Vacuum Seal Food Storage Ideas
A couple of years back my wife bought me one of those vacuum seal food storage contraptions. I got a lot of use out of it. We would buy the large packages of meat and seal up two thirds of it and stick it in the freezer for later use.
Now I would like to use it to store ready to eat meals and I need some Chowhound help. My wife is pregnant and I work out of town for weeks at a time. I would like to be able to do some serious bulk cooking so that lovely wife only has a minimal amount of work to do when she needs something healthy and nutritious to eat.
Does anybody have one of these machines? More importantly, does anyone know of certain types of food that do well for this sort of application?
I've most recently packaged up some chicken marbella with sauce in individual size packages. (The recipe is available on this list.) I use the variant that uses chicken breasts and cut them into big strips.) Put over noodles or rice. You can package up some rice and even noodles so it's supereasy to put the dinner together when she's busy.
We also just made the beef birds from the All About Braising book. I package up the extras for dinners with the sauce. Those may be more work than you are looking for though.
Another thing that's great to have in the freezer in the bags is mahogany beef stew (on epicurious.) Package up in individual size servings.
I have the Rival Seal-A-Meal and generally use it for raw ingredients rather than finished dishes. But other than baked goods and other airy foods, which the vacuum will flatten, you can use the sealer on anything. If you make something very liquid, portion it into the bag and freeze the unsealed bag, upright, before suctioning. If you want to save space, you can then allow the food to defrost long enough to allow you to flatten the bag, then refreeze.
Once or twice a year I'll barbecue about 20 lbs of pork shoulder in the smoker to make pulled pork, cooked slow and low (takes about 14 hours). After it's all pulled and cooled, I portion in out into Foodsaver bags, seal, and freeze the bags flat. It's good thawed, reheated, and mixed with some sauce.
You may or may not already know this but in case you dont:
When freezing packages of liquidy foods - where the liquid may get sucked back into the vacuum contraption - there are several ways to avoid disaster. One is to fill the vac bags and freeze them without sealing. Seal once the contents are solid and they won't leak into the guts of the sealer. Another way is to refrigerate the dish until it's thickened - some sauces will almost gel when cold - then you can fill bags and vac pack. And finally, you can freeze in temporary containers and then slip the blocks of food out and repackage and seal. I've tried all of these things at various times.
Another tip - don't try to vacuum seal something like banana bread unless you've frozen it solid first. The sealer will compress it until it's about the density of a black hole and the size of a quarter. I guess that's good for, say, backpacking, but not so great for regular life.
Big Hunks of meat is the best thing for your situation. A full sized Bottom round roast in the cryopack from Costco/Sams will make a ton of sliced roast beef. The possibilities of what to do next are endless. Grilled roast beef & cheese sandwich, Quesadillas, Burritos, beef Stroganof, beef & vegetable soup, throw a slice in ramen noodles, or just eat it on its own.
Full length Pork Loins will make a lot of sliced meat. You can BBQ a bunch of chicken breasts at once, usually they are packaged in big packages. Someone mentioned Pulled Pork, put it in a bun with slaw on the side, or in burritos or chile.