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Can You Freeze Lunch Meat? Yes!

We all love a good deal, don’t we? No one can resist a good sale, and it goes for everything we buy from clothes and accessories to our groceries.

You know I have two growing boys at my hands, and boy they can eat a lot! I sometimes have a feeling that they could eat up the entire house! My husband is right there with them as well. For that reason, I often stock up on food that is on sale as that helps me keep my home budget in check.

I freeze baked goods, cheese, fresh meat - everything I get a good deal on! However, until recently I was quite puzzled when it comes to some deli products and wondered quite often can I freeze lunch meat or not.

I did a little bit of research and found the answer to this question. So, can you freeze the lunch meat? Yes! Here is how you do it...

What is lunch meat?

For all of you unexperienced housewives, I will quickly answer the question what lunch meat is.

It can sometimes be confusing since lunch meat goes by many different names such as deli meat, luncheon meat, cold cut (or cold meat), sandwich meat, or sliced meat.

In reality, lunch meats are easy to spot - those are all the precooked, ready to eat meats that you can buy. They can be sliced or unsliced, pre-packaged in a vacuum pack or not.

The greatest advantage of lunch meat is that you can eat it without any additional preparation, but it is also easy to serve and highly practical. I always use it for parties and family gatherings!

I also make my boys quick snacks and sandwiches packed with proteins - all thanks to the lunch meat! 🙂

Do you want to slice the lunch meat on your own? Check the best meat slicer on the market today!

Why freeze the lunch meat in the first place?

  • The answer to this question is quite simple - It is expensive! So whether you end up with a lot of leftovers from some party or family gathering (that often happens to me), or you stumble upon a great deal at your deli shop, you do not want to waste all the precious and delicious lunch meat but rather preserve it for later, isn’t that right?
  • I often look for a sale that I can combine with a coupon from the manufacturer and end up buying quite a lot of quite cheap lunch meat, especially now that I know how to freeze it properly. It is a real budget saver for my family (remember that two always-hungry boys?), so why not do it as often as you can? 

Extra Tip: If you need to buy deli meat for some dish you are making that needs it to be diced, you can find phenomenal deals on deli ends. The ends of roast beefham or turkey can be found at a minimal price, and since you are not planning to serve the meat, you can buy the ends and enjoy a few extra dollars in your pocket!

Most importantly, when you freeze the lunch meat, the low temperature inside the freezer stops the growth of bacteria thus keeping your loved ones safe. The lunch meat also gets to keep its original texture and flavor that could otherwise alter if you keep it in the fridge for too long. 

How to freeze lunch meat properly?

First of all, I must tell you that air-tight packaging is a must when it comes to the successful freezing of any food, and lunch meat is no exception. Therefore, if you freeze your food as often as I do, it would be best to invest in a vacuum sealer.

It is a life-saver (and money saver too) for large families and those of you who like to stock up on groceries for whatever reason. Vacuum packaging your food prior to freezing it will prevent freezer burns, but also help preserve the original taste and texture better.

When it comes to lunch meat, you often buy it in a sealed package and, if you have not opened it, it can be frozen as such. However if you already opened the package and used the meat, or kept it open in your refrigerator for some time, the freezing process has to be somewhat more complicated.

Here are the detailed instructions for both cases:

1. Freezing the pre-packaged lunch meat

  • Do not unpack the package, but rather just make sure it has remained well-sealed. As long as it is in an air-tight package, the lunch meat will not get spoiled, and you are good to go!
  • Place the package in a freezer-safe container.
  • Label the date on the container so that you can know how long to keep it in the freezer and when to use the lunch meat.
  • Keep it frozen for up to six months.

2. Freezing the unpacked lunch meat

  • When your lunch meat has already been unpacked and used, you need to repack it prior to freezing it.
  • Place the remaining portion of lunch meat in a zip lock bag, Vacuum all the air out and make sure it is air-tight.
  • Label the date.
  • Freeze it for up to three months.

Extra Tip: If you are freezing a package of sliced meat you have already opened, it is best to place a sheet of parchment paper in-between lunch meat slices as to keep them separated and be able to defrost and use as many slices as you need at the time!

Related: Learn To Find The Best Frozen Pizza With Barbara


How long can the lunch meat stay frozen?

It is great that we can freeze the expensive deli meat and save it for later, but make sure you do not overdo it! Lunch meat can be frozen without affecting its texture and flavor for only a certain period of time - and you should respect that to the letter!

It is therefore very important to remember the two following rules:

  1. Pre-packaged (unopened and unused) lunch meat is safe to eat after being frozen for up to 6 months.
  2. Unpacked and already used lunch meat is safe to eat after being frozen for 2 to 3 months due to being already exposed to air and moisture. 

Make sure that you freeze ONLY the lunch meat that is still within the use-by date. Freezing will not make it good if it has already been spoiled!

If you want to find out more about proper food storage, read this!

How to thaw the frozen lunch meat properly?

There are two simple rules you need to follow in order to thaw the frozen lunch meat successfully, preserve its taste and texture, and keep it safe to consume.

  1. First of all, plan ahead! You need to remove the lunch meat one day prior to using it and place it in a refrigerator. If you separated the slices according to my advice, you can take out as many slices as you like and let them thaw for an hour or two.
  2. The second rule is even more important as it will keep you safe and sound! You have to use the lunch meat you have thawed within two to three days - do not ever disrespect that!

Will the lunch meat you freeze taste differently?

As I have already mentioned, the lunch meat can be frozen without affecting its taste and texture too much. That goes for all the lunch meat that was properly stored, frozen and thawed.

I have to mention that lunch meat will probably appear a bit juicer when thawed as it is sure to expel some water. This problem is easily resolved though with a few sheets of paper towel. Simply place the lunch meat on paper towels, and they will absorb all the extra moisture.

The second problem you might face is a slightly altered taste due to loss of sodium and some other preservatives (which is not that bad). As a result, the taste might be milder, but you can spice it up or add some ketchup, mustard or mayo for a richer taste!

In any case, you will be able to enjoy your lunch meat in any way you like it and feel satisfied that you have managed to save some money for things that really matter - perhaps a cinema date with your hubby? 😉

Barbara Whitney
 

For the last 20 years, I’ve been cooking, preparing, researching, and gathering recipes, tools, and knowledge about food and the way we prepare it. Raising two lively boys and spoiling one great husband later, it’s safe to say that I’ve optimized my kitchen to deliver the best possible meal, no matter the occasion.

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Barbara Hogan

Great info Thank you

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