Lunchmeat is at the top of every single shopping list I write – ahead of milk, eggs, and bananas, even. To keep my household satisfied, I make sure we are always stocked with roast beef for my husband, turkey for my little boys, and ham for me, at the very least. Lunchmeat is, of course, everybody’s go-to filler for lunches throughout the week, but it is also my personal secret for shaking things up. In fact, it makes an appearance in snacks and meals we eat throughout the day!
Here are some of my favorite ways to use lunchmeat that don’t include two slices of bread:
As a Crust
Tuck a slice of lunchmeat into the wells of a muffin tin, crack an egg into each well, season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with finely chopped vegetables, and bake until the whites of the eggs are cooked completely. In minutes you’ll have breakfast for the whole week (or for entertaining a crowd).
In Your Pasta
Dice up lunchmeat ham and crisp it in a nonstick pan with a little oil for an easy twist on classic carbonara. Tossed into a pound of hot pasta, together with cream, fork-scrambled eggs, chopped garlic, and fresh parsley, it is one of my family’s very favorite dinners.
On Your Pizza
Follow the lead of your neighborhood pizza parlor by sprinkling chunks of pineapple and layering ham onto some homemade pie. You can turn whichever lunchmeat you have on hand into a topping, actually; we like to spread diced roast beef, shredded sharp cheddar, and BBQ sauce for a really hearty pizza.
As a Snack
Tap into your childhood by rolling up slices of turkey or roast beef with a generous schmear of cream cheese. Dazzle your own children by surprising them with a pickle-spear addition inside. *This also makes for a crowd-pleasing appetizer to contribute to a potluck.
Divvy up a big batch of cheesy scrambled eggs into lunchmeat tacos for breakfast. The combo of eggs and meat is my protein-rich standby for weekend mornings full of soccer games and rugby matches. Bonus: They’re handheld, and super easy to eat in the car.
In Your Pretzels
Sneak ham and cheddar cheese inside of homemade pretzels for snacking brilliance. A melty surprise makes you the after-school hero in just one bite!
In Your Eggs
Scramble torn up lunchmeat and hash-brown potatoes into eggs on Sunday morning. Or, tuck them into a fluffy omelet, made to order, with colorful veggies and copious amounts of cheese.
In Your Dips
Keep the fixings for a dip or two in your fridge at all points. Any combination of sour cream/cream cheese/lunchmeat can be stirred together or rolled into a ball for the ultimate answer to “hangry-ness” while dinner’s being made. Doctor up the simple design with fresh herbs, hot sauce, or prepared mustard.
On Top of Soup
Transform a bowl of soup into a full-fledged meal with a heaping mound of crisped, chopped lunchmeat right on top. It serves not only as a fancy-dancy garnish, but it adds texture, flavor, and heartiness too.
Tossed into Salad
There’s a reason Cobb Salad makes every restaurant lunch menu – it’s the lunchmeat! Craft a Cobb for yourself at home by tossing together the lunchmeat in your fridge right now with your favorite greens, freshly chopped vegetables, and a hardboiled egg or two.
Smeared with Jelly
Sounds crazy, right? But jelly and lunchmeat are the shining stars of one of my all-time favorite treats, the “Monte Cristo”. Layer ham, swiss, and grape jelly onto a thick-sliced, eggy bread, dip all of the above into batter, and fry or griddle to golden. It’s a crispy/creamy, salty/sweet stack that transcends sandwich-ness.
*When there’s no time for a post-Monte Cristo nap, get your fix by rolling together ham and swiss and dipping into melted grape jelly.
In Your Rice
Make Friday night “Fried Rice Night” as an exciting way to use up leftovers from the week before. Prepare a big batch of rice, sauté in a pan with oil, garlic, ginger, and soy sauce, and then decorate each serving to order with the bits and pieces of fruits (like raisins and pineapple), veggies, and lunchmeats from your fridge.
In Your Potatoes
For a weekend lunch or an impromptu weeknight dinner, bake a batch of potatoes and stuff them with cheese and lunchmeat. Whatever you have on hand will work, but my family’s favorite is when I sauté lunchmeat roast beef with peppers and onions and stuff it into a hot potato with a sprinkle of mozzarella for a Philly Cheese Steak Potato.
Around Your Veggies
That is, wrapped around your veggies. Ham wrapped around asparagus, turkey wrapped around cauliflower, roast beef wrapped around peppers – with ranch dressing for dipping, these are some of the best ways for me to get my kids to try vegetables.
In Your Rolls
Craft some ham-and-cheese pop-can crescent rolls with your kids as a family activity that tastes delicious. Or, go gourmet and wrap some rolls for entertaining guests: roll with roast beef and caramelized onions to serve with horseradish mayonnaise, or turkey and apples to serve with a honey-mustard dip.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: We love lunchmeat in our house. And, shockingly, the last way we think to use it is inside a sandwich. Lunchmeat is so darn versatile we gobble it up from the moment we wake up to the last meal of the day.