A great way to save money on groceries is by freezing items you find on sale, so you can use them later. Meat is a huge one for me, especially with the rising prices! Whenever I find chicken, ground beef, ground turkey, or other meats nearing their expiration date, I try to get as much as I can.
One question I frequently get is about freezing meat. Can you actually do it? How long does it last? Read on to get more detailed info and get your questions answered!
Can you freeze ground turkey?
Most definitely! Most meats are easily frozen and are safe to eat afterward, provided you take care of them in the right way.
What’s the shelf life of ground turkey?
Raw meat obviously goes bad more quickly than if it were in the freezer. When I buy raw turkey from the store, I use it within 1-2 days. But usually, the sell-by date is 3-4 days from when I bought it.
Frozen turkey, from what I’ve seen, has a best-by date of 3-4 months from the date of purchase.
Best way to freeze ground turkey
There are different ways to freeze it, depending on the state it’s in when you buy it/are ready to freeze.
Uncooked ground turkey
I like to separate my meat into one-pound portions for easy dinners. Most grocery stores sell them in one-pound packages; others sell in bulk.
You can keep ground turkey in its original packaging; but I also recommend putting that in a plastic bag, preferably a freezer bag. That will help prevent freezer burn.
If you take the meat out of its original packaging, place a one-pound portion in a quart-size freezer bag; squeeze the air out; and press it flat. This helps create more space in the freezer so you can fit more.
Alternatively, you can use freezer-safe containers!
Yes, obviously, frozen ground turkey already comes frozen. Aldi sells them in one-pound tubes, and I don’t do anything different to it. I just place it right in the freezer.
Having already-cooked meat makes dinnertime MUCH less stressful! If you cook the ground turkey beforehand, add 3-ish cups to a quart-size freezer bag. 3 cups of cooked meat is approximately one pound.
And just like the fresh ground turkey, squeeze out the air and press the bag flat to create more space in the freezer.
How long does it last in the freezer?
Most frozen meat will stay fresh in the freezer for 3-4 months. Make sure you keep them deep down so they don’t constantly get that air exposure when you open the door.
Now typically, it’s still safe to eat after it hits past the 4-month mark. But the longer the meat stays in the freezer, the more likely it is to get freezer burnt. That’ll affect the nutritional value and sometimes the taste, so try to use it up as soon as you can.
How can you tell if ground turkey has gone bad?
There are a few ways to tell if you have bad ground turkey:
- Strong odor: Raw ground turkey doesn’t typically have a smell. So if it starts smelling pretty horrible, it’s better to be safe than sorry- throw it out.
- Slimy texture: This is another sign that it’s not safe to eat.
- Color of the meat: This isn’t always a sure sign of rotten meat, but a grey-ish color sometimes means the meat is losing its quality. I like to see a nice pink color.
But in the end, use your best judgment. It’s not worth eating bad meat and getting food poisoning.
How to defrost ground turkey
When you’re ready to cook, there are a few ways to defrost meat:
- Place in the fridge overnight. This is the best method, and probably safest way, to defrost frozen turkey, in my opinion. This gives the meat a chance to fully defrost and makes cooking easier. You can either leave it in its original packaging, or place it in an airtight container. I usually do this with already-cooked meat.
- Microwave: This might be the quickest way. Unwrap the meat and place it on a microwave-safe dish. Use the defrost setting (Usually 4-7 minutes) and check it every minute or two until it’s defrosted enough to cook.
- Bowl of cold water: The cold water method is not my favorite, because letting meat sit out for too long can bring on bacterial growth. But in a pinch, it’s okay. Leave the meat in the bag and let it sit in cold tap water for 30-60 minutes, checking every so often to see if it’s defrosted enough to cook.
How to cook with ground turkey
You can make delicious meals using ground turkey! I actually like to use this in place of ground beef in many of my recipes. Ground turkey is typically lower in calories and fat, making this a good option for those trying to watch their calorie intake.
Here are some of my favorite recipes that use ground turkey: