- Cool hot food quickly. Cool food on the bench only until steam stops rising. Then place the hot food directly into the fridge or freezer. Do not leave them to cool completely on the kitchen bench.
- Check the temperature of your refrigerator using a fridge thermometer. Ideally, the temperature of the main compartment should be at 4°C to 5°C, and in the freezer should be around minus 15°C to minus 18°C.
- If you need to cool them quickly, place into a shallow container until the steam stops rising and then into the fridge or freezer.
- Put leftover cooked meats like roasts and barbecued meats in the fridge without delay.
Reheating cooked meat dishes
You can reheat cooked meat dishes in the microwave, on the cooktop or in the oven and should be reheated until steaming hot (above 75°C). When reheating in the microwave, make sure that food is steaming throughout by periodically stirring. To serve, bring it slowly to the boil over a medium heat, reduce heat and simmer for about 3 minutes, or until meat and sauce are both thoroughly hot.
How to freeze cooked meat dishes
Stews and casseroles freeze very well, as do mince dishes such as meat sauce for pasta and meatballs in sauce.
Dishes like meatloaf and fully cooked braised meat dishes are best not frozen as they have very little sauce to cover them. The general rule is that the meat dish should have sufficient liquid to cover the meat, you can add a little boiled water to the sauce if needed. This can be reduced when reheating the dish.
If you plan to cook larger quantities dishes ahead and freeze them it’s best to:
- Line cake tins or other suitable containers with strong plastic bags.
- Ladle into each bag a sufficient amount for one meal.
- Seal each bag and label. Freeze with bag and contents still in container.
- When frozen, remove from container, reseal to expel as much air as possible and return to freezer.
- This way a greater amount of food can be stored without using a large number of containers. Plastic ice cream containers and aluminium foil trays can have food packed directly into them.
How long can cooked meat dishes be frozen?
Pasta sauce (mince), meatballs and sauce, and casseroles can be frozen for 2-3 months
The temperature of your fridge and freezer is important. Regularly check that both the fridge and freezer operate at these temperatures:
- Fridge temperature: 4ºC to 5ºC
- Freezer temperature: -15ºC to -18ºC