Much unlike many a magazine editor who recommends you buy all sorts of crap that they most likely got for free, your Jezebel staff doesn't get jack shit (other than books, unsolicited). And that's how it should be. But on our own time, in our personal lives, we still buy stuff. So this is Worth It, our recommendation of random things that we've actually spent our own money on. These are the things we buy regularly or really like, things we'd actually tell our friends about. And now we're telling you.
It's the end of a long work week and I've had zero time to cook, but today for lunch I had slow-roasted pork (180 degrees for 12 hours), spanish rice, and chipotle pinto beans, topped with homemade pico de gallo and queso fresco—all as fresh as if it had just come out of the pot. I know this sounds like some shitty Lean Cuisine commercial, or that one where the wife's husband is so stupid that his mind is blown by flavored yogurt, but it's not. It's some shitty home vacuum sealer commercial. I love my vacuum sealer SO MUCH.
My boyfriend had been pining away for one of these things for months. He's an incredible cook (I'm no slouch in the kitchen, but I don't even bother anymore), but what inevitably happens is that he'll prepare a giant batch of some impeccable thing—pot roast or bulgogi or lentils or the aforementioned pork shoulder—we get bored of it after a few meals and wind up throwing half of it out. Super wasteful. And then, once we've dumped our leftovers, if we're too busy or exhausted to go grocery shopping, we end up eating at restaurants all the time.
But not anymore, thanks to our new son VACUUM SEALER!!! Vacuum Sealer West cost $50 at Target, but you can find a range of prices and fanciness levels online. (We opted to go with this one over the $179 model at Costco, because it's cheaper, the sealer bags were 1/3 the price, and the negative reviews online were fairly benign—stuff like "I let the machine get encrusted with food and it was gross! One star!")
Now, of course you can freeze leftover food in Ziploc baggies, tin foil, and Tupperware. But is that really how you want to live your life? Food exposed to air in the freezer begins to develop freezer burn almost immediately. It loses a ton of moisture, which means that when you want to reheat it you have to reconstitute it with water, which means that you then have to reseason and often wind up overcooking it. But with Vacuum Sealer West, this shit comes out perfectly every time—and it's technically good for two to three years. You just drop the sealed bag in a pot of simmering water for 15 or 20 minutes (microwaves are obv gross), then cut open the bag, and you've got a plate of food as pristine as the day you cooked it. So now, on some rando Friday when I'm still working in my pajamas at 1:52 pm, I can have a gorgeous plate of food that took more than 24 hours to prepare.
Vacuum sealing allows you to be more ambitious—not just as a chef but as a human being. It's way easier to justify spending 12, 13, 14 hours cooking something when you know that the food you produce is going to last you for weeks and months to come. Part of cooking—if you really love to cook—is putting care into every single thing that you do. Tasting everything, timing everything, making sure your textures and seasoning are perfect. But the downside to that is that by the time you're ready to eat, you're fucking sick of everything you just made. But with vacuum sealer, you can make an absolutely perfect pot roast, stick 2/3 of it in the freezer, and then return to it two weeks later with a fresh palate. It's like having it all over again for the first time. METAPHOR.
Also, it's fun to play with gadgets. My boyfriend literally giggles every time the air gets sucked out of the bag, because he is a 6'5" man-toddler.
Also also, we save one million bucks per day. We can buy food in bulk, cook it in bulk, and save it in bulk (that's our actual freezer in the photo above—SO MUCH BEEF MEAT). We've cut our restaurant dining at least in half. And there's something incredibly satisfying about the feeling when you run out of money (which happens now and then) but you still get to have a delicious, complex, thoughtful home-cooked meal. It allows for a more consistent standard of living. I wouldn't vacuum seal, like, a pie, because the crust would get all fucked up and that would be stupid. I wouldn't vacuum seal an omelet. But if you use the vacuum sealer for what it's good for, then it's the absolute best. Changed my life. $50. Boom.
Seal-A-Meal VS107 Vacuum Food Sealer, $59.99 at Amazon.com
Worth It only features things we paid for ourselves and actually like. Don't send us stuff.