Storing and Thawing 101

Whether you are buying beef for the week or for the month, storing and thawing beef can be more of a challenge than conquering the grocery store lines. Check out our tips to maintain beef quality and start your recipes off on the right foot. 

Shopping Tip:

Make a stop in the meat department your last destination in the grocery store. If your commute home will take longer than 30 minutes, consider keeping your cuts cold in a cooler. 

Storing Beef

Before you just store your beef cuts wherever they fit, think ahead to your meals. If you already have some meals planned, you may want to store your beef cuts in the refrigerator (depending on the cut). Some cuts, as shown in the chart below, can only stay in the refrigerator for 1 - 2 days after purchasing, like ground beef. If you don't have certain meals in mind, consider storing your beef in the freezer for last-minute recipes. 


  • Place beef packages on the lowest shelf on a plate or tray to catch any juices. 

  • If your beef reached its limit on how long it should reside in your refrigerator and you still haven't touched it, go ahead and move it to the freezer. 


  • For long term storage, wrap packages of beef in heavy aluminum foil or place beef in a plastic freezer bag, removing as much air as possible. 
  • Label each pack of beef with the date of purchase and name of the beef cut. 
  • Try to repackage your beef into right-size portions if you know ahead of time what you might use if for. 
  • Practice a first in, first out freezer inventory system. 

Quick Tip: Freeze cooked ground beef for a quick grab and go option when cooking up a last minute casserole. 

Thawing Beef

While it is tempting to just lay a package of beef on the counter to thaw this should never be done due to food safety concerns. Instead, check out our tips on thawing beef using popular, less likely to cause an illness, methods. 


Thaw beef in your refrigerator by placing a package of frozen beef on a plate or tray on the bottom shelf. Allow at least a day to thaw prior to cooking. 


Thaw packages of beef using water. Place frozen packages in your kitchen sink under cold, running water. You can also submerge packages of beef in your kitchen sink with cold water, but make sure to change the water every 30 minutes to insure proper water temperature. 


In a hurry? Thaw beef in the microwave by removing the frozen beef from its original packaging and placing it in a gallon size storage bag leaving a small opening for steam to escape. Heat the beef in 1 minute increments on High. Immediately cook the beef cuts and enjoy. 

Quick Tip: Avoid using the "defrost" button as it can begin cooking beef if you are not careful. 

Keep It Clean

  • Before you start packaging meat for storage or start cooking, wash hands well with hot water and soap. 
  • Keep raw meat and juices away from other foods, both during food storage and food prep. 
  • Immediately wash all plates, utensils, cutting surfaces and counters that touched raw meat with hot water and soap.