My Foodsaver and Why I Love It

My Foodsaver and Why I Love It

Foodsaver

by danperry on March 15, 2009

in Personal

I’ve been a fan of buying food in bulk for a long time (we always had an extra freezer growing up.) Also, with both my wife and I working, there are many nights where neither of us want to cook dinner. I’m also cheap frugal enough to try and refrain from eating out too often. Because of all those reasons, here’s how I spent a single Saturday afternoon making 23 dinners for two.

We have 5 staple dinners that we both regularly enjoy: Spaghetti Pie, Bowtie Pasta, Tacos, Turkey Burritos and Sloppy Joes. My goal was to make double (or triple) batches of all 5. I’ll eventually post recipes, but this post is specifically about the process rather than the individual meals. Here’s what I had to start with:

Groceries

And this is the key to my success:

Foodsaver  - My work horse

If you’ve never used a Foodsaver, you are missing out. It sucks all the air out of the bag before it seals it, meaning a pound of burger can easily last a year or more (if needed), without losing any of its flavor. The same goes for prepared meals. The only food that I’ve found that doesn’t work with the Foodsaver are potatoes, because of their chemical composition. As long as the dish doesn’t contain any potatoes, give it a shot!

The above 5 meals really break down into two types. The first type can be broken down into individual “pounds” of each (Tacos, Turkey Burritos and Sloppy Joes).  I make up batches of these, and then freeze them in 1 pound bags, so when we thaw them out, both of us will have it for dinner. All you need to do here is make the meal, divide it up into pound bags, flatten it out, seal and freeze. There are two reasons you want to flatten it out; the first is so it thaws quicker, and the second is for storing. Here’s a picture of the inside of my freezer; see how nice these stack?

Foodsaver bags in the freezer

The other type of meals are those that are individual servings (Spaghetti Pie and Bowtie Pasta.) These are sealed and frozen into individual servings, so if I want Spaghetti Pie and she wants Bowtie, it’s not a problem. The trick here is to line a number of your everyday bowls with plastic wrap, then put a single serving of the meal into the bowl, like so:

Foodsaver bags

Then, stick the bowls in the freezer for an hour or so, until it starts to freeze in the shape of the bowl. Then, when you seal it, it will (roughly) retain the shape of the bowl.

Foodsaver bags shaped like bowls

Then, when the time comes to eat one of these single servings, when you cut open the bag, it already fits into a bowl!

So after about 5-6 hours, I turned a pile or groceries into this:

Foodsaver bags - My Saturday afternoon

I ended up with 3 bags of Turkey Burritos (6 servings), 4 bags of Sloppy Joe’s (8 servings), 3 bags of Tacos (6 servings), 16 bags of Spaghetti Pie and 10 bags of Bowtie Pasta (plus we had a serving for dinner that night). All in all, that totals 46 servings that I’ll be placing in the freezer, or 23 dinners for the both of us. Considering we cook and dine out occasionally, this should easily last us 6-8 weeks of dinners, all for 5-6 hours of work. Easily the best use of my time, hands down.

Few additional thoughts:

1. This is extremely helpful for controlling portion size. If you enjoy making your favorite dish, and always pig out and say “Ugh; I ate too much” afterwards, consider the Foodsaver. You decide how big to make the servings; very helpful for controlling caloric intake.

2. You’ll need big pans, especially a very large non-stick one that can hold 2-3 pounds of burger at once. You should be able to find one for a decent price at any Target, Wal-Mart, etc. Just watch the sales.

3. If you’re making multiple pasta meals, always keep a large pot of boiling water on the stove. It can sit in the back corner for as long as you need. Having to wait for water to boil just plain sucks, and there’s no reason to.

4. I started doing this when I was single, and it’s as good. It will just last that much longer, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing!

5. You will need room to store this stuff. We have a stand-alone freezer in the garage, which makes it a lot easier. If you only have a freezer on your fridge, keep that in mind before getting carried away.

6. This took about 6 hours start to finish. The last hour was waiting for the bowls of Bowtie to set in the freezer, so it really doesn’t count, but still. I’d suggest going shopping the night before for all of this stuff, then eating out, and having a meal that doesn’t generate leftovers. You’ll be making your favorite meals the next day, so the leftovers may just go to waste.

7. Buy the Foodsaver rolls instead of the precut bags, and make your own bags. The precut bags are around $10 for 22 at Target (about $0.45/bag.) A box of 6 rolls at Sam’s Club is $40. I made 25 bags out of one roll, meaning it should equal 150 bags for $40 (about $0.27/bag.) I used a total of 36 bags on this day, meaning I saved about $6.50 on bags alone. It all adds up, right?

That’s it; hope you enjoyed it, and it inspires you to give it a shot.

Anyone else do this? Any input on optimizing the process?

If you like this post you might enjoy following me on Twitter: twitter.com/danperry

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Annie March 18, 2009 at 1:32 am

Dear Dan, my mom has done it since I was a child in Zambia 1976. We had a massive freezer then, and even ice blocks of fresh lemon juice, naartjies (mandarine) and lemons were found in there!!! Great ideas. Your food idea is an inspiration. Thank you. Also love your photos on flickr.

danperry March 18, 2009 at 1:35 am

@Annie Wow, thanks for saying it was an inspiration. Mission accomplished!

David Berkowitz March 20, 2009 at 9:57 am

I definitely need to check this out. We do lots of cooking for the week but not for the year.

gina April 1, 2009 at 12:07 am

wow, that’s organization!

Linda September 28, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Thanks so much Dan…this is perfect for my family. I am going to plan a shopping trip this week for things that I can make in advance and seal in serving sizes, the convenience with teens and everyone on their own schedules, plus the money we’ll be saving, will be fantastic! I already processed a lot of homemade salsa, all our fresh mushrooms and ground beef, time to make the meals. Thanks again, I so appreciate your help.

Linda B January 22, 2012 at 1:23 pm

new at the Food Saver business but love it so much I am always a’looking” for something to seal. Thanks so much for not just your wonderful ideasbut the actual visuals. Look foward to more as I was actually seeing about freezing potatoes that were on sale and found your site (which by the way you did not recommend.)

Nikita January 2, 2014 at 10:01 pm

Dan. Thank you so much for this post! I was looking around aimlessly trying to find out if my foodsaver would allow me to make meals and then store them away for later use instead of just holding marinated meats.
I am a huge health freak but with work and grad school haven’t had time to eat healthy and found myself at eating out a lot. Thank you so much! Will definitely begin to plan ahead.

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