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I love breakfast, but there’s almost nothing I hate more than having to clean up the kitchen first thing in the morning on a workday. One way I’ve totally solved this problem: To make my favorite kale and onion omelet, I’ve been freezing and vacuum-sealing little cubes of sautéed onion and sautéed baby kale in advance, so all I have to do day-of is plop one of each into my pan to warm up, then throw some egg on top and call it a day.
Not only does this save me so much cooking time and effort in the moment, but it also means I can use my kale and onions at once instead of risking a portion going bad and having to throw out perfectly good produce. The key is a highly rated and well-reviewed compact vacuum sealer from Anova that I bought a few years ago on Amazon. It has completely lived up to the hype and been majorly handy, durable and — most importantly — time and money-saving.
I want to buy one for my sister, so I was thrilled to see it’s currently on mega-sale.
This vacuum sealer has a vacuum-and-seal button that’s simple to use, a pulse vacuum button you can use with liquids or when you want to be careful not to crush soft items like fruit, and a seal-only button for making custom-sized bags or using the pulse function. And that’s it. It’s just that easy and simple to use. I’ve found the sealer itself works really, really well, and haven’t had any issues with leaking bags or non-airtight seals (Anova is a sous vide brand, so you know they’re serious about sealing). Freezer burn is distant memory I left behind with Ziploc bags.
At only about 17 inches wide and 4 inches deep, this little appliance is compact enough to sit in a drawer until I need it, but I’ve been using it constantly. In addition to freezing cubes of sautéed onion and kale, I’ve been freezing sautéed spinach and bagging up personal portions of pulled chicken, carnitas and roast turkey breast for quick and healthy meals. I’ve been using it when I open smoked salmon that I can’t eat all at once, but don’t want to get gross in my fridge as quick as it usually does. I preserve fresh herbs in cubes of olive oil, and slice and freeze over-ripening bananas for use in future smoothies (nothing gets mushy faster than the last banana in the bunch!).
The possibilities are endless when it comes to ways you can meal prep and preserve seasonal fruit and veg, proteins, sauces, soups, coffee and dry goods.
It’s of course important to keep plastic consumption in mind. Whenever possible, rather than using one bag for each portion of food, I first freeze small portions in a silicone ice tray overnight so each one remains individually frozen when I combine them into the same bag. It’s then easy to pop one out and reseal the same bag with the rest left inside. I also rinse and reuse bags that haven’t touched raw food, and I’m still producing less waste in terms of both food and store packaging from replacing expired food.
I was initially concerned I’d wind up spending a lot of money on replacement bags, but I found a great set at Amazon that’s also inexpensive. The Anova sealer comes with 10 free bags, so you can try those first and figure out what size will work best for your vacuum-sealing needs. Here’s what I use:
The sealer has a 4.6-star rating at Target and a 4.4-star rating on Amazon, where a lot of reviewers note how easy and mess-free it is to use, plus how much less space it takes up than its competitors. Grab one above, or check out these promising reviews:
“I learned my lesson after buying a cheap 20 dollar sealer. Didn’t keep a seal and didn’t work after a month. Luckily I was able to return to Amazon for a refund, which I put towards the purchase of a this better sealer. I had never used one before but now that I have a much nicer and better made sealer I doubt that I could live without one. I use it not only for freezing foods but I use the pulse feature on foods that I store in the fridge for longer life... I usually wrap my large cabbage tightly in saran wrap and it will stay fresh in a crisper for about 3 weeks. I decided to try using a large sealer bag as an experiment... I cut the cabbage in half leaving the split core on each just because the bag wouldn’t be big enough. I sealed both halves of the cabbage and placed them into the crisper drawer. That was a month ago and the cabbage is still fresh with no browning of the core or leaves... I am discovering a whole new world and concept with using a Vacuum sealer. Now I wish I had bought one with the jar sealer att. but I bought a hand held and dry seal all of my dry goods in my 2 quart canning jars. I love this sealer and hope it lasts a long time.” — Karen at Amazon
“Easy to use. Instructions are easy to follow. Item is small so can be put away in a closet in between uses. Sealed up my excess steak I bought after buying on sale.” — Kat at Amazon
“This compact vac sealer is fabulous.. have had it two days and it is a workhorse.. So easy to operate and can see where this will save HUNDREDS of dollars in wasted and spoiled foods.. not to mention because of the vacuum it gives so much more space in freezer! Have already highly recommended to friends .. a must have in all times and allows me to cut down on shopping times especially in the era of Covid-19 Amazing!” — Linas other mom at Target
“I did my research, then settled on this because it’s compact and affordable. It’s super easy to use and stores away easily (about the size of a 3-hole punch). NOTE: the suction is strong. I did some bagels on automatic and it sucked all the air out of the bagels! And they don’t reinflate by the way. Now I do everything using the manual button so I can stop it at just the right time. This is saving me $$ as I’m no longer throwing out freezer burned foods. And I can now justify shopping at Costco.” — Grace Carr Lee and Mike S. Lee at Amazon
“I love making freezer meals. This has made that process even more worthwhile since things last longer when vacuum sealed. I also love vacuum sealing individual portions, and this is a great size for that.” — Nikki Reed at Amazon