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Food Saver vs. Seal-A-Meal? [Moved from Home Cooking]

Will Owen Sep 25, 2007 04:50 PM

I intend to get one of these devices before too long, and have been looking over several threads discussing them. I've only seen comments about the Food Saver brand, though. Target has both, with the Food Saver priced at just under $100, the larger of two sizes of Seal-A-Meal units at around $70, and the smaller at $40. I've already decided against the little guy, but I'm wondering if the Food Saver is really $30 better than the similar-sized Seal-A-Meal, or if it's just a marketing thing. Anyone care to address this?

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    valerie RE: Will Owen Sep 25, 2007 05:32 PM

    I, too, have been thinking about getting a Food Saver for a while, and just the other day, my mother told me that she has the Seal-A-Meal. FWIW, she was raving about it. And my mother is known to freeze a LOT of things.

    1. bkhuna RE: Will Owen Sep 25, 2007 06:43 PM

      I've owned a Food Saver for years and I'm hoping it will eventually croak so I can buy a bigger one with more features.

      I honestly don't know how the two compare, but I've been more than happy with my Food Saver and it has paid for itself many, many times over.

      1. j
        jzerocsk RE: Will Owen Sep 26, 2007 06:48 AM

        I have owned both a Seal-A-Meal and the FoodSaver, and my professional opinion is that the Seal-A-Meal is a complete and utter piece of garbage. I guess this should be expected from the company that can no longer even make good slow cookers anymore. :-)

        Here's the biggest difference:
        The FoodSaver has a big oval trough that you stick the end of the bag in, you close the lid and twist a knob to lock it and then push the Seal button. Easy-peasy.

        The Seal-A-Meal has this flat plastic nozzle. You have to fit the end of the bag over the nozzle, then snap the lid closed. This requires considerable force. My wife needed 2 hands on each side. Because of the height of the nozzle, it's often hard to hold the bag up on the nozzle and lock the lid, even when you can lock the lid with one hand. I often had to either get my wife to help me, or put a box or something under the bag to hold it up. Added bonus: Since the nozzle goes inside the bag into which you have just dropped a slab of raw meat, you are guaranteed to contaminate the nozzle each and every time you use it.

        In addition to being far easier to use, the FoodSaver has a lot of thoughtful touches -
        a clip inside the lid to hold a pen (my wife was always "borrowing" the sharpie next to the Seal-A-Meal and never returning it).
        There is an integrated hook to store the accessory hose.
        There are different options for wet/dry and fast/slow.
        The bag cutter in the FoodSaver works much better than the one on the Rival.
        My Rival canisters never actually held a seal...I have read other reviews complaining of the same issue. My FoodSaver canisters actually work.
        And there is a slew of wild attachments for the Food Saver, most notably a gizmo that lets you vacuum seal mason jars and lids that can be used with ordinary glass jars.

        When my Rival died, I sprung for the FoodSaver and it was worth every penny.

        6 Replies
        1. re: jzerocsk
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          valerie RE: jzerocsk Sep 26, 2007 07:38 AM

          Good to know. Which Foodsaver model do you have?

          1. re: valerie
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            jzerocsk RE: valerie Sep 26, 2007 07:49 AM

            I believe I have the v2440.

          2. re: jzerocsk
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            baseballfan RE: jzerocsk Sep 26, 2007 07:53 AM

            I have the vac 900 Food Saver which is an older bare bones model. It does what it advertises and definitely improves the quality of frozen foods. With that being said, I would definitely get one of the higher end models. They have many features that mine doesn't that make it much easier to use.

            1. re: baseballfan
              bayoucook RE: baseballfan Apr 24, 2009 05:25 AM

              Me too. Been waiting for it to die so I can upgrade. But it has served me well all these years and I love the way it seals the canisters.

            2. re: jzerocsk
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              anniemax RE: jzerocsk Sep 27, 2007 10:23 AM

              Its funny you mention the canisters differences. I have a Food Saver, two actually- a full size (model # 1050) & a mini one (ended up with the mini-one because it was on clearance for less then what the roll of bags that came with would normally cost). Meijer's clearanced out accessories for both Food Savers & Seal-A-Meal a couple years ago, and I bought a lot of the Seal-A-Meal canisters & Food Saver ones. Personally, I found I like the Seal-A-Meal ones better because you can see the lid sink down in as its seals and they seem to hold their seal better then my Food Saver containers tend to. Plus the Seal A Meal containers stack, which is a big plus in my kitchen. But I am sealing them with a Food Saver, not a Seal A Meal (cut the machine end of the Seal A Meal hose off & attached it to the canister end of an extra Food Sealer one), so that might be the difference. Have you tried using any of your old Seal A Meal with your Food Saver?

              BTW- I use both the large & the mini-Food Saver regularly. I like the little to pull out for quick little jobs, like resealing a package of cheese or something. But when it comes to packaging up a lot of stuff for the freezer, I pull out the big one. I would love to get one of the newer ones with the settings for soft bake goods & moist stuff...maybe Santa will bring it this year!

              1. re: anniemax
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                jzerocsk RE: anniemax Sep 27, 2007 10:40 AM

                "Have you tried using any of your old Seal A Meal with your Food Saver?"
                No, I just tossed it. The problem wasn't the pump - it sealed just fine - but as soon as i removed the vacuum attachment, the air would rush right back in. I think maybe the release valve was screwy. When I went to Amazon to order other ones, though, I saw reviews with similar problems so I decided it wasn't worth it, but maybe overall Rival ones do work OK.

            3. r
              Raymondo RE: Will Owen Sep 26, 2007 03:26 PM

              We have a Food Saver Vac 1200. For 2 carnivores who like to shop for meat at Costco the vacuum packer has been very handy. My wife loves the thing and happily seals all the meat every shopping day. She can not live without it.

              1. h
                holy chow RE: Will Owen Sep 27, 2007 12:51 PM

                Will, Foodsaver seems to be a better supported product and has more add on features. I have the big boy with the vacuum line attachment for cannisters, mason jars etc.

                Love the thing, don't know how I lived without one for so many years.

                1. slofood RE: Will Owen Sep 27, 2007 01:18 PM

                  Looks like you already have all the answers you need, but I have the Food Saver and it's a wonderful thing. But I'll admit it's a drag to come home from Costco and spend a couple hours on my feet portioning out the meats and re-packaging them.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: slofood
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                    holy chow RE: slofood Sep 27, 2007 01:23 PM

                    A drag??? That is like Christmas for me!!!!

                    1. re: holy chow
                      Will Owen RE: holy chow Sep 30, 2007 12:12 PM

                      You got it! Must say that the only Costco meat I do this with on a regular basis is the cryovac whole boneless pork loin, which I typically cut into two roasts, about eight chops, and the tail end for stew meat. This I can easily fit into ziplocks and simply squeeze the air out. Butchering out something with bones will definitely be a job for the Food Saver - which is the one you guys have talked me into. Thanks!

                      1. re: Will Owen
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                        holy chow RE: Will Owen Sep 30, 2007 12:45 PM

                        A great trick is to carve your meat and then freeze on a half sheet lined with parchment. Once frozen or par-frozen, vacuum seal so it holds shape. I do that a bunch with the whole tenderloin from Costco after butchering or when Albertson's has these really great ribeye deals for really good and thick steaks.

                        Enjoy the FS!

                        1. re: holy chow
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                          NVJims RE: holy chow Feb 7, 2009 04:05 PM

                          I use a Silplat mat on the half sheet-the food does not stick to it like it does with parchment paper.Really like my Foodsaver.

                        2. re: Will Owen
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                          valerie RE: Will Owen Sep 30, 2007 06:10 PM

                          Let us know which model you get.

                    2. s
                      shirleydt65 RE: Will Owen Nov 7, 2007 01:07 PM

                      I signed up for this site just for this post!

                      I highly recommend the Foodsaver! I bought one back around 2000 (paid $100) and after 7 years it died on me. The sealing strip went out. I was frantic about getting another one but couldn't decide which one I wanted. My original one was just a sealer and I had seen the ones that did jars and canisters. Today I found one for $64.00! It is the V2830W model, which is likely an out of date model, explaining the good price. It came with 2 canisters, the wide mouth jar sealer and 2 rolls of bag material. It also flips up for easy storage if you want to leave it on the counter top.

                      The features for this model include:
                      hands-free operation
                      easy clean drip tray
                      built in roll storage and cutter
                      extra wide sealing strip
                      two speed settings
                      adjustable food settings
                      crush free instant seal

                      If anyone is even having a passing thought about getting one of these don't let the thought pass too long! I can't imagine anyone regretting having one!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: shirleydt65
                        DetectDave RE: shirleydt65 Nov 13, 2007 10:57 AM

                        Interestingly enough, my Seal-A-Meal doesn't sound anything like the one above. I've had mine for 2 years now and as an avid hunter/fisherman, it gets a workout. I got mine on sale at Kohl's for $50 and just had a friend buy one for $40. I use mine at least once every week or so and have yet to have a problem w/ it. Sometimes I wish it were a bit faster, especially when we have a big batch of crappie to bag, but I'm patient so it's all good.

                        1. re: DetectDave
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                          jzerocsk RE: DetectDave Nov 13, 2007 12:11 PM

                          Amusingly, I was just at Target the other night and thought of this thread - they had one of the Rival machines out for display and it now seems to work similarly to the FoodSaver in terms of not having a whacky nozzle to hook the bag on. Perhaps that was just an older model that I had.

                          It still has the snap-down lid and some other "features" that in my mind still make the FoodSaver better.

                          Also after the crock pot fiasco I'm no longer a supporter of Rival. :--)

                      2. a
                        areklein RE: Will Owen Oct 14, 2008 02:02 PM

                        Funny thing -
                        They're owned by the same parent company.

                        1. o
                          onocoffee RE: Will Owen Oct 14, 2008 10:12 PM

                          While I've never used the Seal A Meal, I have the FoodSaver at home and use a minipack torre at my friends' restaurant.

                          I've got the FoodSaver model from Costco. It's a larger unit with more vac settings and has an internal roll of bags that you can custom cut to whatever you're sealing. I think it works great and have been using it heavily for over a year.

                          The only downside to the FoodSaver is that it's unfit for liquids. In those cases, I have to use my friends' chamber vac. Pretty soon, I'm planning on buying a MiniPack Torree chamber vac for home.

                          Meanwhile, I use the FoodSaver to bag and freeze both prepare and raw foods, as well as an infusion device for marinades and for sous vide cooking.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: onocoffee
                            PattiCakes RE: onocoffee Oct 17, 2008 12:17 PM

                            I get around the liquid limitation by freezing the liquid first in an appropriately sized container. Once frozed solid, I pop it out & vac bag it. I like to freeze the meat that I buy on sale in some sort of marinade so that when it's thawed it's ready to go. It's a little messy, but if you're doing a bunch of meat at once it's a single clean up. I have a Food Saver, with the on board storage for a roll & with an on board "slicer" to cut the bag from the roll. I really like it. It does have a large footprint, however. It's best to keep the thing out on the counter if you can so that you will use it more. If you have to haul it out every time you think you might want to vac something, you end up using it less and less. I have big canisters that I use for flour/sugar & the like. Keeps them buggies away!

                            I think that the single most useful accessory I have is the marinating container. It's square, but truthfully you can use any of the canisters that will accommodate the food you want to marinate. The vacuuming really makes the marinade penetrate the food.

                            I tried to find an attachement that would vacuum the fat from my hips, but it's not yet available. bummer.

                          2. j
                            justestuff RE: Will Owen Feb 2, 2009 06:42 PM

                            Well, I am quite late in this forum, but I have been debating it for years. I have read so many cons about the FoodSaver product, and relatively little about Seal-a-meal product (except it's cheap and you get what you paid for reviews).

                            On the other hand, people who had FoodSavers in the past keep on sticking it with the brand -- I am just getting confused!!

                            should I really spend extra $50 to get the FoodSaver or what?

                            P.S. I also bought Handi-Vac gadget, and what a waste of money -- I just can't believe I was that cheap!!!!

                            Justestuff at Justestuff.com

                            14 Replies
                            1. re: justestuff
                              karmalaw RE: justestuff Feb 2, 2009 07:56 PM

                              I bought a top of the line ( V2860) foodsaver with accessories in December for like $43.

                              keep your eye out on fatwallet.com for coupons/discount codes to use at www.foodsaver.com

                              1. re: justestuff
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                                angelsisda RE: justestuff Feb 5, 2009 09:14 AM

                                I have the seal a meal and my sister in law has the foodsaver. I think they're both about the same, other then the price.

                                1. re: justestuff
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                                  onocoffee RE: justestuff Feb 16, 2009 06:59 AM

                                  justestuff-

                                  Don't let yourself get caught in "Analysis Paralysis" - just go buy the FoodSaver. It's not "the best." It won't let you do certain things that you could with other vac sealers (like a chamber vac), but it does a great job sealing foods on a basic level, and that's probably what you want.

                                  On the plus side, they're not terribly expensive and they work great. Just gotta take the time to get the "feel" of the machine. Meaning, that not all of the bag seal right away. Sometimes, you have to stop the cycle, pop the bag out and reset it in the machine to get the suction correct.

                                  And ditto on PattiCakes suggestion of keeping the thing out. I keep mine right on the counter and use it all the time. If I had to haul it out from somewhere, i would be less prone to using it regularly.

                                  1. re: onocoffee
                                    j
                                    justestuff RE: onocoffee Feb 19, 2009 05:17 PM

                                    You figured me out! I tend to over think things, and making a commitment to things are quite difficult for me.

                                    i meant to buy the FoodSaver for a while, but I still haven't gotten it -- it's not the money, but the actual disappointment I am going to receive!

                                    My husband told me "just get it! it's not a life decision!"

                                    You both are right -- I just have to stop thinking!

                                    Thanks onocoffee!

                                    Much thanks from Justestuff.com

                                    1. re: justestuff
                                      w
                                      walker RE: justestuff Apr 23, 2009 10:38 PM

                                      If you buy it from Costco and don't like it, it's easy to return.

                                  2. re: justestuff
                                    David A. Goldfarb RE: justestuff Apr 21, 2009 03:11 PM

                                    I bought a Seal-A-Meal, because it was available conveniently at one of the markets where I shop, so they also carry the bags generally, though as it happens, they were out of the bags recently, so I ordered online and got a few of the canisters as well.

                                    The current models don't have any complicated nozzle thing like the one described above. It seems to work well, once you figure out what kinds of things are amenable to vacuum sealing.

                                    Things with a lot of liquid do better if frozen first. Soft things like mushrooms or muffins get smooshed (could be interesting for some things), unless you have a sealer with a "soft seal" function, that allows you to regulate the vacuum, which mine doesn't have.

                                    It's great for salt curing things like corned beef or gravlax, since they go in mostly dry, and the liquid develops during the cure.

                                    1. re: David A. Goldfarb
                                      RShea78 RE: David A. Goldfarb Apr 21, 2009 06:55 PM

                                      >>Soft things like mushrooms or muffins get smooshed (could be interesting for some things), unless you have a sealer with a "soft seal" function, that allows you to regulate the vacuum, which mine doesn't have.<<

                                      Those items would be best to vacuum with some "containment" (lid free/crush resistant container) to prevent items from smashing. Soft sealing IMHO isn't desirable as there is still enough air to promote spoilage or affect food quality.

                                      1. re: RShea78
                                        PattiCakes RE: RShea78 Apr 22, 2009 04:56 AM

                                        The other option for those softer items is to freeze them first, then vacuum them. I do that when we pick blueberries in the summer. I also do it with hamburger patties -- I form them, layer them on a tray to freeze, then vacuum seal the frozen "pucks" the next day. The trick is to vacuum them as soon after they have reached that frozen solid state as possible, before all of those nasty ice crystals form. Of course there are some items that just don't freeze well , squished or not. I find it's better to cook them first, then freeze. That's probably how I'd do mushrooms.

                                        1. re: PattiCakes
                                          RShea78 RE: PattiCakes Apr 23, 2009 04:26 PM

                                          >>I find it's better to cook them first, then freeze.<<

                                          Fully cook or do you really mean to blanch them?

                                          1. re: RShea78
                                            David A. Goldfarb RE: RShea78 Apr 23, 2009 06:11 PM

                                            I've blanched, vacuum sealed, and frozen green beans, and it worked quite well.

                                            I think if I wanted to preserve a lot of mushrooms, I'd dry them. I just had half a box of mushrooms more than I needed, so I thought I'd see how they vacuum sealed. They got an interesting texture with the air squeezed out of them--denser. I think I used them in a stuffing for something or other, and they were fine in that context.

                                            1. re: RShea78
                                              PattiCakes RE: RShea78 Apr 24, 2009 05:18 AM

                                              I end up doing this when I've purchased them, thinking I need them for something, then don't. Rather than have them get all slimey, I saute them with onions or shallots& freeze them. I put them in a plastic container, freeze the container just until it's a solid block, pop it out of the containr & then vacuum. I do that with a lot of liquid stuff (soups, broth). I like David's idea about drying them, though.

                                              My daughter likes to buy ground beef or sausage in bulk, cook it, then freeze in recipe-ready portions. She makes he packages more long & flat rather than square -- the more spread out the surface area, the easier it is to stack in the freezer, and the quicker it is to thaw.

                                          2. re: RShea78
                                            bkhuna RE: RShea78 Apr 23, 2009 07:56 PM

                                            I save a few styrofoam trays from the grocery store. They're great for vacuum sealing delicate items.

                                            1. re: RShea78
                                              r
                                              Rat3 RE: RShea78 Jul 12, 2010 06:14 PM

                                              One word of warning - don't vacuum store mushrooms or garlic -- they become dangerous when air is removed from them and should not be eaten.
                                              Mushrooms need special attention to their preservation. Before attempting to vacuum seal mushrooms they should either be marinated in a sauce or fully frozen
                                              Here is a good reference site regarding what/how to vacuum seal:
                                              http://www.culinaryinnovations.co.uk/...

                                              I'm no expert, just ran across the mushroom warning while searching for info and thought I'd pass it along.

                                              1. re: Rat3
                                                al b. darned RE: Rat3 Jul 17, 2010 09:50 PM

                                                I was just about to say the same thing. Good advice.!

                                        2. Hank Hanover RE: Will Owen Jul 15, 2010 01:20 PM

                                          I like my Foodsaver. I have a professional III.

                                          I paid quite a bit for it but I haven't had any trouble with it for 4 years.

                                          The only thing that bothers me is the cost of the rolls. I found out early not to bother with the bags. They are even more expensive.

                                          I have 2 recommendations.
                                          1. sign up for the notification list on the foodsaver website. They will contact you when they have a sale. They often have 25% of sales and no shipping if the order is $100 or more.

                                          2. Find a friend to go in with and buy rolls in volume, the website has volume discounts of 30% on 8 rolls or more. I bought 8 eight inch and 8 eleven inch rolls and with the 25% off and the free shipping, they came to about $5.25 a roll. Normal price is $9.99 ea.

                                          Whatever you do, don't do this: My wife made brownies in an 8" x 8" pan. She likes the cake style, not the fudgy style. Anyway, she decided to suck the whole pan down in a foodsaver bag. She wouldn't have to worry about them spilling in the car. Well, after the foodsaver was done, they were fudgy style because it sucked all the air out of those brownies.

                                          1. q
                                            quiltsabit RE: Will Owen Aug 15, 2010 05:29 PM

                                            Whatever you want to buy please forget that Seal A Meal is even out there. What a piece of garbage....and I told Rival so. Unit VS220 is a year old now, the green hands-free light does not light, and my big hubby has to lean on the unit and hope it seals. Do Not But Seal A Meal......none of them !!

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