Ask The Readers: Frugal Options for Lunch Meat

Today’s question is from Amanda:

I know pre-packaged sandwich meat is generally unhealthy and pricey. What suggestions do you have for minimizing this cost? I have a child who always takes a ham sandwich for lunch and husband who loves meat and cheese sandwiches.

Is buying a whole ham and having it sliced (then freezing it) a better idea?

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Comments

  1. heather says

    Try the hormel brands they are all natural and usually have coupons. My kids don’t take hot lunch and they love lunch meat. I don’t feel bad giving them this brand. last week target had a store coupon for free kings Hawaian bread plus an in store deal for a free four back of buns when you buy 2 hormel lunch meats. So for 5 dollars I got 2 lunch meats, 2 4 packs of buns and 2 6 packs of sub buns. Not to bad. I also had a dollar off 2 hormel lunch meats.

    • Aspen Noelle says

      I agree about the Hormel–it’s the only one I’ve found that does not have sodium nitrite added to it. A friend of mine who has seliac’s disease told me about it. It’s so tasty too. Bi-Lo usually has it BOGO free.

    • Amy says

      We all love Hormel Natural in this house too…it’s the only brand that I can find without nitrates/perservatives but I mainly feed it to my kids since they eat more of it than my husband and I do.

      • Joy says

        Oscar Mayer’s Select deli meats are nitrate and preservative free. Plus, they taste better than Hormel’s. The applewood smoked turkey is very delicious. It’s the one I use on my boys’ sandwiches.

    • Lauren says

      I agree. I usually get the Hormel Natural for around $1 to $1.50 with sales and coupons. I personally think it’s the best tasting packaged lunch meat. I like the Turkey and the Honey Ham. You should watch the expiration dates on it, though. I have found out of date packages on shelves quite a few times.

  2. Jeannine says

    What I do is go to the nicer grocery stores that have deli counters and check their ads first. I can usually purchase meat cheaper than prepackaged this way and then I freeze a portion of it for later use. It usually tastes better and should be somewhat healthier since it would be lacking in preservatives.

    • Kacie D says

      Unless you are talking about maybe a Whole Foods Market kind of store, deli meats at the counter are really no better for you than the pre-packaged kind. I worked at a deli for a while a few years ago and despite being a “nicer store”, everything we had was full of preservatives, including the fresh chicken breast that we smoked in-house. Also, just because a brand looks more professional or totes “all-natural”, they often still use plenty of preservatives, specifically nitrates, in their deli products (i.e. Dietz & Watson, Boar’s Head, etc.).

      If you want clean deli meats, you have to find them specifically marked as such or go to Whole Foods-type stores–even then, you should ask the clerk about the ingredients.

      • Kristin says

        Boar’s Head will send a list of their preservative and nitrate free products. Their Ovengold turkey is so good, and much better than any of the prepackaged lunch meats. More expensive, definitely, but so worth it for the taste.

  3. Shannon says

    I get our lunch meat sliced at the Deli of our local Kroger and try to get it on sale for around $3.99/lb and stock up and freeze some. It tastes so much fresher and it is slightly cheaper this way rather than buying the 8oz packages from my local Aldi and I hope it is a little healthier too.

  4. Momof5 says

    Ham will go on sale for Easter (and you can find some on clearance a few weeks later!), but another good option is to slow roast a tough cut of beef. We buy a whole cow, so it’s hard to find some of these cuts in the grocery stores, but we roast “heel roasts” (just what they sound like) and some other big, tough cuts in a very low oven – 150 or 175 – for 12-14 hours. Sometimes we stick ‘em in frozen after dinner one night and have sandwiches for dinner the next night. They become very tender and easy to slice. Just be careful not to use chuck roast that’s cut for pot roast (so 2 inches thick or so) – you need something bigger and roast shaped (or tied in that shape), with or without bones is okay.

    Two caveats: I don’t worry about the low temp because I know where the meat comes from and that it’s butchered cleanly. But I know that can be a concern. And not all modern ovens will go that low – ours is from the 60s and it will hold a temp as low as 125, so that works. But if your oven won’t set lower than 200, trying to cook at that low temp can cause it to cycle on and off, which isn’t actually food-safe. Cooking it at higher temps changes the flavor and is better for higher quality cuts of meat.

    Good luck!

    • Tara says

      Cooking the beef in a crock pot with some liquid will also get the same results if you’re worried about the low oven temp!

  5. Krafty Momma says

    In our house, we buy whole (precooked) hams or turkeys whenever the price is right. Especially around Christmas time, we can get them for cheap and our supermarket meat department will slice it for free. Typically, our supermarket runs a special at Christmas time that you buy one ham, and get a turkey free. We’ll do that 2-3 times throughout the holiday season, or as space allows. We also will roast a whole chicken in our crockpot and then have leftovers for sandwiches or other meals.

    • Vicki says

      Absolutely totally agree with Krafty Momma. I also buy the whole precooked hams or turkeys and have the store slice it for free. I can usually buy them for under $2 a pound while the pre-sliced packaged meats can be up to $4 a pound. I put them in smaller containers when I get home and freeze till later use.

  6. says

    I get split chicken breast on sale at $0.99 per pound. Slowcooked and sliced thinly makes great sandwiches or wraps. Burritos are great too! When country style ribs (pork) are on sale, I use this to make bbq in the crockpot. These package well for sandwiches too.

    • Dineen says

      Considering that packages of bologna run for $1 freqently, this recipe is not particularly frugal for bologna, but it may be for more gourmet-type deli meats if you experiment with your own spices and find the ground beef on a good sale. For those looking for nitrite-free, the recipe is not for you, since Morton’s Tender Quick is a curing salt that includes nitrite.
      I’ve heard good things about this recipe and think it would be great gifts of homemade “summer sausage” at holidays.

  7. Renee says

    We use left overs from roasts or whole roasted chickens for our sandwiches. You could always stretch the meat by making chicken, ham, or tuna salad sandwiches, or bar-b-que sauce on shredded meat. Also, if you load the sandwiches with veggies (cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, green pepper strips, even avacado), you need less meat.

  8. says

    Some places will let you buy “meat ends” at a discounted rate. You can save A LOT of money if you don’t mind this. I’m too particular on my meat but most men don’t usually seem to mind it! A common local place here in Lancaster that does that is Glennwood Foods!

    • eunice b says

      Another tip would be to check here and see if there is a local bulkfood store http://www.discoverbulk.com/ Several of the bulkfood stores we know of have a deli counter, too, which often has better quality lunch meats and cheeses than the big chain grocery stores, and at a fraction of the price…watch for their sales, too! :-)

      • Abbygail says

        Our Gordon’s Food Service had lunch meat for around $3/lb (I think). You have to buy a pretty big package, but they slice free and it freezes well.

    • Jan says

      Look for whole chickens or turkey breasts on sale. My grocery store often marks down whole chickens when they are getting close to the date. You can cook them right in the crock pot -so easy. Then just slice up for sandwiches. You can freeze after cooking.

  9. Emily Mummolo says

    I know this isn’t for everyone, but my husband goes hunting every deer season, all season long, and as soon as he gets one the first thing he has the butcher make from it is deer bologna, and plenty of it (along with steaks, roasts, and such). We keep it in the chest freezer in the basement so we don’t usually have to buy lunch meat for months unless one of us specifically wants something else. And the taste isn’t really as “Game-y” as a lot of people may believe it to be, especially in bologna form!

  10. Debbie Fox says

    At GFS you can buy a whole pre-cooked turkey breast or ham portion, just like they have in the deli section of the grocery store. They slice it free. The cost is anywhere from $3.99-4.99/lb, depending on brand. I buy the turkey regularly…cost a little less than $20 for the whole thing. Then I freeze it in smaller portions–what I think we will use in a week. It tastes great, and gives us the lunch meat we like in an affordable way. Don’t know where you live, but here in KY there are several Amish/Mennonite run grocery stores that also sell deli meat at about this same price. You might check out your area for that source as well.

    • says

      I love GFS!!! It has become my new face place to bulk shop! Their prices are amazing! We just got BS chicken breasts for about $1.60/lb last night. I’ve never tried their turkies and hams but you make me want to try that out now! Thanks for the tip!

      • Debbie Fox says

        YES! on the chicken! our store just started carrying that. It is great! And they send a $5/off $50 coupon through e-mail frequently. If you’re looking for bacon, they also have the best price…about $10 for 3lb. of the thick sliced smoked cured, similar to Wright’s

  11. Kellie says

    I agree with Heather. They aren’t too expensive and they are nitrite/nitrate free, so all that meat your kid likes won’t be cured and harmful. It’s definitely worth the price, in my opinion. Don’t go cheap on meat, eggs, or milk.

  12. Aubrey says

    I know this isn’t an option for everybody, but if you happen to live anywhere near an Amish settlement, try going to one of their stores. I can usually get high quality lunch meats, sliced how I prefer, for about half the price of deli counters at local grocery stores. I will stock up when I go to the Amish store and freeze it in portions big enough for one, two, or three sandwiches, then just thaw out how many portions I may need at a time.

    • C. Dazey says

      I completely agree. We live in Ohio, and are able to get high quality lunchmeat with no nitrates for much less per pound than at the grocery store. We have also bought whole hams and had them sliced and then frozen them to save money.

  13. K says

    Not sure if buying a ham is a better alternative. From what I’ve read on the packages, a ham that is to be cooked contains the same unhealthy ingredients as the packaged meats – namely nitrates.

    Hormel sells a healthier lunch meat. Costly though. Our Farmer’s Market also sells quite a bit of processed meats w/out the bad ingredients. Again, costly.

    I like to prepare sandwiches from chicken salad and tuna, respectively. You can buy healthy, fresh chicken. The antibiotic and hormone free chicken is a bit more costly, but may stretch a bit more than the pre-packaged meats.

    Although most people prepare tuna sandwiches from a can, I suppose one could purchase and cook/prepare fresh tuna for a salad. I’ve never tried to prepare tuna salad using fresh tuna, so I cannot comment on how tasty or not tasty this would be. :)

    I learned from my in-laws that chicken salad sandwiches freeze well, so one can prepare several sandwiches in advance and simply thaw them some time prior to serving them. Don’t know how long one can freeze these sandwiches before they lose their freshness, however.

    My in-laws usually froze them overnight in preparation for an occasion that was to occur on the following day, (baby shower, birthday party, etc.). The sandwiches were “semi-thawed” the next day for easy cutting. (the whole sandwiches were cut into four triangles to serve as finger food.)

    I guess the only thing is that one may grow tired of just those two choices of sandwich. But it is a healthy and quite possibly and more cost efficient alternative.

    I suppose you could buy a turkey breast, too. I know that a freshly prepared bird of any type doesn’t slice as thin as the prepared meats.

    Egg salad sandwiches? The possibilities may be endless, once we start really considering other alternatives. :)

    • Ledith says

      You can make tuna type fish sandwiches from other fish leftovers—any white fish and salmon are our favorites.

  14. Heather says

    I struggle with this too – want to avoid the nitrates, etc. and high price, but love the convenience of deli meat.

    Sometimes I go to the deli counter. I’ve found that at most stores the “oven-roasted” turkey is nitrate-free. “Smoked turkey” is not. Ask to see the ingredient list to check. Unfortunately, it runs about $5 to $6 a pound, so I don’t do it often. Get it sliced very thin, and put less on sandwiches. In my opinion, the amount of meat you get on a restaurant sub is obscene! Not that I don’t like it, but when it comes down to it, I am happy and satisfied making a sandwich with just a few paper thin slices of meat. Probably because that’s how my mother raised us. Now, my husband doesn’t quite agree with me – his family piled it on. So do your kids a favor and get them used to less meat.

    At $2 lb, boneless, skinless chicken breast is a lot cheaper and healthier than deli meat. Just requires the planning to have it cooked up ahead . . . . I’m not so good at this.

  15. says

    I agree if you watch the deli counter you can usually get decent sales just package in smaller packages and freeze the rest. I also make sure to watch for Costco to put it on coupon and stock up.

    Otherwise cooking yourself and slicing is a great alternative. Just doesn’t last as long in the fridge.

    • Laura says

      Do you use a slicer? I can’t slice my meat as thin as I would like it with a knife. I asked my local Safeway if they could slice a roast for me, but they said no. I need to find an affordable butcher.

      Crystal, I’m glad you brought up this topic! I’ve been wondering the same thing. The price per pound on regular grocery-store lunchmeat is about $8 in our area. I’ve tried making sandwiches with chicken (chunks, not sliced) for $1.98/lb. But I needed new ideas.

  16. Sarah C says

    Like others, I purchase whole hams and turkeys when they are on a seasonal sale. The hams are the uncooked variety (usually, though I was able to find a cooked one on an after holidays sale last week!), and the stores I shop won’t cut the turkey or ham in half for me, so this is what I do:

    For the ham, we have a dedicated hacksaw blade that I keep in my knife drawer. When we have a whole ham to “process” my hubby goes out to his shop and gets his hacksaw, and I wash it in warm, soapy water, attach the blade, roll up my sleaves (and put a cookie sheet holding a cutting board on the counter under the ham) and start cutting. I can usually get four good, thick slabs at an approximately 90 degree angle to the shank. I wrap those in plastic wrap, and then label and throw them in the freezer (they stack really well).

    When we need some lunch meat, I toss a slab in the crockpot (I have a big one) wrapped in foil (it keeps it really moist), and cook it on low for about 3 hours, or until the internal temp is approximately 165 degrees. Then I pull it out, let it rest until the meat is cool enough to touch, and cut nice sandwich slices off the part that is the prettiest and easiest to cut. Then we eat the rest for a meal or two. If you’re serving it immediately for dinner, then just cut off the prettiest part, COVER (so it doesn’t dry out) and then slice it up later. I can usually get quite a few sandwiches and a couple of meals out of it that way.

    Once you’ve gotten all the meat off it, I throw the bone back in the crock pot, along with the juices, any ham scraps you didn’t eat (all the bits and bobs and fatty parts), a bay leaf, an onion, and maybe a carrot or celery, and a bunch of water and let it cook all night (or I stick all that in my pressure cooker and let it cook for a couple of hours). If I want to make split pea or lentil soup, I have a nice, rich bone broth. If I don’t, I small-batch can up the 3 or so quarts of ham bone broth in my pressure canner for a later recipe. I save the fat off the top and use it to fry eggs. The chickens get the bone, and the hammy/fatty bits

    For the turkey, I partially thaw the bird in my fridge (or in a cold-water bath, frequently changing the water), until I can just barely move the wings and legs. It is still pretty frozen, but still a bit thawed (does that make sense?). I then pull the wrapping off, set it on my cookiesheet/cuttingboard set up with a couple of metal bowls next to it AND A SHARP KNIFE that you’re comfortable with. I pry the wings away from the side of the bird and remove them at the shoulder joint, and then do the same with the hindquarters. At this point, since I’m “poultried” my hubby will usually grab a gallon-sized ziplock for me and I can slip the wings and legs into the ziplock and he’ll squeeze out the air and pop them back in the freezer. (side note: I used to just leave the wings on for soup, but realized how much meat is on there, and now that my kiddos are 4 and 1, they make great eating for the kids when I roast the hinds for a small mid-week turkey dinner.)

    Next (after warming my hands up in some warm water), I turn the bird so that the neck hole is facing me, and cut the breast away. It is cold and semi-frozen, but I just cut it along the breastbone and ribs, prying it away with my non-knife hand. Just be careful, but you want it in as much of one piece as you can (this will be your lunch meat later). After you get the breasts off, wrap and stick them in the freezer so you can roast them slowly. Check out recipes for brining your turkey, and adjust the amounts accordingly for the fact that you’re only brining a breast and not a whole turkey, and you’ll have flavorful, moist, relatively quick-cooking meat that you can slice when it has cooled off and package for sandwiches.

    With the rest of the bird (including the gizzard, neck, and heart…the liver goes to the cat in our house), I make a soup, using a very similar method to the ham. If you don’t have time to deal with it, just freeze it until you want to make soup.

    Let me know if you have any questions. I suppose I could make a video next time I do either, if there is interest.

  17. karen b says

    I always buy hams when they are on sale. (they used to be cheaper than they have been the last couple years.) the meat department will slice them in the desired thickness then I bring home & put in smaller pkg or containers. it tastes better & you can also use it for other stuff if you want too. we pack a lot of lunches around here & I have been doing this since we got married over 20 years ago:) if other lunch meat is on sale I do get that some too. good luck

    • Catherine says

      My boyfriend eats a lot of sandwiches. I buy ham (dak or store brand) and turkey (oscar meyer) at Sam’s Club for around $3/lb. I also buy fresh veggies there for much less than the grocery store, so it makes the membership worth it. Just make sure you look in the aisles & not in the area near the meat counter.

  18. says

    I am needing clarification. Is it the cost or the healthy option that we are discussing? Anything cured or smoked has been shown in studies to cause cancer due to the nitrates and nitrites. In addition, most preserved meats, especially ham, are very high in sodium.

    You answer your own question in the second part. Yes, having a large ham sliced is cheaper than deli meat that has been pre-packaged. You are paying anywhere from $1.50-$2 per pound of spiral sliced ham versus deli meat that is generally $6 per pound. You are likely to find sodium nitrites or nitrates in them as a preservative.

    Hormel Natural is the healthiest and least expensive deli meat find. They often have coupons and sales and the sodium is not outrageous. The next one would be Trader Joe’s – but watch it because some I purchased previously did have nitrates in them.

    Next up would be Oscar Meyers new uncured label. They have hot dogs and deli meats. The hot dogs I can purchase sometimes at $1 per package.

  19. says

    We slice our our meat, using a meat slicer. You can slice whatever you want: turkey, ham, roast beef, pork roast, etc. You can buy the unsliced, boneless meat at Sam’s Club or the grocery store (It comes in a sealed package; at Sam’s Club they have Black Forest ham, for example, among other choices) for a lot less per pound than the deli and slice that, or you can cook your own.

    I like to buy turkeys and hams on sale at Thanksgiving and Christmas for under $1 a pound and stock up for the year. You cut off the cooked turkey breast or part of your ham and slice it yourself, instead of paying for the deli to slice it. There is the cost of a meat slicer, which can run anywhere from $40 to $300 (or more) depending on the model that you choose.

    The meat slicer will also slice cheese, so you can buy the 5 pound blocks of cheese and slice your own thin cheese just like the deli.

    If you don’t want to invest in a slicer, you can still make simple turkey, ham, pork roast or roast beef sandwiches from your own cooked meats.

  20. jennifer says

    I roast a turkey or a half a ham a couple times a month so that we don’t buy deli or prepackaged lunch meat, which we’re not all that nuts about.
    The savings are substantial even considering I’m paying for some bone. A turkey I roasted just for sandwiches two weeks ago was .99 a pound at Target. I bought a half a ham today for sandwiches for $1.49 a pound. Lunch meat, which doesn’t taste nearly as good, is a lot more expensive. Where we are in New England, it’s $8 to $9 a pound on average. Good luck!

  21. august says

    I use coupons so often that I save enough to make up for the meat. We like pricey deli meet (like $6 a lb), but that will last us about 1.5 week for 3 of us, so I guess it’s not too bad.

    I feel like if it’s a special meat that you really love (we don’t eat anything but Cajun Turkey) then it’s okay. But if you can eat a variety, I’d look into other ways like some of the others have mentioned.

  22. becky says

    Twice now I’ve gotten a free ham via holiday promotion at my grocery store (spend $x in a month, get a free ham or turkey). My husband doesn’t love ham, so I cut it (I managed “shaved” or “slivers” better than thin slices) and froze it in small packages to pull out for lunches–I love ham and cheese melts! I’m hoping they’re run the promo again at Easter.

  23. Cynthia says

    A friend was just telling me that she buys whole, boneless, fully-cooked hams when they are on sale (under $2/pound) and then takes them to the meat counter and asks them to slice them for her…so ham lunchmeat for under $2 a pound!

    • Sarah says

      On the topic of nitrates – do realise that even “uncured” lunch meats contain nitrates from celery powder.

    • amy says

      My Kroger and local grocery store butcher counter will slice whole hams for me. I bought a whole ham last week for 1.77/lb and froze in 1 pound groups for later use. I used to slice it myself until a butcher offered to do it for me once.

  24. Christine says

    I would suggest that you check with local places. We have a small local meat market/butcher that regularly sells whole boneless cooked hams for $1.99/lb and they will slice it into lunch meat for free. It’s a lot of meat, but freezes really well.

    Also, we have a locally owned grocery store that will take leftovers of deli meat from the case, if there’s less than a pound left, and will sell it for $1.99/lb. It is small amount of meat, but they have lots of different flavors to try. They put it in a small part of the case and you have to get there early or it’s gone, but it might be worth checking with a local grocer.

  25. Sarah T. says

    Don’t skimp with cheap meat. Just eat less. Someone else mentioned adding lots of veggies. Sharp cheeses taste stronger and so you don’t as much of that either. I like to grow my own sprouts. Quick and easy, very tasty and delicious. When the kids are involved, they’re more excited to eat the veggies. They’re also great in smoothies.

    • Sarah T. says

      Also wanted to add that chicken salad and tuna salad are great options. Stretch them with celery and chopped up hard-boiled eggs (tuna) and also chopped apples, celery, grapes or raisins (chicken).

      As far as PB and J are concerned, if u do them in tortillas and cut them loke quesadillas, it’s something completely different for the kids.

      My kids also love leftovers in thermos containers.

      Quite honestly, compared to the price and quality of school lunches, most anything is healthies, cheaper, and tastier!

      • Elizabeth says

        There are some very healthy brands out there…check nearest health food store, and if you are near a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, those are very easy to find. Be sure to check for any form of corn syrup too…that is worse than nitrates in my opinion…and a great way to get diabetes at some time in your life. Speaking from experience here.

        Also, I would not be feeding ham to anyone. My friend who has the worst crippling arthritis I have ever seen and has had MANY surgeries the last decade to give her some relief with her hands and feet, was told by her specialist that there are at least 200+ known diseases caused by eating pork. Hmm, maybe the OT was correct after all, eh? Any rate, check it out online…do the research. Dr. Axe has a wonderful article on his blogsite explaining things far better than I can!!

      • august says

        I started making tortilla wraps with sandwich ingreadients and my son LOVES it. He’s 3, so he likes the ability to roam while he eats, and it being wrapped up keeps the messes at bay.

        One of his favorites is peanut butter with thin slices of bananas. I roll it up and he’ll eat the whole thing. I’ve also tried PB&J and he likes that just as well. If you invest in a tortilla press, you can make this a really healthy option!

        • Sarah T. says

          Wow, thanks for your positive feedback. I haven’t gone through the rest of the comments again, but I’m assuming you’ve left snyde remarks for everybody else regarding buying whole chickens, hams, etc. and them cutting them up themselves as well. So what do you propose I do with my free range chicken and Spectrum mayo, since my idea is obviously a poor choice?

  26. says

    This is probably goin to be a little “out there”, but I make my own wih ground beef.
    A pound of beef to a teaspoon each of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika is a really simple recipe. Shape it into a log, wrap in foil, poke holes in the foil with a fork, and bake on a cookie sheet at 250° for an hour or so.
    It’s like summer sausage without any additives.

    Cheers!

    • lyss says

      Cool! Thanks for sharing! I hadn’t heard of doing this. It sounds easy…I’ve seen sausage recipes, but they use a ton of ingredients and seem really complicated. So I guess cooking it wrapped at a low temp makes it more sausage-like rather than a dried-out hamburger?

      • says

        Yes! I was skeptical at first about how the texture would be, but it turns out almost just like the cured sausage logs you can buy at the store. It freezes well too, so you can make a large batch all at one time.

  27. Rita says

    I know this is not for everyone, but I’m a vegetarian, as is my son – so we come up with some really good sandwiches using ingredients like humus, avocado, red bell peppers,sprouts, apples, brown rice, etc. pretty much whatever produce we have on hand we get really creative and use a wrap (tortilla) or sometimes bread or crackers (small mini sandwiches). You would be amazed what kids will eat when they come up with it themselves and it’s a nice healthy alternative …maybe opt for meatless Monday for lunch once a week, not sure if one day a week will help with the cost of lunch meat, but something to think about.

    • says

      We also do non-meat sandwiches several times a week. We are not vegetarians, just like to limit the amount of meat we eat so it’s not every day.

      One of our favorites is apple slices and cheese slices sandwiches. So yummy, esp. if you use a really good fresh cheese or stronger sharp cheddar cheese.

      Another favorite is peanut butter and bananas.

      Or apple slices with my own homemade fig jam (from the 2 fig trees I have outside–I make it and preserve/can it every fall and the 2 or 3 jars last me over 6 months).

      Sometimes we try a new combination and the kids hate it (like my cucumber and cream cheese sandwich that I thought was yummy but my kids hated it), but hey, at least we keep trying to be creative!

    • Pat says

      So glad someone mentioned ‘meatless’ lunches. I’ve stopped buying lunchmeat and chose healthier options. It’s cheaper too!

  28. Gala says

    The way I saved money on ham for sandwiches was to buy a boneless ham – usually less per pound cost. I bought a meat slicer at a thrift store and sliced it to the thickness we liked, then froze it in quart size ziploc bags until needed.

  29. says

    Can someone tell me what to look for in a sandwich meat?

    Are the nitrates the main concern?

    I have to admit, with my boys I’m always trying to come up with Anything they’ll eat. The older one just eats like a bird, and the younger one eats like a horse but much prefers the school hot lunch (which is basically fast food)! I feel like I’d be willing to put most anything between some wheat bread if they’d eat it, but reading this I feel like I need to know more!

    • beth says

      I agree, I’m not sure what is so wrong about lunch meat. What are the concerns, too fatty, or empty? I must be behind on the latest study. Can someone catch me up? I always thought some slices of packaged Turkey or chicken helped balance out a meal.

    • lyss says

      Yes, it’s the fact that lunch meats are usually processed with the nitrates/nitrites as well as other preservatives that put them in the “unhealthy” category. Some even have additives such as artificial coloring, also. So for those trying to avoid preservatives and artifical ingredients, most lunch meats are out.
      Lots of stores now carry packaged lunch meats that don’t have any artificial preservatives. It will say on the package…although just the word “natural” doesn’t really mean something is healthy. If you recognize all the ingredients and it says “no preservatives” it’s probably a decent choice.
      That being said, if your’e looking for cheap, bologna is probably your best bet…but if you want something a bit better for you(and might I say tastier, too?!), look for the minimally processed ones. As others have mentioned, Hormel brand is better than most. I’ve also seen organic deli meats such as Applegate Farms, as well as health food store brands, but they tend to be even pricier.

      • beth says

        Thank you so much! That’s good to know, I will have to keep on the lookout for hormell coupons

    • Sarah says

      You should look for where they come from – no antibiotics used, nothing artificial, no growth hormones, humanely raised/grass fed. Quality over quantity, as well as keep the well being of the animals in mind. Those who mentioned vegetarian options – always great alternative to meat.

  30. says

    If you are trying to find cheap sandwich options, the cheapest I have found is looking over in the meat section and buying the turkey ham, turkey pastrami, etc. and asking them at the meat counter to slice it thin for you. I can usually get it for $1.79-1.99 a pound for turkey ham.
    Ask at the meat counter, not the deli counter to slice it.

  31. Sandy says

    I’m fortunate for my grocer sells Butterball oven roasted turkey lunch meat for $2.99 lb. which is the every day price. I like BLT’s too.

  32. Sheila says

    In the refrigerated section at Costco, on the sausage/bacon aisle, they sell a 3 pack of turkey breast. Reading the ingredient list, there were no nitrites/nitrates listed. It’s around $10 for three 1 lb packages. It’s Kirkland brand, I believe.

  33. M says

    Look at place beside your local grocery store. The Italian markets by my house, or small little mom and pop establishments fairly regularly have better prices than the grocery store if you just pay attention and stock up when you can.

  34. Pam says

    I grew up in a large family and my mother rarely bought lunch meat.
    She did make many roasts including turkey, chicken, beef, or pork that would be made into sandwiches.
    Some were sliced and some were salad type sandwiches usually involving s +p, celery and onions with any of the above roasts. Lettuce and tomato was always wrapped separately to be added last minute.

    • Jen says

      When my teenage son started coming home from school with daily headaches, I thought it might be the lunchmeat. I started baking extra chicken breasts – I sliced and seasoned them for his sandwiches. If we had leftover pork chops or steaks from dinner, I would slice them. I also cooked up bacon from a local farmer for him. His headaches stopped.

  35. Holly says

    COSTCO! They have prepacked, sliced turkey, ham, roast beef and chicken, all natural – nitrite/nitrate-free. They are delicious and very reasonably priced. Our family favorite is the honey roasted turkey.