We’re all on a mission to waste less food, and one of our FAVORITE kitchen gadgets is the best way to do so. A vacuum sealer not only extends the life of your ingredients, it does so while keeping the most flavor compressed and packed inside – it’s science!
Can you believe that 40% of the food processed, packaged and purchased in the United States is wasted? An estimated 125-160 billion (with a B!) pounds of food is thrown out in our country per year. If you find that hard to fathom, you’re not alone! That is one of the reasons why we are SO PASSIONATE about helping your family make the most of your meals and ingredients through Shelf Cooking.
And today we are sharing how an affordable and convenient kitchen gadget can help reduce food waste by allowing you to store and save it longer and more effectively! A food vacuum sealer for your leftovers or pre-prepped food will give them a much longer freezer or shelf-life than just using bags or containers.
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BENEFITS OF USING A VACUUM SEALER
There are many ways this food storage method can benefit you. Let us count the ways……
1. Protect from freezer burn
Freezer burn occurs when your food is exposed to cold, dry air. This causes the outer layers to lose moisture. It’s commonly visible when ice crystals form on the outside of food caused by improper storage or temperature, often leading to loss of texture and flavor.
A vacuum sealer prevents moisture from leaving the food, even when exposed to cold and dry air. By maintaining its moisture, food that is vacuum sealed is far less likely to experience freezer burn and loss of flavor and texture!
2. Conserve freezer space
If you’re like me, your freezer is at maximum capacity at all times.
We are never short of freezer meals and ingredients around here, which means that storing items is almost like playing Tetris! (Is that reference getting a little too dated now?) Vacuum sealed packaging is just like those Space Bags™ you used to see infomercials for in the 90s. WHICH MEANS unlike plastic containers or baggies, they remove any and all air and create the most compacted product possible. This allows your freezer to truly be filled with an abundant volume of FOOD rather than packaging, storage containers, and empty space. It is an efficient way to organize freezer meals or stock up on bulk meats and perishables!
3. Improve food taste
The beauty of the vacuum sealer is its ability to compress your food while maintaining ALL of its natural flavor. As we said earlier, the storage method doesn’t allow any extra air to touch the food, and therefore it will keep its flavor, juices, and seasonings far longer than other storage methods. That means – if you have leftovers that you don’t want to eat again, you can vacuum seal it for a busy week down the road!
4. Store seasonal foods or large bulk buys for year-round usage
Name something better than a juicy ripe peach in the middle of summer….I’ll wait! Produce at its peak is one of life’s true gifts to us. If only we could have that juicy fruit in the middle of January. Oh wait…..
Vacuum sealing can be an alternative to canning if you have vegetable gardens or fruit trees that produce more than you can consume at once. Don’t let any of that hard work growing and harvesting go to waste! Make sure any seasonal items that you can’t eat through during their peak season are able to make an appearance well into winter.
We LOVE to incorporate stored fruits into big batches of smoothies. You can literally throw almost ANYTHING into a smoothie!
When case lot sales or other great limited-time offers arise with amazing deals on prices for bulk quantities, vacuum sealing will allow you to take advantage on the sale without wasting excess food. Stock up while the prices are at their lowest and save the excess product by vacuum sealing and allowing it feed your family in the months to come!
5. Extends shelf life/freezer life greatly
Food that has been vacuum sealed has a dramatically longer shelf life. Three to five times longer than non-packaged foods! Of course the exact shelf life will depend on if it’s stored in a freezer, fridge, or room temperature. However many perishable items will last two to three years in a freezer if vacuum sealed. For comparison, most foods typically begin to freezer burn or lose their integrity after six months to a year. You can even vacuum seal some pantry items like bread, which can last as long as a year! What!?!
WHAT CAN YOU VACUUM SEAL?
You'd be surprise what you can store with a vacuum sealer! The obvious items include cuts of meat and produce. You can also use this storage method on:
- Breads and baked goods
- Cheese and deli meats
- Coffee beans
- Dry goods like rice, oats, and grains
- Sliced or chopped fruits
- Leftover – you can even plate them as a meal and vacuum seal the entire dish for quick reheating in the future!
- Liquids – broths, soups, sauces. Pour into vacuum seal bag and store upright in the freezer until they have frozen enough to lay down.
- Oil and vinegar – same process as other liquids, for large quantities of these cooking essentials that you won't be using soon!
What else do you like to vacuum seal? Let us know!
HOW TO USE A VACUUM SEALER
Okay so we have convinced you to use this food storage technique to help waste less. YAY! But how the heck do you even use it? There are several different makes and models of these machines so of course you'll want to familiarize yourself with the instruction manual once it's set up in your kitchen. But for a general overview of what to expect, we got you!
- Select an appropriate vacuum sealer bag to match your vacuum sealer machine.
- Place your food or liquid into the vacuum sealer bag, leaving at least two inches of space between the item and the top of the bag.
- Align the open end of the bag with the seal bar on your vacuum sealer machine. Ensure the bag is lying straight across without bunching or wrinkles.
- Close the lid of your vacuum sealer tightly. Press the start button on your machine (or whatever “start” mechanism is included on your particular machine).
- Once all of the air is removed, the seal bar will fuse the opening of the bag to create an airtight seal. When the machine indicates that it is finished, remove the bag and store in your freezer, fridge, or pantry!
If you're shopping for a vacuum sealer machine, here are two that we like:
- FoodSaver V4400 2-in-1 Vacuum Sealer – At under $200, this FoodSaver is well worth the money! Keep your freezer meals fresh, and this will pay for itself in no time.
- FoodSaver FM2000 – This more affordable option is perfect for freezer meal newbies! You can score the FoodSaver FM2000 for under $100. It's a compact, lightweight option that's perfect for smaller spaces.
Now that you have a new handy dandy kitchen tool, here’s some more helpful posts to waste less and enjoy new fun foods!
- Freezer breakfast burritos are the perfect on-the-go meal!
- Learn how to repurpose leftovers the right way so you'll actually enjoy them and stop being so wasteful!
- Make our delicious rustic bread recipe the next time you want to make your own bread!