considering a food sealer
I do a lot of baking and individually wrap muffins, scones, and granola bars to throw into lunches. It's my least favorite part of an otherwise enjoyable task. (the wrapping, that is) Currently I just use plastic wrap but have begun to think that a food sealer might be a good thing to ask Santa to leave under the tree.
I'd love to know if you have one and what you think of it. Thanks!
Are you thinking about just a bag sealer, or a vacuum sealer (Foodsaver, Seal-a-Meal, etc.)? Most of what you're paying for with a vacuum sealer is the vacuum part, which it doesn't sound like you need and you don't seem to be looking for.
In which case, why not just use ziplock sandwich baggies? (Depending whether lunch boxes or bags are used, you might even get people to bring 'em home for a couple of reuses?) They're probably the "easiest" thing and between what you pay for the machine and bags/material, housebrand baggies can't be any more expensive, can they?
Do you use very day saran wrap out of the box? When I worked at a resto we had a permanent bar built in to a prep table. It only required the use of one hand to reach, pull, tear. Much quicker to use, and less waste. I made a similar dowel work station for my work for use with bubble wrap and other packing materials and they make work a lot easier.
Or... would zip bags be easier?
for your purposes, maybe a hand held heat sealer/crimper would do the job. Continual cello tubes are used to create individual product bags by using a heat sealer/crimper/cuttter. The kids, if old enough, could help!
there are many types out there.
This will probably be moved to the cooking equipment board but unless you freeze bread products thoroughly before sealing the vacuum sealer will suck all of the air out of the muffins etc and flatten them. You can't pump more air in so you will end up with dense cookies. I had the funniest looking bread sticks after try8ing to bag and seal them fresh.
If you look under the Cookware board (where this post might eventually get relocated) you'll find plenty of posts and discussions on Food Savers vs. Rival Seal-a-Meals, etc.
There's also a new contender, the Frisper, which I just saw at Linens 'n Things for about $80 (plus the 20% coupon!). It uses zipper-seal bags that have sealing "dots" for vacuuming air out and the bags are resealable and reusable.
However, Reynolds just came out with a little wand-type sealer that operated similarly to the Frisper. The wand is $10 ($9 and change at Target and Walmart) and bags come in quart and gallon sizes. The bags are also resealable (so you could seal a batch of muffins, freeze, take out one muffin, and reseal the bag) and I think the quart bags are 15 for $2.50 (give or take).
I know that the Food Saver bags are resealable, but you have to start with an extra large bag so you can enough room to cut the seal and reseal the bag.
For the money, I'd buy a Reynolds (we have one and it's been working great) sealer and see how often I use it and how well I like it. Then you can decide if you need to upgrade to a $100+ "real" unit.