Food Saver, photo: Sarah Lockett
Just call me Mrs Leftovers – you know I hate to waste them. Well here’s a device to make them last even longer. The FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer (RRP £59.99) locks in flavours and keep food fresh for up to five times longer than storing in conventional bags or Tupperware-type containers. Here are some comparison times for common foods:
Fridge: in a conventional bag sealed by the Foodsaver
cheese 2-4wks 4-8mths
deli meats 3-4 days 7-10 days
fruits (berries) 1-5 days 7-10 days
Beef (steaks) 6-12 mths 2-3 yrs
Lean fish (cod) 4-6 mths 2 yrs
Veg 6-9 mths 2-3 yrs
Biscuits (homemade) 1-2 wks 3-6 wks
Nuts 6-8 mths 11-2 yrs
Now, why you’d want to keep steaks for 2-3 years is anyone’s guess, but let’s not be judgmental. My FoodSaver insider tells me he uses it to preserve a glut, “I’ve often been suckered into supermarket offers on fruit (especially strawberries of late!), but realise I’ve shopped hungry and bought way too much. But now I can FoodSave this stuff (it’s a verb! – Ed) , rather than not being able to eat it all in time – then throwing it away (defying the whole point of me saving money in the first place).”
Oh, just one thing …. it won’t work with regular freezer bags, you have to buy the Foodsaver bags (extra thick, special type of plastic, £26.80).
You can also buy an accessory, the Quick Marinator (£19.99) . You use the vacuum pump to suck out oxygen from around the marinating meat or fish and it speeds up the process to a few minutes. I tried it with chicken thighs in a sumac, cumin, salt, olive oil and apple juice marinade for about 30 minutes, and it worked well. I am told by my spy in the FoodSaver camp, “I think it’s useful for impromptu BBQs and dinners. You’re unlikely to need it if you’ve had it in the diary for a while; but if you’ve been sunning yourself in a field all day then decide to get everyone round – you can still have all that flavour at the drop of a hat.”
I used the Foodsaver to seal some Chicken Jambalaya leftovers (pictured). They chilled down in the fridge, then I ate them over the next few days. Incidentally, wait till your leftovers have COOLED before you seal them. My insider adds, “Personally, I’ll make a big meal on a Sunday – then seal off my lunches into separate portions for the working week. It also means my lunch on Wednesday tastes the same as when I cooked it. I have a thing about not buying lunches out unless it’s Friday, so I save a lot this way (about £100 a month if you add it up). I guess the ideal here is to cook a couple of meals and mix your lunches up, as they last so long, but I haven’t got to that stage yet!”
Cash-saving-wise, having a FoodSaver means you can buy in bulk (fruit, veg, etc.) and vacuum seal what you won’t eat immediately. It also means you can cook all your food at the weekend, vacuum seal it into portions, then come back to healthy dinners when you’re short on time during the week.
PS: Is it marinade or marinate? One is a verb, the other a noun.
Marinate This is the verb e.g. Marinate the steak, the fish must be marinated for 2 hours.
Marinade This is the noun e.g. I’ve put the meat in a marinade, this marinade is spicy.
PPS: This machine really brought out the worst in me, to start with! I procrastinated for ages before using it because it looked complicated and I couldn’t see much advantage from using it. But once my au pair figured it out (from reading the Swedish instructions) we were laughing. I am pretty disciplined about using up leftovers but if you are more disorganised than me, it could be useful and money-saving (which we love at Moneymagpie).