Frugal Friday: Straw Vacuum Sealer

I’ve always been wary of lots of kitchen gadgets. First, they cost money and second, I never seem to have enough room for everything I’ve already got, let alone add another thing. I know I’m alone on this in many areas and some people would never do without their ________ (insert favorite gadget here: rice cooker? steam juicer? bread machine?), which is fine, too – each of us has to determine what works for us vs. cost, time, and such.

If you’ve read here awhile, you will know there are some gadgets I love like my Cuisinart food processor, my immersion blender, and even my microplane grater (see my sidebar “To Make Your Life Easier” if you’re interested in these). Cooking is just better with these items for me.

The one thing all these items have in common: the only cost involved is the purchase price.

Which is why I’ve never understood the vacuum sealer. You pay for a machine, then you have to continue to pay for special bags to use the machine. Yes, you will buy bags for freezing anyway, but using sales, coupons, and/or club stores I can usually get freezer bags for a lot less than the vacuum-sealer bags.

My brother-in-law loves his, and he’s one of the most frugal people I know. He says the food stays better in the freezer and lasts longer.

Maybe it does, but our food gets used up in 6-8 months anyway. The longest anything has been in the freezer is a year, and I guess we are just not sophisticated enough to taste a difference. Probably because the produce is usually used in soups and the fruit in smoothies at that point. It just wouldn’t pay for us to use this.

I’ve seen it used to preserve dried/smoked meat and fish to keep on a shelf and if you do a lot of that, I guess it makes sense, then.

But for regular produce and fruit (and even bread and baked goods), here is what I’ve used for years to get the most air out of the baggie:

A straw. I keep it in a drawer with the baggies and reuse it numerous times until it needs to be replaced.

I prepare the produce, close the bag, then open a little slit to insert the straw. I hold the opening on both sides of the straw, and use it to suck all the air out.

Then I just quickly pull the straw out and close the opening. I flatten the bag for easy storage and put in the freezer.

PLUS, I can reuse these bags which can’t be done with the vacuum sealer bags!

My brother-in-law laughed at me when I showed him this- what do you think?

Other frugal tips can be found over at LifeAsMom’s Frugal Fiday.






  1. Tracy says

    I have the same exact feelings about the vacuum sealer. I was silly enough to buy one of those Reynolds battery operated things that sucks the air out. It doesn’t work that well and takes forever to get the right seal so that it actually removes the air.

    I’m switching to the straw.

  2. Anonymous says

    I have heard that tip before- using a straw. Too bad the air always gets back in the bag. I have found that by using vacuum seal bags the material actually keeps air from getting back in. My zipper bags used to always “blow up” and gain air while in the freezer. A FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer is now my favorite kitchen appliance.

  3. Linda Phillips says

    I am SO doing this as well as your freezing beans method WITHOUT blanching! Thanks so much for the tips!

  4. Cindy Mittlesteadt says

    Thanks for sharing this practical tip. I’ve used this as well, but a modified more hygenic method . Lay the zip seal bag on it’s side, insert straw to the side of the bag so it doesn’t suction up against food. Position straw on a slight downward angle towards your mouth to lessen “backwash” of air or saliva. Keep track of your mouth end (maybe with a little piece of tape) so it doesn’t inadvertently get placed in the bag next to food. Wash well after each session or just throw it away. It’s just a straw.

  5. Pauline McClain says

    I have also used the straw method but then stopped when I kept having trouble with the straw getting stuck and air getting in anyway. I started doing a modified version without the straw and it works much better for me: I would zip up the all the way but leave just enough open at the end, then I put this corner end of the bag to my lips and simply suck air out straight from the bag myself. It was much easier to close up the zipper and still keep the air from coming back in.
    I also have an issue with some of the bags ‘blowing up’ and I just redo it whenever I find a puffy bag. I’m wondering if it’s worth getting a vacuum sealer, especially for my frozen meats, but….I dunno.

  6. Elsa says

    My most used kitchen gadget is the steamer, I have three of them, one small size for smaller pans and two for medium and big pans. They have a perforated round base and the sides are formed by perforated petals that open (like a ladies fan) to fit pans bigger than the steamers base. My vegetables always look perfect, the colours preserved and bright, the flavour is fantastic. I steam without using any salt and all I put on top is a little olive oill then enjoy the natural flavours. However you can use whatever you prefer to add flavour.

    • says

      Thanks, Melissa! I keep our frozen produce for up to a year as we use it, bread for about 6 months and pantry items like chips a couple months.

  7. Harriet says

    This has saved us a lot of money! I love the fact we can store food, soups etc and it lasts months now without spoiling.


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