Use freezer-safe reusable plastic containers, glass containers, Pyrex or Ball mason jars. When freezing meat without freezer bags use a container that is air tight to stop freezer burn. Meat can last from 1-12 months if frozen correctly and will last well in tightly sealed containers without the need for added plastic from freezer bags.
How long meat can be frozen
|Meat Type||Time in freezer|
|Bacon and sausages||1-2 months|
|Ham, Hotdogs and Lunchmeats||1 to 2 months|
|Uncooked roasts, steaks or chops||4 to 12months|
|Uncooked ground meat||3 to 4 months|
|Cooked meat||2 to 3 months|
|Poultry, uncooked whole||12 months|
|Poultry, uncooked pieces||9 months|
|Poultry, cooked||4 months|
|Wild game, uncooked||8 to 12 months|
How long meat can be frozen for depends on the type. The longer you keep your meat in the freezer the more likely it may gather ice or get freezer burn but according to the USDA, the guidelines listed above shows for how long they recommend meat is frozen for (sourced from USDA website, 2nd March 2021).
This length of time is for the best quality meat, remember to have your freezer set at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or -18 degrees Celsius.
How to freeze meat without freezer bags
There are a few tips that can help you to freeze meat without freezer bags. The most important thing to remember is to make sure that the wrapping is as tight around the meat as possible to prevent freezer burn. When the meat is exposed to air in the freezer it can affect the taste, texture and appearance of the meat.
Freezing vacuum packed meat
If you buy your meat in a vacuumed packed container this can go straight in the freezer. This is the perfect wrapping because it already has the air removed so you won’t get freezer burn. This keeps your meat stored in a small space which gives you more room in your freezer. Some butchers will vacuum pack meat if you ask them, or buy a vacuum sealer to do it at home.
Freeze meat in glass containers
A great way to freeze your meat is to use a glass container with a plastic lid. I often use Pyrex containers and they work best when filled to the top without air spaces. They can be used over and over again and are easy to clean.
They also don’t absorb smells or color so it will always look and smell fresh. These come in a range of sizes so you can find the perfect one for the size of meat you are planning to freeze.
Freezing meat in plastic containers
The easiest way to freeze meat is to use the plastic container it comes it. But if you have bought this from a butcher, then using a freezer-safe plastic container is also a great choice. These can be used over and over again, come in lots of sizes and can be made from recycled plastic. This is a great way to freeze your meat without freezer bags.
Freezing meat in the package it came in
The cheapest and easiest way to freeze meat, particularly ground meat is to place it straight into the freezer in the container it was bought in. This works well if the original packaging is airtight and has minimal air space.
The thing to remember is that these plastics are not microwave safe so if you are going to defrost in the microwave, you will need to place this in a microwave safe container or on a ceramic plate. If it is not airtight, then you may want to freeze your meat one of these other ways.
Types of meat you can freeze
There are lots of meats that will last well in the freezer these include hotdogs, lunch meat, bacon, sausages, hamburgers, ground beef/poultry/lamb, steak, chops, roasts, fresh chicken and my kids favorites chicken nuggets.
How to thaw meat safely
There are a few ways to safely thaw meat according to Food Standards Australia and New Zealand. These are to thaw in the fridge, to defrost under running water or defrost in the microwave.
1. Thaw in the fridge
The best way to thaw meat is to place it in the fridge before you need to use it. Depending on the size of the meat the time needed can vary. I find that most meats including ground beef, chicken nuggets or chicken thighs for a family dinner take around 24 hours. I usually aim to take my meat out of the freezer and place it into the fridge after I have finished cooking dinner for the night before.
2. Thaw in the microwave
Using the defrost setting on your microwave, you can quickly and safely defrost meats. I always take the meat out of the original packaging and place it on a plate before putting it in the microwave. I often place a piece of paper towel over the top before microwaving to stop any splashes.
3. Clean running water
Another option is to place the frozen meat under clean running water still in its packaging. I never use this method because I am trying to save water but this will work. I recommend the other 2 methods as great ways to thaw meat.
How to freeze fresh chicken nuggets
I often buy chicken nuggets that are made fresh and packed in a plastic container. Just place these straight in the freezer when you get home from shopping. Take them out and place them in the fridge 24 hours before you need them.
Freezing meat without freezer bags – Summary
Freezing meat in tightly sealed containers like Pyrex is a great way to save on plastic. Freezing meat in the commercial packaging it came in is also a great way to save waste if the packet has already been bought. Look for ways to recycle the plastic container after use and check out your local grocery store for soft packaging recycling.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.