Fabulously Frugal: Try these alternatives to sliced deli meats

Cooking and slicing your own meat is a great way to stay frugal! Photo by Erin Wang.

Hello Frugalists!

While packing your own lunch — or lunch for the kids — I’m sure you’ve noticed how expensive deli meat has become. Heck, if you’re serving a charcuterie board at your next gathering, you’re almost looking at a car payment per plateful!

Fear not friends, I have some thrifty solutions to the deli-meat sandwich issue.

While you may need to do a little prep work in the kitchen, there are alternatives to sliced deli meat. You can use these ideas for lunch at home, a packed lunch, or to include on your charcuterie board. All are nutritious, filling, and full of flavour.

Chicken: When chickens are on sale (they were recently $1.88/lb) grab one and roast it up on Sunday or plop it into the crock pot overnight. When it’s fully cooked, remove the meat, shred it, and put it into individual portions and you’ll have a week’s worth and more. Freeze any portions after four days in the fridge and use the frozen ones the same day you thaw them.

Roasting a chicken will yield plenty of meat for sandwiches. Photo by Hans Benn.

Eggs: Make egg salad or try adding a boiled egg to a green salad (now that salad veggies are becoming less expensive this time of year). Eggs are a great source of protein and a sandwich-meat alternative.

Ham: I recently picked up a ham at a certain big box store you need a membership to go to (or an obliging friend) for $27. They were spiral hams and $10 off. The net cost after the discount was about $3 per pound. Contrasted to over $6 for less than half a pound, this is a huge deal. These hams are pre-cooked and already sliced, making them very easy to portion. They also have a long shelf life in the fridge.

Beef: Check around and when you see a portion of beef you can roast up on sale or marked down for quick sale, add your own steak spice and slow cook it. Slice or shred and portion it and it’ll be hugely cheaper than four razor-thin slices of meat in a package. You can also make meatballs with ground beef, and add to sub buns for a meatball sandwich.

Pork: Loins are frequently on sale. Throw one in the crock pot with barbecue sauce (recipe for homemade here: https://www.cheaprecipeblog.com/2015/01/5-minute-bbq-sauce/), shred, and have pulled pork sandwiches. Also, ground pork is a bargain hunter’s dream for a delicious meatball sandwich, Vietnamese style. I often make the meatballs for a pasta bowl for supper and then add the delicious nuggets to a wrap the next day, without the noodles. Try this recipe: https://www.budgetbytes.com/bun-cha/

Tuna: Adding onion, celery, and shredded carrot to one can of tuna, along with some mayo or salad dressing stretches one can to make four sandwiches. Of course, since tuna keeps nearly forever in your pantry, stock up when it’s on sale. Salmon, too!

Beans: Garbanzo beans/chickpeas make a tasty salad for stuffing in sub buns or pitas. Recipe here: https://www.budgetbytes.com/curry-chickpea-salad/

Garbanzo beans/chickpeas are a low-cost alternative to deli meats. Photo by PDPics.

Cheese: Cream cheese, cucumbers, lettuce, and tomatoes on a hearty rye or sourdough make a very nice spring sandwich. The cream cheese is the duct tape of cooking – it’ll hold anything together!

Tofu: At less than $3 for about a pound, tofu is a real bargain. I LOVE this honey siracha tofu in a wrap with some fresh lettuce. Recipe here: https://www.budgetbytes.com/honey-sriracha-tofu/

Weekly flyer deals


Their paper products are on sale at stock up prices. If a Metro is out of your way, No Frills does price matching for the exact same item and size:

  • Toilet paper, Cashmere brand: $5.99/12 rolls
  • Facial tissue, 3-ply, Scotties brand: $5.99/6 pack
  • Paper Towels, choose-a-size, Sponge Towels brand: $5.99/6 rolls

Giant Tiger

These flyer deals are only up to and including June 18, 2024:

  • Bacon, Olymel brand: $3.88/37g package
  • Burgers, frozen, Belmont brand “Homestyle Angus”: $7.07/six patties
  • Frozen entrees, Roman brand, assorted varieties: $5.97 each
  • Salads, bagged, Dole brand, assorted varieties: $1.97 each
  • Frozen snacks, “Pizza Pockets,” McCain brand: $12.97/12 pack

Food Basics

  • Chicken drumsticks, fresh, in-store butcher:, $2.99/lb
  • Canadian bacon (peameal), cured, boneless, Legacy brand: $3.49/lb
  • Pineapple: $1.88 each
  • Raspberries: $1.88/170 g clamshell
  • Peaches: $0.88/lb
  • Corn on the cob: $2.88 package of four
  • Ground beef, fresh, lean: $3.68/lb
  • Sausages, Jacksonville brand, smoked: $3.88/six
  • Butter, Lactancia brand, lactose free: $4.99/lb
  • Cereal, Captain Crunch or Life Brand: 2/$6.88

No Frills

  • Chicken, ground: $3/lb
  • Fish, frozen, SeaQuest brand, assorted varieties: $5.99/package
  • Margarine, I Can’t Believe it’s not Butter brand: $1.88/427 g container
  • Cooking oil, No Name brand, vegetable or canola: $8.49/3 L
  • Tuna or pink salmon, canned, CloverLeaf brand: $1.99/can
  • Broccoli, fresh crowns: $1.99/each

And be sure to stop by the 100 per cent local market at the Memorial Centre every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Kingston Public Market behind City Hall in the Springer Market Square every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and any roadside farm stands.

Quatrocchis, at 662 Montreal Street, also buys produce from local farms and sells it, saving you a drive.

Happy Frugality!

Kingston resident Sarah Cronk offers tips on money-saving strategies and the best deals to be found in local grocery stores in her bi-weekly Kingstonist column, Fabulously Frugal. Have any questions for Sarah or things you’d like her to investigate in terms of cost savings? Let us know! Email Kingstonist Editor-in-Chief Tori Stafford at [email protected].

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