Cheap Eats at Bloglander

3/18/05 | Freeze Your Meat

[ Currently Eating: Chili Beans ]

A quick tip to increase your “nonspoilability” Cheap Eats score. Buy meat in bulk and freeze it. What? Frozen meat, you say? Didn’t they tell us on the Food Network about freezer burn and all that other stuff? Sure. But that’s if you forget and freeze it for say 2 years. That definitely won’t contribute to Cheap Eats.

In order to get the benefits of buying bulk meat, you need to keep track of which meat in the freezer has been bought when. They sell ziploc bags with a little white space on the front of them for writing on it. Keep a permanent marker in the kitchen and use it when freezing food. Write down the date and also what’s in it. That’ll go a long way when you’re doing freezer inventory to see what needs to be thrown out.

As far as storage goes, it depends on what you’re freezing but I tend to go with a double wrap technique. This has the advantage not only of preventing burn but also of allowing you to separate your bulk meat into usable portions. That way, in order to use a bit of pork shoulder, you don’t have to defrost the entire darn thing. This works best for cuts of meat that you’re going to cut up anyway, like for stew… obviously you can’t divide up a steak you’re going to eat as a whole steak. Note: for chicken pieces, they often sell those pre-flash frozen bags at Costco. This is pretty much the same philosophy but is sometimes more expensive.

So, say you’re doing a cut of stew beef. When you get home from the store, cut it up into pieces that are suitable for one time uses. Wrap each piece INDIVIDUALLY in Plastic Wrap. Then taken the wrapped pieces of meat and put them in a ziploc bag that has been labeled with your permanent marker. That’s it! When you need to use a piece, just take out one piece and remove the plastic wrap. Put it in the microwave on defrost and you’re good to go.

One of my favorite things to do is buy a whole slew of fresh Italian Sausage in bulk (often a 32 pack) and then freeze them in little lots of 2 or 3 sausages each. When you get the urge for sausages, you can just defrost a few for yourself.

16 Responses to “Freeze Your Meat”

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  1. louise hvizdos Says:

    I’m wondering how long I can freeze a pork loin before it becomes too dried out to use.

  2. Cheap Eats Editor Says:

    louise – I’m not sure exactly how long you can store meats in the fridge before they get freezer burned. I’ve kept cuts of pork shoulder, tenderloin and chops in the freezer for months though… One tip to prevent freezer burn is to wrap the meat twice. Wrap the cuts of meat in saran wrap and then in a plastic ziplock bag. I’ve heard that wrapping the meat in aluminum foil can also help, though I haven’t tried that with raw meat.

  3. Budderocks Says:

    I like to fill zip lock bags with water when freezing fish, I have had salmon stored that way for up to 18 months (the longest I have had it, could have gone longer) and it tasted great. The water around it keeps it from drying out. Never tried any other meats, only tried this a few years ago when an old timer told me about it.

  4. Cheap Eats Editor Says:

    budderocks – that’s a pretty cool tip! Do you buy the fish thawed, and then put it into water and freeze it? I often get fish in bulk flash frozen since the ones that are thawed in the fishmongers glass case have often been defrosted once. That way I know it’s never been thawed. But your method sounds interesting… I’ll definitely have to try that out. The only thing… is it difficult to defrost the fish when it’s encased in a block of ice? =)

  5. Budderocks Says:

    I have used fresh fish for this, the block of ice is not too hard to thaw. I have, in a pinch, just put the ice in a bowl and ran water over it. I suppose you could thaw it in a bowl of water too and change it periodically like a frozen turkey (just thought of doing it that way right now).

  6. Cheap Eats Editor Says:

    That’s cool, I’ll have to try it some time. I’ve tried defrosting shrimp by leaving a tiny stream of cold water running on it (think i saw that on Alton Brown) while it’s still in a ziploc bag and it’ll defrost in like a half hour or less… I wonder maybe that would work w/ ice slabbed fish too.

  7. Lyn Clarke Says:

    The frozen fish in water is an old trick. Fisherpersons who are very successful and do not have time to filet will fill a cardboard milk container with whole (gutted) fish vertically,add water, and freeze. The fish will last a year easily and it will taste as fresh as the day they were caught. BUT, I have to say I am a foodsaver fan. I foodsaver everything. I never have freezer burn and I never throw food away. It is probably the best appliance in my kitchen second only to the microwave!

  8. Kimi Says:

    Finally broke down and bought a foodsaver myself! It is fantastic! My hubby is an outdoorsman and brings home game meat and fish (trout, etc..) and we have a freezer chest full of game from 1+ years back… Always the same story – freezer burn! Well, no more of that! We have been doing the fish in water trick for years (it does work VERY WELL!), but now we can freeze the fish (on a cookie tray for an hour or 2) and then vac seal them for a couple of years- BURN FREE! The space it saves in my freezer is awesome too.

  9. Mandy Says:

    Hey all, I’m trying to get my boyfriend to do the freezer thing now. We spend so much money on buying food fresh. It’s good and all, but still a lot of money. So I’ve bought a magnet from the Container Store in their kitchen utensil and packing section, that has a list of how long you can keep frozen meats for. I’ve also found a website that explains all about this. Check this site out:

    Happy Freezing! : )

  10. Sarah Says:

    Is it possible to defrost turkey or hamburger, cook with it (as in chili) and re-freeze again?

  11. Susan Says:

    My husband wants to serve some of our friends a pork loin that has a sell or freeze by date of July 5, 2005 – thats 2 years ago!!!
    i think it should be thrown out, with the fear that it could make someone sick – but after checking out the above referenced website – it seems as though it cannot real harm you to eat something frozen that long – that it may just be really dry – however everything I find on pork is 4 to 6 months freezing time – in all fairness he currently has the loin thawing in the fridge & it still looks pretty good – no rancid smells – is okay to eat? – or should we toss it?

  12. Lin S. Says:

    Freezing meat from Costco has really saved us a lot of money. Have you tried freezing the meat with marinade? This helps to save on time and adds flavor.

  13. Geoff M. Says:

    Since it’s air against the meat that causes freezer burn, this is why the vacuum pack (foodsaver) and the fish-in-water trick work. I seem to be the only one I know who does this cheap imitation, but it works: Suck as much air from a Ziplock bag as possible before sealing. There’s a technique to it, though, if you want it to work well. Squeeze most of the air out and zip the bag almost closed, then with both hands pinch open a hole large enough to pucker your lips against with as close to an airtight seal as possible, and then inhale slowly. Keep inhaling – you’ll feel it when you can’t suck any more air out – and just then, seal the bag (while your lips are still against it and inhaling). I’ve gotten some really good vacuums this way, and I don’t have to spend the money on a foodsaver + extra bags.

  14. Amy Paice Says:

    try the reynolds vacuum freezer thing. available in most supermarkets along with corrosponding bags. quart and gallon. the machine itself. called handi vac…costs around 10 bucks. works as well as expensive foodsaver takes up no room in my small kitchen. I love this thing so much i gave away a bunch at xmas time. also comes with the first compelement of 6 aa batteries….

  15. Meatatarian Says:

    If your meat dries out in the freezer, make jerky!!

  16. Lynda Says:

    I’ve been doing the suck the air out with a straw trick for years & over time (even a week) air gets into the bags anyway. Gonna try the handi vac -thanks!



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