How to Freeze Meat without Plastic

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Going plastic free is a great aspiration. But there are so many, many challenges along the way. The biggest one I have come up against so far is being able to freeze meat without plastic.

The first step to freezing meat without plastic was to get rid of the single-use plastic – ie the meat trays and double wrapped cling film by using reusable plastic containers. Even ice cream containers work well to freeze meat in.

I have a personal bug bear with cling film, I think it is wasteful and unnecessary in almost every situation.

I particularly get mad at the supermarkets using a double cling film layer over trays of meat, combined with most of them shutting down their butchery counters. This then removes all choice from consumers, it is plastic or nothing, baby.

I haven’t bought cling film for our household’s use in about 3 years, so having it double wrapped over my meat each night has never sat well with me. Buying meat without plastic will be the first challenge to being able to freeze meat without plastic.

What can we use to Freeze Meat without Plastic??

I have hunted high and low for ideas to store meat in the freezer that doesn’t involve plastic. There are very few options.

Mason jars are suggested but they aren’t the most economical use of space plus when you smash one – and you will – you have a freezer full of glass shards and wasted food. So my search continued. And have you tried to fit a large family meal’s worth of meat in a jar? I need bigger jars!

Then I stumbled upon a great idea someone mentioned on a forum – Gastronorm pans! (Or their cheaper more generic cousins).

They are the pans used in bain-maries for buffet meals at hotels etc. These pans aren’t cheap, but they should last forever. They are stainless steel so won’t react with your food and they are stack-able. Perfect for the freezer!

Freezing meat without plastic

I got mine from these guys, I found them on Trademe (NZ’s answer to ebay). You can also get them on Amazon. Watch the prices and check the shipping costs – some of the shipping prices are crazy high.

Steamer pans come in different sizes based on what portion of a big pan they are – 1/1 being a very big pan, 1/2 being half that, 1/4 a quarter and so on right down to 1/9. They also come in different depths – 65mm, 100mm, 150mm, 200mm etc.

My pans arrived in the post today! YAY! As a starter kit, I bought 5 x 1/4 65mm pans and 5 x 1/4 100mm pans and 10 lids (and rural shipping) for $200.

Which seems like A LOT to pay for storage containers. But considering they should last me a lifetime and you think of all the money you would spend on rubbish disposal over your lifetime if you use several meat trays per week. It has got to add up.

Freezing meat without plastic

I will keep you posted as to how well they work for us. What do you use to store your meat in the freezer or fridge?

UPDATE: Feb 2017 These pans are great when you can find a butcher that will fill them. I can’t wait to have homekill meat to use in these. I haven’t had any problem with freezer burn or anything. They are really a great solution for freezing meat without plastic. 

Usually we only store our meat for a week before using it. For longer storage, I found that covering the top of the meat with baking paper, or pouring water over the top to protect the meat from the air. As it isn’t the cold that causes freezer burn, it is actually the dry air.

Enjoyed this? Read on for more tips for going plastic free.

How do you store your frozen things without plastic? Let me know in the comments below.

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When we went plastic free in #plasticfreejuly I really struggled with freezing meat without using plastic. I have found a fantastic solution, that works really well. #plasticfree #nomoreplastic


On of the challenges going plastic free is freezing meat without plastic, How to freeze meat without plastic is a real challenge, but I found a solution!

8 thoughts on “How to Freeze Meat without Plastic”

  1. Hi just wondering how you keep your meat from sticking together in containers e.g. multiple cuts of steak in one container for bulk buyers.,

    • Hi Tess, generally we get a whole container out at once as we are feeding 5. You can free-flow freeze meat separated on a cookie tray in the freezer for 12-24 hours before placing in your container, or you can use 2 layers of parchment paper between layers.

  2. Many years ago, meat was actually wrapped in butcher paper. This is still what we use for meat we butcher. You can find it at a butcher supply. Maybe check Amazon. Meat wrapped in butcher paper keeps well if wrapped well. We double wrap large animals such as elk that might be in the freezer up to 2 years.

    • Hi Bonnie
      Thank you for your comment! Sadly butcher paper is pretty much all plastic coated these days. There are a few that have a soy wax on them, but most are good old plastic.

  3. Hi Dana, Thank you for this great idea. I agree that this is one of the hardest items on the long list of plastic elimination challenges, especially for bulk meat buyers! Could you please tell me if the lids are airtight or even hold themselves on, or do you have to strap them down somehow? Im very impressed you have managed to avoid freezer burn!

    • Hi Sam, the lids are not tight per sey. Once they are stacked on top of each other they pretty much keep each others lids on. I have found that placing a sheet of baking paper over the top of the meat helps to keep it fresh too – especially if the meat is in the freezer for a few months. Generally we buy meat weekly, but some of our home raised meat is in much longer.

    • Hi Brenda, That is a good idea, as long as your butcher paper isn’t plastic coated. Sadly most of them are these days!

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