If you’re looking for ways to save money on groceries, start with the meat in your shopping basket. One money-saving technique is to purchase meat on sale and freeze it. However, you might be concerned about food safety, especially if the meat is priced down because it’s over its expiration date. Instead of a “best before” date, most meat products have a “use-by” date. Ms Lydia Buchtmann, spokesperson for the Food Safety Information Council, advises that you eat or freeze the meat before the expiration date. “If you buy it shortly before the use-by date,” she continues, “it will need to be frozen right away.” “Otherwise, you may forget about it in the fridge and forget to utilise it.” If you’ve purchased a significant quantity of meat, such as a huge batch of mince, Ms Buchtmann recommends splitting it into separate chunks before freezing. It means you can get the exact amount you need for your meal.
Ms Buchtmann suggests wrapping the meat in a plastic bag before freezing it if it isn’t sealed. “Meat will freeze faster if it isn’t exposed to air,” she says. “Tie it or seal it well, then put it in the freezer right away so it freezes quickly.” Food can be frozen indefinitely, according to Ms Buchtmann. However, the longer meat sits in the freezer, the less appealing it becomes when it’s time to eat it. She suggests writing the date on the bag or packaging so you know how long it’s been frozen. “Using the microwave’s defrost function is great, but the quality isn’t as nice,” she explains.
“Bacteria will proliferate to deadly levels if [meat] is left out at temperatures above five degrees Celsius. You’re taking a huge risk even if you cook it. The bacterium will not thrive below five degrees Celsius.” If you’ve frozen meat that’s over its expiration date, defrost it and prepare it right away. It’s safe to re-freeze meat that was frozen well before its use-by date and defrosted in a fridge set to 5 degrees Celsius or lower. “When you freeze it again, the cells will break down a little bit more, so it’s not quite as good quality as it would have been,” Ms Buchtmann says. “But it’s perfectly safe to eat. “If you’ve [frozen] it a couple of times, you might want to use that meat in something like casserole or a stew or a soup.”