Frugal Living: Mouthwatering, Homemade Deli Meat


We haven’t been a huge sandwich-consuming family in the past, but all that has changed in the last week! I now dream of roast beef sandwiches, French dips, and just plain meat and cheese sandwiches.

Why the sudden change?

Well, first of all, let’s back up and let me tell you why we’ve never been a daily sandwich eating family. It definitely isn’t because we don’t like sandwiches, in fact we very much love them. They are our choice for summertime lunches when we’ve been out working on the farm and they are our go-to lunch when we are camping. Nope, it’s not a dislike of them!

Rather, it’s a dislike of the cost of the deli meat. You understand what I’m talking, about because no one can stand at the deli case and not have a moment of jaw-dropping panic when you spy the price tag on your favorite deli meat.

Now, I have to admit that for a long time I bought the prepackaged deli meats. I did this because I thought it was cheaper and easier. But then, a few years ago I was getting groceries for a friend and she had deli meat FROM the deli on her list.

Thinking she was fairly extravagant, I hesitantly strolled over to the deli department. What I found was quite the opposite: If you purchased the deli meat on sale, it was cheaper than the packaged stuff. So, I purchased some myself, and realized the taste of deli counter meat was so much better than the packaged stuff. It actually tasted like meat!

But in order to feed my hard-working husband and three growing boys, I would have to spend about close $15-20 a week on deli meat. Umm, yeah…not going to happen, folks! (And that’s when it’s on sale.)

So, we’ve resorted to saving deli meat as an every once in a while item, which is kind of a bummer.

I love to see my boys make their own sandwiches – individual creations that reflect their personalities. My oldest piles on loads of meat and slaps on a good piece of Provolone, some cucumbers, and then tops it off with jalapenos and mustard. (He and I are sandwich soul mates!) My middle son puts equal parts of meat and cheese, lots of pickles and sometimes slides a small piece of lettuce on there (usually only if mom’s watching) but then coats the entire sandwich in yellow mustard (which usually ends up all over him). Finally, when the youngest makes his, it’s all about getting it done as fast as possible…so he throws on a lot of meat, a slice of cheese, maybe some cucumbers if big brother hasn’t taken them all, lettuce, pickles, and a good dose of ranch dressing and he is good to go. It’s so fun to watch them create their own sandwiches!

Last week, I told my husband I was going make a roast for Saturday night’s supper. I was hoping to have enough left to slice it into roast beef sandwich meat. Jon got a meat slicer for Christmas this year so we’ve been trying different things with it. He didn’t think a regular roast would give us the “deli-style” meat we were looking for so he suggested we research it and see what we could find. Later that day, I found the Hungry Mouse website, which gave me the life-changing recipe we were looking for to solve our deli-meat dilemma.

At first, I was a little freaked out about baking something at 500 degrees. My ovens get an awful lot of daily use but never have they been cranked up to 500 degrees. For the 20 minutes which the meat needed to bake at this temp, I didn’t leave the kitchen. But it was all good and nothing was scorched.

When the meat was completed and cooled, I sliced it on the meat slicer and I had the most amazing plate of deli meat I have ever seen!

It smelled so delicious and I could hardly keep my fingers from snitching. When we sat down to homemade French dips that night, I thought my husband and kids were going to burst, the sandwiches were so good. Unfortunately, the meat only lasted 1 ½ days so I’ll have to plan accordingly next time. If you have never had homemade deli-meat, you have got to try this!

Jon and I went and checked out the prices for deli-style roast beef. Can you say, “$11.49/lb”? Now, you could probably find a sale but we didn’t see any sales the day we were checking it out. Missoula stores have recently had beef roasts on sale for $3.99/lb. So, based on these prices you are saving $7.50 per pound by making your own from a roast. And it isn’t very difficult or time-consuming, so it’s completely worth it in my book.

We get even more bang for our buck because we used elk meat, another great benefit of living in Montana. So, our savings is almost 100%, aside from the little bit of olive oil, spices, and the electricity to heat my oven to 500 degrees!

We are a sandwich eating family once again! (Oh, the simple joys of life.) A good sandwich filled with healthy Montana meat, some smoked gouda, fresh cucumbers, some kale, ranch dressing, and horseradish makes this mama very happy – especially knowing how much money I’m saving!

Tell us, what kind of unique sandwiches you like to eat? Have you found any ways to cut deli-meat costs?


Erin’s got tons of tips for saving money, couponing, and sticking to a budget in her previous posts: What I Love About MissoulaSave Money and Do It Yourself with Pinterest, and Shopping and Saving at Costco: A Missoula Staple. Be sure to check out the Missoula Save it Club.

   Visit the Coupon Queen’s “Save It” archive.


Erin Eisenman-Turner is proud to be a native Missoulian. Along with her husband and three sons, they raise chickens, pigs, rabbits, and vegetables at Turner Family Farms in the Orchard Homes area. When the farm chores are done, the coupons clipped, and the blog written, you can find Erin exploring Montana, collecting antiques, and trying to maintain a well-run, happy, and organized home for her family.

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