Sales and coupons: Buying at full price is never the best option, so keep your eye out for what types and varieties are on sale each week in the weekly ad circular. Know the price-per-pound you're willing to pay, and stick to that budget. Manufacturers will rarely offer coupons for meat or cheese from the deli, and they typically have a poundage minimum. Recent coupons include $1.00 off any half-pound of Sara Lee deli meat and $1.00 off a half-pound of Columbus deli meat.
Small quantities: The deli is a good spot if you're looking for a limited quantity, whether you just need three slices of meat a week or you want to try something new before committing to a larger amount. If you only need a bit, you’re likely to save more buying a small amount at the counter rather than buying pre-packaged meat and having most of it expire before you get the chance to eat it. You also might want to request a little less than the amount you’d like, as deli personnel tend to go over the customer’s desired amount.
Pre-packaged: Buying at the refrigerated meat section is often cheaper than regular deli prices, not to mention they're much more likely to have a coupon! Contrary to popular belief, the meat in the deli and many in the packaged section have the same nutritional value and preservatives. You can always opt for minimally processed options, including organic, all natural, and no added nitrites or fillers. Plus, you don't have to stand in line and wait for your selections to be cut, weighed, and wrapped.
Closing Time: Many delis will discount their meats 10-15 minutes before closing to make way for fresh selections in the morning. Next time you’re shopping in the evening, swing by and see if your store offers this more affordable option, and consider buying extra and freezing it for future use.