Time Saving Tip: Marinate and Freeze Single Portions of Meat

by Andie Mitchell on August 22, 2012

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Time saving tip: Anytime you’re marinating meat, reserve a single or double portion (with enough marinade to coat it) in a resealable plastic bag and freeze it.

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This is extremely helpful for those of us who live alone or with only one other person. It’s a way to pre-portion your dinner and to save yourself the hassle of marinating meat ahead of time.

As a general rule, anytime you can double the recipe you’re making, go ahead and do it. You can freeze half and then enjoy the same delicious meal another time without the fuss of cooking. 

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The morning before you plan to cook it, simply thaw the bag of marinated meat on your countertop, or thaw it in the fridge overnight.

grilled chicken-6

What’s your time saving tip?

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Bailey @ Onederland or Bust! August 22, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Great idea :)


Janet August 22, 2012 at 3:27 pm

I started doing this recently, though I prep about a week or so’s worth of chicken all at once. I made about 4 or 5 different marinades and put together up one meal’s worth in each bag.

It has been a HUGE help getting dinner on the table every night! I work two jobs and don’t get home until around 7pm, and my husband doesn’t really know how to cook. He defrosts a bag of marinated chicken and cooks it on the Forman grill so dinner is ready when I finally get home. :)


Miranda @ Living One Bite at a Time August 22, 2012 at 3:49 pm

This is such a great idea! My boyfriend isn’t a huge fan of chicken, but this will be a perfect way to make my lunches easier. We have such a tiny freezer, though, so I try to freeze as little as possible because we already have so much stuff in there! I can’t wait until we get a bigger apartment with a bigger fridge/freezer.

(P.S. The USDA regulations for thawing meat, say that leaving it out to thaw on the counter is a bad idea. It should only be done in the fridge, or through one of their recommended ways. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/Big_Thaw/)


Jennielynn August 22, 2012 at 5:32 pm

I do something similar when I’m making a lasagna or a shepherd’s pie. I make a double batch, bake up one and freeze the other. Of course, we rarely get to enjoy the second one because my brother seems to have casserole radar and finagles my frozen one! I can’t wait to try this with marinade and meat.


Jenn @ cupcakesncouscous August 22, 2012 at 7:20 pm

I do this with fruit and beans, I haven’t done it with meat yet but I should. I make big batches of beans (black, lentils, etc) on my days off, then freeze them for future meals. Same with fruit, I cut them up, keep some in the fridge for snacking and freeze the rest for smoothies.


Violet August 22, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Seeing the chicken cut into chunks in your bags was an AHA moment for me! I always marinate whole breasts but cutting them up would get flavor onto more chicken! Brilliant!


johnny August 23, 2012 at 2:45 am

gonna try that, it sounds great :)


Tracey August 23, 2012 at 4:20 am

I’d love to know what store bought marinades you buy/use?


Nancy @ Rivertreekitchen August 23, 2012 at 5:55 am

I freeze individual portions of soup in 12-16-ounce jars for a fast lunch.
I have to agree with Miranda, above: thawing chicken, or any type of raw meat or fish, on the counter is really risky.


The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh August 23, 2012 at 6:12 am

Anything that imparts flavor and saves time is a big ol bonus baby!


reluctantMANGO August 23, 2012 at 7:40 am

When my kiddo abandons fruit halfway through, or if my fruit bowl is reaching maximum ripeness, I chop it up and add it to the freezer in sandwich bags. Makes for quick smoothie ingredients in the morning, and I can mix and match to create different blends!


Emily August 23, 2012 at 7:45 am

This is a great tip! Cutting up the meat was a total AHA moment for me as well. Don’t want to be a debbie downer but you definitely should not thaw meat by leaving it out on the counter in the morning, especially poultry, it’s a breading ground for bacteria. I believe in the fridge they say it’s about 8 hours per 1 lb of meat so overnight in there is your best bet.


Christa August 23, 2012 at 8:17 am

I used to do this all the time when I had a roommate. I would buy chicken breasts in bulk then freeze them in bottled marinade or Italian dressing. I dont know why I stopped. I think when I moved in with my boyfriend I wanted him to think I was all domestic superwoman and everything. WTH??


Janice Harper August 23, 2012 at 9:45 am

I prefer not to freeze in a marinade because I don’t know how I’ll want to prepare the meat when the time comes. (Also, best not to do it if the meat was previously frozen.) But I do slice and dice chicken breasts and pork loins into individual portions for freezing so that I always have meat that can be quickly thawed. Other things I freeze include stuffed pork tenderloins and/or chicken breasts–filet, spread some spinach leaves on it, sprinkle with seasoned bread crumbs, roll up, top with thinly sliced prociuto or other spicy/fatty meat) tie, wrap and freeze. Thaw, roast and serve. And I keep the freezer stocked with emergency lemons, limes, herb butters, chicken stock (in pints and cubes), dill, garlic cloves, pureed chipotle, shrimp shells (for fish stock), and, of course, cheesecake. You never know when you might need a piece.


Claire August 23, 2012 at 12:32 pm

I love your site and I love this idea but pleeease don’t thaw meat on the countertop.


Rachelle August 23, 2012 at 2:18 pm

This is what I do to save time. I take one night a week and cook lean meat, roasted veggies, cut up and portion nut, fruits and veggies. I also cook up some rice, pasta and quinoa or bulgar or buckwheat so I just throw a bunch of cooked ingredients together to make a meal. I also double batches of anything cooked in the slow cooker and freeze half of it.


Sonal August 24, 2012 at 2:11 am

Such a good idea :) I’ve never actually done the freezing and thawing thing with marinade! Def. going to try it :)


Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy August 24, 2012 at 4:05 am

I always do this too. I prep loads of food on a Sunday for the week ahead.


admin August 24, 2012 at 4:16 am

I appreciate your advice and you are absolutely right! I will no longer thaw frozen meat on the counter :)


TJ August 24, 2012 at 7:05 am

I Love this! It’s great for grilling.


Kari August 24, 2012 at 8:52 am

Andie, my fave crockpot recipe is my sis’ Green Pepper Casserole…


It’s cheesy, melty, saucy, and full of Sweet Italian (turkey) sausage, which makes it the most perfect date-night-in meal! Also, it’s my trump card should my man ever decide to leave me ;0)



Serena August 25, 2012 at 3:00 am

I’ve thawed meat (and seafood :-O) on the counter top for years. I’m not dead yet. At least I don’t think I am.


Sarah (The Simple Dietitian) August 25, 2012 at 8:37 am

What a great idea! I’m a big fan of time-saving strategies. Especially since I’ll be working 6 days a week for the next two months and could really use some short cuts. ;) Thank you for this!


Cathey August 25, 2012 at 3:03 pm

If you need to thaw a piece of meat quickly, you can place the sealed bag in a bowl of cold water. It will thaw completely long before it enters the “danger zone.” And yes, I love saying danger zone! I’ve taken lots of food safety classes and am really impatient – this is the way I always thaw things!


Mailoha August 25, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Can you share some of your favorite easy marinades? Also what different ways do you cook your chicken? I never know what to do when it comes to meats! And chicken dries up on me so fast!


Tammy August 31, 2012 at 2:39 pm

Love this idea!! half the week it is just my husband and I. I have just recently had weight loss surgery and can only eat a specific amt of food and not the kind my hubby likes lol. plus our work schedules will be picking up so I am definately going to do this!!


Kylie @ immaeatthat September 2, 2012 at 5:27 pm

I loved this tip! I always freeze my chicken in single serving portions, but I’ve never thought to cube it, marinade it and then freeze it:) I’ve been telling EVERYBODY about this idea…I love it! So helpful:) Thank you:)!


francine September 2, 2012 at 7:42 pm

marinating before freezing the chicken is such a good idea!!! thanks so much!!


Sareen September 5, 2012 at 2:23 am

I love this idea, but I’m guessing you only do this for meat that hasn’t already been thawed right? In other words, you only do this with meat you JUST bought from the grocery store.


admin September 8, 2012 at 6:15 am

Yes, only for freshly bought meat


jean January 12, 2014 at 2:36 pm

Please tell me if I can freeze marinated tandorri chicken, as its oil and yougart.


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