Healthier, Less Expensive, Simple School Sandwiches

If you have children, did you ever think that you would make your own baby food, only serve organics, or swear you'd never serve them frozen vegetables?

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
I didn't promise that any of these steps are time savers. They're  not. But, you'll be a better cook if you try one or more of these suggestions, and the time is pretty minimal - about 20 minutes a couple times a month. The benefits? You'll..... 
  • 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.

Roast Turkey

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:
  1. Season the turkey with salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
  2. Chop one large carrot, one celery stalk and half an onion into coarse pieces. Place half on the bottom of a roasting pan, half onto the inner side of the breast.
  3. Place the turkey breast side down onto the vegetables in the roasting pan.
  4. Place 2-3 fresh thyme sprigs, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme atop the vegetables on the turkey.
  5. Roast for 20 minutes at 425 degrees. Flip turkey over and reduce heat to 350 degrees. Continue to roast until internal temperature is 165 degrees or higher. Remove and let rest 20 minutes or more.
Turkey Breast: breast-sdie down. Fill cavity with thyme and a small amount of carrot, celery and onion

Roasted Fresh Turkey Breast

The Cost Savings

Deli Ham:   $6.99 per pound to $4.99 on sale
Canned Ham: $2.99 per pound, regular price, 3# can

Deli Turkey:  $9.99 per pound to $6.99 on sale
Fresh Roast Turkey Breast: $3.49 per pound or less, not boneless. After boning and wastage, cost will typically be about $4.50-$5.00, at an everyday non-sale price.

Pre-sliced or deli cheeses: $8.99 per pound to 4.99 on sale
Block cheese: $3.50 to $2.50 per pound at sale prices - these are always on sale several times a month

One loaf of bread: $2.00-$4.00
Homemade bread: three loaves, about 1.5 times the yield of a standard sliced loaf:  80 cents.
--- My bread uses 4 ingredients: water, salt, yeast and bread flour. It takes 2 minutes to mix, sits on a counter and fridge for several hours, then takes 5 minutes of work to prep for cooking. Here's a link to my recipe: Quick Fresh Bread

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...