Six tips when freezing meat – including storage chart

You found a great sale on meat and now need to freeze it. Freezing meat carefully will help you have a high quality product when thawed and cooked.

This is the time of year people are freezing fresh fruits and vegetables for the cold winter months to come. But what about freezing meat that you find on sale? Michigan State University Extension has some helpful tips for you to consider when freezing meat.

  1. Freezing fresh meats in their original supermarket wrappings is not recommended, unless you’ll use the frozen meat or poultry in a month or two – at the most. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that you add a second wrapping for long-term storage to maintain quality and prevent freezer burn. Overwrap the package of meat with airtight heavy-duty freezer foil, freezer paper or place the package inside a freezer bag. While it’s safe to freeze fresh meat or poultry in its supermarket wrapping, this type of wrap allows air to pass through. Foods with freezer burn are safe to eat though they may be dry in spots.
  2. Keep your freezer at zero degree or lower. Put no more food in your freezer than what will be able to freeze in 24 hours.
  3. Spread out the bags of meat you are freezing in your freezer. You can neatly stack and organize them in your freezer once they are completely frozen.
  4. Do not stuff any kind of meat or poultry before freezing it. Harmful bacteria can grow in the stuffing before it gets completely frozen and it can then grow once it is being thawed.
  5. Thaw all meats in the refrigerator for the best quality. Cook or use the meat once it is thawed.
  6. Freeze meat in meal size portions, label the kind of meat it is, the amount in the package and the date it was frozen.

An easy and economical way to preserve food is by freezing. Freezing keeps food safe almost indefinitely, so recommended storage times are for quality only.

The United States Department of Health and Human Services provides the following chart for storing meat.

Category

Food

Refrigerator
(40 °F or below)

Freezer
(0 °F or below)

Hot dogs

Opened package

1 week

1 to 2 months

Unopened package

2 weeks

1 to 2 months

Luncheon meat

Opened package or deli sliced

3 to 5 days

1 to 2 months

Unopened package

2 weeks

1 to 2 months

Bacon & Sausage

Bacon

7 days

1 month

Sausage, raw — from chicken, turkey, pork, beef

1 to 2 days

1 to 2 months

Hamburger & Other Ground Meats

Hamburger, ground beef, turkey, veal, pork, lamb, & mixtures of them

1 to 2 days

3 to 4 months

Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb & Pork

Steaks

3 to 5 days

6 to 12 months

Chops

3 to 5 days

4 to 6 months

Roasts

3 to 5 days

4 to 12 months

Fresh Poultry

Chicken or turkey, whole

1 to 2 days

1 year

Chicken or turkey, pieces

1 to 2 days

9 months