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14 January 2015

Healthier and cheaper cold cuts

It often pays to look at different ways to supply healthy food for your family.  I don't like buying cold cuts from the supermarket or the deli because I prefer to do the cutting myself. I'm sick of buying expensive meat only to have it turn slimy or smelly in a day or two and have to throw it out. Recently Hanno bought a small food slicer. He likes his rye bread cut fairly thin and a meat slicer does the job very well indeed. Our slicer has a wide range of cut widths, from wafer thin to extra thick. So when we had that slicer sitting there I started thinking about what else I could slice with it. Naturally, cold cuts jumped out at me.

Even though it's a meat slicer, it also cuts bread perfectly. That's my homemade bread in the slicer above. Homemade bread is often difficult to cut but it slices through my bread like butter on the slicer.

We don't eat nearly as much meat as we used to. I was vegetarian for eight years and even though I felt better when I started eating meat again, I didn't go overboard. But I do like good cold cuts with salad during summer and I like the occasional sandwich with either cold meatloaf, corned beef or roast beef, with a touch of homemade relish or chutney. The slicer does the best job at slicing the meat and our homemade bread so it not only tastes good, it looks good on the plate.

Cooking meat at home for your cold cuts is much more economical than buying it pre-sliced at the deli. So let's look at the meat to see what savings may be had. Here in my local Woolworths and Coles the prices are much higher for the sliced cold cuts you buy at the deli section. For instance, sliced and cooked corned beef at Coles is $31.90 per kilo/2.2lbs but at the same shop you can buy uncooked corned beef for $7 per kilo. It just needs to be boiled and you'll have a fine piece of meat that will sit in the fridge for a week and serve you well for lunch boxes. If you have a bit too much corned meat, then serve it up for a quick dinner one night with either salad or vegetables.


It's a similar story for roast beef. Sliced from the deli, it's $23.98 per kilo, if you buy a piece of raw Heart Smart topside beef suitable for roasting and do that in your own kitchen, you'll pay $13.99 per kilo, or $11 for a lesser grade meat. Roast pork as cold cuts is $23.99 per kilo, buy it raw and slow roast it yourself at home - $8 per kilo. You can also make up meatloaf, chicken loaf and tuna loaf, all ideal as sandwich meats and they'll be cheaper and contain no preservatives or additives if you make them at home rather than buy them precooked at the deli.

Cooking at home allows you to add your favourite herbs and spices, reduce the salt content, cut off the fat and cook it how you like it - rare or well done. Meat that you've cooked and stored in the fridge at home will last longer than cold cuts from the deli and I can slice just as much as I need. And the bonus here is that I can clean the blade every day, or between cutting jobs. I don't know how often they clean the slicing blade at the supermarket, or what they clean it with, but here I use Ecostore detergent, in clean water, with a cotton dishcloth and then it is rinsed in clean water and allowed to dry. Even though I've stood for a long time waiting at the deli counter over the years, I've never seen anyone clean the slicer blade. It's probably something that's only done after hours. I'd prefer it was done between slicing jobs.

Our slicer is a Sunbeam, and btw, I'm not sponsored in any way for this post. Hanno bought it last year and so far it's been excellent. I think it was around the $120 mark but if I keep on cooking and slicing my own cold cuts, it will pay for itself in a few more months. Do you have a slicer at home? Are you cooking your own cold cut meat?


33 comments:

  1. We bought a Lakeland slicer last year, quite expensive but does what we need. We use it primarily for slicing our own bread before we freeze it (although the thickest slice is not as thick as we would wish for) but it comes in handy at festive times when we buy a large joint of gammon or pork, eat what we want hot then slice the rest.

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  2. I am German and your slicer is called a Brotschneidemachine (bread slicing machine) here. We do have a slicer as well (for bread), but I have never used it for cutting cold cuts (though the mannual tells me I can do so). I have never seen prepared meat that I could turn into cold cuts myself. Hence, I have never done so, but it is an interesting idea. I like to know what is inside my food.
    Do you have a slow cooker by the way? I have one and I love it. It is so easy to make broth myself next to doing all my other stuff.
    Take care!

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    1. Yes Klaine, I have a slow cooker and use it often in winter.

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  3. You have read my mind here Rhonda only a few days ago I was looking into getting a food slicer for the exact same purposes you have blogged about lol. After reading this post I will definitely be buying one when we get back from holiday. Much Love Claire from frugal living xxx

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  4. I bought a slicer about a month ago, and have been making my own roast beef. I can control the seasoning and the 'done ness'. It turns out brilliantly, and definitely works out much cheaper than supermarket ready sliced. The only trouble is, I find that my two teenage sons are getting through more and more beef sandwiches. Definitely well worth the cost of buying the slicer.

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  5. When I ate meat I always cooked and sliced my own cold cuts, but just by hand, I think a slicer is a great idea. I agree with you about the slicer blade washing too..........whenever I buy a sandwich or a roll.....rarely.....when I'm out, I always ask them to please wash the knife first and either use a clean chopping board or put a piece of lunch wrap down.....no point offering vegetarian options if the equipment is covered in meat juices!

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  6. Ok, this is where my frugal to the bone head department gets me into hot water sometimes. I use an electric knife to slice our bread. It is not hard to do, not perfect by any means but not hard.

    As far as cold cuts go for years now I had cut my own with our food processor. I just cut the meat into small enough pieces (without bone of coarse) to go through the shoot of the processor. I have 3 slice disks, 1 thin, med, and thick. I just use that. I slice cheese the same way. Now this is not full slices like at the deli, but it still makes a nice sandwich.
    I use my food processor every single day. I use it to make dog food too. I do not feed my dog commercial dog food. She gets chicken, rice and different veggies like sweet potato, carrots, or her favorite yellow squash. Little rice is used as there is not much need for filler, but it does taste good to her as I cook the rice when I cook the chicken. I can make her dog food using chicken thighs for less than 1 can of store brought dog food. Our vet says our dog is very healthy.

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  7. Rhonda we do cook our own cold meat. I say we because my husband does a lot of cooking too. But we do also buy some deli meat at times. I really appreciate the points you raised about possible hygiene issues and cost comparisons. I have never seen the blade cleaned at the supermarket either. Also, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to buy sliced deli meat when it costs so much more. Rhonda when you cook corned beef do you keep the cooking broth and use it in any way? I have never thought of making tuna loaf, I should give that a go, and see if my husband likes it on his sandwiches. Thank you for the information on the slicer

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    1. Hi Sherri. I don't use the corned beef water because it's usually quite salty. If you have a look here, I have a recipe and photos for tuna loaf - my mum's recipe.

      http://down---to---earth.blogspot.com.au/2008/07/confession-time.html

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    2. Sherri and Rhonda - try cooking your corned meat in ginger beer - it is a revelation. Just ginger beer nothing else.

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  8. A meat slicer....for bread.....huh. (slaps forehead)

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  9. Interesting. I am a hacker not a slicer so that role falls to Tony, with his arthritic hands that can sometimes be quite a chore. He slices all the bread and all the meat so he may be interested in the idea of a slicer.

    Rhonda if you have more meat than you need maybe slice and freeze?

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    1. Rose, when Tony goes in to look a the slicers, tell him to look at how it turns on and to try it for himself. Our Sunbeam requires you to press a button and slide a bit over at the same time with the same hand. It's easy enough to do but I know since Hanno's accident, we have to think more about operating these appliances.
      With a big piece of meat, I cut it in half, with one half in the fridge and the other portion, unsliced, in the freezer. It works very well that way.
      xx

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  10. Rhonda, once again you have reminded me of things I know but put so far on the back burner that they are totally out of mind. I can buy good ham and cabana from my local butcher but forgot I can also boil corned beef and pickled pork for a hot meal followed by many sandwiches. This year I am going to make brawn and pickled pressed tongue for the first time in many years. I also have a good meatloaf recipe that was my mother-in-law's. Just need to do these tings more often. Like you I dislike deli meats and don't buy them. Thanks for keeping me up to the mark.

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  11. We invested in a slicer last year and I have no regrets. Ours cost $125.00 CAD and it works very well to slice bread and meats as well as cheese. I stopped buying deli meat a few years ago due to the high cost, the nitrates and the general poor quality of the highly processed meat. We often roast a piece of beef or pork on Sunday, so the leftovers get sliced for sandwiches during the week.

    I also buy the very large blocks of cheddar and slice them up which makes it so much easier for making sandwiches and grilled cheeses. This method is MUCH cheaper than buying pre-sliced cheese which we all love for the convenience, but don't buy due to the high cost. It's hard to slice a lot of cheese for many sandwiches and get them all thin using a knife...

    A tip - if I'm using my slicer, I often plan the order of slicing to reduce the cleaning. Bread first, then a big block of cheese, then meat. How's that for lazy! I will use the first few slices of cheese and meat in a sandwich so that they are immediately used, but the rest keeps nicely in the fridge if packed in small containers. I do also freeze some in small packages/containers as Rose suggested to avoid spoiling. I find that using clean fork to dip into the container of pre-sliced food helps to keep it fresher longer. Using fingers seems to contaminate it faster even if they are washed.

    Love my slicer and yes, mine has certainly paid for itself by now!

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  12. Good morning Rhonda, this is a good topic! I have cooked my own corned beef for years, after my first mother in law showed me how easy it is, and much more tasty when you add cloves, bayleaves, vinegar and brown sugar. So we often have it, and the meat left over after the first meal is used for sandwiches, stir fries, cold cuts salad, etc.
    If I buy sliced meat at the supermarket it is usually the pre packaged sort - ham or strasburg. I never thought of how often they clean the blade at the deli! I have a very sharp electric knife which slices bread and meat very efficiently, so I don't think I would need another appliance. Although it looks very handy, I dislike having too many things on my benchtop and that slicer looks like it takes up a lot of space! But if you use it often, it is worth having.
    BTW, any news on when the forum will be up and running again? I've got withdrawal symptoms already : - (

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    1. No news yet, Gina. I'm still trying to track down our technician.

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  13. Rhonda, I was wondering if the slicer was an electric one as I would be a bit concerned after Hanno's accident but it sounds like it is. I have seen slicers that are hand operated but that may have been a long time ago. I have so much trouble cutting bread that a slicer would make easy work of...and no...I also have never seen a blade washed in the supermarket. I would say it is done at the end of the day.

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  14. g'day
    an excellent post as always, i buy the occasional sliced meat from my butcher but do prefer to buy his pickled meats. the problem now is being on my own takes too long to consume them
    my stepmum used to make brawn? pressed meats out of all her leftover meats, was never a big fan of those.
    the slicer is definitely a good idea, i'd be interested in a manual one as well.
    thanx for sharing
    have a great day!

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  15. I can't recommend buying a slicer enough..we bought ours 2 years ago..brilliant investment..our meat lasts longer and we can choose how we like it sliced..the bread is sliced into slices we can manage not great doorstops you can't get in your mouth or that thin you can see daylight,if you do by hand..
    sara

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  16. I always cook meat myself to use for cold cuts. I don't have a slicer but I take the cooked meat back to the butcher where I bought it and he slices it for me. I've seen the slicer being cleaned while I'm there so I know it's fine. Sometimes I just slice it myself with a knife but then I can't get it very thin.

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  17. I apologize for going off topic but wanted to ask about eating meat after being a long-time vegetarian. Our son is trying the Paleo diet after being a vegetarian for 16 years. He feels so much better but is eating only sea food - no chicken, beef or pork. Was this a difficult decision for you? Any thoughts on switching? Sorry if this is too nosy.

    ellen

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    1. Ellen, it wasn't a difficult decision to go back. I was working then and travelling quite a bit for work. I found it almost impossible then to get a good meal in country towns and the places I was working. Mainly it was egg salad or just salad. I don't see anything wrong with only eating seafood. If it was cheaper, we'd eat a lot more of it.

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  18. I don't like buying sliced meat at the shop as it's either over packaged or goes off very quickly (or both) and I hate waste more than anything. There are only two of us in my house now but I'm tempted to buy one and then share the cost of the meat with my neighbours. Just to clarify - you cook the piece of meat, slice one half and then freeze the other half whole? I made your tomato chutney recipe last year and loved it - must do some more soon.

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    1. That's right. Slice one half, freeze the other. I must make some tomato chutney too. It's delicious on a cold cuts sandwich.

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  19. A very interesting post Rhonda. I cannot bring myself to buy the cold meats in the deli counter at (our two main supermarkets in Australia).
    There's just me to cook for so I tend to go to any of the 'proper butchers' around here to buy a couple of slices of their ham off the bone which they cook themselves. So the meat is dry just like it used to be years ago, and not slimy like you see at the deli counters.
    When I was raising my family I would have loved a slicer like yours. I did have an electric knife that someone gave me for a Christmas present and I was called on at all friend and family gatherings to "bring your knife". We still talk about that electric knife sometimes when we get together - don't know what happened to it in the end.
    I love reading your blog Rhonda. And all the comments.

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  20. I thought you must have given up the blog! This notice about the yarn sale is the first time I've heard from you in ages!

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  21. What a good idea Rhonda. I cook all of my own meat for cold cuts and occasionally use an electric knife
    however I don't slice bread well and this might be the answer. Thankyou.

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  22. We cook our own corned beef in the crockpot (delicious) and I'm about to begin making sour dough bread again after 6 months off grains. I love this idea, Rhonda! Will be putting this on my want list...might raid the piggy bank, it's overflowing.

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  23. We do have a slicer and it's rarely used. The plan was to slice up roasts instead of buying deli meat but we didn't keep up the habit. I'd like to get back to it. Never thought of using it for bread - now THERE's an idea I'll have to try !

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  24. I'm late to this post, but I'm wondering if there's a chance of getting cut with the slicer. The reason I ask is I tried a mandolin lately and cut myself( my own fault) but now I'm kinda anxious about anything with a blade??

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    1. Christina, mandolins are notoriously dangerous. Of course you can still cut yourself with this slicer but if you use the guard, it's much less likely.

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