Does the FoodSaver Really Save Money?

by Christina Brown · 11 comments

in Frugal Living

I’ve been a faithful user of my FoodSaver vacuum sealer ever since I received it as a gift about three years ago.

I’ve used it for everything from packaging up meat that I’ve bought on sale to the berries I pick in my backyard every summer.   I’ve used the FoodSaver to seal up a spare change of clothes for my boys in their diaper bag (it saves a lot of space).  I’ve used it to store meals I made during once-a-month cooking.

This week, I started to question my use of the FoodSaver.  I bought about 20 pounds of ground beef at a good sale price and wanted to package it in 1-pound increments using the FoodSaver.   I was out of FoodSaver bags, so I picked up some more at the store.

While I was packaging up the meat, I realized that the cost of the FoodSaver bags had raised the price per pound of the ground beef by a whopping 58 cents!   My “deal” on ground beef was no longer a deal, but just an average everyday price.  And to top that off, I lost 20 minutes of my morning packaging up the meat.

I realized that the cost of the FoodSaver bags and rolls was actually cancelling out any savings I had found.

That’s not to say that the FoodSaver is all bad.  There are few situations in which the FoodSaver does help you save money:

Produce. Produce grown in your own garden or purchased at rock-bottom prices and then sealed in a FoodSaver bag is still more cost effective than purchasing the same item frozen in the grocery store.  Besides that, it tastes much better.   Since you can reuse any FoodSaver bag that hasn’t held meat in it,  the cost of the bags is rather insignificant.

Fish and game.  If you’re an avid fisherman or a hunter, vacuum sealing your bounty can help you enjoy that fresh fish and game throughout the year.

Bulk cooking/leftovers. The FoodSaver is a great way to store food you’ve made during a bulk cooking session or to freeze leftovers.   Every time you ca do those two things, you can really stretch your grocery budget.

Super Sale-Priced items. If you’ve gotten a super low price on a food item or received an item for a gift, it’s worthwhile to vacuum seal it and toss it in the freezer to extend it’s shelf life.

I’ve also realized that there are ways to reduce the cost of using your FoodSaver:

Shop around for the best deal on bags. There can be several dollars difference between stores, so check for the best prices.  Watch online for special offers that can bring the cost per bag down.

Reuse bags. As long as the bag hasn’t held meat in it, you can wash the bags and reuse them.

Use wide-mouth jars. FoodSaver makes a wide mouth jar sealer you can use to vacuum seal a wide-mouth Mason jar.  This works great for making your own mixes (like for pancakes, biscuits, or cakes) at home.  The jars are easy to come by and can be reused again and again.

Overall, I do like my FoodSaver, and I have found it very handy on several occasions, but I think it is good to realize that it doesn’t always save money to use them.

Do you have a FoodSaver or other vacuum sealer?  Do you find that it saves money?


{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jenny June 17, 2010 at 10:33 am

I got a foodsaver for Christmas 2 years ago – and I think I can count on one hand how many times I’ve used it. I’m really disappointed in the cost of the bags. Other than that, it takes a lot of counter space (I have the fold up one too!) so it’s a hassle to get out.

I wanted to use it for our camping trip but never got a chance to – I had high aspirations to marinate a meals’ worth of meat in a bag and vacuum seal it and freeze it – so it wouldn’t leak all over my cooler and it would act like additional ice in my cooler.

I tried cooking once in the bags after seeing how to do it on Food Network – maybe I cooked them too long but I thought the food had a plastic aftertaste (and I used the correct bags)

Lately I’ve been thinking of reusing chip bags as single snack bags. We typically don’t buy those metallic bags though.

I also thought, just for fun, to make home made “freezie” pops. – I could have the kids spoon yogurt or ice cream in, along with toppings and seal and freeze them.

Has anyone tried re-using the freezie plastic packaging?

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2 Marie June 17, 2010 at 11:06 am

I just bought new FoodSaver rolls this weekend at Kohls. I had a 30% off coupon, so 48 feet (three 16 feet long by 11 inch wide rolls) came to $22.04, or under $0.04 per inch. I prefer the rolls to the bags because I can make any size I need. The bags cost a little more than the rolls too, since you said it raised the price per pound by $0.58 (I am guessing that is the price per bag). To freeze a pound of ground beef with the 11 inch roll, I would use at most 6 inches, costing $0.24. (Still worth keeping in mind when stocking up on ground beef at a seemingly great price though.)

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3 Melanie June 17, 2010 at 5:29 pm

If FoodSaver really worth it? What’s the advantage over putting things in freezer baggies, and sucking the excess air out with a straw? I’m not trying to be flip, I just don’t see the advantage.

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4 Clare Pittman June 17, 2010 at 8:08 pm

I have had a Seal-a-Meal for one year now, and I use it frequently to divide up and freeze large packages of chicken, beef, etc. I also use it to seal and freeze leftover cooked roasts, leftover cooked chicken, cooked garbanzo beans for hummus, and so forth. The one thing that is great about it is that your vacuum-sealed food can last up to ONE YEAR in the freezer, unlike food sealed in freezer bags, which generally lasts only 3 months at most. The extra time you can store the food makes it worth the expense to me. I got a large box of bags and rolls at Costco – I haven’t done a cost analysis, but think they compare favorably with regular freezer bags.
One thing I learned the hard way – don’t try to vacuum seal bread! The first thing I tried to seal were hot dog rolls – after the machine sucked all the air out, I was left with what looked like road kill!!

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5 Jennifer June 18, 2010 at 8:30 pm

We had a food saver years ago and I ended up giving it away. The bags were very expensive and I found it difficult to use. If you weren’t extremely careful then the bag wouldn’t seal. It just ended up being frustrating.

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6 Ben February 13, 2011 at 4:15 pm

I bought my FoodSaver around the holidays, and love it. Now I buy my hamburger in bulk, and break it up to 1lb bags, perfect for any meal we cook. On top of that I bag up my chicken, and garden veggies… I also bought the containers for deli meats, and it really does make a difference. I love it. and would recommend it to anyone. Its not always about the pennies, but sometimes just about the freshness, as well as the times I had to throw away meat from the freezer before because of frost bite, or it went bad early… Not anymore. No way.

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7 Renee February 3, 2014 at 1:12 am

i know this is an older post but if you meal plan you can always cook the meat the same day or day after you do your grocery shopping, then seal the bags and store, takes a little more effort to wash the bag after because of grease but i just hate the thought of wasting. especially when they cost so much.

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8 Christina Brown February 3, 2014 at 8:42 am

I like to do that, too, Renee. It’s a big time saver to have chicken and ground beef already cooked for recipes. I think the bags are dishwasher safe (but check to make sure).

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9 Danny B. February 12, 2014 at 8:11 pm

Hello I don’t own a food saver but I own a Rival, exactly the same as a seal a meal (another vacuum sealer) I would have bought a food saver just because it has more accessories but I was short on money. I have had it for about a year and this thing has saved me some major money. First thing I don’t do is I do not buy the bags at any store, I purchased 8″x50′ rolls on ebay in bulk I paid about $55 for 150′. Really a good deal, yes the bags are thinner than the food saver bags but I don’t plan on having anything sealed for years just months. I buy meat in bulk when my local farm has good beef and chicken on sale, the vegetables I grow in my garden I seal it all as soon as I pick it, and any ingredients that I buy in bulk but don’t use right away I seal it. And it has worked wonders for me. If you look online for the bags you will get a way better deal than in store. I would have bought one sooner but the price of the replacement rolls were threw the roof in price, 11″x16′ was $25 I think that’s a little crazy for just a piece of plastic bag, you can also use zip lock bags just cut the top of that bag off. All in all this has been an excellent buy. Well worth it.

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10 Linda Glaz September 23, 2014 at 1:29 pm

I think more than anything, for me it isn’t saving money, but getting a really great tight seal on food I plan to have in the freezer. The quality is so much higher than storing as it comes from the store. Too much freezer burn that you don’t get with Foodsaver.

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11 Christina Brown September 23, 2014 at 3:15 pm

That is a good point. I just pulled some chicken out of the freezer that had been in a ziploc. Covered in ice crystals. There’s not much comparison there!

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