Have you been searching for ways to feed your family for less? Buying in bulk has been a technique used often by families and can be cost-efficient when it comes to buying meat. If you order your meat from a butcher, they will have it properly wrapped and ready for you to store in your freezer. But if you buy your meat in the meat section of your local grocery store you may not be sure how to correctly freeze it when you get home. Here are some simple suggestions.
When should meat be frozen? Ideally, you should freeze your store bought meat as soon as you get home from the store. Waiting a day or two or even until the freeze by date will not make your meat unsafe to freeze, but it could affect the quality.
How do I freeze the meat? Most people will come home from the store and toss the pre-packaged meat into the freezer. This works just fine if you plan to eat the frozen meat within a month or two, but if you have brought enough to freeze for several months you will need to over-wrap to prevent freezer burn.
Over-wrapping is when you use heavy-duty foil, freezer bags or freezer paper over the existing packaging. Doing this helps prevent air from reaching the food and causing freezer burn. Freezer burn does not make your food unsafe to eat, but it can cause toughness and an overall decrease in the taste of the food. Some good products on the market to consider when over-wrapping are Ziploc Vacuum bags, Reynolds Wrap Freezer Paper and Reynolds Wrap Recycled Aluminum Foil.
Meats should always be frozen at zero degrees to ensure food safety.
How do I store my frozen meat? If your goal for meat storage is short-term, stashing your frozen bundles in the family refrigerator will be sufficient. Long-term storage, more than two months, you should consider a stand-alone freezer. A stand-alone freezer will not have the constant door-opening traffic that a family refrigerator will have. Therefore, the inside of the freezer will always stay at zero degrees ensuring you fresher meat when it comes time to defrost.
Freezing meat does not have to be a daunting chore. Just remember the following steps:
- Freeze your store-bought meats immediately
- Over-wrap your packages with aluminum foil, freezer paper or vacuum bags
- Freeze your meat at zero degrees
- Use a free-standing freezer for long-term storage
Following these tips will help extend the life of your meat selections. However, remember that even frozen meat does not last forever. While freezing the meat may make if safe to eat indefinitely, it will not preserve the quality. The Food and Drug Administration has information on their website that gives specific freezing timelines for different types of meat and poultry. Click on the link for more information.