Creating a Sandwich Bar on a Budget

Sandwiches and salads are among some of my favorite good cheap eats. There are so many ways that you can combine ingredients that there are endless opportunities to make your sandwiches and salads different and unique. Sandwiches specifically are highly portable, one-dish dinners that please almost anyone.

Since our family represents a variety of ages and tastes, I often offer sandwiches as a serve-yourself-sandwich bar.

Here’s what I include:

Breads

Since bread is the foundation of a sandwich, it’s important to have the good stuff. Our favorites include

Protein

Next in the sandwich ingredient hierarchy is the protein. It doesn’t have to be pricey. Quality deli meats often start at $10/pound, but there are some tasty work-arounds

  • Slice turkey breast ($3.99/pound at Costco)
  • Grilled chicken ($1.88/pound on sale)
  • Grilled tri-tip ($2.99/pound on sale)
  • Canned tuna ($0.88/can)
  • Hard boiled egg ($0.15 each)
  • Sliced cheese ($2.50/pound at Costco)

Toppings

The toppings are where the fun comes in. Fresh veggies and spreads add richness and flavor. They also show that you’ve put a little more care into the preparation. I try to keep toppings prepped and ready to go in a divided plastic container in the fridge, so that sandwiches can be a quick, pick-up meal.

I buy these items on sale when I can. Since no sandwich requires a lot of any one of these items, I don’t really count the cost. These are the extras that I serve as we have them.

  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Shredded or leafed lettuce
  • Sliced onion
  • Sliced peperoncinis
  • Sliced bell pepper
  • Sliced cucumbers
  • Vinaigrette
  • Chipotle Mayonnaise
  • Cooked, chopped bacon

Some of Our Favorite Sandwiches

While I love me a $5 footlong sub, I also keep in mind that I can make a ton of sandwiches at home for a fraction of the price. And usually they are tastier than what we would buy in a sandwich shop.

What do YOU include in your sandwich bar?

Do you consider sandwiches to be budget-friendly?

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Comments

  1. I’d suggest buying hotel style turkey breasts (often 99/lb on sale around here), roasting them, pulling the breast meat off in 2 large pieces, wrapping and freezing until needed. Make a stock out of the carcass and freeze for soups, gravy. 99/lb turkey is a good deal!

  2. We like subs too, so we make our own at home with Jimmy John’s day old bread- it’s about $.50/loaf.
    Also, we try to hit up the deli at one of our local grocers near closing time. They often pull out bags of pre-slice deli meats that previous customers changed their mind about. The selection can vary quite a bit, but it’s often marked down to about $1/lb.

  3. I always have stuff on hand for a quick set up with the Boys (band) being around so much … Every time I go to Costco, we get the black forest ham and the honey smoked turkey (like you said $3.99/lb and I prefer over boars head) … we always (almost) have olives, peppeoncinis, banana peppers, regular peppers, onions, sweet peppers and lettuce on hand. Cheese is always a given (well, except during July’s Pantry Challenge!) and I try to keep the real deal on hand :) Bread is the only issue since it will NOT stay fresh for long so generally, I can tell one of the boys to stop on the way over and pick up a couple of loaves (italian or french works the best imo) … funny, I just thought: the salads are the same as the sandwiches, only without the bread! :) And we ALWAYS have salad stuff :) Try the honey mustard dressing by Tammys Recipes for a spread….delicious!!

  4. We are a family in the minority here I guess. None of us really like cold sandwiches. The only cold sandwich we eat is PB&J (although I prefer it hot and grilled!). I like all the pieces of a cold sandwich and tend to eat them all separately if I am somewhere serving cold sandwiches (like a baby shower or something). My 4 year old does this too. Weird I know. We all just prefer hot sandwiches!

  5. kootenayAnnie says:

    What is “peppeoncinis”?
    I like to make our subs, or french bread for sandwiches. I also make up tuna salad, or egg salad, or left over meat put in the blender ( or food processor) and blended up with some relish and mayo ( I usually use any opened relish I have on hand and i do make my own relishes and can them in the summer). Then provide what I have in the fridge to go with the sandwich or as a side ( Dh , does not like anything veg in the sandwich, but loves coleslaw on the side, so I have that or potatoe salad for him _ and that uses up a lot of leftover potatoes).

  6. kootenayAnnie says:

    Thank You, I had no idea what peperoncinis were! I had thought something like Peperoni, now that would be quite different.
    Just now I have been making a club house putting out everything and make it yourself ( I just cooked a turkey yesterday and got the fixings I didn’t have so that today was a no cook day for me, and tomorrow – but I will start my turkey soup, and stock, and I think i will use my large muffin tins and make some turkey pot pies.) Yesterday we were having snow and Turkey was so appropriate! LOL.

  7. Where’s a good cheap place to buy all the stuff to make sub’s for a party?

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