Updated: Tips for Wrapping Meat for Storage and Cooking

This topic had been deleted because of an issue with the OP. However, it seems to have generated a good and useful discussion. So . . .

I’ve noticed that how you wrap meat can really impact how long it lasts in the freezer and how well it cooks.

What are the best materials to use? I’ve seen people use plastic wrap, aluminum foil, butcher paper, and even freezer bags. Also, are there any specific techniques or tricks to wrapping different types of meat like chicken, beef, or pork to avoid freezer burn and ensure they cook evenly?


If I’ve bought it already wrapped in shrink-wrap plastic, then it goes in the freezer like that. If not, or if it needs dividing (say, a too large portion of lamb chops), then I use ordinary freezer bags.

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Same here… just a good quality freezer bag.

I never freeze meat in the packaging it comes in - UNLESS it’s been pre-shrink-wrapped to tightly fit around the item (duck breast, half or full leg of lamb, etc. Like this:

I always unwrap and freeze the ground beef in smaller portions - either burger-sized, or half-lb size. Or the chicken breasts, thighs, etc. are individually frozen (breasts) or in twos (thighs).

And I use either foil or freezer bags. Foil tightly wraps around the meat to best prevent air from touching the meat and freezer-burning it, and once you squish the air out of the freezer bag, it does the same thing. A piece of masking tape on the foil marked with a Sharpie as to the item inside lets me know what it is (freezer bags are obviously as to what’s inside!)


I’ve always used good zip freezers bags for meat (chicken, beef, sausage, etc). Except I’ve always had problems with defrosting ground beef, so I tend to first make meatballs, meatloafs, etc before freezing (I don’t cook them, just season, shape, etc.) I keep a sharpie on the fridge to label\date the contents to ensure a rough FIFO cooking system.

There have been times when even the freezer bags have suffered a little burn damage so I have recently discovered “Press 'n Seal.” I wrap the meat tightly in that before placing it in the bag and, so far, it’s been very successful. (And no, I don’t work for\own stock in the company and yes, I realize it’s an egregious waste of plastic but it prevents an egregious waste of meat.)


the usual issue with freezing is “freezer burn” - which is not a ‘burn’ - but where moisture from the meat has ‘sublimed’ / turned from a solid (ice) directly into vapor/gas - due to the low humidity in the freezer. self defrosting freezer are very prone to this effect.

so the object is to seal the meat inside “something” that is a good barrier against moisture - if the subliming moisture cannot get out of the bag, inside the bag reaches equilibrium and you don’t get freezer burn.

note on plastic bags you’ll see qualifiers: “storage” or “freezer”
freezer bags are a different plastic composition than storage bags.

two “perfect” moisture barriers: metal and glass.
glass not real practical for freezing.
metal - including alum foil - ‘works’ but the foil wrapping needs a ‘seal’ - just folding it over and crimping the foil, , , isn’t sufficient to prevent freezer burn.

best bet is plastic bags specifically labelled for freezer storage.

Ah, but don’t ya just lurve it when you discover that little bag at the back of the “wrong” freezer drawer, that’s lain there for months forgotten and unloved. Almost as much as the bag that you forgot to label and can’t identify till its defrosted - not for nothing do I refer to the “brown gloop drawer”. The joys of being frugal, eh?


For me it kind of depends on how long I expect until I plan to cook it. If it’s a relatively short term, say, 4-6 weeks, a zipper bag with as much air squeezed out as possible is good enough. Two to three months, I’ll wrap in plastic wrap and then into a zipper bag. If for longer, I’ll bust out the vacuum sealer. And after too many games of “what the hell is this” (cf. @harters ‘brown gloop drawer’), I label everything with a sharpie.


I’m a pretty reliable labeler. But I’ll admit sometimes I think “what year\decade was that?” Then yeah, I just toss it and console myself that at least I’ve freed up some much needed space in the freezer.

Modern marketing makes it more reasonable to buy larger quantities, but a household of two makes freezing a necessity.


I have had a few brown gloop meals when the labels had fallen off. I thought it was meat sauce - it was turkey chili. I thought it was boneless chicken - it was a boneless pork chop. :woman_shrugging:

Just foil? Not foil and then into a bag? I’m always wary of the foil peeling open.

What others have said.

Though I think I learned either here or on chowhound to use sandwich bags to touch the meat / fish, and then place those into a freezer bag, so the freezer bags can be reused.

I portion ground meat into quarter or half lb, and flatten in the bag after sealing for easy freezing / storage and quick defrosting

(Vac seal is definitely a superior outcome for longer periods, but I still have to find a compact sealer that won’t take up too much space.)

Nope - just foil. If I’m putting a load of chicken or whatever in the downstairs chest freezer, I’ll wrap them all up tightly, and then they go into a plastic supermarket bag, which helps to prevent the foil from tearing. I mark on my Freezer List (which is upstairs on the side of my fridge) that they’re in the yellow or black or Market Basket bag.

Hmm. Now I’m tempted to try. But I think my freezer being crowded is what makes me worry about foil peeling from friction.

I have two main techniques. I’ll cut steaks and chicken breasts into individual portions and vacuum seal them. They go directly from the freezer into the sous vide. For sausage and ground meat, I like a product called Press and Seal, plastic wrap with a food-grade adhesive. It makes a tight seal with the surface of the meat. The sausages are wrapped individually, the ground meat into individual portions. I organize everything in separate one-gallon Ziplocs.


Yup, which is why larger quantities of meat items wrapped in foil get placed in the plastic bags and go downstairs. If they were in my upstairs fridge-freezer, they’d definitely get scraped as I moved things around to get to what I wanted.

I’ve played that game, as well!!

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OK, first, freezer longevity. Air is your enemy. Seal out as much as you can with an impermeable barrier. Vacuum sealers work well–if you get all the air out and the seals and the plastic itself don’t fail. Ziplock bags are OK, with the same caveats; displacing the air by partially submersing the bag in water works almost as well as a vacuum appliance. If you want the best sealing, buy a chamber vacuum and the heavy plastic.

For years, I tightly wrapped all meat in kling wrap, then in waxed butcher paper and taped. I think this method is better than ziplocks alone, since there are two layers and the paper protects against poking or rubbing holes through to the meat. I still wrap whole salmon this way, and they easily stay enjoyable for 1-2 years. Wrapping with paper also helps avoid the dreaded package avalanche syndrome (which will poke holes). Meat cuts with sharp corners and edges, and chicken pieces that don’t nest perfectly are much harder to seal without leaving air inside, which will result in more sublimation and shorter freezer freshness.

How well it cooks… Freezing and thawing will cause cellular rupture no matter how you wrap, so there’s that. But I don’t think anything that’s frozen (at home temps anyway) cooks up as well after thawing at 2 years as it does after a month. I would try frozen mastodon, but it can’t be like fresh.

It used to be that most American cities and towns had rental meat locker operators where people could store their meats at a much lower temperature. I kept a locker, mostly for game, and IME, the meat kept better and longer than it did at home. Now you’d be lucky if you found one near you.

These are great ideas everyone!

@JillGonzalez , what have you tried so far that seems to work best for you? Has anything failed?

Their marketing department.