Flying the red-eye from somewhere to anywhere is often an exercise in a little displeasure and some discomfort. Flying the red-eye from Vancouver to Toronto with a cranky toddler digging into your lap is always pure hell.

So when I flipped on the TV to entertain my kid, I thought I’d found some peace for me and some quiet for the passengers on the plane. The late-night show on offer was CBC’s “Best Recipes Ever” and my kid was immediately enthralled watching a pretty lady in a pink sweater make food.

I was enthralled by the pink lady too, mostly because I love a good cooking show where impossible dishes with mysterious oil-infused ingredients are served with culinary prowess and advanced creative ingenuity. Both my daughter and I watched intently to witness what delicious meal could be considered a “best recipe ever” by the CBC.

If I wasn’t securely strapped to my seat due to turbulence, I would have fallen over. Someone (the people of Canada) had paid the CBC’s Best Recipes Ever (real money) to demonstrate (to the people of Canada) how to assemble… wait for it… a cold ham and cheese sandwich. Yes, a sandwich.

I can’t make this up.

Where was the culinary prowess? The creative ingenuity? The cooking? I hungered for an oil-infused ingredient (or a drizzle of basic Balsamic vinegar) but the TV chef didn’t even rise to bake her own bread. The most alluring thing about this publicly funded sandwich was the 1950s-inspired garnish — a garishly speared toothpick boasting a cherry tomato and a mechanically stuffed olive.


I was about to lose it.

The grumble in my tummy wasn’t satiated. The red in my red-eye welled impossibly, trying to hold back the tears. And my daughter refused to stop wiggling. The plane would experience zero peace and quiet this flight ’cause my kid yelped: “I NO LIKE IT” and I belly laughed so hard I nearly launched that child into the luggage compartment above.

The sandwich-assembling recap was especially helpful to those who have never assembled a sandwich before.

And then it happened. No, I didn’t read The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches.

I don’t know what “it” was but my flight-numbed brain took a nose dive and I saw the brilliance in the now-cancelled cooking show. This defunct sandwich-making program wasn’t ridiculous or lazy — it was pure personal finance genius. By transcending culinary mastery and moving beyond costly infused oils and unique foreign ingredients, the pretty chef lady in pink managed to flip off all cooking shows of past, present, and future by making a budget-friendly lunch worthy of a brown bag. This bit$ch was going to increase your financial bottom line, one slice of fromage at a time.

Everyone knows taking your lunch to work or school saves you considerable cash over eating out. Don’t believe me? Check out Buying your lunch? That’s one expensive habit where I’m interviewed in The Globe and Mail.

So back on the plane while struggling with a over-tired toddler and enduring a cancelled show called “Best Recipes Ever” I decided to crunch the numbers and do the math on the cost of a better-than-average ham and cheese sandwich.

I will save you money, Canada. OK, I’ll save the world money too. Promise.

Number Cruncher: The cost of a ham and cheese sandwich

After landing on two stable and well-rested feet I headed straight to Costco with my sandwich shopping list. I’ve done the legwork, shopping at Costco is really worth it.

ham sandwich


  • 1 ciabatta bun, sliced
  • 4 oz (113g) rosemary stone baked ham, thinly sliced
  • 2 oz (57 g) Brie cheese, sliced
  • 2 lettuce leaves
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) whole-berry cranberry sauce, no-name
  • Garnish: 1 toothpick, 1 stuffed olive, 1 cherry tomato

If you’re giving my lazy canned cranberry sauce the side-eye, go ahead and delight your savoury senses with my homemade cranberry sauce — it’s delicious and takes a little additional work over opening a can.

Moving along…

I followed the sandwich layering instructions of “Best Recipes Ever” perfectly and I’ll recap the darn recap to prove it. Sandwich Recap: Cut the bun in half, slather on some cranberry sauce, layer slices of deli ham, cut the cheese and stack some Brie, top with a bun and add a garish garnish. Your sandwich is served, Canada.

OK, a panini press would have made this wich more perfect. But since the CBC wasn’t into heating things up with a little flare, neither would I.


I weighed the ingredients and I tallied the cost.

panini sandwich recipes

Bottom Line: Eating a premium ham and Brie sandwich once will cost you $2.65/day. Savour the sandy over a week and you’ll pay $13.25/week. Packing the samewich for a year totals a tasty $689 per annum. Pretty frugal (not cheap) considering a premium take-out lunch costs around $14/day, or $70/week, or $3,640/year.

Note: Five business days is a week, and 260 days (5*52) is a year.

Total Premium Sandwich Over Take-Out Savings: Eating the ham and Brie sandwich and skipping the premium take-out saves a hungry diner a stunning 81% — that’s $11.35/day, $56.75/week, $2,951/year. Stuff those savings in your RRSP and rock it.

But wait, there’s more…

Number Cruncher: The cost of a ‘Miser Sadwich’

So, ‘The Carl’ wasn’t sold on the CBC’s ham and Brie sandwich being a “best recipe ever.” Because Carl is a little stubborn, a lot German, and mostly stuck in his ways, he much prefers to munch on a far less costly lunch. He deems “The Miser Sadwich”, which is basically a cheese, mustard, and lettuce lunch nestled between two whole-wheat slices of bread a “pretty decent lunch.”


The Miser is not a super-sexy meal, but the minimal cost can tame even the tightest of lunch budgets.

sandwich recipes

Bottom Line: The Miser’s mustardy magnificence will set you back 68 cents a day, $3.40/week, or $176.80/year. Considerably frugal if you calculate an inexpensive take-out lunch to be $7/day, or $35/week, or $1,820/year.

Total Miser Sadwich Over Take-Out Savings: Building a cheese, mustard, and lettuce sandwich saves a midday luncher 90% over ordering low-cost take-out — that’s $6.32/day, $31.60/week, or $1,643.20/year.

Wrapped and ready for lunch. Here’s the front:


And the back:


You won’t won’t find ‘The Miser Sadwich’ in this fancy Sandwich Book. Nope. This blog represents real life, people. Also I’m almost done crunching numbers. Promise.

Where am I going with this?

Campy Canadian cooking shows produced by the CBC will get cancelled if they try to hawk a ham and cheese sandwich as a “best recipe ever”. Also, trapping a temperamental toddler on a red-eye flight from Vancouver to Toronto sucks. Lastly, making a cold ham and cheese sandwich at home costs less money then ordering one in a deli. Vegetarians can save even more cash — a total of 74% with savings of $1.97/day, $9.85/week, $512.20/year by skipping the ham and opting for a cheese and lettuce sandwich.

Now, who rocked the ham and Brie better? Squawky or the CBC?

ciabatta bread

Phew, I’m cooked.