If you're like me, and many other people, crazy thoughts like this crossed your mind. After reality sets in, we tend to cave in to these idealistic visions. Especially when child #2 or #3 arrives. If you're the exception, I applaud you - well done.
In our house we couldn't sustain those baby food and perfect vegetable ideals. But we have successfully been able to improve on lunch meats. Lunch meat, you say? How random. Not really. Three kids, one teacher, five school days, twenty sandwiches = lunch factory. And a costly factory at that.
What we've done is:
- Buy 3-5 pound canned hams, and have them sliced at the deli, or slice them ourselves
- Roast fresh turkey breast with herbs and slice it ourselves
- Buy cheeses in blocks and slice it as we need it
- Only buy deli items if they're on sale.
- Oh, and a couple times a month we bake fresh bread
- Save money
- Create a healthier sandwich
- Create sandwiches that actually taste like the ingredients are supposed to (especially turkey).
So how does this work?
OK, once or twice a month I pull out an electric slicer and work through a canned ham and a turkey roast. About a pound and a half of each of the slices is placed into ziplock freezer bags. One or two bags are used right away, the other frozen. It's not perfect to freeze the meats, but I believe they are still better than deli. If you don't have a slicer, you can cut by hand - as long as you have a good, sharp chef's knife. You'll just get thicker slices.
A good slicer can be bought for less than $100. Mine is already way over 10 years old, and is used for more than lunch meat, so one shouldn't argue that the cost of the slicer has to be recouped quickly for the lunch meat saving proposition.
I don't use the slicer for cheeses. A good hand slicer is quick, quite adequate and is thrown into the dishwasher.
The turkey is one step harder than ham, as you have to cook it first. However roast turkey breast is so simple, and the results so dramatically better than deli products, that you may convert to this approach after just one try. Be sure to buy fresh turkey breast, not a vacuum packed frozen breast, as shown in the picture above. They're OK, but almost 50% of the product is water in the package, or that will cook out. I weighed the one above at several steps in the process. Very disappointing. A 40 ounce package yielded 24 ounces of meat.
Here's all you do:
|Turkey Breast: breast-sdie down. Fill cavity with thyme and a small amount of carrot, celery and onion|
|Roasted Fresh Turkey Breast|