We have a FoodSaver that I really enjoy to use when it comes to preserving food that I know I would like to eat later. But when you do get a foodsaver see that it is the one that you would like to work and would be easy for you to handle. I'm not real impressed with the roll storage, not bad for occasional use, but not real handy for production use. Adjustable seal times can be helpful. As long as it has a manual seal, adjustable seal time, and handles 11 "bag material, it will work. At least you can control the amount of time that you will need to seal your food or what kinds of food that you are sealing It Just depends on what you are sealing!
Now, if you can find one, there are other nice machine but some are expensive. I'm working on a custom mount for my foodsaver to minimize the problems associated with "high moisture" dishes. Oh, by the way, the newer models seem to have a defect moisture trap, that's another feature to check out.So that when you do open your food it will have moisture. Some of the foodsavers do not have that kind of features. You may end up eating something that is really dry.
My favorite TV show last evening, which is very well made and very thorough. I plan to use it for myself, at a single client location and for use by up to five of my Sunday afternoon culinary students to take their class projects home. Large department stores typically have a good price, including some of the top models. You can even go online to find vacuum bags and other accessories, I have found you can often get them cheaper there, even than large department stores.
Some of the department stores do not like to carry the vacuum bags because not to many use the foodsaver. A lot of people just like to use zipplock bags or other things that is just easy for them. They just want to take the time out to pull out the foodsaver and take the time go thourgh all the stuff after a long day of cooking and dealing with all the clean up mess. They would just like to clean and put away as fast as they can.
I have a FoodSaver and know that it'll smoosh the tar out of it if it's not partially frozen, yet when I put it in a rubbermaid, there is so much surface area exposed to air it worries me. I leave the meatloaf whole so it will not get crushed during the process.
When I do meatloaf, either leave it whole and double wrap it in heavy duty foil suggesting to the someone that they slice it cold prior to reheating or I make mini-loaves in muffin tins. They are the perfect single serving size for kids, require half the cooking time, and are easy to wrap and package individually.
Remember also, that not a lot of people would like to freeze meals. I know that some people prefer it to be sliced up, and is packaged for two. I use the smaller container. For my families, I just wrap the whole thing and let them slice. I cut the loaves in half then proceed with packaging or make mini-loaves or in muffin tins for couples. Singles get them made in muffin tins.
As far as your vacuum sealing issue. Does your vacuum sealer have an override button? Personally, I would only buy a sealer with an Override Button, this way you can seal to the point where all the air just disappears and then override the "sucking air out" and instantly seal the package. By having this feature you can also seal liquid items like sauces and soups without worry. Then you know that you will not have to worry about going out and getting other things to hold liquidy things and that is much less money that you will need to spend.
I'm wondering how many of you leave your meals in containers and how many of you choose to vacuum seal the meals? Some people have never tried a vacuum sealer, but the reviews and information, sure make it sound like it's a perfect solution. When you decided to go one way or the other, what was the criteria that made you choose the method you did?
First, I use what I think might work for me or what others might want. About half want the vacuum seal bags. Second, some items always go into containers. Especially if I want them to retain their shape or I want them to warm in the oven for crispness: roasted potatoes, lasagna, breaded chicken. Some people do not offer the vacuum seal bags. A lot of other people just like staying with what they use all the time. It is just easyer for them to use and they would rather use what they know they can trust.
That being said, if a some people request for the vacuum bags, I would use them. I do take mine on occasion and some people do not complain when I package things that way (especially fish). In case you're wondering why others do not offer vacuum bags, I guess they just do not care to lug the machine and bags around. Giving all the other things that you would need to bring if you are going to cook at someones house it would just seam right to not have to carry more stuff then they really need too.
The vacuum sealer bags are often used for many items. However, things like soups or anything with a very watery sauce do not do well with the vacuum sealer bags. If presentation is an issue, I recommend putting it in the appropriate container and then sealing it. For example, there was one person who liked her food on the microwavable plates since she was single. I would plate the food and then use the FoodSaver. The biggest lesson I've learned with the FoodSaver, though, is to get the pre-made bags instead of the rolls. I get a better seal and it takes less time, although they are a bit more expensive.