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Food Review: Lunch Mate Premium Black Forest Ham

Lunch Mate Premium Black Forest Ham
Is the Aldi discount brand as good as the Name Brands like Hillshire or Oscar Mayer?

By Mike Thayer

Lunch meat, I always have some on hand, turkey, ham, roast beef, salami, bologna, it's all good!  It's such a convenient and easy grab from the fridge too.  There's the obvious in making a quick sandwich, but lunch meat isn't just for sandwiches anymore.  It's versatile for all kinds of great lunch, dinner, breakfast and snack eats, you're only limited by your imagination and what lunch meat, a.k.a., cold cuts can do for you.

Lunch meat has become even more versatile as part of the American diet in the last year, thanks to inflation.  Food costs have risen a whopping 13.5 percent in that time, a 43-year high.  In struggling with those higher prices, consumers have made changes at the dinner table beyond replacing steak with hamburger, some folks have substituted standard cuts of meat with lunch meats.

So with that in mind, I recently sampled Lunch Mate Premium Black Forest Ham.  Lunch Mate is an Aldi brand and in addition to the Black Forest Ham produces a variety of lunch meats such as  Rotisserie Seasoned Chicken Breast, Honey Smoked Turkey Breast, Mesquite Smoked Turkey Breast, and Smoked Uncured Ham.

Lunch Mate Premium Black Forest Ham
A sandwich in the making, awaiting mustard and Swiss Cheese...

If you're not up on what makes ham "Black Forest" ham, the name originated in Germany and how they dry-cured and smoked hams in the Black Forest region.  Now popular and produced everywhere pork is sold, the characteristic black edge of the meat is a result of the spices applied to the ham combined with the smoking process.

I sampled the ham straight out of the package, in a sandwich, included it in scrambled eggs and made some ham fried rice with it.  Tasty in all ways, it's good cold and it's good in prepared dishes.  It's lean, slices up nice and doesn't shrink up when cooked which speaks to the quality of the ham.  Adding water in the form of a brine is part of the typical ham lunch meat making process.  Low quality deli ham will shrink up when cooked and/or give you 'watery' scrambled eggs for example.  And since deli/lunch meat/cubed ham is sold by weight, the more water added, means more profit for those lesser ham producers.

Overall, this was good tasting ham, providing the classic ham notes of savory, sweet and smoky.  It's not off the bone baked ham good, but that's not to be expected, it's lunch meat after all and being a processed product won't have the robust flavor that a bone-in ham will.  What this ham does is go toe-to-toe with the name brand ham lunch meats. It's every bit as good as Hillshire Farms or Oscar Mayer and I contend it's better than the discount brands like Land O' Frost or Buddig.

Costing me $3.99 for a 1 pound package, I'm giving Lunch Mate Premium Black Forest Ham 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  It's a tasty, smart, economical choice.  Compare that price to Hillshire Farm at $5.29 at the mainstream grocery store and that's for just 9 ounces of meat!  Oscar Mayer, also 9 ounces, rings up at $4.99.  You get seven more ounces of ham for a lot less by buying Lunch Mate at Aldi, equal quality, equal taste.

4 stars

Related: Lunch meat: Always have some on hand for a go-to snack

Related: Grilled Chicken Cordon Bleu on a Stick

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