Food & Recipes

4 Ways to Stretch Your Grocery Budget by Saving Money On Lunch Meat

by Cristina Corvino 3:00 AM, April 5, 2018

Aired April 5, 2018

When we need insider tips on buying meat, we ALWAYS turn to our friend and author of "The Everyday Meat Guide," Ray Venezia.

This time around, he sheds light on what he deems the "original fast food" -- a.k.a. lunch meat!

(And we don't know about you, but because the choices can be so overwhelming, we need all the help we can get.)

So before you spend the a chunk of your week’s grocery budget on cold cuts and then waste them (we’ve *all* done it before), take Venezia’s expert advice into consideration!

IS BUYING AT THE DELI COUNTER OR PREPACKAGED A BETTER DEAL?

This may be contrary to what you've heard in the past (Rach was a little surprised herself), but to save money on lunch meat, Venezia actually suggests getting it pre-packaged.

"Today, everything’s about the labor," the butcher says, referring to the work butchers do behind the counter that you’re paying for when you stand in line for fresh, customized cuts.

Now, we know what you're thinking, the quality of pre-packaged deli meats may not be up to par with fresh cuts. (A.k.a. they aren’t roasted fresh IN the store.)

BUT Venezia says there *are* packages of the cuts that are roasted in-store.

"[A lot of stores] have in-store, pre-sliced [meats]," Venezia explains. "And again, it's that same piece that’s back there that they’re making those packages from."

The more you know!

RELATED: You Should Be Asking Your Supermarket Butcher These Questions

HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU BUY?

Have you ever bought too much lunch meat and ended up throwing some away because you didn’t eat it all before it went bad? Ugh!

Thankfully, Venezia gave shared a little cheat sheet to help prevent this!

1 lb. of meat = 6 to 7 sandwiches

1 lb. of cheese = 10 to 11 sandwiches

Why are the numbers different for meats and cheeses, you ask?

"The cheese carries a stronger flavor profile to it," the expert explains.

SHOULD YOU BUY THICK OR THIN?

Venezia argues that thin cuts have more flavor (especially with roast beef and turkey, he says), but if you know you’re not going to use the cold cuts right away, he suggests opting for slightly thicker cuts.

"Like anything else, [thin cuts] will lose flavor and dry out faster," Venezia says.

And you know what that means -- another trip to the store and more money spent! 🙅

RELATED: Getting Ready to Fire Up the Grill? Make Sure You Read These Tips From a Master Butcher FIRST

HOW SHOULD YOU STORE LUNCH MEAT?

If you do get your cold cuts from the deli counter, don't only leave it in the store's paper packaging if you want to get your money’s worth.

When you get home, Venezia suggests putting the paper-wrapped package in a plastic food storage bag.

"Anything you can squeeze the air out of is going to make it hold up longer," the butcher advises.

Plus, just like you *shouldn't* leave milk on the kitchen table while you’re eating your breakfast, don't leave cold cuts out while you’re eating your lunch!

"You lose taste," "The Everyday Meat Guide" author explains, "and it doesn’t hold up as long."

Remember, your wallet wants those cuts to last as long as possible!