You’ve just done your weekly grocery shopping and feel pretty good about yourself. You’ve stocked up on all your favorites, including a few frozen microwave meals for those nights when you just don’t feel like cooking.
But as you’re unpacking your groceries, you start to wonder…if you can keep them in the fridge and just reheat them when you’re ready to eat? Would that be a lot easier than having to wait for them to defrost?
So, Can You Keep Frozen Microwave Meals in the Fridge?
No, it’s not recommended that you keep frozen microwave meals in the fridge. If you choose to store your frozen microwave meals in the fridge, they must be consumed within 24 hours. After 24 hours and the food has not been consumed, it should be thrown away.
Don’t even think about refreezing it! Frozen meals that have been thawed can’t be refrozen again.
The reason for this is because when food is thawed and then refrozen, the bacteria can survive the freezing process and contaminate the food. This can cause food poisoning or other illnesses.
What Are the Risks of Putting Frozen Microwave Meals in the Fridge?
There are several risks associated with storing frozen microwave meals in the fridge, including:
1. Bacterial Growth
The first reason is that foods in the fridge tend to spoil more quickly than those in the freezer. This is because the fridge is warmer than the freezer and thus speeds up the process of spoilage and thus bacteria growth.
Foods last so long in the freezer because they are packaged and stored at such low temperatures that bacteria can’t survive. After you take food out of the freezer and into the fridge, you no longer have that freezer bacteria protection, making its shelf life much shorter.
You might be thinking, but the expiration date says it’s still good, so it must be safe to eat, right? Although the expiration date of frozen meals indeed is often much longer than refrigerated foods.
But once it thaws, the expiration date is no longer valid. So if you’re eating a frozen microwave meal that’s been sitting in your fridge for a while, you may be consuming food that’s already expired.
Remember, those expiration dates are intended for foods stored in the freezer only.
2. Cooking Time
The second reason has to do with cooking time. Most frozen microwave meals are designed to be cooked from frozen. This means you don’t have to wait for the food to thaw before you cook it.
This can be a major time saver, especially if you’re short on time or forgot to take the food out of the freezer ahead of time.
However, if you keep the frozen meals in the fridge, you’ll be left guessing as to how long they’ll actually take to cook. This can lead to overcooking or undercooking the food, which can ruin the meal.
Can You Refreeze and Reheat a Leftover Frozen Microwave Meal?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. Once a frozen microwave meal has been thawed, it should be eaten immediately or discarded.
Refreezing a thawed microwave meal will not kill any bacteria that may have developed, and reheating the food will not make it safe to eat.
In addition, refreezing and reheating a microwave meal can degenerate the quality of the food.
The same goes for leftovers. If you have leftover food from a frozen microwave meal, it’s best to eat it within several hours or discard it.
While it may be tempting to try and save time and money by keeping frozen microwave meals in the fridge, it’s not worth the risk.
How Do I Know if My Frozen Microwave Meal Is Still Good To Eat?
The answer is actually pretty simple. First, check the expiration date on the package. If it has expired, it’s best to throw it out and start fresh.
Second, take a look at the food itself. If it looks discolored or has freezer burn, then it’s probably not safe to eat. Finally, trust your nose. If the food smells off, then it’s probably not good anymore.
If you’re still not sure, err on the side of caution and throw it out. It’s better to be safe than sorry regarding food safety.
What Are Some Tips for Storing Frozen Microwave Meals?
Before we end, here are a few tips to help you store your frozen microwave meals:
1. Read the Instructions on the Package
When you get a frozen microwave meal, it’s important to read the instructions on the package. This will tell you how to store the food safely and how long it will last.
2. Keep Track of What’s In Your Freezer
It can be easy to forget what you have stored in your freezer, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve used it.
One way to keep track of what’s in your freezer is to label the food with the name and date. This will help you remember what you have and how long it’s been there.
3. Follow the First In, First Out Rule
This rule simply means you should use the oldest food in your freezer first and save the newer food for later. This helps to ensure that you’re not eating expired food.
4. Don’t Overload Your Freezer
While stocking up on frozen food is tempting, you should avoid overloading your freezer. This can make the freezer less efficient and make it difficult to find what you’re looking for.
5. Keep the Freezer at a Safe Temperature
To keep your food safe, it’s important to maintain a consistent temperature in your freezer. The ideal temperature is 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celsius).
In conclusion, frozen microwave meals should not be kept in the fridge. This is because they can develop bacteria, making them unsafe to eat. If you’re unsure if a frozen microwave meal is still good to eat, it’s best to throw it out.
Following these tips will help you store your frozen microwave meals safely and ensure that you’re constantly eating safe and delicious food.