Struggling with where to find healthy lunch meats? You’re not alone. Store-bought lunch meats not only come from CAFO-raised animals, but they also contain a strange and unwholesome mix of additives like carageenan and preservatives like sodium nitrate.
If you’re not ready to give up on the idea of cold-served meats for lunch, consider this your guide to nutrient-dense, wholesome lunch meats from grass-fed, wild, or pasture-raised animals.
Your best choice.
As always, your best option to find healthy lunch meats is to know your farmer and buy directly from them. Buy grass-fed rump roast, cook it, and slice it; or buy pasture-raised turkey, roast it, and slice it.
You get the idea. Keep it as simple and close to home as possible, and you’ll do fine.
If you don’t have a local farmer you can trust to raise beyond-organic meats for you, I highly recommend checking out a few online suppliers.
Don’t want to cook? These are good choices.
If roasting and slicing your own grass-fed lunch meat seems a little too inconvenient for you, then your next best choice is to buy pre-made, nitrate-free lunch meats from good grass-fed or wild sources.
The following are my family’s all time favorite lunch meats that are actually healthy. If something’s not here, it’s not necessarily because it wouldn’t be Food Renegade Approved. This list is simply our personal favorites based on what we routinely buy and enjoy.
Grass-fed Beef Bologna
Made with the beef from grass-fed cows, this bologna tastes just like you’d expect bologna to taste, but without all the additives.
It’s free of nitrates, nitrites, MSG, preservatives, dairy, and gluten.
It easily stores in the freezer, so I buy in bulk to save on shipping. Once defrosted, it’ll keep about a week in the fridge. If we don’t think we’ll be eating that much bologna in a week, I just cut a partially-thawed roll in half and return half of it to the freezer.
Grass-fed Beef Braunsweiger
Braunsweiger is a kind of liverwurst, but with a more mild liver flavor. It’s an excellent way to work nutrient-dense liver into your family’s diet.
This braunsweiger is made from grass-fed beef and contains no nitrates, nitrites, preservatives, or additives.
It’s got a wholesome and simple list of ingredients: grass-fed beef, grass-fed beef liver, water, sea salt, onion powder, white pepper, coriander, marjoram, allspice. And that’s it!
Like the bologna, it freezes well and keeps for about a week in your fridge once defrosted.
Wild-Caught BPA-free Tuna by Wild Planet
When it comes to cold lunch meats, most people think of sliced deli meats. I admit I do, too. But a simple tuna salad makes a great and surprisingly healthy lunch meat.
We use this wild-caught, low-mercury, BPA-free canned tuna. I just mix in my homemade mayonnaise or a few tablespoons of sour cream, add some salt and pepper, and call it good.
To get a little creative (while still staying simple), I often mix in dried cranberries or chopped nuts or a hard-boiled egg.
Avoid these choices.
Please notice I didn’t include many popular brands of “all-natural” lunch meats. That’s because most of these lunch meats contain hidden and excessive amounts of nitrates. They’re also likely to contain other food additives like the stomach-ache inducing carageenan. And, most importantly to me, they’re not from pasture-raised sources and are usually just “natural” or “organic.”
I will admit that there are a few options we buy for convenience, on rare occasion, including Applegate Organics Oven Roasted Turkey Breast Slices (not to be confused with their Naturals line). These are just organic meat, water, salt, broth, potato starch, and rosemary extract. They’re Whole30 approved, gluten-free, and certified GMO-free. Not bad for a compromise food, right? But although it lacks harmful additives, it’s still not from pasture-raised hens and likely comes from turkeys raised entirely indoors with limited to no outdoor access.
What does your family do for lunch meat?
(top photo by stevejohnson)