Food Quantities

How Much Lunch Meat to Buy Per Person for Sandwiches

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Planning a gathering and wondering how much lunch meat to buy for sandwiches? Look no further! In this guide, we’ll explore the types of lunch meats, popular choices, serving sizes, and how to keep your deli delights fresh. Plus, we’ll share tips on saving money without compromising on flavor.

What is Lunch Meat?

Lunch meat, a precooked and sliced delicacy, can be served cold or warm. Common varieties include turkey, ham, chicken, salami, bologna, and roast beef. Did you know some deli meats trace their roots back to the Roman Empire? Jewish delis in Europe also played a role in creating favorites like pastrami and corned beef.

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Popular Lunch Meat Choices:

In the U.S., turkey, ham, and beef top the list of favorite lunch meats. Opt for options made with 100% meat and minimal fillers, ensuring a satisfying sandwich experience.

Serving Size Guidelines:

Wondering how much lunch meat to use on a sandwich? Simply divide the amount in a pound package by 8 to get the serving size per sandwich. For large gatherings, use the chart below to determine the number of packages needed:

  • 10 people: 2 packages
  • 20 people: 3 packages
  • 30 people: 4 packages
  • 50 people: 7 packages
  • 100 people: 13 packages

Remember, these quantities might leave you with extras, but that’s okay, as people often prefer generous portions on their sandwiches.

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Handling Leftovers and Expiry Dates:

Concerned about lunch meat going bad before use? If stored in the refrigerator’s meat drawer, sealed lunch meat can last 3 to 5 days past the expiration date. Always reseal the packaging after each use. Discard any meat showing signs of spoilage, like a green, slimy film.

Keeping Lunch Meat Fresh:

Maintain the freshness of your deli meat by storing it in airtight containers or utilizing the refrigerator’s meat drawer. This dedicated drawer keeps cold air in, extending the meat’s freshness for a longer duration.

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Budget-Friendly Lunch Meat Options:

Buying prepackaged lunch meat can be expensive, but there are alternatives. Consider cooking and slicing your roast, freezing it in portions usable within 1 to 2 days. If you own a meat slicer, repurpose leftovers instead of buying more lunch meat. Keep an eye on deli meat sales—they might offer cost-effective options.


Navigating the world of lunch meat for your gathering doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Armed with knowledge about serving sizes, freshness tips, and budget-friendly options, you’ll be ready to create delicious sandwiches that leave everyone satisfied.

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