Sous Vide Is the Fancy Cooking Technique That Saves You Money, Too

By Ashley Eneriz on 21 September 2016 1 comment

Sous vide is a fancy French term that means "under vacuum," but don't let this new word scare you. It's actually a lot simpler than it sounds. Sous vide is a method of cooking by sealing food in airtight plastic bags, and then placing it in a water bath or temperature-controlled steam environment for longer than normal cooking times. Not only does this make delicious food, but it can also save you a lot of money and time on groceries and meal prep.

How Sous Vide Can Save You Time and Money

Although sous vide equipment will cost some money upfront, this process can save you money and time in the long run. Here are just a few ways sous vide can save you money:

1. Reduced Waste From Cooking Mistakes

I don't know about you, but I am not a pro chef. Many dinners have gone to waste from the meat being too dry or overcooked. Cooking meats sous vide makes even the difficult cuts easy to prepare. As long as you know the temperature and cook time, your meat will never be over or undercooked. For example, for a medium-rare steak, you would simply set the device to 134°F. This would give you a juicy piece of steak without any dry edges or undercooked centers.

See also: 8 Money-Saving Hacks for Those Who Hate Cooking

2. Reduced Energy Usage

Not only is a sous vide machine as easy to use as a microwave, it also takes less energy to cook your food. Once the device heats your water to the set degrees, very little energy is used to maintain the temperature.

3. Easy Bulk Cooking

You can sous vide multiple cuts of meat at a time and store them in the fridge or freezer for later use. This will allow you to cook for the entire week on the weekend, saving you money from impulse fast food buys.

4. Cheaper Cuts Taste Better

Since sous vide makes meats so much juicier, you can get away with buying the cheaper cuts. You can have an amazing steak dinner with a cheap flank steak.

While I gave a lot of examples of saving on meat cooking, sous vide can be used for a lot of different recipes. In fact, the method can help you make many gourmet-type dishes, such as hard to make custards and butter sauces.

How to Get Started With Sous Vide on a Budget

Sous vide enthusiasts can spend a few hundred dollars on higher end sous vide gadgets. Some enthusiasts argue that you need special containers or machines that circulate the water, but you can keep the process and costs simple and still enjoy sous vide dishes.

My husband found the ANOVA Culinary Bluetooth Precision Cooker when it was discounted on Amazon. This device clamps on to any pot or container and will heat the water and cook the meat at an even temperature. What is neat about this device is that you can program it through your phone, so you don't even need to be at home when you are cooking.

We started off with a stainless silver pot we already had, but were only able to cook two bags of meat at once. You can also use your Crock-Pot or other large container. Some people have even used ice coolers.

12-quart Rubbermaid container was less than $20 on Amazon, and proved a better solution since we bought a lid with it. My husband cut a hole in the lid for the sous vide machine to keep the water temperature more accurate and prevent evaporation on longer cooking sessions.

You can use regular gallon-sized zipper food storage bags, but we decided to go with something a little sturdier (and safer to use in heat). The FoodSaver Gallon-Sized Vacuum Bags can be reused if washed well. You don't have to buy the hand-held vacuum to seal the bags either. Simply zip the bag 98% and then dunk the bag in a pot of water. The pressure of the water will push the excess air out.

In total, we invested about $175 for the above items, which is a deal compared to how much other chefs and home cooks spend on their sous vide systems. However, Instructables has directions to make your own sous vide machine for under $40.

The way to get the most benefit from the device is to plan to use it regularly. We currently shop for discounted or clearance meat on the weekend from our local Vons, and then sous vide them and either stick the meat in the fridge or freezer, depending on the meal plan for the week.

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Guest's picture
Chris zahlmann

Thank you for the above information. I have a question you mentioned using the food saver and simply ZIPPING the bag 98%, I can't figure what that means. Can you clarify. Thank-you.

Guest's picture
Susan

Why are you promoting an unnecessary use of plastic? From inception to disposal, plastic is one of the most harmful substances for the health of the planet.