How to Save on Lunchmeat: Slicing A Shank Ham!

A shank ham on a cutting board.

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Are you looking for ways to save money on lunch meat?

Steve wanted to see what kind of “deal” we could get on ham lunch meat if we sliced up a smoked, shank ham for our sandwiches. Could we get quality sandwich slices for less?

We bought our shank ham on sale for 97 cents a pound. Because the Smithfield ham we bought was smoked, it was ready to eat (no need to cook it.) So we’ll show you how we sliced it and let you know what our final cost was after removing the bone and fat.

In this article we’ve also placed two videos:

  1. How to slice a shank ham for inexpensive lunch meat
  2. Three ways to buy lunch meat and save money.

Video: 3 Ways to Buy Lunch Meat & Save Money

In this video, we share 3 ways you can purchase lunch meat. We start with the most expensive way and move to the least expensive. You may be surprised by how much money you can save.

Three places in the grocery store to buy lunch meat:

  1. Deli Counter: $7 to $10 per pound
  2. Wall Deli: $4 to $7 per pound
  3. Chubs from the Meat Department: $3 to $5 per pound

In the video, we explain how much you can expect to save by shopping smarter.

Shank Ham Lunch Meat Estimate

We wanted to determine how much lean, sliced lunchmeat could we get out of an 11.19-pound shank ham.

The ham cost $10.85. We thought that there would be about 20 to 30 percent waste when we subtracted fat and the bone.

So our expectation was that we would end up with about 7.5 pounds of lunch meat.

If we ended up with that much our final cost per pound would be $1.44 per pound; that’s a fairly good price for lean ham lunchmeat.

Video: Slicing A Shank Ham

To record our test, we decided to shoot one of our first “How To” videos – it’s not the best cinematography, but you’ll get the concept of how we sliced the ham.

The Shank Ham Slicing Process

We’ve sliced large chubs of meat before, but never a shank ham.

We’ll list the steps we take when slicing our own lunch meat.

Step 1. Get Rid of the Fat

First Steve cut off most of the fat from the outside of the shank ham.

Step 2. Cut The Ham Into Chunks

A beige Oster home meat slicer.

Then he cut several large chunks of ham off of the shank and started slicing it on our Oster home meat slicer (see a list of the best selling home meat slicers on Amazon here).

Because we cut off uneven chunks of ham, our slices weren’t perfectly shaped, like pressed and formed lunchmeat usually is. But it was uniform in thickness.

Step 3. Slice with Someone Else

We usually slice lunch meat with two people. One person does the slicing; the second person “catches” and stacks the sliced meat as it comes off the cutter.

Step 4. Store the Sliced Ham Lunchmeat 

We store the lunch meat in plastic containers or zippered plastic bags in 1-pound servings. We put a paper towel on the bottom of the stack of meat to absorb any liquid from the meat when it is defrosted. Then we freeze the lunch meat so that it can be consumed in smaller portions, with less risk of the meat going bad before we finish it.

When we take the lunch meat out of the freezer and defrost it for use on sandwiches, we are careful to change the paper towel when it is saturated with water to minimize any bacteria growth. This habit keeps the lunch meat fresher, longer.

RELATED ARTICLE: How to Save $500 per Year on Lunch Meat

The Final Cost of our Lunch Meat Test

In the end, our 11.19 pounds of shank ham resulted in 6.25 pounds of sliced lunch meat – 1.25 pounds less than we expected.

We had 2.5 pounds of fat and 1 pound of bone (with a little meat left on it for use in split pea soup). Some of the meat disappeared  . . . we think the brothers who were running the slicer may have sampled the ham because the numbers just don’t add up.

But in the end, our $10.85 worth of ham resulted in lunch meat that cost $1.66 per pound.

Conclusion – Shank Ham Lunch Meat Results

We thought the savings would be greater than they were. Still, $1.66 per pound is a good price. But we have scored some better deals when prepackaged, sliced ham was marked down because it was going out of code.

Slicing our own lunchmeat from a shank ham, bought on sale, is a fairly good way to score some high-quality, discounted lunchmeat.

But buying chubs of lunch meat from the meat department of your local grocery store and having them slice it is probably the cheapest way to get inexpensive lunch meat.

What do you think, are the savings worth the effort?

For more meat savings, visit our money-saving tips page.

And for other grocery savings, visit these money-saving tips with lots of different categories!

Can you get Inexpensive Lunchmeat from a Shank Ham?

3 thoughts on “How to Save on Lunchmeat: Slicing A Shank Ham!

  1. Maribeth

    That is a great accomplishment, Kim! About ham, many years ago, I asked the deli meat counter staff to slice a packaged ham I was planning to buy at their grocery store. They were happy to do that. It was a ham without the bone. (Maybe they would do that with a shank ham too?) I asked for some of it to be sliced thin for sandwiches, and some to be sliced thick, for ham casserole. This saved me time. I was making the casserole for my once-a-month cooking project. This is a daunting project, but it can save a lot of future time. I froze the ham casserole as thin as possible, in several plastic bags for quick thawing. Once a month cooking encouraged us to eat at home because there is always dinner in the freezer.

  2. kim Trinh

    Steve and Annette, I love watching you and your family on utube. Its nice to see a modern day family that have good family values and a practical lifestyle. I watch your videos often, not so much for getting ideas since I’m actually pretty good with my finances. I was raise in a single parent household, so had to pay my way into University. Ive graduated with no debt, managed to purchase a brand new car and a house by age 24. I feel like we have parallel lives. Just wanted to give you a shout out since I’m a big fan of yours. Keep those videos coming!

    1. Steve Economides Post author

      Kim – You are a RockStar!!!! Love your determination and drive to avoid debt and to build wealth. You’ve defied the odds and done so well. Walt Disney once said, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” You are doing what many people consider impossible! Keep making Frugal Fun!

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