healthy school lunch
For the past few years, I have stopped purchasing any form of turkey or chicken deli meats in favor of making my own. I know this can sound like a lot of work, but hear me out. You can purchase boneless, skinless turkey breast or turkey London broil at Wegmans for $5.79/lb. or Whole Foods occasionally carries boneless turkey breast wrapped in meat netting for $6.99/lb. The advantage to making your own turkey deli meat is that you control the salt, additives and flavoring of your meat.
I am fortunate to have two manual meat slicers, one of each set of our parents. However, you can make thin slices for lunch using an electric knife, a very sharp chefs knife or you can purchase a electric meat slicer at Williams-Sonoma on sale for approximately $100. I was even able to locate electric meat slicers on eBay for under $100 and a Chefs Choice meat slicer on Craigslist in north Jersey for $60. It would be money well spent to purchase one. Not only does my husband use it to slice the turkey breast, but if we have leftover boneless steak, he’ll use the slicer to make thin slices for cheesesteak sandwiches. Our only recommendation is that you slice any meats cold. Slicing the meat cold will result in thinner and more uniform slices.
I originally started out by roasting the turkey just seasoned with salt and pepper and poultry seasoning. However, over time, I discovered that Williams-Sonoma sold various products which enhances the flavor and texture of the meat. I’ve used dry brines, dry rubs and seasoning pastes to change up the flavor each time I bake a turkey breast. I normally purchase a boneless breast that weighs 2 pounds or less and roasts for approximately 1-1/2 hours. I place the breast on a rack in a shallow roasting pan, add the dry seasonings to melted butter and brush it on the turkey breast. I add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan and place it in a 375 degree preheated oven. I occasionally baste the turkey with any leftover melted butter or pan juices. I make sure that there is always liquid in the bottom of the pan. You could use chicken stock as a basting liquid. Once the turkey is done, I remove it from the pan, let it cool a bit on the counter and refrigerate until we’re ready to slice it. My husband slices the turkey and places just enough meat in the container for his weekly lunch. A breast under 2 pounds yields 4-5 containers of meat.
I have also made boneless chicken breasts for lunch. After grilling or baking and chilling the meat, I slice the boneless breasts by laying my hand on top of the cutlet and using a sharp knife, slice horizontally across the chicken to make two thin cutlets. Alternately you could use the flat side of a meat mallet and pound the cutlets thinner before cooking. As you can probably tell, my husband does not like thick meat on his sandwiches.
I hope my suggestion of roasting your own turkey motivates you to try something healthy this school year. I roast a boneless turkey breast every other week. You can even turn the sliced turkey into paninis for a quick weeknight supper. Don’t have a panini press, don’t fear you just need a fry pan and 28 to 32 ounce can tomatoes or whatever you have on your pantry shelf to work as a weight on top of the sandwich. You could even take a brick wrapped in foil and use that as a weight. School starts in a few weeks and you have time to get a jump start on roasting and freezing sliced turkey now.
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A former teacher, shop-a-holic, empty-nester redefining quick, family approved dinners.