This weeks money saving tip- how to use Mason jars to save you hundreds of dollars on your grocery bill every year! No, this isn’t about canning!
A few weeks ago I shared my secret for making produce last 7-10 days when it normally spoils in just 2-3 days in the fridge, especially berries!
Vacuum sealer appliances are absolutely amazing for saving food- but as we’re all well aware, not everyone can afford to spend $100-200 on a Foodsaver or other quality vacuum sealer right now. So I thought I would share a tip on how you can get the same savings for less than $30.
To do this, you’ll need some mason jars, or ball canning jars, etc. There are several different brands out there, as long as traditional canning lids fit on them, they’ll work just fine.
How to use Mason Jars to Make Fruit & Veggies Last
1 First, you’ll need the FoodSaver handheld vacuum system and a Foodsaver jar sealer which runs just a few dollars, depending on where you get them. My model is about 10 years old, it was the “Freshsaver.”
Since it’s no longer available you’ll need the latest handheld version.
2 Prepare your fruits and vegetables – washing, peeling, dicing or chopping as desired. Basically, you want them to be fully prepared and ready to eat- this is going to save you time during the week on meal preparation and will also help cut down on needing to run to the store for something because you’ll be able to see clearly what you have on hand.
3 Place the prepared produce in clean, dry jar. If it seems overly juicy, you can place the veggies in a salad spinner and give them a few whirls first to help remove excess moisture.
4 Place the lid on top, then Slide the Foodsaver jar sealer onto the top of the jar:
5 Press the Foodsaver handheld vacuum system onto the top of the Foodsaver jar sealer and press the button for about 5-10 seconds.
Tip: If you can let go of the Foodsaver and it stands up by itself, the jar is sealed.
6 Release the button, gently break the seal by twisting the Foodsaver vacuum and remove the jar sealer top. Voila- your produce is safely sealed and you can put it back in the fridge until the next time it’s needed.
The vacuum doesn’t take up valuable (and sometimes scarce!) counter space, it’s very effective, travels well and can literally save you hundreds of dollars each year.
Opening your Sealed Jars:
Do not be tempted to use lid openers or can openers to pop the tops of your sealed jars. This creates an indent in the lid that will prevent it from resealing properly, rendering it useless.
Instead, take a coin (or the handle of a piece of silverware, such as a spoon), place it on the thread closest to the top of the lid and gently break the seal.
To save time, make up jars of salad in various sizes (single servings, family size, etc) with all your favorite toppings and veggies:
The FoodSaver Handheld Vacuum System can also be found at big box stores such as Walmart and Target, for about $5 less than Amazon’s price.
A Couple Notes for Clarification:
- This is not a substitute for “Canning”.
- This is not a substitute for refrigeration- if an item is normally supposed to be refrigerated, then KEEP it in the fridge!
- The jars can be opened as needed, but they should be resealed (takes 20 seconds folks) to maintain freshness.
- Make sure there isn’t excess water or liquid in the bottom of the jars, this is what makes your veggies go bad quickly.
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I’ve been using this money saving trick for well over a decade now, and I believe it saves my family several hundred dollars in wasted produce in year.
This article was originally published on our sister site, GroceryBudget101.com in 2013, and has been updated to reflect current prices and additional tips.