One challenging part of meal planning is getting the right amount of everything ready. Many people, especially kids, are averse to eating leftovers. Meals in tupperware containers just aren’t appealing to some.
But what about the meat? Most meals are served with some portion of meat. What do you do with the leftover meat that didn’t get into the meal, but is now room temperature and no longer frozen?
Thankfully for your food budget, you can refreeze thawed meat depending on their initial thaw method. A big difference exists between thawing meat on the counter and in the fridge.
When can I safely refreeze meat?
Let’s also be clear here: We are talking about thawed, but uncooked meat. The bacteria or whatever else tends to live in meat has not been cooked out.
Meats that were thawed in the refrigerator for a length of time tend to be safe to refreeze. You can even put the meats back in the refrigerator for a couple days before putting them back in the freezer.
Meats that were thawed any faster or with heat are more likely to go bad faster and become bacteria ridden. We advise you not to refreeze these meats. There is a far safer method of using meat that was defrosted quickly – cook it and eat it, then refrigerate the leftovers instead.
Here is a clear rule: If meat was thawed at 40 degrees or lower for a period of time, you can probably refreeze it safely. Most refrigerators are set to temperatures of 40 degrees or lower.
How do you refreeze meat?
The good news is that refreezing thawed meat isn’t different from freezing meat originally.
Here is a step by step of one of the easiest and best ways
- Since the meat is thawed, you can easily portion it by weight. Maybe a pound or two at a time.
- Find a plastic zip lock bag and write the weight of the beef and the date it was put in the freezer. Most bags have a white label on front for writing.
- Put the thawed meat into the zip lock bag.
- There are two methods to pushing the air out of the bag: You can take a rolling pin and flatten the meat and bag, making it easier to put the bag away while pushing air out. You could also put a straw in the bag and suck the air out through a straw then seal it.
- Place the bag of meat in the freezer.
When should I not refreeze thawed meat?
There are fairly obvious exceptions to when you should refreeze thawed meat. Has the meat been sitting at room temperature for hours or even days? Then you probably shouldn’t attempt to refreeze or even refrigerate it.
Meat can gain bacteria quickly. In some cases, bacteria like staph and others can form which are very difficult to detect. Staph bacteria are undetectable by the human nose and can lead to diarrhea and vomiting. If your meat does smell weird, then it’s definitely time to throw it away and not refreeze or refrigerate.
Can I refreeze more than once?
The issue with refreezing more than once isn’t really about food safety. It’s more about food quality. Any item that is thawed or cooked, then recooked, probably doesn’t have the same texture or taste it started with.
Expect mushy chicken or weird textures in your beef.
Otherwise as long as the same methods are followed of thawing slowly and preparing to refrigerate or freeze soon after having meat at room temperature. The more often you refreeze the same meat, the higher risk you also have of getting freezer burn on the meat.
Reading the rules and knowledge above will have you well on your way to knowing when to freeze thawed meat. Meat safety is important as bad meat can you get sick pretty quick. We suggest using simple kitchen items like zip lock bags or the original packaging to keep meat safe in the freezer.
Now that you know you can safely refreeze meat, save some pennies and your food texture and go try it.