You can safely freeze raw and cooked meats and even cook defrosted meat into a new meal and freeze for use on another day. Defrost it overnight in the fridge, check it is thoroughly defrosted, use within 24 hours and cook until steaming hot.
Place food in an air-tight container or wrap food well in freezer bags, freezer wrap or cling film before placing in the freezer so that the cold air does not dry it out. Try to expel any air from freezer bags.
It’s safe to freeze almost all food up until the use by date, including meat and meals cooked from previously cooked and frozen meat, such as leftovers. Once defrosted, the pause button is off, so defrost your food as you need it – and eat within 24 hours.
If you are taking advantage of multi-buys or larger pack sizes (e.g. chicken breasts) you can freeze them individually in smaller bags. You can also “batch cook” (cook enough for two or more meals) and eat one and freeze some for later, to avoid waste and minimise the effort of cooking.
Try to get into the habit of checking what you already have in the fridge and freezer before you go shopping. Use up foods that are approaching their “use by” date and other fresh foods like fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, cheese or milk first as these can go off over time.
Use by date is about safety and the most important date to remember. Foods can be eaten (and most can be frozen) up until the use by date, but not after. You will see use by dates on food that goes off quickly, such as meat products or ready-prepared salads.
Best before date is about quality and not safety. The food will be safe to eat after this date but may not be at its best. Its flavour and texture might not be as good. The best before dates appear on a wide range of frozen, dried, tinned and other foods.