Food Saver Challenge: Did I Fail?

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A few weeks ago, I introduced you to the newest toy in my kitchen, the FoodSaver vacuum sealing system. The challenge was set: I was to use it for three weeks and record how much money I saved by preserving food items in the FoodSaver bags. The problem? The way I shop.

In order for the FoodSaver to be a truly cost-saving device, it requires a shift in shopping methods. For so long, I have been used to buying only what we need and will use before it spoils. That means a single bag of bread, or two containers of strawberries or a one bag of potatoes. It is rare for us to throw these things away because we go through them before them go bad.

In the three weeks since I started the challenge, I never really got the hang of buying more than we needed in order to save money. I typically go to the grocery store with a list and a budget, and I do my best to stick to them. In other words, if buying 3 extra pounds of fish because they were on sale means that I’ll have to blow my budget, chances are I won’t buy them.

I realize, of course, that I’ll save money in the long run, but I’m still working in making that mental shift. So while I started out with all these grandiose ideas about trips to Sam’s Club and the farmer’s market, that just didn’t happen because those things were so far outside my routine. It didn’t help that Thanksgiving was smack dab in the middle of it all, so we were actually doing something counterproductive: we were actually trying to clear out the fridge of all extra stuff so we’d be able to fit the seasoned turkey and all the leftovers in there.

However, there were two situations for which we were able to use the FoodSaver consistently: for preserving steaks and marinating meat. And when I say consistently, I mean “by trial and error.” Need proof? Check out this video of my husband and I trying to figure out how to seal properly:

My husband is the only one in our house who eats steak. Consequently, when he buys a pack, it’s not likely he’ll eat all of it in a hurry. He became well acquainted with the FoodSaver because he wanted to preserve his precious steaks :) He would buy them on sale for $3-5 apiece, then season and vacuum seal them. The result? We saved money because he could buy larger quantities instead of running to the store whenever he wanted a steak and buying them at full price, and the vacuum sealing resulted in very well-seasoned meat. We also did this with chicken, seasoning it the day before we planned to cook it and sealing it up. I have to say, I loved the result.

So while I probably failed in an overall savings strategy for the FoodSaver, I did find two specific situations in which it is useful for us. And now that I’m more aware of how to use it (buying in bulk, shopping sales, etc) and I’ve learned from the steak example, I’ll try to do a better job of using those strategies on a regular basis. So in my mind, the challenge isn’t over!

Disclosure: I am a member of the Walmart Moms program. Walmart has provided me with compensation for sharing my FoodSaver experience with you. Participation in this program is voluntary. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.

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3 comments… add one

  • Ecobabe December 2, 2011, 12:02 pm

    Maybe I missed this, but how is it “green” to use a ton of single-use plastic and an extra freezer to store your food. I’d be willing to allow “thrifty” but not really “green” on this one. Not saying you shouldn’t do it, but it doesn’t really seem green. Maybe if you’re only using it preserve food that you intended to eat before it got bad but didn’t get to you might cancel out the environmental impacts of using the Foodsaver, or if it was a 3 hour drive to your nearest grocery store so you cut down on the number of trips you had to make. But it’s hard to see that buying in bulk and repackaging it would really be more environmentally friendly for someone living in an urban locale…

  • jennae December 2, 2011, 12:13 pm

    Ecobabe, I can definitely see your point here. While the plastic FoodSaver bags in themselves aren’t green (and I don’t believe I ever said they were), I think my original intentions for their usage were. Like I said in my post, it didn’t really work out that way, but I initially intended to use the FoodSaver to purchase more local, farm-fresh foods (that are more likely to come without packaging) and buy those in bulk knowing that I’d be able to preserve them if we couldn’t use it all right away.

    In addition, I had no intention of using an extra freezer, particularly because I know how much extra energy it would require. I can use the bags to store dry goods or refrigerated items in addition to items that need to go in the freezer. And as you mentioned, if it helps me to retain food that I normally would’ve had to throw away, it’s helping me reduce waste. All that to say while the bags in themselves aren’t green, with proper usage, I could make it green in other ways.

  • Toni Scott December 2, 2011, 4:34 pm

    Your’s a a lot fancier than mine, Jennae! Great job for a first time user. If you’re sealing something juicy, hang the edge of the bag over the side of the counter so the liquid doesn’t get sucked into the machine. I agree–reducing waste is definitely a green concept.

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