The Best Ways to Use a Food Saver

Seal everything from fresh herbs to whole meals with this handy kitchen tool.

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April 02, 2021
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Photo by: ozgurcoskun/Getty

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By Ginevra Iverson for Food Network Kitchen

Vacuum sealers are more than just an as-seen-on-TV gimmick. These appliances are incredibly useful when it comes to preserving the shelf life and protecting the quality of all your favorite foods. That said, it’s sometimes hard to know where to begin when it comes to using one.

Having a well-stocked refrigerator, freezer and pantry, especially during uncertain times, gives many an ease of mind that can help soothe anxieties over things out of your control. This is gadget can get you closer to the perfectly stocked larder. Here are our favorite ways to use ours.

Portion Your Bulk Purchases

Buying in bulk makes a lot of sense for many reasons: It's cost efficient, you can stock up on favorite or frequently-used items and it means fewer trips to the store. With a food saver you can buy large-format items and turn them in to individual servings. Some of our favorite foods to portion out with a food saver are:

Sides of Salmon: Cut a large side of salmon into 6-ounce portions, seal and freeze them in pairs. These defrost quickly in the refrigerator and make for a convenient and healthy dinner that is always on hand.

A Whole NY Strip or Ribeye: You can cut either of these into 1 to 1 1/2-inch steaks, seal and freeze them. It makes steak dinners so much more affordable and they are great for grilling or pan roasting anytime.

Deli Meats: These can come in 2-pound packages or more. If you aren't a household that goes through these quickly, they often go bad. Portion out what you need for five days and then seal and refrigerate the rest for later.

Large Canned Items Like Chili or Beans: These items often come in giant cans that are good for a crowd but not often convenient for a smaller household. Use what you want and then seal and freeze the remaining portion for later.

Save Produce and Greens

If you rely on zip top bags and prayers to keep your produce from turning too quickly, a vacuum sealer might be the solution you've been looking for. Vacuum seal fruits, veggies, green and even herbs to store in your fridge for a longer shelf life.

Greens: Yes, you can actually vacuum seal fresh (raw) greens such as lettuces, chard, escarole and even delicate herbs. Before sealing, make sure your geens are washed and very well dried.

Other Produce: Only used half a lime or onion for a recipe? You can seal up the other half and refrigerate for later use.

Make Big-Batch Cooking Last Longer

Are you sensing a theme here? It is fun to cook big batches of your favorite recipes, but too often you get stuck eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner until, quite frankly, you never want to see it again. With a vacuum sealer you can enjoy your favorite foods for a meal or two and then portion and save some to enjoy later.

Lasagna: A well-crafted lasagna is a labor of love. We suggest you refrigerate it until firm then cut it into portions for 2-4 people then seal and freeze it.

Bolognese Sauce: Making a big pot of Bolognese or Sunday Sauce is comfort food for any time of year. Putting it in to containers and freezing it often leaves a good portion of it ruined by freezer burn. Cool down any leftovers, seal it up and stick it in the freezer. It will reheat without the off-putting freezer burn taste and holds well for months.

Cookie Dough: Double any batch of cookie dough, roll into balls, seal and freeze! You can bake them off whenever a craving strikes. Or if you find it too tempting to have a whole batch of cookies lying around, bake off just a few and freeze the remaining dough.

Keep Meal Prep Dishes Fresh

Meal prep is the theme of 2020 and with a vacuum sealer you can prep your food for the week and Friday's lunch will be as fresh as Monday's. We suggest prepping on Sundays as you usually do but then sealing the food for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to ensure that it tastes just as great.

It works particularly well for delicate salad greens and other veggies that tend to wilt quickly. Also, if you combine cooked starches and proteins, the flavors will marry and often improve. Think: Spanish-style chicken and rice or steak and with a Greek salad-inspired quinoa.

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