I love sandwiches, and enjoy good deli meat, but can't afford to buy freshly sliced meats from the deli counter on a regular basis. Usually, I just buy whatever is on sale or at the lowest price, although I do try to stay away from bologna and the super-thin slice meats (like the Carl Buddig and Land O' Lakes stuff).
A few months ago, I found Oscar Meyer Shaved Deli Fresh Meats on sale, and decided to try the roast beef. The Oscar Meyer Shaved Deli Fresh Meats are deli meats that come in a plastic tub-style package. They are placed in the package in folds, like fresh-sliced meat from the deli counter, rather than in a single round or rectangular stack.
My family found the Oscar Meyer roast beef delicious, and we've purchased it several times since then. Recently, however, I noticed that our local Fred Meyer was also stocking a Kroger brand (their store brand) of thin-sliced deli meat, which was quite a bit cheaper that day than the Oscar Meyer Shaved Deli Fresh Meat. I picked up a couple of packages of Kroger brand roast beef, feeling good about saving money for my family.
Unfortunately, the store brand in this case did not turn out to be just like the name brand. While the Oscar Meyer Shaved Deli Fresh roast beef is clearly real roast beef, with the correct appearance, texture, and flavor, the Kroger brand roast beef was more like the cheap, thinly sliced Carl Buddig or Land 'O Lakes versions. The slices were an even, nondescript brown color, with none of the color and texture of real meat. They had some beef flavor, but did not taste as authentic as the Oscar Meyer Shaved Deli Fresh roast beef.
Nutritionally, the two products are fairly comparable. One serving of each (about 2 ounces) is 60 calories. Kroger brand roast beef actually contains slightly less fat, at 1.5 grams total fat, compared to Oscar Meyer's 2 grams total fat, and slightly less cholesterol (25 grams, as opposed to 30 grams for Oscar Meyer). The Oscar Meyer Shaved Deli Fresh roast beef does better with sodium, 520 mg per serving compared to Kroger's 550 mg.
Both meats contain the same amount of protein (10 grams), but Oscar Meyer Shaved Deli Fresh roast beef contains slightly more iron - 8% of the Recommended Daily Allowance, while the Kroger roast beef only has 6% of the RDA.
As for price, on my last shopping trip, both brands were on sale for the same price (2 for $5), which made choosing Oscar Meyer an easy decision. When both brands are at regular price, the Kroger brand roast beef is $3.49 per package, and the Oscar Meyer Shaved Deli Fresh roast beef is only 50 cents more, at $3.99. At those prices, the higher-quality Oscar Meyer roast beef would definitely be my choice as well. And even if the Kroger brand were on sale, and the Oscar Meyer was full price, I still don't think I'd choose the Kroger roast beef. I'd be more likely to choose some other packaged deli meat that was available before I'd go with the Kroger brand.
Frugality is more than just choosing the lowest priced item - it's about getting the quality you want in what you buy as well. Keep this in mind as you shop for deli meats.