How To Wrap Meat Like A Pro

One of the first recommendations I make when someone asks me how they can save money on groceries is: Buy as much meat in bulk as you can afford when it’s on sale.

It’s likely the most expensive ingredient you’ll be making a meal with and the biggest item, so if you can save here, you’ll save big. It’s a rare day indeed when I pay full price for a steak or a pack of chicken!

If you’re picking up product from the local butcher or grocery store, it’s easy enough to select packs that are single-meal sized. These are so convenient and easy to toss in the freezer as-is.

But keep your eye out for a much better deal: Prices per pound are usually significantly lower if you buy in big lots or “family-size”.

This tactic however brings with it a little extra work: How to best break it all down to store so you can just take out the amount you need as you need it? This tutorial has you covered!

Important: You want to wrap meat nice & air tight. It’s vital to package with care to preserve the quality of the product and protect it from freezer burn or your expensive grocery investment is surely shot.

How to do this? You’ll find several pictures below including easy to follow, step-by-step instructions. These are from an old vintage book in my collection, details are still bang-on for today.


To make a good, air tight bundle that will protect the product, it’s best to use good quality freezer paper.

1. Place roast on paper. Tear off a sheet to go about one and a half times around roast (or chops or sausages or poultry, whatever you’re prepping!), put shiny side next to flesh (if using wax coated variety). Lay roast on center of paper and allow ample room on all sides.

2. Bring ends together. Start folding ends of paper together over center of roast. Turn edges over to create a seam about an inch deep. Run your fingers along fold to make a good crease.

3. Fold to meat. Keep turning paper over and crease each fold. The last one you make should pull the sheet tight around the product. You want to get all the air out of package to prevent “freezer burn”.

4. Turn in ends. Press the sheet down close to sides of meat. Press out all the air you can to make a tight bundle. Fold in each of the four corners of paper. This will make a point at each end.

5. Turn under ends. Turn pointed ends of paper under package. Then fold under about an inch at each end of bundle. You have made a tight packet that will keep air out and moisture in . . . moisture-vapor-proof.

6. Seal and label. Seal with tape (you can use masking tape). Label each package with kind and amount of meat and date you prepped. Now it’s ready to stack and store.

This method of wrapping is also known as “The Drug Store Wrap“.

Tips: Arrange finished items seam side down to protect seal. You can double layer if the paper you’re using isn’t the best quality (or use one layer aluminum foil or plastic wrap then cover with freezer sheet).

Better Food From Your Appliance

Foods of highest quality that are first properly prepared for freezing (such as first blanching vegetables and other methods), can lose color, flavor, texture and nutritive value if packaged improperly.

Proper packaging methods mean:

  • Using moisture-vapor-proof products or containers
  • Removing as much air as possible from packet
  • Carefully sealing tightly wrapped bundles
  • Labeling packet for usage within recommended storage time.

Source: Graphics & Instructions Adapted from “How To Prepare Foods For Freezing“; 1961, Sears, Roebuck & Co.

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    • Beverly

    I wrap the kids’ lunch sandwiches in waxed paper using this exact same folding method. Waxed paper is cheaper and can be put in the compost bin.

    • Sent

    Where can I buy freezer paper?

      • Amelia

      Walmart has it here, it’s like $5.68 and freezer tape is $2.48

    • ryan

    Just curious, but how is this better than ziplock freezer bags?

    • Jay

    Ryan’s right – with the added qualification that you remove extra air first. Close the ZipLoc almost all the way, stick in a straw, and suck out the air; quickly remove the straw while simultaneously closing the ZipLoc. When you’re done it’ll look like it’s vacuum packed. Much better than buying one of those silly machines that does the same thing and that requires you to purchase not only the machine, but also the replacement bags (I can only imagine what they charge). More effective than using paper – although I am a firm believer in the drug store wrap when using foil, etc., for leftovers. Drives me nuts when people loosely wrap food in foil, leaving openings, and think that anything is being accomplished…

    • TipNut

    If you can get all the air out of ziploc bags, both methods are equally good IMO. The key is to wrap the meat air tight (for both packaging options). Some people also try to cut back on plastic, this would be a good alternative for them.

      • Morwalk

      The problem with Ziplocs is that they are plastic and most people don’t recycle them. With plastic, also, there is a chance of bad stuff leeching into your kids’ food. No one wants that.

    • Diane

    Ever try to get ALL the air out of a plastic freezer bag ?? You can’t -unless you’ve got a vacuum pump in your kitchen.

    • Jay

    Diane – Sorry, but I disagree entirely, unless you mean literally every single molecule, which I doubt you do since clearly one doesn’t accomplish that using paper, either. If you’re not able to remove “all” the air, you’re not doing it correctly. Been doing it for years and years.

    • Andrew

    The advantage to freezer paper over plastic bags is that it is more tear resistant. If something rips your freezer bag, it’s not sealed any more and can lose moisture.

    • Ann

    Well, freezer paper is better for the environment and less expensive than good freezer bags.

    • faye bancroft

    In regards to wrapping meat to freeze, you should check the new hand pumps and vacuum from Ziploc. I use them for everything from bulk meats that I separate and individually freeze, to brown sugar(no more hard sugar!) and you don’t to get an expensive electric one – the hand pump is only 3 bucks. I keep it in my cooking utensil drawer so it’s always handy. Greta idea!!

    • Ed

    How to get air outof a zip lock bag. Fill your bag with it`s contentes. get the smallest straw you can possibly find.. I like the ones used in mixed drinks. Insert the straw into one corner of the bag. close the zipper all the way across to the straw. Now push as much air as you possibly can out of the bag by hand. Now put yourmouth over the straw and suck the rest of the air out. When the bag collapses flat pinch off the area around the straw and finish zipping the lock shut. I do this all the time. It takes a few times practice but it works. If you are filling with liquids, use a funnel just large enough that the fluid will flow freely when filling the bag. Cock the bag so that the corner the funnel is in is the highest part of the bag. Fill the bagf all the way up and the air is forced out as it fills as there is no room left for the air if the bag is completely full of the liquid. If you don`t have a full bag, then go back to the straw trick. It works for me.

      • Tonto

      “How to get air out of ZipLock”…..Get a large pot of water, big enough to submerge ziplock bag in upright position. Fill ziplock, submerge bag in water bath up to bottom of zipper, do not allow water to enter bag, and zip. The water will force the air out of the bag “Poor Man’s Vaccume Pack”. Wipe dry/allow to air dry before freezing.

    • Hazel

    We buy meat in bulk and I freeze them in packages wrapped in stretchable saran wrap. I then put them in freezer bags, squeeze out the air, seal and freeze. We have never had any freezer burn.

    • Emma

    For the ‘straw trick’ people: while this might be effective at removing air, isn’t it also unsafe when you’re freezing meat? Sucking air from around raw meat doesn’t seem much different than actually touching it and licking your fingers.

    • Ryan

    Emma, the bacteria that may or may not be present on the meat is not airborne. Sucking the air from the bag through a straw may taste funny, but should be harmless.

    • harry

    Fill sink half way with water

    Add whatever you want to freeze in ziplock bag

    Place bag into water right before the seal. This will remove all the air out of bag by using water pressure to push air out.

    Zip it and there you go 🙂

    • sky

    For those arguing against using paper to wrap your meat when freezing, I’ve used plastic bags and I’ve used paper. Paper wrapping is a time consuming event for us because we buy our meat in bulk and put it in our chest freezer. I got lazy one night and decided to just put it in plastic freezer bags and be done with it. I’ll say that that will be the last time I don’t spend the extra time wrapping in paper. Not because my food freezer burned but because my plastic bags froze to each other or ripped and I was left with exposed food. Not good. I had to either use that exposed food the next day or throw it into another plastic bag. I still have bags of food frozen to the bottom of my freezer because of that. Never again. I’ve also wrapped meet in just the freezer paper. If you don’t mind your meat bleeding everywhere while it thaws out, that’s fine, but I don’t so now I place the meat in plastic bags and then wrap it up in paper.

    I also saw someone ask where to get freezer paper. It is in the same isle as the wax papers and tin foil and such.

    • Carolyn

    I have used Ziploc and other name brands for meat and have found they are not good for long term storage, anything longer than a month is likely to get freezer burn.
    The bags are not reusable either. They are good for stopping odors from leaking into your freezer, which will be noticeable in your ice.
    Even though using the paper is a little more time consuming, and defrosting should be done in a plastic container or on a plate. I find storing meat purchased in bulk, which can be in your freezer for a longer period, comes out fresher.
    it is also less expensive than using foil.
    I will also add, for freezing meat in single servings, i do find a foodsaver machine does do the best job, mine has paid for itself many times over and you should purchase when its on sale and the same for the plastic rolls.

    • bigfatrat

    I have been getting good results by wrapping meat in plastic wrap then stacking them (usually 2 steaks) ina a cardboard boxwith paper towels between each layer. no sticking no freezer burn. works for me

    • JP

    “Tip: or use one layer aluminum foil or plastic wrap then cover with freezer paper”
    Really? I learned a long time ago to never wrap raw meat in aluminum foil. Maybe if you wrap the outside of the package with it, it will be alright.

    • Greg

    Does it matter what kind of tape you use with freezer paper?

    • Joe

    A true vacuum sealed which pulls down to 10 mbars or less extends the freshness of food 14 days under refrigeration and up to 9 months in a freezer. A suction vacuum machine ( as seen in Costco) merely removes a certain level of atmosphere from the bag ( a ziplock bag and a straw have a similar effect). A dry pump vacuum chamber sealer removes the atmosphere from the chamber and the bag at a higher level but not with a wet product. An oil pump vacuum chamber removes the atmosphere from the bag, chamber and the food item, this greatly extends the freshness of the food item. Also with a true vacuum machine you can perform many other techniques such as, instant marination, infusion of flavors, pickling, aeration and sous vide cooking. I do realize these machines are expensive, big and heavy but smaller and better ones are coming out each year.

    • Anonymous

    I’ve found that masking tape works well.

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