Category Archives: Food Prep

Foodsaver Systems : Which Model Should You Buy?

foodsaver

Yes, because vacuum-sealing lobster tails is something I do all the time…

Choosing a foodsaver or vacuum sealer can be tricky, so I’m going to make it easy for you! I have done the research already and can recommend three very quality, cost-effective models.

Buying a foodsaver was by far my best kitchen purchase after buying a standalone chest freezer. I have saved so much money and time, and wasted so much LESS food by:

  • Buying meat and vegetables in bulk
  • Learning freezer-friendly recipes
  • Preparing meals en-masse each Sunday for the week
  • Vacuum sealing those meals with my foodsaver and freezing
  • Organizing my chest freezer for easy access during the week

Obviously a key part of this food strategy is to own a foodsaver, and more importantly: to USE it!

Why a Foodsaver Pays For Itself

  • Vacuum sealed foods last longer than all other storage methods, except for canning (but who wants to do that?)
  • Plastic wrap, foil, and ziploc bags all allow some oxygen to enter and make contact with food, contributing to shorter shelf lives.
  • Mold and bacteria are unable to grow in vacuum sealed food, as all oxygen has been removed.

My Top 3 Recommended Foodsaver Systems:

  1. FoodSaver 2-in-1 Vacuum Sealing System with Starter Kit, 4800 Series, v4840

What I really like about this model is that it has Wet and Dry settings, depending on the type of food you are vacuum sealing. Also, it comes with an assortment of bags, has a pull-out drip drawer that you can just toss in your dishwasher to clean, and has a very effective bag cutter built-in.

Here you can see it on Amazon (this is an affiliate link to help me pay for hosting this blog):

 

2.FoodSaver V2244 Vacuum Sealing System with Starter Kit

This is a more basic foodsaver system without a lot of bells and whistles but it does exactly what you need: seals food in bags with zero oxygen inside, and without making a mess in the process. What else could you really want? This is a great starter foodsaver if you don’t need all the high-tech features and light-up buttons to make it look pretty!

 

3. Nesco VS-02 Food Vacuum Sealing System with Bag Starter Kit

This is Amazon’s Choice for foodsavers, and for obvious reasons: you get a lot of bang for your buck. If you’re looking for just a basic, solid foodsaver without a lot of special extra features but you want it to last a long time and not be frustrating to use: this is it. Nesco makes a very functional and user-friendly system, and this model includes an assortment of bags to get started. This is a great option if you don’t foresee vacuum sealing a ton of food every week, but are just planning meals for your small family:

 

 

 

Frozen Food Recipes That Taste Great and Are Easy to Cook!

One trepidation people seem to have about freezing meals is that it will detract from the taste. This isn’t necessarily true! There are a ton of great frozen food recipes that are healthy, budget-friendly, and taste delicious. Here is my compilation of some excellent frozen food recipe resources to try out when you are meal prepping for your family.

Best Dinner Recipes

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime – Comfort Classics, Freezer Food, 16-minute Meals, and Other Delicious Ways to Solve Supper

This cookbook has some excellent recipes for Dinner recipes for your family. It’s a very practical book with no exotic ingredients required for the recipes, which I really appreciate. It has a lot of “down home” type of cooking, so basically classic American suppers like Oven Barbecue Chicken, Beef with Snow Peas, Mexican Tortilla Casserole, and my favorite: Ready-to-Cook Freezer Meatballs.

Frozen food recipes such as these meatballs are awesome!

Meatballs straight from the freezer…Mmmmm…

For CrockPot Enthusiasts:

Freezer Meals: 39 Gluten Free Meals From Freezer To Crockpot Plus Shopping List To Save Time And Money-Cook On A Budget And Eliminate Gluten … Cooking, Freezer Crockpot Meals) (Volume 6)

For Crockpot enthusiasts (who are also trying to eat Gluten-Free), this cookbook is an excellent collection of frozen food recipes with instructions for how to prepare in a Crockpot. I’m a huge fan of this way of cooking because I can wake up, grab a prepped dinner for my family out of the freezer, empty into a crockpot and set the temperature and a timer. Then go about my day, and typically for slow-cooked recipes it is ready around 5pm. Perfect!

Recipes in this book include Apple Pork Roast, Sweet Potato Stew, and Cuban Ropa Vieja (try this one…seriously).

Frozen Food recipes often involve a crockpot

For Casserole Lovers

The Casserole Queens Cookbook: Put Some Lovin’ in Your Oven with 100 Easy One-Dish Recipes

The simplicity of the recipes in this cookbook are why I like it a lot. Casseroles are awesome. Chop up a bunch of stuff, shove it into a baking dish, and bake in the oven. Boom! Your family is fed. This is a well-organized cook book of frozen food recipes that are designed for oven preparation.

Frozen Food Recipes like casseroles are tasty!

Cheesy bean and corn casserole! Cheap and tasty.

Freezer Food Storage Strategy and Family Fun!

Buying a freezer may seem like a costly luxury in your kitchen’s arsenal of appliances. I thought so, too. That was until at the end of 2016 I sat down and analyzed how my family spent money during the year. With a wife, two small kids, and a dog, our food bill was shocking. We don’t even eat out much, but what we were spending on groceries was eating into our ability to take vacations or pay for much needed home improvements.

So I decided to completely overhaul the way my family consumed food. I did not want to sacrifice their nutrition intake or health to save a few bucks. However, I realized that I needed to figure out how to make everybody happy and healthy without making my wallet un-happy.

So here’s what I did:

I broke down how much we were spending per month in these different food categories:

  1. Meat (beef, poultry, lunch meat, bacon, etc.)
  2. Carbs (bread, rice, etc.)
  3. Fruits
  4. Vegetables
  5. Beverages
  6. Condiments

I identified the categories of food we could start buying in bulk in order to save money. It ended up being primarily meat and vegetables.

I visited all of my grocery store options to figure out what items I could really save on by buying in bulk. With an Executive Costco membership (which I highly recommend! Pays for itself with 2% back rebate each year), I realized that buying big bags of frozen chicken, for example, would save me significantly versus buying smaller packages from Safeway.

Costco Executive Membership is Worth It!

2% Rebate Annually plus Bulk Savings Makes the Costco Executive Membership a No Brainer!

I ponied up and bought two standalone freezers:

  • A large Upright Freezer to store large quantities of big-packaged bulk items
  • A small Chest Freezer to organize each month with serving-sized meals that my family could quickly thaw and cook.
  • I designated Sunday as my FOOD PREP DAY. I enlisted help from my wife and kids and made it a family activity! Here’s what we’d do:
    • Go to the store (if needed) to replenish bulk items if the upright freezer (long term storage) was running low.
    • Sit down and make a list of meals we’d like to have for lunch and dinner (breakfast is cereal or eggs for us…easy!).
    • Break up into teams (2 people each) and cook the meals for the week.
    • Separate meals into serving sizes of 4 (for one bag = one family meal)
    • Label and place into chest freezer (short term/weekly storage)

This is so much fun for my family, and it’s win/win. I have been saving a ton of money by planning and prepping meals this way. Also, my kids and wife get involved and we make it competitive to see who can come up with new, creative recipes with the ingredients on hand!

Soon I’ll write about our top recipes so far…hint: shredded pork enchiladas are way up the list…

freezer ready shredded pork enchiladas

Shredded pork for the win!