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How to Make Homemade Lunch Meat

How To Make Your Own Fresh and Healthy Lunch Meat

This is something I've been doing since our kids were growing up and I still continue to do this. To be honest, I have never liked the taste of processed lunch meat, even all the so-called chemical and preservative-free brands. They taste like something akin to Spam to me! I have always wanted to create meals that are nutritious and appealing on every level and making my own variation of lunch meats just seemed like a logical course of action.


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I am not positive that the price per pound ends up being cheaper but then I am always of the mind that you get what you pay for in the end! The fact that I am serving quality food rather than processed foods to my family always weighs in as #1 for me. With a little checking around on prices, I feel that making delicious, wholesome lunch meat from fresh poultry, beef, or even pork is a viable alternative to loading up everyone's bodies with foreign substances.

The little bit of work that it requires also never has seemed that overwhelming to me and the added benefit is the aroma of it cooking. Whatever you make in terms of these recipes for lunch meat, it is also more than likely a sure thing that you will have leftover meat and that is always a plus as well for creating another meal. To me, that is a win-win situation!

Try some of the ideas below and then come up with some of your own and see if you don't notice a difference in people's appetites for lunch or anytime or that you don't feel better about the overall 'state' of your family's lunch!

Chicken or Turkey Lunch Meat

To make chicken or turkey lunch meat yourself, all you need is poultry!
Some ideas on what to cook:

  • Turkey breast
  • Chicken breast(s)
  • Whole chicken with neck and inner pieces removed
  • Whole turkey

Ways that you can cook the poultry:

  • Crock pot (my favorite - see below - and add vegetables if desired for another meal)
  • Cook in a stockpot on top of the stove (add vegetables as well and you have something for a meal)
  • Roast in the oven
  • Roast it on a BBQ or in a rotisserie
  • Any other method that you can use to cook chicken or turkey to 170 degrees for breasts, 180 degrees for whole turkey or chicken

Once you have cooked the poultry, here are some suggestions:

  • Slice with an electric knife into paper thin slices for sandwiches. Combine with sour cream, cranberry sauce, lettuce, tomato, cheese for sumptuous sandwiches or paninis (or slice with any carving knife)
  • Slice with a meat slicer into paper thin slices
  • If you have too much chicken or turkey, slice and place in labeled containers and freeze for future lunches
  • If you have cooked the turkey or chicken with vegetables, simply slice the turkey as above and use any chunks or pieces along with the vegetables to make a wonderful stew or soup or shred chicken or turkey to use in tacos, enchiladas or tostadas - or any recipe calling for chopped or shredded chicken or turkey
  • Use any extra to make homemade chicken or turkey potpies

Healthy Cooking Tips for Kids

Audrey's Chicken or Turkey 'Pot Roast' Idea

This seems an efficient way to get lunch meat and not end up freezing so much of it.  It also makes for a wonderful dinner! I just improvise on what I have available at the time and check the temperature of the chicken or turkey - it's always been perfect.

I slice 5 or 6 carrots in chunks, some red potatoes into chunks, celery into chunks and 1 onion chunked. I put these vegetables in the bottom of a large stockpot or the bottom of the slow cooker and then add 1 washed and scrubbed whole chicken or small turkey or turkey breast. I add turkey broth or chicken broth to cover the vegetables - maybe throw in a little white wine and some mushrooms if I have them - or some sherry. Add some herbs like sage, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, salt and pepper to taste - I sprinkle all the herbs liberally on the top of the chicken as it gives it a beautiful look when cooked. Make sure that it simmers if on top of the stove and does not boil too rapidly as it will make the chicken dry and cracked. You want a nice slow cooking of the meat and vegetables.

The weight of the poultry holds down the vegetables so that they cook perfectly while basically roasting or poaching the chicken or turkey. I cook in my slow cooker for 8 hours on low and then start checking the temp as noted above. You also have the benefit of having a lovely broth when you are done. This is a foolproof way to cook poultry and keeps it from drying out. Just make sure you check with a thermometer to be sure the temp is right. Cool and slice, use remaining parts of the cooked meal for all sorts of things! The roasted chicken on a platter with the vegetables makes a wonderful meal - just like a beef pot roast.

Roast Beef Lunch Meat

Again, it's all about the slow cooking in my opinion to end up with beef for slicing - whether you use it for sandwiches or for shredding for other uses, or for serving as a meal, you want the beef to not end up like shoe leather so the temperature at which you cook is vital and the temperature you STOP cooking is also just as vital. Remember the meat will continue to cook about 15-20 minutes after you have removed it from the heat source.

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Beef roasts suitable for making roast beef lunch meat:

  • Rump Roast
  • Round Roast
  • Sirloin Tip Roast

Whichever cut you select, the key again is slow cooking it to keep it moist. I try to use the lowest possible temperature and cook it longer to the desired temperature for rare or medium rare, medium, or well done. By keeping a close eye on it, you can't go wrong and it will be perfect every time.

Ways you can roast beef for sandwiches (and for delicious roast beef): I also like to brown mine on all sides in a pan just a few minutes to 'set the flavor'.

  • Crock pot (I usually add red wine or beef broth to bottom - about 1/2 cup)
  • Oven - you can roast or slow cook on a rack after seasoning the roast
  • BBQ - roast or slow cook
  • Rotisserie - roast or slow cook
  • Any other method that you can cook a roast including on top of the stove, although this method has a much higher rate for producing a tough end result

These roasts are most suitable for slicing for lunch meat. Pot roast cuts are more suitable for Sloppy Joe's or shredded beef such as used in tacos or enchiladas, etc. although shredded beef does make delicious sandwiches as well.

Roast should register on thermometer:

  • Medium rare 145 degrees
  • Medium 160 degrees
  • Well done 170 degrees


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Ham and Pork Roast Lunch Meat

My favorite for sandwiches is a low-sodium bone in ham that has been slow-cooked in either the oven or the crock pot but other cuts of pork will work as well. Pork shoulder roasts do not work as well for sandwiches, unless you are doing pulled pork and then they are fantastic!

Some cuts of pork you can use for making into lunch meat:

  • Pork Shoulder Arm Picnic or Pork Shoulder Arm Roast
  • Pork Shoulder Blade Roast
  • Pork Loin Blade Roast or Pork Loin Center Roast
  • Pork Loin Roast Boneless
  • Pork Loin Sirloin
  • Pork Loin Tenderloin
  • Fresh Ham - Shank or Rump Cuts

Again slow cooking to the right temp is what it is all about and you can roast them in the oven, in a crockpot or in any other device such as a roasting oven, rotissiere, BBQ etc. Any ham or pork roast cooked for dinner with the help of a slicer can be turned into wonderful lunch meat from the leftovers - just slice paper thin.

I generally cook my hams or pork roasts in the crock pot or in the oven and if in the crock pot, add 1/2 cup water to the bottom to keep it moist and then leave on for 8 hours but check the temperature after about 6 hours.

Temperatures for pork desired degree of doneness:

Pork roasts medium 160 degrees

Pork roasts well done 170 degrees

Ham cooked before eating 160 degrees

Ham if already fully cooked and you are reheating 140 degrees

US Department of Agriculture Guidelines

Statistics accumulated from US Department of Agriculture

Meat Internal Temperature Centigrade 

Ground chicken/turkey 



Whole chicken or turkey 



Turkey or chicken breasts 



Ham needing cooking before eating



Ham fully cooked needing reheating



Pork roasts, steaks, chops medium



Pork roasts, steaks, chops well done



Ground beef, veal, lamb, pork



Beef, veal, lamb roasts, steaks, chops medium rare



Beef, veal, lamb roasts, steaks, chops medium



Beef, veal, lam roasts, steaks, chops well done




Stuart from Santa Barbara, CA on March 05, 2012:

You have so many great cooking articles and this one was very helpful. I really like to learn how to make my own (things for the kitchen), do you know how to make your own caesar dressing or greek salad dressing. I've been working on it lately, but I always put too much vinegar.

JewelieDee from Delaware, USA on October 12, 2011:

I'm with you. Dr. Oz says lunch meat has nitrosamines that contribute to colon cancer. It's also slimy and salty. Thanks for the tips.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on May 09, 2011:

Thanks easinarafat - appreciate the vote of confidence.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on December 09, 2010:

Thanks so much for stopping by whitton - a great way to build nutritious meals and save money!

whitton on December 08, 2010:

What a great idea and loved watching your videos. I will definitely keep your tips in mind.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on May 27, 2010:

Thanks, Katie for commenting - I just love spreading whatever things I think of to go along with healthier eating. It is a huge concern for me these days with folks and especially our kids. I do love to cook and I know that limits people sometimes if they don't like to - but it is a great way for everyone to live - and to tell the truth - cheaper in the long run!

Katie McMurray from Ohio on May 27, 2010:

WOW who knew, what an amazing idea, I know many folks will just love this fab how to make your own lunchmeat and why it is better for you hub. Great topic, I enjoyed reading your hub. Bravo! Thanks and Peace :)

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on May 19, 2010:

Thank you for stopping by, Gina! Glad to help.

gina on May 19, 2010:

Some of the best info I was able to get in a long time. Thanks for this!

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on May 14, 2010:

Thanks for stopping by and for commenting, hyposis4u2! It truly does work and is so much better for you.

hypnosis4u2 from Massachusetts on May 14, 2010:

What a great idea and you provide all the information to make your own lunch - meat and all. Outstanding hub

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on April 13, 2010:

Thanks Hendrika for commenting - yes, that is true. Just about anything I cook in the crockpot turns out so moist that I wonder why I didn't think of it before!

Hendrika from Pretoria, South Africa on April 13, 2010:

Thank you, this is a really handy Hub. I do roast meat for cold meat etc. but I have never thought of using the slow cooker for it. It will work out a lot cheaper than in the oven and less danger of the meat turning out dry.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on February 17, 2010:

Thanks- it works!

Holle Abee from Georgia on February 16, 2010:

What a great idea!

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on January 06, 2010:

Thanks very much - I just started doing it pretty much from the beginning when we had kids because of all the preservatives and 'fake' stuff and it just stuck with me all these years....and you are right - great on salads, too. Thanks for tagging me....Audrey

martycraigs on January 06, 2010:

I have to say, I've never made a conscious effort to make "home made" sandwich meat. However, I absolutely love having leftover chicken or turkey for this precise reason. It's also great to make fresh salads.

This was a great and informative post. Thanks so much for sharing!

sweetie1 from India on December 19, 2009:

hi thanks for the nice hub.. i woul keep ur tips in mind.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on December 19, 2009:

Thanks, Gus! I am on a lot of lists but these lists are the 'good' kind....Thanks again for stopping by...Audrey

Gustave Kilthau from USA on December 19, 2009:

Hi Akirchner - I just put you on my list. A very good and useful article. Thank you very much.


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