Sunday, June 29, 2014

Extending the Shelf Life & Saving Money

Purchasing sale and reduced for quick sale items is a fantastic way to save 50% or more at the grocer.  However, when purchasing large amounts of sale items or any reduced for quick sale item one must pay attention to expiration dates and shelf life.  Even if a food item has been purchased at a great discount, if it spoils before consumption that's like throwing money into the trash - literally.
I never pay full price for meat products.  I purchase meat products in large quantities when I catch a fabulous sale or, I purchase it from the reduced for quick sale bin.  If I purchase 25 packages of bacon when it's one sale at a 30-40% discount once every six months or purchase sirloin steaks at 1/2 price from the "reduced" bin, I must immediately use the item or extend it's shelf life through preservation.  We certainly can't eat 25 pounds of bacon within a few days and on shopping days, I usually fill up my crock pot before heading into town, thus, we wouldn't immediately eat the "reduced for quick sale" sirloin steaks, pork chops or chicken thighs for supper (and I often find several packages of reduced for quick sale items in any given shopping trip).

 Knowing I have food storage system, a young mother recently inquired as to how I preserve all my food for such a long time, especially meat products.  Although I've canned meat, my preferred method of preserving it is freezing.   My food saver, given to me as a gift by my dear sweet sister, Mrs.A, has been the perfect tool for preserving meat products and preventing freezer burn.  I've personally found that it really does extend the shelf life of foods.  The food saver has allowed me to freeze meat for up to 18 months and many fruits and vegetables up to a year without any freezer burn or spoilage.

When using my food saver I like to place my food products, especially food with a high water content like fruits and vegetables, in the freezer for about 1/2 an hour prior to sealing.  This allows some of the food's natural juices to "firm up" resulting in a more complete and better seal.

If not purchased on sale or with a coupon (preferably both), food saver bags appear to be expensive at first glance.  However, because the bags are so thick and durable they can be reused 3-5 times.  To get the most out of my bags, I carefully cut them open as close to the seal as possible.  I wash the used bags in very hot water and, when dry, store them in the used bag section of my kitchen drawer.  When I have a product to seal and freeze, I first leaf through the used food saver bags and find an appropriate size to re-use.  The bag in the above photo has stored (1st use) frozen ears of corn, (2nd use) frozen chicken thighs and now (3rd use) frozen sirloin steaks.  And, I fully expect that same bag to get at least one, if not two more uses.


  1. I never would have thought to reuse the bags. Do you open both ends? I cannot imagine how I would get the bags completely dry otherwise.

    Inquiring minds want to know. ~smile~

    Laura Lane
    Harvest Lane Cottage
    lauraofharvestlane at gmail dot com

    1. Hi Laura, One can cut both ends of the food saver bags, but I generally cut open only one end. After hand washing the bag, I dry it by clothes pinning it, open side down, to a hanger OR stand it, open side down, in a dish drainer on the kitchen counter. I also dry my re-usable zipper type baggies this way.



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