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?