In this post, I thought I’d talk about a kitchen appliance my family and I have been going bonkers over the last few months. No it’s not a robot personal chef, but rather, the humble meat slicer.
For people who have never owned one of these appliances, a meat slicer can be intimidating, a piece of equipment that feels more at home in a wood shop than kitchen. That’s what we thought as well until we finally got a home meat slicer when it was on sale. Every since, it’s been one of the most popular appliances in our kitchen, helping us do everything from slice full blocks of cheese, deli meats, to veggies such as cabbage and potatoes. And the best part of it all? It’s saving us money, a LOT of money.
Before I break down the numbers, here’s the one line summary: our meat slicer saves our family around $200 a month. Nothing to write home about you may think, but if you look at the annual savings, that’s over $2,000 a year!
Adding Up my Monthly Savings from a Meat Grinder
My typical shopping cart consist of regular things any average family buys. From meat and poultry, cheese, eggs, bread, to fruits and vegetables, we probably have quite similar grocery lists.
Whenever there’s a food item that is already sliced, you can bet there’s a hidden added cost to the item. It’s a form of processing fee.
The primary way a meat slicer has been able to help our family save money is that it enables us buy the same items unprocessed (unsliced), and use the meat slicer to slice them ourselves. For example, a singles 16oz block of cheese would have cost me $5.24 last week. The same block of cheese unsliced? $4.22. That’s a dollar savings right there (whoopie!). Look at it another way though- it’s like getting a one dollar coupon each time I shop for cheese.
So the savings may not seem significant at the moment, but when you add up all the typical items you usually get processed (sliced), from the beloved cheese, deli and lunch meats, to prepackaged vegetables such as coleslaw, and my favorite, thinly cut meats for hot pots, they add up quickly.
Let me show a chunk of my typical grocery list for 1 week, before and after we owned a meat slicer:
A portion of my typical weekly grocery list before owning a meat slicer:
- 2 singles Cheese Slices (16 oz) 10.48
- 5 bags of chopped frozen mixed vegetables (5 lb) 5.98 = 29.9
- 3 bags of cut french fried potatoes (80 oz) 4.77 = 14.31
- 2 packs of chopped carrot sticks (1.4 oz) 3.48 = 6.69
- 4 large packs of sliced beef (sometimes turkey) at 22.37 each = 89.49
- 1 pack peeled apple slices (32 oz) = 5.74
- 3 pounds of various deli and lunch meats (around $7/pound) = $21
Total amount: $177.61
As you can see, apart from the usual sliced cheeses and lunch meats for kids’ lunches, we buy a lot of sliced meats (for hot pots) and frozen veggies.
Now let’s see the corresponding list of food items I now buy thanks to being able to slice foods at home:
A portion of my typical weekly grocery list AFTER owning a meat slicer:
- 2 block of cheddar cheese (16 oz) 8.44
- 10 pieces of fresh green onions 0.98 = 9.8
- 10 pieces of yellow onions 0.70 = 7.0
- 1 bag of fresh carrots (80 oz) = 3.24
- 1 cauliflower head = 2.97
- 1 bag of fresh potatoes (5 lb) = 2.97
- 4 pounds of rib eye steak = $45.37
- 1 bag fresh apples (3 lb) 2.97
- 3 pounds of chub (unsliced deli meat) = $12.45
Total amount: $95.21
Total Weekly Savings: $82
By buying the exact same items unsliced, I saved around $82 in just one week. Your mileage will vary obviously depending on your family size and types of food you typically buy, but no matter how you slice it, owning a meat slicer will pay for itself many times over in the first year alone.
Since owning a meat slicer, I’ve really come to realize the premium we all pay for processed, in this case, sliced goods at the supermarket. Whether or not you own a meat slicer, the best way to save money on your grocery bills is to internalize this fact whenever you’re shopping.
Different Uses for a Meat Slicer (and How Much They Can Save You)
One reason why many people don’t currently own a meat slicer is due to the common misconception that the appliance can do nothing more than slice meat. That can’t be further from the truth. Here are some of the main ways you can use a meat slicer that will save you money.
A block of a 16-ounce cheese costs $4.22 at Walmart. On the other hand, packs of sliced cheese with the same weight costs $5.24. That’s a $1.02 price difference! You might think that a dollar doesn’t save you that much, but the savings do add up. When it comes to savings, always think annually to really appreciate the potential impact.
Slicing Deli and Lunch Meats
If you often shop in the deli section for lunch meats, getting a meat slicer is a no brainer. Oscar Mayer, Applegate, Land O’Frost, whichever brand you look at, deli meats usually cost around $7/pound. You can save big by buying a whole chub instead, and slicing it yourself (or get the deli department to do it for you). 1 pound of chub ham can cost as low as $2/pound.
Let’s say your family goes through just 3 pounds of deli meats a month- by using a meat slicer, you just saved yourself $15.
Slicing Vegetables (such as Coleslaw)
Yes, it’s called a meat slicer, but don’t think that it can’t work its magic on vegetables and fruits as well. If you frequently buy chopped mixed green or salads, a meat slicer can help you get back to buying them whole and fresh, where the price is a fraction of the processed versions. I use my slicer often to slice and cabbage and other vegetables for coleslaw and fruits like apples to make dried healthy snacks.
Slicing Meats for Hot Pots
My family LOVE having and host hot pots dinners, from the traditional Chinese hot pot to the Japanese Yakuniku style variants. For any kind of hot pot, you need thinly cut meat to have a successful lift off.
When you compute the prices, the difference between sliced and regular hunks of meats is downright insane. A large pack of sliced beef can easily cost 2.5x to 3x for the same amount uncut. I have not bought a single pack of sliced meats since owning my meat slicer.
Aside from being less expensive, another advantage of buying unsliced meat over pre-cut is that you have a fresh batch of meat. Pre-packaged meat are usually frozen, spending days on the counter before someone buys it. That doesn’t sound like something I want to put in my mouth!
Another thing I like about getting fresh unsliced meat is that I can decide how thick the cut of the meat is going to be and what the cut will be.
If your family loves hot pots, you NEED a meat slicer. That’s all I’m going to say about that.
Savings in Action
Here’s a short video which demonstrates how to slice cheese, as well as other dairy products, using a meat slicer.
How Much Does a Good Meat Slicer Cost?
If you have a large family who enjoys eating sandwiches, cheese, and hot pot, a meat slicer is a great investment. But, what’s a good ballpark figure when it comes to meat slicers for home use? Well, there are two main things that can affect a meat slicer’s cost.
Electric and Manual Meat Slicers
Electric meat slicers are typically more expensive than their manual counterpart due to their ease of use and efficiency. With an electric slicer, you only need to plug it into an outlet and guide the meat to the blade.
Often costing under $100, manual meat slicers are suitable for people who only have to slice a few pounds at a time. If you need to slice more food than that, it might be better to shell out at least $200 for a decent electric meat slicer that an handle large amounts of meats and veggies without losing your arm manually cranking them out.
Meat Slicer Grade
Entry-Level Meat Slicers
Typically available for about $50, meat slicers of this grade are meant for light tasks that take no longer 3 to 10 minutes . They also do not work well for slicing cheese and frozen meat.
Mid-Range Meat Slicers
With a price range of $50 to $250, this type of meat slicer offers the perfect balance between cost and functionality. Though more expensive than entry-level meat slicers, mid-range meat slicers boast of better safety features and a more powerful motor. Aside from being able to cut cheese, mid-range meat slicers often have a duty cycle of 30 to 45 minutes . This means that you can slice more food at a time compared to the previous type.
Commercial-Grade Meat Slicers
Often priced at $250 and above, a commercial-grade meat slicer is the best choice for large families or deli and restaurants. This heavy-duty type of meat slicer sports powerful motors that are rated at least 240 watts, not to mention top-of-the-line safety features. What really sets commercial-grade meat slicers apart from other grades is its ability to slice meat for hours at a time without overheating, allowing businesses to process large batches of food without a fuss.
My Favorite Meat Slicer Model (the One I Own)
When it comes to a capable home meat grinder, my vote goes to the highly popular Chef’s Choice 615A Electric Meat Slicer. Priced at below $200, this is a mid-range electric meat slicer that uses 120 watts of power to slice bread, fruits, meats, and vegetables at different thickness settings.
First off, the 615A has a long 7-inch stainless steel blade which can cut meat from ¾-inch thick to really thin slices. To complement the blade, it has a 120-watt rated high-torque motor. One satisfied buyer mentioned that this machine is so powerful that it didn’t even flinch after slicing 15 pounds of completely frozen meat.
Aside from its excellent performance, the 615A also boasts of several safety features. To start with, the carriage can be placed in a locked position with the touch of a button to prevent you from accidentally touching the blade when it isn’t in use. Then, there’s its non-slip feet and an easy-grip food pusher. The food carriage is also extra large capacity, letting you feed large chunks of meats and veggies without having to cut them into small pieces first. It’s a big time saver.
Backed by a 1-year warranty, the 615A is made of cast aluminum and stainless steel which gives it the durability it needs. Of course, this is only possible with proper maintenance. I suggest sticking to manual washing instead of using the dishwasher since the heat might warp the removable parts. You’ll also want to apply some food-grade lubricant every time that you reassemble it to ensure that it works without a hitch.
One thing that I don’t like about the 615A is that it comes with a serrated blade. It makes it impossible to slice paper thin meat for my hot pot, since the serration just chips away at the meat. I had to buy the non-serrated blade separately to achieve the thinness that I wanted.
All in all, I highly recommend the 615A to anyone who wants to invest in a powerful meat slicer for home use. It is reasonably priced and extremely reliable.
- Reasonably priced at under $200
- Has a powerful 120-watt motor
- Comes with an adjustable thickness setting
- Has safety features like a locking mechanism, food pusher, and non-slip rubber feet
- Comes with a 1-year warranty
- Food carriage can accommodate extra large roasts
- Not dishwasher-safe
- Requires regular application of food-grade oil
- Does not come with a non-serrated blade
The price of a meat slicer depends on what you want to slice and how much you need to process. For most people, I recommend investing about $200 on a mid-range electric meat slicer since it strikes a good balance between performance, power, and safety features. The larger blade also allows you to slice more types of food including cheese.