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Tips & Tricks

Tips & Tricks

How to Store Beef Properly: Refrigerator & Freezer Guidelines

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Storing Beef

  • When shopping, pick up beef just before checking out. If it will take longer than 30 minutes to get it home, consider keeping it cold in a cooler.
  • Refrigerate or freeze as soon as possible after purchasing.
  • If you plan to freeze your beef, think ahead to your weekly meals and re-package into right-size portions for you and your family.
  • You can freeze beef in its original packaging up to two weeks. For longer storage, wrap in heavy-duty aluminum foil or place in plastic freezer bags, removing as much air as possible.
  • Place beef packages on the lowest shelf in your refrigerator on a plate or tray to catch any juices.
  • Label each package with the date, name of beef cut and weight and/or number of servings. Practice the FIFO (first in, first out) inventory system.
  • Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours after cooking.
  • Ground Beef is more perishable than roasts or steaks. Plan to use refrigerated Ground Beef within 1 to 2 days of purchase.

Freezer fridge photo

Refrigerator and Freezer Guidelines

Different beef cuts can determine the amount of time it can safely be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.

Here are recommended storage times for Maximum Quality from purchase date.

  • Steaks, Roasts • Refrigerator at 35˚F-40˚F for 3 to 4 days •  or below for 6 to 12 months
  • Stew Meat, Kabobs or Strips • Refrigerator at 35˚F-40˚F for 2 to 3 days • Freezer at 0˚F or below for 6 to 12 months
  • Ground Beef • Refrigerator at 35˚F-40˚F for 1 to 2 days • Freezer at 0˚F or below for 3 to 4 months
  • Leftover Cooked Beef • Refrigerator at 35˚F-40˚F for 3 to 4 days • Freezer at 0˚F or below for 2 to 3 months

Defrosting Guidelines

For best quality, defrost beef in the refrigerator, never at room temperature. Place frozen package on a plate or tray to catch any juices and place in the refrigerator.

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 © Cattlemen's Beef Board and National Cattlemen's Beef Association. Used with permission.