or turkeys you want to allow 1 day plus 24 hours for every 5 pounds of meat. (A 15-pound turkey would take 4 days.)
- You can thaw meat in cold water. This takes several hours, but is faster than the refrigerator method. Place wrapped frozen meat in a bowl or sink of cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes. Depending on the amount of meat, it may take 2-5 hours to thaw in the cool water.
- The final safe way to thaw meat is in the microwave. This is the fastest method, but you often get uneven thawing. It is important to cook microwave-thawed meat immediately after it is thawed. It is not safe to use the microwave to thaw meat and then wait several hours to cook it.
You can also cook meat from frozen in the Instant Pot. I have a recipe for Chicken and Brown Rice that actually does better with frozen chicken breasts because they cook at roughly the same rate as the rice. Fresh chicken cooks too quickly and can end up overcooked.
A few more notes about frozen meat.
Use it. Make sure you are using your freezer stash. You don’t want to have meat sitting in your freezer for years.
You can thaw and re-freeze meat. You may lose a little of the original texture, but as long as it hasn’t been thawed for more than a day or two, you can safely re-freeze it and thaw to cook another time.
This post contains affiliate links.
Marie Fiebach is a married mother of four active kids. She helps busy families plan and execute weeknight dinner so they can recapture a little calm in the crazy. You can see her every week on KAKE TV’s Good Morning Kakeland or listen to the Feed Your Family Tonight Podcast.
You can find a full transcript here.