Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Feb 16, 2014 11:01 PM

Questions about storing meat in single-serve portions?

First off, I was a vegetarian and/or vegan for most of my life until a couple years ago, so please forgive my ignorance on this topic...

Doctor's orders are to increase my protein intake as much as possible to try and build back some muscle after all these years of illness.

Caveats begin...

I can't stomach any nut butters, beans or legumes, eggs, or seafood/fish of any kind. Also cannot do chicken. And I'm lactose intolerant.

I currently eat around 35-40 grams of protein per day, and it's mostly "incidental" protein via potatoes or carbs. I can eat one small serving of low fat dairy per day.

The only meats I can stomach have to be virtually fat-free, well-cooked, and expensive (high quality).

So far, these include:

-well-done beef filet
-white turkey breast meat
-sparingly can eat 90/10 freshly ground beef from the butcher

All of these have to be eaten in small portions. Hence the issue with storage.

My butcher sells beef filet tails at roughly $35 a pop. I can only eat about 1/4 to 1/3 of one at a time.

Similarly, a turkey breast could easily last me 4 or 5 meals.

How can I portion these meats out so I can freeze and cook as needed? Is it possible to slice up a raw beef filet and freeze 1 oz. portions? How would you cook them? Thaw then grill?

Can you slice up a raw turkey breast and roast small pieces as needed? Thaw then roast?

Ground beef is the easiest of the bunch; I'm thinking of portioning into meatballs or hamburger-like patties and freezing those so I can cook one at a time.

Any general tips on storing, thawing, or cooking frozen meat appreciated. I have no experience cooking meat from the freezer. Thanks.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. You are a perfect candidate for a sous vide cooker, like this one You can freeze single portions, raw or cooked, in vacuum sealed bags then cook/re-heat in a sous vide cooker. Otherwise, cooking meat from the freezer diifers little from cooking from fresh. Just defrost slowly in refrigerator (under 40 degrees F.) to avoid bacteria growth.Filet tails @ $35.00? How much do they weigh? I think you need to find a new butcher! The tail is the least desirable piece from the filet because it's not shaped round enough to make a proper steak.

    6 Replies
    1. re: zackly

      Ooh, interesting about the sous vide. Thank you for the suggestion! I will look into it and perhaps that will be the best thing for me.

      As to the filet tails, I exaggerate slightly maybe... I usually get one for about $23, though the bigger ones run upwards of $35. A large one is plenty for myself and my boyfriend. I eat maybe a 4-5 bite piece and his "half" is easily much larger than a regular filet round. So perhaps they are huge tails??

      I enjoy the cut. My mother introduced me to it years ago and this particular butcher's meat is always impeccable. More importantly, I seem to stomach it well which is a rarity, so I'm scared to stray :)

      1. re: nothingswrong

        Ugh, nevermind about the sous vide cooker.

        I'm not sure I'm a good candidate, as I'm immune compromised and keep coming across articles saying it might not be best for us sick folk.

        I absolutely have to reduce my risk of foodborne illness to the highest degree possible, as that's what landed me in this state to begin with.

        Thank you for the suggestion though.

        1. re: nothingswrong

          Sous Vide is only dangerous if the (simple) rules are not followed. I've been cooking sous vide for several years without incident. A chef's knife is can be a dangerous tool if you put your fingers underneath the blade while chopping.

        2. re: nothingswrong

          Sous vide has the capability to be safer than most other methods of cooking, depending on how you use it. You can pasteurize foods fully and with certainty and leave margin for error. Stove top or oven cooking typically involves some guesswork in this respect, and erring on the side of safety also often means overcooking your foods.

          The safety issues with sous vide come into play when you're flirting with the low end of safe cooking temperatures/times, storing foods after cooking to reheat later, using sous vide to heat foods without pasteurizing them, or fudging the technique in general.

          The downside is that there's quite a bit of reading to do before getting started on how food safety and sous vide intersect. And a lot of the popular articles and sites actually aren't well educated about the technique - just reading random articles isn't an especially good way to learn about the technique. Look up Douglas Baldwin's work if you think sous vide appeals to you ( ). But know that sous vide can be an extremely safe cooking method, depending on how you use it.

          1. re: cowboyardee

            So, just to get a clearer idea...

            Let's say I were to buy a steak or a turkey breast and bring them directly home. Chop into 1 oz (ish) portions, vacuum seal, then stick directly in the freezer.

            Over the next week, I'd pull one at a time out and stick into the sous vide cooker for the recommended time and temp, depending on the thickness of the meat, and cook all the way to 165+ (which is what I have to do for safety reasons).

            Would it be safe to eat no matter what?

            All other variables aside, of course, like improper handling of the meat prior to me purchasing it.

            I can see why this would be theoretically very safe, but got freaked out last night by all the articles I was reading. The issues with anaerobic bacteria are scary, though I'm assuming those don't apply if I'm freezing the meat immediately after sealing, then cooking directly from frozen, one piece at a time to be eaten immediately (i.e. not storing back in the fridge afterward).

            Please correct me if I'm wrong! Thank you.

            1. re: nothingswrong

              The first and most important aspect of food safety that sous vide cooking requires you to understand is that it is not merely temperature that determines how much bacteria is present, but how long you hold food at a given temperature. A piece of meat cooked at 165 could easily be less safe than another cooked at 140 depending on how long you cook it. The traditional food safety 'rules' everyone knows are generally over-simplified.

              That said, I understand that you weren't asking that.

              If you were careful about your technique, yes, sous vide can match or surpass the safety of traditional cooking methods. The anaerobes can be issues when you press your luck in some of the ways I listed above. If you use sous vide with a specific eye for microbial safety, sous vide is as safe as cooking gets.

              There are plenty of downsides of sous vide cooking I could tell you about if you're still curious. But once you understand what you're doing with sous vide, safety is only an issue if you make it one.

      2. Regarding turkey breast, I sometimes buy a bone-in turkey breast but I'm not sure how you'd portion that out before it's cooked. But what about a boneless turkey breast? They are usually around 3 lbs. and with a good pair of kitchen shears, you could cut it up and freeze in small portions. Take it out of the freezer the day before you want to cook it and thaw it in the refrigerator, then cook in the oven.

        Or, I occasionally buy turkey cutlets. By me they come in packs of 4 so you could make 1 and freeze the rest.

        6 Replies
        1. re: valerie

          I was looking at the turkey cutlets at my local grocery store, but I've never had one. My mother always bought boneless or bone-in breasts for smaller dinners and they seem like a nice amount of meat to last me several meals. But maybe due to the storage issues, I'll have to go with cutlets. Thanks for the suggestions.

          1. re: nothingswrong

            I buy turkey cutlets weekly. Trader Joe's and Wegmans sells them year round for a pretty good price. I eat more turkey than chicken and I eat a lot of chicken.

            1. re: fldhkybnva

              I get these, too. The cutlets from both places are quite good.

              1. re: ccbweb

                I slightly prefer TJs as they aren't sliced into skinny long pieces but sort of resemble chicken breasts.

                1. re: fldhkybnva

                  Agreed, actually, but in this case I also thought that the super skinny/small cut of turkey might benefit the OP given their limits on portion size anyhow. Ends up irrelevant as I see in another post there are no Wegmans near the OP.

              2. re: fldhkybnva

                Okay, thanks for the tip. The ones at my expensive local store are EXTREMELY expensive. They have very good meat though, and I won't eat the stuff at the "regular" stores anymore.

                I'll try TJ's next time. There are no Wegmans here.

          2. Can you make a pot of stew? Skim the fat the next day, and freeze in individual portions?

            Also, Greek yogurt is high in protein.

            8 Replies
              1. re: Karl S

                Yes, not sure I can do Greek yogurt. Regular yogurt I can only handle maybe a few tablespoons at a time. I don't particularly like yogurt in general.

                Stew would be wonderful but I can't do many of the things involved. I can eat broths, but not rich or heavy sauces, or things that are very seasoned or fragrant. The blander the better.

                1. re: nothingswrong

                  How about meat/protein intensive soups? I'm thinking beef barley, beef vegetable, chicken soup with chicken meatballs, etc. All of these can be made with fairly bland broth, and you can control how much meat is in each portion.

                  1. re: nothingswrong

                    I'm also lactose intolerant and have discovered that fage and stonyfield greek yogurt are not a problem, you may want to give them a try. One 6oz cup has 20g protein, so even a half serving is a good amount

                    1. re: Ttrockwood

                      Okay, thanks for the tip.

                      I'm actually Greek and I should be all over that stuff but it's a bit too tangy for me. Perhaps I should start using it in savory applications, in lieu of sour cream for instance.

                      1. re: nothingswrong

                        Thats a perfect use! And a little honey can hide the "tang"

                        1. re: nothingswrong

                          This is what I do. I never eat it sweet .

                  2. While you asked about freezing, have you tried beef and turkey jerky, very low fat and high protein

                    Some are spicy some are mild

                    Some of my local delis roast turkey and beef in house

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Alan408

                      No I haven't, not in a very long time anyway. I used to LOVE beef jerky when I was younger and carried it around for a snack.

                      I'll look into that again. Thanks for the suggestion!

                    2. Yo can definitely freeze small portions. I would look at a food saver or press and seal wrap. I used to portion, weigh and label my meat into very small portions. Thaw in the fridge, which small portions typically if you put it in in the morning it will be ready for dinner.

                      1 Reply