I purchased a Foodsaver in 2011 after finally being convinced to buy it by a friend who said it was the only small appliance she still used daily after owning it for more than a year. Finally, I took the leap and bought one. It turns out, I absolutely agree- I’d never have a kitchen without one, now. My Foodsaver just turned 5 years old and still works great.
There are many helpful reviews on this product, so I won’t go over the pros and cons, but here are a few tricks I’ve picked up through a couple years of playing with it:
1. A Foodsaver will SEAL any plastic bag. It won’t vacuum seal any bag, but it will put a secure seal on plastic cereal bags, cracker sleeves, half-eaten bags of chocolate chips, bags of frozen vegetables, and on and on. Even if I’d never vacuum sealed a single thing, the cost savings from sealing cereals and frozen veggies would pay for the appliance. It also helps keep me out of food I should not snack on! You can also (permanently) seal Ziplocs. The Foodsaver bags are very expensive, but if you are storing something that will be consumed soon or is not vulnerable to degrading in the air, you can seal in zip locks, or half a ziplock, or half a half of a Ziploc…. (this is how we repackage a bulk jar of nuts in our house, in order to eat healthy portions!)
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2. Pickle or marinade in minutes not hours. With the Mason Jar sealing attachment (see #4) you can seal liquids without making a mess. When the Foodsaver draws air out of your jar, it also forces liquid into whatever porous item is in the jar with the liquid-like meat, cucumbers, or any other items that require pickling or marinating and fits in a mason jar. Instead of an overnight process, marinating and pickling can happen in a few minutes (To get a full marinade quickly, I’ll typically seal and then unseal a jar a few times in a row)
3. Compress non-food Items for Travel. Think of Foodsaver bags like mini space-saver bags! When traveling internationally I vacuum seal things that take a lot of space and may not be used on the trip in order to make space in my suitcase (i.e. a light jacket on a summer trip or a swimsuit on a trip to a cold climate, etc- my swimsuit shrinks to the size of an iphone!) If you don’t expect to have your period during your trip but want to be prepared in case you do, smash your pads and tampons with the Foodsaver- when the seal of the bag is broken they will return to normal size and work fine.
4. Get the attachment for mason jars! Almost all fresh vegetables and herbs last longer if sealed by a vacuum sealer, but bags crush delicate produce. Using mason jars eliminates the cost of the bags. “Mason Jar Salads” last up to or beyond a week if vacuum-sealed, but anything that can fit in a mason jar can be sealed to prolong life (i.e. hard-boiled eggs, cilantro, cut avocados, and other items with a short shelf life). I also seal sugars and grains in half-gallon size mason jars to preserve quality while creating farm-house style filler for my glass-front cabinets.
5. Freeze, then vacuum seal. I’ve become a pro at creating my own frozen meals since I got my Foodsaver, and the trick to being able to defrost single servings and/or products that look like they did before you froze them is to first spread the product in a single layer on a Silpat mat or flexible cutting board and then when the product has frozen COMPLETELY, place it in a Foodsaver bag and freeze. With this method, I’ve been able to freeze raw bread dough in shaped dinner rolls, lasagne rolls, and an entire season of blueberries packaged so I can just cut a corner, dump individual berries out, and reseal.
I hope these tips are helpful to determine new ways you can use your Foodsaver to save money and space!