By Jessica Harlan
Freezing meat can help you save money and cut down on food waste. Plus, there’s comfort in knowing
your freezer is stocked so you can answer the perennial “what’s for dinner” question in the time it takes to
thaw a couple of steaks. Use these pointers to successfully freeze meat:
Divvy large cuts. Divide big purchases of meat into family-sized portions, or even individual servings, before freezing, so you can thaw only what you need.
Package it right. For the best results, package your meat to avoid freezer burn, which is caused by exposure to air. Butcher paper—a waxy, thick paper—is the best wrapper. Wrap the meat tightly, tape it closed, then wrap in another layer of aluminum foil.
Know when to pitch. Write the use-by date on your package with permanent marker before you stash it in the freezer. It varies by cut and type, but raw meat will keep longer than cooked meat: three to 12 months,
compared to one to four months for cooked, according to the USDA. Check out foodsafety.gov for specific recommendations.
Defrost properly. Never defrost frozen meat on the counter or in hot water, says the USDA. Instead, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator, or if you need it faster, place it in a leak-proof plastic bag and submerge in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes. Even quicker: use the defrost setting on your microwave.