I have been preparing our family’s meals for more than 21 years and there are two tools I use that help me save more money on food than any other appliances or kitchen gadgets. I didn’t always use these items, but since introducing them to my kitchen routine, I can’t imagine running a home kitchen without them. A new sleek digital scale and food vacuum sealer have both quickly become my favorite kitchen tools.
Digital Kitchen Scale
I am a fairly experienced cook and at this stage know when I can estimate an ingredient or when the amount should be exact for the recipe to work out. It takes a while to get the hang of it, but once you understand the science behind a recipe you have a better understanding of when an ingredient must be added in the specified amount. I have plenty of measuring cups and spoons, but when you have to weigh an ingredient and it won’t cut it to estimate how much of a particular ingredient you are adding, you need an accurate scale. This is especially useful when you are using an old recipe that calls for an ingredient that is no longer packaged in the same size can or bag that is listed in the recipe.
A good scale also makes it easy to count calories by quickly measuring out proper portions. Want to create 100 calorie portions without buying the expensive prepackaged diet snacks? Buy the larger packages and use the calorie count and suggested serving size to measure out proper portions into sealable snack or sandwich bags. When I measure portions in advance, I am not inclined to grab the whole bag of chips or box of crackers and snack without paying attention to how much I eat.
- Size – My scale is flat and rectangular making it easy to tuck away so the counter doesn’t look cluttered. It’s so small and sleek looking, that I don’t mind it sitting out, but it is also easy to store in a cabinet without taking up much space. Make sure the size and shape of the scale you buy fits how you work in your kitchen.
- Tare – The tare button allows you to subtract the weight of the container you are measuring into without having to do the math. Simply turn on the scale and zero out after selecting weight units, place container on scale and push the TARE button. The scale will once again zero out so you are now measuring the content of the container and not the container.
I inherited a 20-year-old vacuum sealer from my grandmother’s kitchen and it has made a huge difference in the quality of food that comes out of our freezer. Storing food properly means that everything stored in the freezer is edible and we are throwing less food in the trash due to freezer burn. I can’t begin to measure how much food we’ve tossed out over the years and I don’t want to think about that in terms of money wasted. I was late to adopt this tool. I don’t know why I resisted.
If you are a gardener, a vacuum sealer is an essential tool for the kitchen. I’ve frozen vegetables in vacuum-sealed bags that taste just as fresh as the day I stored them. The key is to remove all air from the pouch and to prepare produce the day it is brought in from the garden. Freezer bags may protect food for a short period of time, but they simply have not proven reliable for long-term food storeage. At least, not in my freezer.
Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Vacuum Sealer
- Blanche and drain vegetables before storing in the freezer
- Measure food in specific portion sizes and label each pouch
- Use permanent marker to write recipes on outside of pouch before freezing