Shelf/fridge life of meat


Peebles

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Dear meat loving chefs,

clueless (former) vegan here in need of your help!

 

I don't have experience with cooking/storing animal products and I'm always paranoid to poison myself with spoilt meat or something. ^^°

I'm living alone which means that even if I buy the smallest package of meat/fish - it's usually at least two servings for me. I was wondering if I can just wrap the rest of the raw meat and keep it in the fridge until I need it (if so, how many days max?). Or would it be better/safer to cook the whole thing and store the rest cooked in the fridge (pro: saves time; con: I definitely prefer freshly prepared food)?

I guess it also makes a difference if it's e.g. ground beef or smoked fish - the latter definitely appearing more resistant to spoiling?

 

I'd greatly appreciate any "meat storage 101" tipps (maybe for different specific foods, if it does make a huge difference)! Thanks! <3

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I wouldn't keep raw meat around for more than a couple days, but I may be conservative on this. Cooking it will definitely  buy you another day or two, so it does make sense to cook some ahead to stretch out the time. Basically I would look at ground meat and raw fish as spoiling fastest, other cuts of meat slower, cured things like the smoked salmon, hot dogs, sausages, etc will last even longer than that. If I know I won't be shopping for a while I plan my menus this way, eating ground meat and raw fish first...ending up with sausages and canned tuna on the last day of the week.

 

I think it is pretty easy to tell if meat is spoiled: usually it will have a slimy feel or a bad smell. If you have any doubt just toss it.

 

If you need to store meat for longer, or if you have a bunch that is about to go off, chuck it into the freezer and that will save it for a few weeks at least. Wrapped well (or vacuum packed) it could stay in the freezer much longer.

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I frequently thaw ground beef or pork and keep it in a plastic container in the refrigerator as I cook meals from it. I am comfortable with ground meat 3-4 days and don't really worry until the pink begins to darken. I will sometimes hurry and cook the last if it is just a little dark, but am willing to toss it if I go too long. Although, I can't remember when I have thrown any away. I can go through a package of ground meat in 3-5 meals, so it is easy for me to eat it all in 2-3 days all by myself. 

 

I try to cook fish the day I buy it and always by the next day. 

 

I cook my roasts frozen in the slow cooker, so never have to worry about shelf life of raw roasts. If I thaw or buy a fresh steak, I try to cook it within a day or two max. 

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Many thanks to the both of you! I think that already gives me a good overview how to navigate the topic.

 

I'm already doing the "timing-aware" shopping thing (unpackaged stuff and ground beef first, eggs, canned and frozen stuff for later in the week etc.). I guess I'm just really spoilt by my convenient previous diet of tempeh, tofu & Co. with their shelf lives of... forever! ;-) It's just a matter of getting used to and planning ahead more carefully. I feel better prepared and more confident with your tipps. Thanks again!

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I try not to let raw meat sit in the fridge more than 2-3 days (I freeze it after that), but once it's cooked, I routinely eat off it for a week (and live to tell the tale!). Everyone has different comfort levels. If you're just starting out, and you don't mind cooking every few days, I'd do it in smaller batches so it's not sitting as long. You can always split a package - if you buy a pound of ground meat and only need half, split it when you get home from the store, double-wrap and freeze half and then cook half.

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I definitely try to use my senses:

 

If it smells bad, toss it

If it looks bad (wrong color, weirdly dried out, etc.), toss it.

 

I've started using Nom Nom Paleo's trick of keeping a bowl of frozen meat in the back of the fridge to thaw, so most things in there are usually thawing in 1-2 days and waiting for me to cook at least another 1-2.  I find the back of my fridge is colder, so things probably keep a bit better. 

 

I'm not a huge fan of microwaved leftovers (but it's all I've got at work, so I suck it up), but you might like leftovers better if you can, for example, re-sautee some beef/veggies, rather than microwave.  It doesn't take that much longer, and you can still get the crispness that microwaving destroys?

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I've started using Nom Nom Paleo's trick of keeping a bowl of frozen meat in the back of the fridge to thaw, so most things in there are usually thawing in 1-2 days and waiting for me to cook at least another 1-2.  I find the back of my fridge is colder, so things probably keep a bit better. 

 

I'm not a huge fan of microwaved leftovers (but it's all I've got at work, so I suck it up), but you might like leftovers better if you can, for example, re-sautee some beef/veggies, rather than microwave.  It doesn't take that much longer, and you can still get the crispness that microwaving destroys?

 

Thanks, the NomNom trick sounds practical! 

 

I was very happy today when I found frozen Irish angus beef burgers in my neighborhood supermarket (only ingredients: beef, salt, pepper!) - affordable and incredibly yummy! That's gonna be a staple. :)

 

I don't own a microwave (maybe that's more common in the US?). We do have one at work but I actually rather eat my lunch cold than putting it into that thing! ;) (Except for rare occasions during winter, when it's really really cold outside.)

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I am always eating one bag (lb) of ground meat and thawing another. I'll generally use thawed ground meat in a few days without trying. Otherwise I use the smell test. Maybe this isn't safe (and I swore I'd be more careful after making myself really really sick on a pot of grassfed beef stew I left out overnight and thought would be ok brought up to boil in a pressure cooker 😫) but ground meat smells pretty bad when it starts going off.

When I buy the big cuts of meat from the farmers' market they are always frozen, and I try to cook those w/in a week (gradually thawing in the fridge).

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I use the "Weekly Cookup" approach from Well Fed. Cook up about 4 days worth of different meats on Sunday. Then I use that protein to create meals with whatever veggies I have on hand and choose spices according to what I feel like that day. Well Fed has some fantastic spice combos for making your meal Chinese, French, American, Moroccan, Greek ...

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