This Is the Gadget That Saves Me the Most Money on Food Costs

It paid for itself within a few months.

Person pulling money out of a wallet
Photo: Dotdash Meredith / Sabrina Tan

In a world of more kitchen gadgets than you can imagine, it can be a struggle to determine if something is worth the financial investment, not to mention the storage space. But there are some pieces of equipment that literally end up paying for themselves when used properly and regularly. For me, the single gadget that has saved me the most money on food costs is my vacuum sealer.

Why I Began Using a Vacuum Sealer

I originally bought my first vacuum sealer not for food storage but for use in sous vide cooking. After spending time using the popular water-bath cooking technique, I realized that standard zip-top bags weren't doing the job; I needed a quality vacuum sealer.

After a bit of research, I landed on the Nesco VS-12 deluxe vacuum sealer. It was middle of the pack in terms of price and had a lot of features I wanted, including different levels of vacuum pressure, settings for dry and moist foods, the ability to work with different sizes of bags, internal roll storage, and a cutter to make custom-size bags. The purchase felt like a splurge at the time, so I decided to figure out ways to use it more on a regular basis that went beyond sous vide needs.

And that's how I stumbled into the twin pillars of why a vacuum sealer is such an amazing appliance: It quickly became indispensable in my battle against food waste and in my quest to save money.

How My Vacuum Sealer Eliminates Food Waste

Air is the enemy of food safety (and quality!). Whether it is an open bag of crackers getting stale in your pantry, or food molding in your fridge, air can speed the process along. Enter the vacuum sealer: It has a delicate pressure setting to allow me to vacuum pack open pantry items like nuts, flour, grains, and baked goods to extend their shelf life, and a double sealing option to use for freezing items that helps keep things properly sealed in the freezer.

Properly sealing and storing food means that I am throwing away less spoiled food. I can easily package up leftovers in smaller servings for future meals, and food stored under vacuum can last anywhere from twice as long to four times as long in the fridge and pantry.

Best Food Vacuums
ALL RECIPES / KEVIN NORRIS

How My Vacuum Sealer Saves Me Money

Further, my vacuum sealer means I can take advantage of sales on staples and expensive meats; I buy these items in bulk because I can break them down into portions that work for my household of two, and store safely in the freezer or pantry until needed. You can get amazing deals on large-format meats at big box stores like Costco, and with a quality vacuum sealer, simply repackage for future use. If you wrap meats or poultry in plastic wrap and store in zip-top freezer bags, you begin to lose quality within a month and need to use within three months or you risk freezer burn or other diminishment of quality. A properly vacuum sealed protein can last up to a year in your freezer with no damage at all.

The bottom line: I love my vacuum sealer!

If you are serious about saving money by limiting food waste and buying in bulk, a vacuum sealer can really pay for itself within a matter of a few months. There are a number of great options—here's a great place to start your own research. And then there's always those nights for sous vide!

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