Meatloaf is probably one of the most treasured American dishes, quick and simple to prepare with relatively few ingredients. It’s the perfect meal for a family or when eating alone, you can serve it with pretty much anything.
However, it’s very easy to make too much meatloaf. You might often find yourself making enough for the whole family and then some, resulting in up to half of a meatloaf going to waste. The last thing you want to do is put it in the trash.
You can often make too much meatloaf on purpose. Batch cooking is becoming more and more popular, as it generally saves you time on cooking throughout the week.
But what if you want to save your meatloaf not just for the coming week, but for the coming months ahead?
That’s where freezing comes in. We all know that freezing can extend the shelf life of most foods, but how does ground beef fare under intensely chilly temperatures?
What is the best way to freeze meatloaf? How can you preserve its sumptuous meaty flavor after you’ve thawed it? And how can you best cook meatloaf once it has been defrosted?
Well, meatloaf lovers, we’ve got a quick how-to guide for everything that involves freezing meatloaf, its thawing, as well as its reheating and serving.
By reading this article, you’ll have a better idea of how to keep the integrity of your meatloaf, as well as how to avoid it going bland and tasteless after months in the deep freeze.
First off, we’re going to look at how you can best refrigerate meatloaf so you can eat it within the coming week.
Fridge It Up - How To Keep Meatloaf
So, you’ve slaved over a hot oven for an hour preparing your meatloaf, but maybe you don’t want to eat it straight away. How best to prepare it before putting it in the fridge?
We’d recommend removing your meatloaf from the tin or whatever vessel you happen to have cooked it in. Once placed on the plate, leave it to cool. This could take anywhere between an hour to two hours, depending on how much meatloaf you’ve cooked.
Once the meatloaf is cooled, wrap it in saran wrap or greaseproof paper. Make sure that it is wrapped tightly to avoid any bacteria getting in.
You can also slide in a thermometer to check whether it has cooled right the way through to the center. If you don’t have a thermometer to hand, slide in a knife before testing the heat of the blade on the back of your hand.
After being cooked and refrigerated, you should consume your meatloaf within 2 days of storing it.
How To Freeze Meatloaf
However, if you’ve made too much meatloaf and want it kept for some unspecified time in the distant future, then there’s good news - you can freeze it!
Once the loaf has been cooked and allowed to cool following the procedures above, you should take the remainder and slice it up into thick pieces. Slicing up the meatloaf will not only help it cool quicker, it will also make it easier to thaw. Meatloaf will be almost impossible to slice from frozen.
Once the meat has been sliced, place them in a resealable freezer bag, making sure that it’s airtight so no bacteria can grow inside.
Once placed in the freezer, cooked meatloaf should last up to six months.
Make sure not to freeze and thaw the meatloaf more than once, as beef is particularly susceptible to bacteria and will definitely start to lose its delicious flavor even after one thawing.
However, there is a particular method of thawing frozen meatloaf to preserve its distinctive texture and flavor.
How To Thaw Out And Cook Meatloaf
Once you have taken the meatloaf out of the freezer, it is best to put it in the fridge to allow it to thaw properly. If you are pushed for time, then we’d recommend putting it in the microwave and pushing the defrost setting button. This should take no longer than 30 minutes.
Once the meat is thawed, you can simply cook it as directed by the recipe. You can also thaw your meatloaf slices on your frying pan set to a lower temperature. Make sure only to defrost the number of meatloaf slices that you’ll be using for that meal.
When cooking the meatloaf from frozen, you should always use a thermometer to check the temperature of the meat. Beef meatloaf should reach around 160 degrees before it is safe to eat. Poultry meatloaf should be cooked at a slightly higher temperature of 165 degrees.
Cover your meatloaf in a damp paper towel when reheating to avoid it drying out.
How To Prepare Leftover Meatloaf
If you remain unconvinced as to whether you want to freeze your meatloaf, there are a few easy recipes for reusing meatloaf leftovers. There are plenty of very interesting and delicious dishes that include meatloaf as their main ingredient.
You can put the remains of your leftovers in a sandwich that you can eat at work the next day. You can simply place the leftover meatloaf in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, remove the meat and slice it up, reheating it or serving it cold according to your preference.
You can quickly warm up smaller slices of meatloaf in your frying pan or skillet. You can also reshape it in the frying pan so that it resembles a patty. Again, these are ideal in sandwiches or a burger bun.
You can also crumble cooked meatloaf in beef-based dishes such as chili or pasta. Once covered in pasta sauce, your meatloaf will give your meal that extra body that it would have lacked on its own.
You can also shape your cooked meatloaf into cubes to serve as a great cold appetizer. Serve them with a selection of dips such as mustard or ketchup and enjoy them as a snack with some tortilla chips.
You can also serve meatloaf chunks with sliced olives, horseradish or grated cheddar cheese.