Living alone means that my leftovers tend to go a pretty long way, and I don't end up using raw ingredients as quickly as the supermarkets expect me to.
For a while I've been considering investing in a vacuum-sealing system to avoid having to throw out so much food, for the sake of both finances and convenience. Unfortunately, I don't know anyone who owns one, so it's hard to get good advice. Most of the advice I got was "read some reviews."
Well, I read the reviews, and did the best I could to exclude the obvious PR blitzes from my sample, and it turned out that the reviews weren't very good. For any of the products that I see sold in stores.
I'm not really looking for advice on how to choose a vacuum-sealer. I already have a pretty good idea what criteria I should be looking for. The problem is that I can't find any products that meet it, and I suspect that like so many food-related products, the really good ones may not be advertised or even very easy to find.
So to clarify what I mean by "worth the expense" - I'm looking for something that:
Actually makes a proper seal at least 4 out of 5 times (it's amazing how many products on the market seem to fail this one).
Will last at least 2 years; the break-even point for costs seems to be about 1 year, and many if not most products have been reported as breaking down after 3-6 months.
Will not instantly die if there's even a drop of liquid in the bag.
Does not take up significantly more space than, say, one of the wide George Foreman grills (a little bit bigger is OK).
Does not waste a significant amount of sealing material if it fails to form a seal.
Preferably, can also be used with some kind of reusable container or canister. This is one of the things I liked about the new Food Saver products in spite of their many reported shortcomings.
Costs under $500 (US). That's not a hard upper limit if it's going to last 5 or 10 years, but if I have to spend $1000 on something that'll only last 2-3 years, then the economics of it break down.
I suspect that there are at least a few, and possibly many, "professional" models used by the food industry that at least meet criteria 1-6. Some of these companies may even sell retail-ish models to the general public but probably don't actively market them as such (how many home cooks/bakers have heard of Hobart?). That would especially be the kind of thing I'm looking for.
But, failing that, if anybody's had an exceptionally good experience with a more mainstream product (i.e. has owned one for at least a few years and/or worked with it in a professional capacity), I'd like to hear about that too.
And, if somebody out there has tried hundreds of these things, had nothing but awful experiences and wants to give a definitive "no" as an answer to this question - please do (and please elaborate).