The beauty of thawing food in your refrigerator is that you can refreeze it quite safely, as long as it’s kept properly cold. You might lose a little moisture with meat and bread products, texture with vegetables, and flavor with juices, but there’s no issue with microbial growth because the average refrigerator keeps food at 30–48°F (30–40°F is ideal).
Similarly, if you cook an item that was previously frozen, you can freeze any leftovers safely. Note, however, that some experts feel it’s a good precaution to cook completely thawed meat before refreezing.
Partially defrosted food is a little different. If there are still ice crystals in the pack and the food has not been left at room temperature, it’s relatively safe—just make sure there’s no discoloration or odd odor. Any food that’s been completely thawed to warm or room temperature should not be refrozen, and should be discarded if it’s been out longer than two hours.
How long will my food stay frozen if there’s a power outage?
If you leave your freezer closed, and it is in a cool part of the house (like your basement), food stays frozen up to four days in a well-stocked freezer. When the freezer is half full or less, food will start to thaw in 24 hours.