How to Understand the Measurement of Deli Meat

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Deli meat stacked on a kaiser roll with sandwich makings.
Deli meat stacked on a kaiser roll with sandwich makings. (Image: Stacey Newman/iStock/Getty Images)

Purchasing deli meat can be troublesome, as trying to communicate how much you want depends on a variety of factors. While deli meat is sold by weight, the cut of the meat and the type of meat affect how much you need and how much it looks like you have. Deli meat is most often sold in pounds, and to get the right amount, you need to specify the weight as well as the cut of the meat.

Cut, Weight and Storage

The thicker the cut of deli meat, the fewer slices there will be in a given weight of deli meat — a quarter pound of sliced turkey will have fewer slices than if the turkey breast is cut to almost being paper thin. To order deli meat, tell the counter person how thick you’d like the slice. Next, specify how much you would like based on weight. Deli meat does not keep very long once cut. Store deli meats in the refrigerator, in airtight plastic bags. You can keep cut deli meats for up to three days. If you can’t finish it in time, put it in the freezer for no more than two months.

Overall Quantity and Storage

According to ChooseMyPlate.gov, the recommended serving of protein per day is 5 to 6 1/2 ounces. A quarter pound of deli meat is the equivalent of 4 ounces. In general, a 1- to 2-ounce serving of deli meat is sufficient for a single sandwich, a quantity that is roughly one-eighth a pound. For a week's worth of sandwiches for lunch then, you will require 7 to 14 ounces, or a little less than a half to 1 pound of deli meat. If you are planning a deli platter for, say, an office party, aim for around 2 ounces of meat per person if there are other dishes being served. Otherwise, aim for 3 ounces per person. For a 10-person platter then, you would require 20 to 30 ounces, or roughly 1 1/4 to 2 pounds of deli meat.

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