One of the biggest motivations for getting a vacuum sealer is that they can save you money. And if you are smart about how you shop, use your sealer wisely and have sufficient freezer space, you can take a decent chunk off of your food bill.
Write Shopping Lists and Plan
Don’t just breeze down to the shops and start buying items randomly. This might seem obvious, but it’s important if you want to make the most of your vacuum sealer and freezer.
Make sure you know exactly what you already have in your freezer before you head out to buy more. Lamb chops might be On Special, but if you already have 9 kilos of assorted lamb cuts lying in your deep freeze, maybe you should hold off and go for some chicken instead.
Using your freezer efficiently is all about having a variety of ingredients and meals that you enjoy and to rotate through them. This way, you shouldn’t get stuck with a forgotten pack of pork chops, abandoned in the cold, because you have newer vacuumed bags of chops that you’ve stashed at the top of the drawer.
Take stock of what you need before you go to the supermarket and write a list accordingly.
And yes, when you get there you might find that they have a promotion on beef brisket that is too good to ignore and find yourself adding a slab to your trolley. That’s fine. A bargain is a bargain and should never be ignored! But at least you’ll know if you have an older piece of brisket at home, waiting to be eaten and to move things around in your freezer so that it gets braised first.
If you love a bargain, you’ll know the attractions of bulk buying. Whether you fancy a 5 kilo bag of rice or a side of lamb, the rule is the bigger the quantity, the larger the saving.
In general, the really big discounts are in bulk buying meat and fish. This means that, if you are a meat-eater, it might be time to embrace your inner caveman (or woman) and get butchering.
Now I’m not suggesting that you get out there and start hunting for your dinner. However, if you can get to grips with buying big packages of meat and breaking them down into smaller portions yourself, you will save a lot of cash.
There are a couple of ways to do this:
- Buy multi-portion packs – this means looking for things like ‘bulk packs’ of chicken drumsticks. Rather than picking the tray with 4 drumsticks in it, take the cheaper one with 12. Once you get home, split it into 3 vacuum sealed bags of 4 and freeze them.
- Buy whole portions of meat or fish and butcher them yourself – obviously, dividing up a side of lamb requires a lot of knowledge as well as some pretty specialised tools (bone saw, anyone?). However, it’s easy to take the legs and breasts off of a chicken or to slice a large boneless joint into smaller pieces. And many people know how to fillet fish.
So buy those bigger, cheaper cuts and split them into manageable portions. Then all you need to do is to run them through your vacuum sealer and pop them in the freezer. And if you’re feeling a little uncertain on the steps you should take to ensure that you’re freezing raw meat safely, you can read more here.
Remember that the beauty of the vacuum sealer/freezer combo is that it’s just so much better than simply wrapping food in cling film and throwing it in your fridge or freezer. The fact that vacuum sealing perishable foods extends their fridge and freezer life means that you don’t have to worry that if you come home with a huge amount of chicken wings, you’ll get tired of eating them before they all go off. You can package them up safely yourself, toss them in your deep freeze and forget about them for a year without risking them deteriorating.
And if you are interested in sous vide cooking, sorting cuts of meat. fillets of fish and selections of vegetables into vacuum sealed bags means you are halfway to getting you immersion circulator out and making dinner! If you’re keen to learn about the sous vide cooking method, you can read more here.