We’re looking for tasty, inexpensive meals in West Michigan. When we find them, we’ll share them with you here on Cheap Eats.
GRAND RAPIDS, MI – It’s easy to miss while driving down an often busy Leonard Street, but a closer look reveals a lovely butcher shop with a wide variety of offerings and custom sandwiches available daily for an easy and cheap.
For 21 years, Bruce Vanden Brink has been smoking, curing, cooking and preparing ham and other meats on the west side of Grand Rapids in Vanden Brink Mild Smoked Honey Ham. As the pig on the sign suggests, the shop specializes in all things pork, including sliced ham, bacon, jerky and assorted flavored sticks, all made from scratch.
Vanden Brink uses locally sourced meat to make many of the items featured in what he calls a “specialty ham shop,” but it’s more like someone’s dining room and kitchen than it is. at a public place of business. It’s not a restaurant per se, but the interior of the shop has a few tables, and the main eye-catching feature is a display case filled with ready-to-order assorted meats and snack sticks.
According to the owner, many customers enter the store by chance after driving by or having their car washed across the street. Other times, like during ham-heavy holidays like Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, the shop has become a destination for those in the know.
But it doesn’t have to be a special occasion to visit the shop as packed lunches are available every day at an extremely low price.
The packed lunch can be ordered on site. Clients fill out a menu by selecting bread (white or wheat), meat (ham, turkey, roast beef, salad ham, dried beef) and cheese (American, Swiss, colby jack, pepperjack and provolone).
Assorted toppings like lettuce, pickles, onions, tomatoes, peppers, jalapenos, and black olives and condiments like mayonnaise, honey mustard, mustard, and horseradish can also be selected.
I went with a ham sandwich (duh) on white bread with pepperjack cheese, lettuce, onions, pickles, mayonnaise and honey mustard, plus a side of fries and a small can of Coca-Cola, all for less than $8. Since my budget for Cheap Eats is officially $20, I decided to add a few meat sticks (BBQ and honey and teriyaki), but the total bill was barely $10, so I could have add many more.
Vanden Brink’s is a local place that uses fresh local ingredients made to order in a warm and welcoming environment. This won’t be a place to go for a full dinner, but anyone looking for a quick and ridiculously affordable lunch should definitely stop by and, as Vanden Brink says, “keep the money local”.
Vanden Brink Mild Smoked Honey Ham
What: Assorted meats prepared for purchase in bulk or in lunch boxes offered daily. Meat sticks, sides, drinks (and even dog bones) are also available.
Where: 1330 Leonard Street NW, Grand Rapids
Hours: Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.