How Much Lunch Meat to Buy Per Person for Sandwiches

Sandwiches are a popular lunch food all around the world, so if you are planning a large activity around lunchtime, you can never go wrong with sandwiches.

One serving of lunch meat is 2 ounces, meaning that in a pound of lunch meat, there are 8 servings. If you are planning a large gathering where you will be serving sandwiches with lunch meat, you will need more than one pound of lunch meat to serve more than 8 people.

Buying lunch meat in large amounts can be overwhelming because of the uncertainty of if it will be used before it goes bad, but following certain steps can help it keep its freshness.

What is Lunch Meat

Lunchmeat is precooked meat that is sliced and cured. Lunchmeat can be served cold or warm. Often, when people buy lunch meat from the store, they buy it from the refrigerator section. It is kept there to preserve the meat since meat can spoil if it is not kept cold. Though it is often bought cold, it is cooked.

Types of Lunchmeat

There are multiple kinds of lunchmeat all around the world. There are various kinds of lunch meat. Some examples of popular lunch meat include turkey, ham, chicken, salami, bologna, and roast beef.

Some deli meats have been linked back to the Roman empire. These lunch meats are bologna and mortadella.

Jewish delis in Europe are also credited with creating types of deli meats. These deli meats include pastrami, corned beef, and more.

These are just a few of the parts of history that have greatly influenced deli and lunch meats in America.

The Most Popular Types of Lunch Meat

The most popular types of lunch meat in America are turkey, ham, and beef. Turkey is the most commonly used deli food. In fact, in 2017, it was recorded that 34.6% of the American population that bought lunch meat bought turkey. 30.9% of the same group bought ham, and 11.7% of the population bought beef.

The best lunch meats are made with 100% meat and no fillers. Fillers can be used in all types of food. They are additives that are used to make a certain food heavier. These can be used in lunch meat because it is sold by the pound. Often, it will be added to the label on the packaging for the lunch meat. The fewer fillers there are, the more true meat you are eating. Fillers can be anything from soy concentrate and starches to breadcrumbs.

How Much Meat to Use on a Sandwich?

To know how much meat you are supposed to use on a sandwich, if the package has a pound of meat in it, divide the amount of meat there is in the package by 8.

This should provide you with the correct amount per sandwich you make. The package of meat you use may have more or less than a pound of meat in it, but on average, lunch meat is sold in containers that hold about one pound of meat.

Making Sandwiches for a Group

When making sandwiches for a large group of people, it is important to remember to buy enough lunchmeat. How much is enough, though? Since each package will usually hold eight servings worth of meat, calculate how much lunch meat you will need to buy according to how many people you will be feeding.

The chart below will assist you in knowing how many packages of lunch meat to buy.

Amount of peopleNumber of Packages of lunch meat
Keep in mind these numbers allow you to have enough lunch meat to feed the people you are inviting, but you will probably have extra since these numbers are not divided evenly by eight.

Having too much lunch meat is not a bad place to be in, though, because people often will put much more lunch meat on their sandwich than the actual serving size. I know my family prefers to go over the serving with some of the lunchmeats we buy because it doesn’t feel like it is enough on the sandwich.

How Long Does Lunch Meat Last After the Expiration Date

Having extra lunch meat can seem problematic, especially if you cannot eat it before the sell-by date printed on the packaging. If lunch meat is kept sealed in the meat drawer of the refrigerator, it will last for 3 to 5 days past the expiration date. This does not mean you cannot open it. Rather, this implies that you reseal the meat packaging after each time you use it.

Likewise, prepackaged meat does not start to deteriorate until the package has been opened. If the meat develops a green, slimy film, however, it is time to get rid of it because that means it has gone bad.

How to Keep Lunch Meat Fresh

You can keep deli meat fresh the same way you keep the store-bought lunch meat fresh. You will need to keep any deli meat in an airtight container so it can stay fresh since meat can lose its freshness quickly. It will last from 3 to 5 days before it begins to go bad.

Another way to keep meat fresh is by using the meat drawer in the refrigerator. The meat drawer is meant to specifically keep cold air in, so the meat will be able to stay fresher for a longer amount of time.

Ways to Save Money Purchasing Lunch Meat

Sometimes, buying lunch meat can seem harsh on your wallet. There are other options available, though. You do not have to necessarily buy prepackaged lunch meat. You can make your own or have less sandwiches with lunch meat.

The first way to save money on lunch meat is to just cook your own roast and slice it. After slicing it, freeze it in portions usuable within 1 to 2 days. You can just buy a large roast if you are planning on having one anyway or buy a small one just to cut up for sandwiches.

If you have a meat slicer, you can slice up an meat you have and use the leftoevers in place of lunchmeat. This will help you save on money by allowing you to use leftovers and not have to buy even more food.

Another way to save on money is by checking the sales on the available deli meats being sold. They may be even cheaper than the prepackaged lunch meat.

You might even try to have less sandwiches with lunch meat. Other sandwich options include peanut butter and jelly, tuna, or peanut butter and honey.


Being part of a really big family, cooking for big groups of people is just how we do things. Cooking, baking, and outdoor cooking have all been huge parts of my life, and I love sharing what I've learned with you.

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