Learn how to use a vacuum sealer to reduce your monthly grocery bill

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  • Vacuum Sealers- Do they Save Money?

    The truth about vacuum sealers.. what you need to know!
    Vacuum Sealers Seem to be a hot topic following the holidays. People want to know if its worth the money.. so we thought we'd answer some of your Top questions on the subject!

    First of all, there really isn't much of a learning curve to using a foodsaver vacuum sealer. There are several different brands of vacuum sealers available on the market and over the past 20 years, we've tried 4 different ones (mainly because I have a tendency to wear one out about every 4-5 years. The one we've always gone back to is FoodSaver - and it really is!

    Using the Foodsaver vacuum sealer we are able to take advantage of sales on meat and produce when they are in season. Meat sales occur several different times per year and you can literally cut your grocery bill in HALF by purchasing meat during these sale times and vacuum sealing them to maintain freshness.

    Questions
    1. How do you use this for dry items such as cake mixes & MYO convenience foods; Can you use the bags or do you have to invest in the special jars?
    2. Will the contents of the bag get sucked up into the well when I try to seal the bag?
    3. What can I seal?
    4. The meat I am sealing is quite fresh and the juice keeps getting sucked up, how can I prevent this?
    5. What is the best way to clean the Vacuum Bags for Reuse?
    6. I have the vacuum sealer with the attachment to seal Mason Jars (both wide mouth and small mouthed). The small mouth jars will not seal. Do I have to do something special to the jars when I seal them, or just put the lid on?
    7. I am sealing Jar Mixes and the dry ingredients keep flying into the well.. what can I do??
    8. Is this a substitute for refrigeration?
    9. Bottom Line- do they save money?
    10. Ready to Go Smoothie Recipes

    Questions Answered:


    1. How do you use this for dry items such as cake mixes & MYO convenience foods; Can you use the bags or do you have to invest in the special Foodsaver jars?

    Simply measure the ingredients of your recipe into the vacuum sealer bag. (fold the top down about 1 1/2 inches prior to filling so the contents of your bag doesn't get on it. This helps ensure an even seal).

    Foodsaver brand now offers a jar top that will fit over the top of a mason jar, and seal dry or wet ingredients. Using this method of sealing, we are able to preserve freshly cut fruits and vegetables for 7-10 days easily without any spoilage. Check out Secrets for Making Fruits and Vegetables last 7-10 days here



    2. Will the contents of the bag get sucked up into the well when I try to seal the bag?

    No. Prior to using the bag, simply fold the top down about an inch for dry goods, 2 inches for sauces, etc. Fill your bag, then unfold the top prior to sealing. This prevents the contents from being sucked into the well. Do not worry that you are wasting the bag, the bags are washable and reusable.

    3. What can I seal?

    We vacuum seal just about everything, Homemade Convenience mixes, sauces, marinades, homemade condiments, Meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, even homemade emergency kits. For camping trips we make "breakfast bags" by filling the bags with eggs (out of the shell, of course), chopped diced onions & bell peppers and then put them flat in the cooler. They take up less room than bringing fresh shelled eggs and save time and clean-up during cooking.

    **One note about sealing shredded cheese .... it seals so well that it often becomes a solid chunk that you have to break up with your hands before using.

    4. The meat I am sealing is quite fresh and the juice keeps getting sucked up, how can I prevent this?

    Fold a paper towel the width of the bag your using. Place it inside the lip of the bag (above the meat), it will absorb the excess juice preventing it from entering the well. This method is similar to the method butchers use. (Butchers often place a pad under meat products prior to packaging.) Simply discard the paper towel upon opening.

    5. What is the best way to clean the Vacuum Bags for Reuse?

    The best way to clean a food saver bag, if using a dishwasher, is to turn it inside out, place a small bowl inside the bag to hold it down on a dishwasher rack, and then run it through the cycle.

    After washing in the dishwasher, remove, rinse well under the faucet and turn right side out. Allow to dry before storing.

    6. I have the vacuum sealer with the attachment to seal Mason Jars (both wide mouth and small mouthed). The small mouth jars will not seal. Do I have to do something special to the jars when I seal them, or just put the lid on?

    To seal your jar, put a second lid on top of the lid you are trying to seal (in other words stack two lids together.) It will seal perfectly.

    Alternatively, FoodSaver has now come out with a jar topper which slips on over the top of the mason jar and fixes this issue (which occurred in earlier models of their product).

    7. I am sealing Jar Mixes and the dry ingredients keep flying into the well.. what can I do??

    One of several things, you can cut a ring of wax paper and place it on the top of your jar to prevent your dry ingredients from being sucked into the well, or you can place a coffee filter down over the top of the jar prior to sealing. Both work well

    8. Is this a substitute for refrigeration?

    NO, Absolutely Not. While this does remove the air and severely slow down the breakdown of fresh foods, this is not a substitute for refrigeration in any way. If you are sealing a product or food that normally requires refrigeration or freezing, you must STILL put it in the fridge or freezer, respectively.


    9. Bottom Line.. Does using a vacuum sealer save money?

    Hands down without a question, YES. Having the ability to take advantage of sales cycles and purchase items that are in season, then freeze them whilst maintaining high quality & flavor has without a doubt the most money saving gadget in our home over the past 15 years.


    What else can you do with it?

    Make Recipes for Ready-to-Go Smoothies
    :

    Make your own smoothies with your favorite seasonal fresh fruits or choose from our Ready-to Go Smoothie combinations below.

    • Blue Straw: Blueberries, strawberries and pineapple.
    • Mango Tango: Mangoes, blueberries, strawberries and pineapple.
    • Banana Split: Bananas, Strawberries and pineapple.
    • Berry Banana: Blackberries, banana, pineapple.

    For perfect blender smoothies, combine 1-1/2 cups frozen fruit, broken into small chunks, with 3/4 cup of your choice of fruit juice or milk, and 1/2 cup plain or flavored yogurt. Blend until smooth. Serve immediately.

    Make Crockpot Dump Recipes:

    Fill a baggie with all the ingredients needed to make a meal, seal and freeze. The night before remove the bag from the freezer and in the morning, before you go to work, dump the "ready meal" into the slow cooker and turn it on. When you get home from work, dinner will be hot and ready!

    Make Your Own Meal Kits:



    Practical Uses:

    Make your own First Aid Kits for the boat, for camping, or to keep in the car for emergencies.
    Vacuum seal individual snack bags for traveling




    What do you do with yours?


    Please Note: This is not an advertisement for Foodsaver brand, I am not, in any way, affiliated with them or their products. They did not pay me for this post, but if they're reading this, I am not opposed to testing out a new model for free (Just sayin') !

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    Comments 28 Comments
    1. kkdw2000's Avatar
      kkdw2000 -
      Just got a food saver for Christmas from my in-laws. Looking forward to using it, thanks to these tips.
    1. bkent00's Avatar
      bkent00 -
      very informative. learned a lot of new ideas.
    1. RosieMcPhail's Avatar
      RosieMcPhail -
      Thanks for the tip on folding the paper towel to keep the meat juice from getting sucked into the motor and well! sometimes the juice prevents it from sealing well and then we have to resituate the meat and start again, this will save a lot of hassle and frustration. Thank you!
    1. fsqueen's Avatar
      fsqueen -
      This is one kitchen gadget that I do not own. Sounds like I need to invest in one soon. Thanks for the information.
    1. Lukers's Avatar
      Lukers -
      You can reseal an opened bag of cereal or chips. After opening the bag, simply place the opened edge in the sealer and press seal. I've had my FoodSaver for years, use it regularly and would replace it immediately if it should quit working.
    1. lucygoose's Avatar
      lucygoose -
      I love my FoodSaver! I picked it up at a garage sale a couple of years ago for $3..Can't believe they didn't like it!! I've bought several canisters at thrift shops, and I recently ordered the jar sealers from the FoodSaver website. I've found that Goodwill is an especially good source for supplies...I just got 4 brand new boxes of bags for $1 each.
      I use mine for meats, mixes, sealing pasta, sugar, flour, spices and leftovers.
      And Lukers...thanks for posting about sealing cereal and chips. I was wondering if that would work, but didn't want to risk messing up my sealer.
    1. mjv2005's Avatar
      mjv2005 -
      This is awesome, I've been looking for a way to keep my veggies fresh, I can't wait to try it
    1. Darby5's Avatar
      Darby5 -
      I love my Foodsaver! I've had it for several years and use it for everything! It's great not only for meats and veggies but I seal my dehydrated foods too!
    1. BethJ's Avatar
      BethJ -
      Could anyone venture advice on choosing a FoodSaver model? Which model do you have, and would you recommend it to others? I am seeing a huge difference in pricing with different models, but am not sure which one is a good option!
    1. Justathot's Avatar
      Justathot -
      I use my Foodsaver to really stretch the savings I get by buying meats in bulk from Zaycon Foods. Nothing like putting away six months' worth of chicken, bacon, ground beef, hot dogs or other items at a time in sizes your family can use.
    1. photobiz's Avatar
      photobiz -
      I love my foodsaver! I just ordered the attachment to seal mason jars. It will extend the life of a grab a n d go salads as well as homemade fruit cocktails. When we head to the mountains it's the perfect way to take along prepared pancake mix, or Mama's snack mix!
    1. Computerizer's Avatar
      Computerizer -
      I like the idea of using a FoodSaver, but I'm concerned about the re-usability of the bags. You say they can be washed, but it looks like FoodSavers seal the bags by melting them, so you must cut them to open them -- so the part you re-use is smaller than the original bag, right, and you have to throw away the old sealed part? Or is this done some other way now?

      Also, I wonder what kind of plastic is used to make the bags and whether there are any concerns about it leaching possibly harmful chemicals into the food (BPA, for example).

      My family produces very little trash (less than 1 kitchen bag every two weeks), and being able to save our own food this way might help us to produce even less trash, but only if the bags can be completely re-used.
    1. vlozano's Avatar
      vlozano -
      This may be a bit of a reach, but I've even used my FoodSaver to seal my bed sheets in sets for winter/summer storage. IE: Flannels get washed, dried, matched into sets and stored for the summer.
      For camping, I seal and freeze meats, cheese and even milk before packing the ice chest, so the ice will last longer.
      We've even sealed sets of clothing for each family member during travel. The elimination of air cuts down on the room needed in our luggage.
      My dad just about doubled over in laughter when I sucked his jacket down to a fraction of it's normal size so he could fit more souvenirs into his suitcase after a recent visit.
    1. LoriLP's Avatar
      LoriLP -
      Love my vacuum sealer. I bought a heavy duty sealer at a home show probably 10 years ago. I tried the FoodSaver and if you were doing lots of sealing I found that the heater bar just could not keep up and about 90% of my bags ended up leaking or gaining air. I can now seal up major amounts of stuff for hours. Love the tip about the paper towel in the meat. I seal soups, stews, sauces and liquid stuff too. What I do is open the drawer below where I have the sealer so the bag is vertical and not flat on the counter. I watch closely for the liquid to start wicking up and when it is just barely reaching, switch to seal from vacuum. It leave a tiny bit of air, but good enough for me!
    1. MommomB's Avatar
      MommomB -
      I have had my foodsaver forever and I always freeze my meat before I seal it. I too would replace it immediately if anything happened to it.
    1. Bethe1's Avatar
      Bethe1 -
      I remember when I got my Foodsaver, about 18 years ago. I was watching an infomercial. My hub had gone on a trip and I was not happy about it so when he got home he asked what I did while he was gone. I said "I ordered a Foodsaver vacuum sealer! That'll teach you to go away and leave me home by myself!" He was not mad and we had many good laughs over it. Seriously, I do like the thing.

      We had a trapping supply business here in Maine and my dearly departed hub took ownership of it to seal all kinds of foul smelling stuff for shipment all over the US and Canada (he added kitty litter to help absorb the odors because the P.O., for some reason, didn't like the smell of skunk! LOL). After he passed away I got it back out and covered it with baking soda, especially in the well part, let it sit, wiped it down and it doesn't stink anymore.

      I still use it to seal bags but mostly wide-mouth canning jars of stuff. Since I am by myself now it makes even more sense to seal stuff instead of letting is spoil. I had a sealed jar of croutons with a note on top that said 2011. I opened it (in 2014), tried one, still good and still crunchy! I WAS IMPRESSED!!! I look for any attachements and canning jars at Good-Will when they are the "color of the week" which means they are 1/2 price. I recently found another jar sealing attachment and another canister, both for less than a dollar! :~)
    1. Bexter's Avatar
      Bexter -
      I have had a Foodsaver for at least the last 7 years, I keep waiting for it to die, but it works like a champ. I have mainly used it for meat, i buy in bulk and break down into smaller packages. I don't know how someone could get by without one of these. I love it. I also buy bulk cheeses and break them down into smaller packages.

      Thanks to the comments above, I now know about the mason jar sealers, which I am going to order from Amazon. I have the sealing jars, but have never used them. I hate to store things that would stain the plastic in them, but with the jar sealers, i see great things in my future.

      I have heard about using it to store sheets and such for storage, but have never tried it. I guess I need to walk on the wilder side. LOL
    1. ruafoodie's Avatar
      ruafoodie -
      Quote Originally Posted by BethJ View Post
      Could anyone venture advice on choosing a FoodSaver model? Which model do you have, and would you recommend it to others? I am seeing a huge difference in pricing with different models, but am not sure which one is a good option!
      Beth J It's going to be 100% personal preference. I've had these for about 20 years (it's the one thing I would never be without in my home). I decided to buy one with all the bells and whistles a while back and lo and behold, I didn't like the bells and whistles! I gave that one to my Sis and I went back to a simple model. It doesn't store rolls, it doesn't cut bags for me. It just seals stuff up GREAT and that's what I want it to do. I do recommend the wider one so you can decide if you want to use the 8" or 11" materials.
      I also recommend the jar sealers for both wide and regular mouth mason jars. They are worth their weight in gold. I use them more than I do the canisters.
    1. ruafoodie's Avatar
      ruafoodie -
      [QUOTE=Computerizer;463440]I like the idea of using a FoodSaver, but I'm concerned about the re-usability of the bags. You say they can be washed, but it looks like FoodSavers seal the bags by melting them, so you must cut them to open them -- so the part you re-use is smaller than the original bag, right, and you have to throw away the old sealed part? Or is this done some other way now?
      Yes you cut a small part off the top each time you open it. But who eats everything all the same size all the time anyway? When the bag is getting too "short", I just cut off a side and turn it into a long skinny bag. Best bet is to buy the rolls instead of precut bags and make whatever size fits your needs.

      Also, I wonder what kind of plastic is used to make the bags and whether there are any concerns about it leaching possibly harmful chemicals into the food (BPA, for example).
      I won't go into why it's a moot point on this thread, but Food Saver has a website where they can answer your questions. They do not contain BPA.
    1. Supertemp's Avatar
      Supertemp -
      I never feel as though I can wash and re-use bags that have had meat, especially raw meat in them. Also those bags created with the absorbent strip attached work very well for juicy contents. Often, I will fill the bags, secure the tops, freeze and then seal.
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