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How Much Deli Meat Per Person: A Complete Guide

Making sandwiches for a crowd, or want an idea of how much to buy? Here’s how to figure out how much deli meat per person you’ll need!

Sandwiches are honestly one of the easiest and more popular meals to make for lunch or serve at parties. They’re simple to put together and pretty family friendly- honestly, my daughter could live off of them!

Sometimes, though, it can be hard to determine exactly how much you need. What amount of meat do you put on a sandwich? How much should you buy for the week? For a get-together? And how much bread do you need?

I’ll shed some light on how to calculate these things. Read below for detailed information and save this post for later!

Assortment of deli meats on a tray

What type of deli meat to buy

Oh my gosh, there are so many different kinds of cold cuts. Let me go over a few of the popular ones below:


Ham is a super popular choice, especially in my house. There are also a few different varieties:

  • Black Forest ham
  • Virginia ham
  • Honey ham

There are way more than this, especially at a deli counter. My personal favorite is the Black Forest ham.


Turkey breast is typically low in fat and calories, and fairly high in protein. It has a more subtle flavor and goes amazing with condiments like mustard.

Roast beef

Roast beef is a little more expensive than the other types, but I feel like it has more flavor. A lot of deli roast beef is made from the top round.


Salami is a cured form of meat, usually made from pork. It’s firmer in texture, has a bold flavor, and tastes a bit saltier.

Chicken breast

Just like turkey, chicken breast is low in fat and calories, and higher in protein. It also has a more subtle flavor but can make a great addition to your cold cut platter.

The cheapest thing to do is buy only one or two types. The most popular types of lunch meat seem to be ham and turkey; but you can replace one of those with salami for a different texture.

Also, I feel like roast beef costs a lot of money, moreso than the others. But use what you like!

Where to get the deli meat

There are two main ways to buy deli meat:


Buying pre-packaged and pre-sliced meat can be more convenient. You can see exactly how much you’re getting, and it’s all pre-sliced into pretty equal portions.

At the deli counter

You have WAY more options at the deli counter. Different flavors, types, etc. And you can choose how thin or thick you want your meat to be. The deli counter has large slicers and it’s easy for them to slice how you want it.

Sometimes this can be a cheaper option, especially if certain kinds are on sale. You can get a few pounds of deli meat much cheaper this way.

How many ounces of deli meat are in a package?

Pre-packaged deli meat can come in smaller packages, usually 7 or 8 ounces. You can also buy a “family pack”, which is typically 16 ounces or 1 pound.

At the deli counter, you can ask for a specific weight. Usually a half pound or one pound.

How big is a piece of deli meat?

This depends on where you get the meat.

Pre-packaged meat is usually sliced into smaller circles; while meat from the deli counter could be more oval-shaped or be sliced in a larger circle.

Also, pre-packaged meat is typically thinly sliced; while you can choose the deli meat thickness at the deli case.

If pre-packaged meat is 3 ounces for 6 slices, then each slice is about 1/2 an ounce each. And the meat from the deli counter is bigger, so I’d guess about 1 ounce per large slice.

Close up view of a deli sandwich

How much deli meat goes on a sandwich?

For a regular size single sandwich, with sandwich slice bread, a recommended serving size is 2-3 ounces of meat. This is about 5-7 smaller slices, or 2-3 larger slices.

For smaller sandwiches, like on sliders, you can probably cut the amount in half per sandwich. But keep in mind that because the sandwiches are smaller, people may eat more of them.

How many sandwiches is a pound of meat?

A serving size is about 2 ounces. So one pound equals around 8 servings of deli meat. You’ll get approximately 8 sandwiches per pound.

How many slices of bread are in a loaf?

You need to be mindful of what kind of bread you buy at the grocery store. Some brands have larger slices and have less per package. A standard 20-oz loaf has around 22 slices of bread.

In addition to those types of loaves, you can invest in other kinds of bread too, depending on the occasion:

  • Rye bread: Paired with roast beef and Swiss cheese, this makes for the perfect sandwich!
  • Hoagie rolls: Can use whole ones, or cut in half for miniature sandwiches
  • French loaf: Can slice up to have as appetizer-sized pieces

How many sandwiches are in a loaf of bread?

If you buy the 20-oz loaf, that has 22 slices, you’ll get approximately 11 sandwiches per loaf.

How much deli meat would I need for my family?

Let’s break it down into a single person first.

If one person eats one sandwich every day, 5 days a week:

  • One sandwich: 2 ounces of lunch meat
  • 5 sandwiches per week: 10 ounces

So for a family of 4, you would need 40 ounces, or almost 3 pounds of meat, for the week. And you’ll need about 2 loaves of bread.

An assortment of deli meat on a tray

How much lunch meat for a party

We’ll use the same calculations as above for a large group of people. The amount of food just depends on the number of people and what you’re serving.

  • 20 people: 40 ounces of meat, or 2 pounds 8 ounces
  • 30 people: 60 ounces of meat, 3 pounds 12 ounces

If the sandwiches are your main course, you may want to aim for the higher side of meat. But if you’re serving a lot of side dishes, like pasta salad or potato salad, you may not need quite as much meat. Same goes if you have a lot of toppings: Cheese slices, tomatoes, lettuce, etc.

Also keep in mind: A number of guests may just eat the meat by itself, not on a sandwich. Or some might just use one slice of bread instead of two. A good rule of thumb is to buy just a little more than you think you need.

If you’re turning that much lunchmeat into a charcuterie board, it’s a good idea to buy more. I don’t know about you, but I tend to grab a LOT of food off a board like that. And if you have big eaters coming, you’ll need to plan for that.

How much cheese to buy

A typical serving is 1-2 ounces of cheese per person. A sandwich style slice of cheese, for example, is about 1 ounce.

A small 8-oz package of cheese has around 12 slices; so buy as many as you need for the amount of people.

There are plenty of types of cheese you can use! Here are some options:

  • Cheddar cheese (As sharp as you want it)
  • Colby Jack
  • Swiss
  • Pepperjack

How to store leftovers

Once everything has been served and the party/meal is over, store any leftovers in an airtight container or ziploc bag.

I like to store the different kinds of meat and cheese separately. Alternatively, you can make homemade Lunchables by combining some of these foods into a smaller container and having them for lunch the next day!

A deli sandwich on a plate

What to do with leftover deli meat

If you have a ton of luncheon meats left over, you don’t have to stick with eating them as boring sandwiches! Here are some other things you can do with leftover meat:

  • Make breakfast sandwiches to freeze (Like this easy Ham and Cheese Bagel Sandwich!)
  • Chop up some slices of deli meat and add to a salad for extra protein
  • Add to scrambled eggs for a quick, high-protein breakfast
  • Shred and add to casseroles
  • Make a deli platter with anything left over. These could be made into snack trays and are a great way to use up too much cheese, meat, vegetables, etc.

Just remember, the portion size doesn’t have to be perfect. These are just general guidelines, and it’s hard to get the right combination of meat, cheese, and other fixings for your party. But a general rule of thumb is to buy a little more than you need- you can always eat the leftovers!

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