Three Things to Consider Before You Buy a Vacuum Sealer

The best vacuum sealer for you depends on how often you’ll be using it, the amount of food you want to process, and the amount of space you have to store it. Here’s how to pick the best one for you.

Vacuum sealers are more than just handy kitchen appliances, they’re investments. The money that you spend on a food saver soon will be paid back several times over, and in several ways:

  • You can save nearly every leftover from every meal for a much longer time than if you covered them with plastic wrap, because the lack of air in the sealed bag prevents spoilage. No more fuzzy meatballs in the back of the refrigerator!
  • You can cook meals in advance, seal them, store them in the freezer and pull one out whenever you need, eliminating a trip to the grocery store or a restaurant bill if you have nothing fresh on hand. You can create a week's worth of dinners in a weekend and eat them six months later.
  • You can buy food in bulk at a much lower cost, divide it into portions and freeze. When that whole tenderloin goes on sale, you can cut individual steaks and have them on hand for a year or more.

Vacuum sealers all operate via the same function—by sucking the air out of a plastic bag into which you put food (or anything else you want to protect, such as photos or documents) and then sealing it shut. Where vacuum sealers differ is in speed and convenience of various functions. How much and how often you want to use the sealer will determine which one you should get. Here’s a guide:

1. Will you be sealing leftovers and the occasional bargain food buy?

Vacuum Sealer By NutriChef
This sealer comes as a kit with multiple reusable plastic vacuum bags.NutriChef

For these purposes, a small, inexpensive sealer will do. Because you'll be sealing one or two bags at a time, speed is not an issue, so you don't need automatic functions. You also won't be using it very often, so you'll probably want to be able to store it easily.

2. Will you be sealing large quantities of food?

Foodsaver V4440 2-in-1 Vacuum Sealer Machine
This unit works with both 8- and 11-inch vacuum seal rolls.FoodSaver

If you'll be cutting up large portions of meat or fish, or want to preserve a large harvest of fruit or vegetables without canning, invest in a sealer with automatic functions such as bag detection (eliminating the need to open the sealer, place the bag in the proper position, close the sealer and press the start button) and moisture detection (so you don't need to choose between "moist" and "dry" modes). Those features allow you to process a lot of food in a short time.

3. Will you be sealing a moderate amount—leftovers and the occasional large quantity?

FoodSaver V2244 Vacuum Sealer Machine
One-handed operation helps make this vacuum sealer easy to use.FoodSaver

While it may seem that a small sealer will work well for these purposes, the issue becomes one of speed. The time needed to seal the occasional large quantity with a small, manual-control sealer may be enough to prevent you from doing it more than once. Get a mid-range-price sealer with at least one automatic function to speed up the process.