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The best carryout? Try Bubba's Deli

March 11, 1999

IF you've got kids, you know the drill. It's spring sports season, and between the time you leave work and get your children to the ball field, there isn't always time to prepare the nutritious meal you know they need. So, if you don't want to give them fast food, what are your other choices?

That's what one local mom with two teenagers asked me to find out, by holding one of our famous $20 letter-writing contests to ask readers where she could get economical and nutritious carryout food. After some prompting, here are my entries:

- For Gloria Bastian of Williamsport, the best deal is Boston Market on Hagerstown's Wesel Boulevard near Wal-Mart. Here's her pitch:

"You can purchase a whole low-fat and tasty rotisserie chicken with a good choice of vegetables to go with it for a very reasonable price. They also have meat loaf, ham and other items which are delicious."


- Mrs. Robert Myers of Hagerstown didn't jump in right away, she says, because she kept "thinking my favorite fast meals wouldn't qualify (grocery store items kept on hand) I didn't enter your original contest.

"However, yesterday, I discovered Panda Chinese at the new outlet center food court. For $5.95, you can get three modest-sized entrees, plus fried rice or low mein.

"For larger appetites, two orders of two entrees plus rice or low mein, $4.95 each, should suffice. Other offers available.

"Four adults were fed by a $5.95 meal. Some may not be. For children, a glass of milk could be added. Best of all, it's good tasting. Being frugal, I think it's a great value."

- For Cookie English, the choice is Penn Avenue Meats on Pennsylvania Avenue in Hagerstown.

"Quick meal pick-ups for me for year have been Penn Avenue Meats. The selections from their "Home Cooking" section are varied, can be heated in under 10 minutes, or since they're fully cooked, some like meat loaf could be eaten cold with salsa.

"Here are just four meal combinations that mother, father and two teen-age sons could choose - all $20 or under:

1. Meat loaf, twice-baked potatoes (choice of toppings) broccoli salad and apple pie. $19.50.

2. Parmesan, cornflake or stuffed chicken breasts, gourmet potatoes, baked apple dumplings. $20.

3. Soup, whole wheat bread, ham or chicken salad and cake. $16.

4. Taco casserole, fruit cup, taco chips and a dozen assorted cookies. $15.

"You can also pre-order combinations for a pre-set pick-up time. For me, Penn Avenue Meats is fast, delicious and trustworthy."

- Finally, there's Jennifer J. Miller of Hagerstown, who likes Bubba's Deli on Maryland Avenue.

"As a full-time college student with a job, trying to keep up on my studies, working all the time and volunteering for a local ambulance company, I am always looking for a fast affordable meal that is really not fast food. I found it at Bubba's. Here's some examples of Bubba's great dinner choices:

1. Get a 12-piece chicken dinner and a half-pint of cole slaw, macaroni salad or potato salad for only $10.99.

2. Spaghetti dinner, with tossed salad. This meal includes a dinner roll and salad dressing of your choice for only $4.50.

3. For the children, try Bubba's Chicken Nuggets. This meal includes your choice of two side dishes (french fries, applesauce, macaroni and cheese, cole slaw or the vegetable of the day, just to name a few, for only $2.50 per meal.

Miller also sent me an entire Bubba's menu, and closed by saying that "If I win this contest I will be celebrating at Bubba's."

Well, celebrate you will, Ms. Miller, because as an experienced kid feeder, the menu you describe at Bubba's is what kids will eat.

I love Chinese food, but my children wouldn't touch it until they were well into their teens because, with a few exceptions, children do not like casserole-style food. They want the meat separated from the potatoes and the vegetables. The selection at Penn Avenue Meats sounds good, but Bubba's lower prices give it the edge, and Miller's enthusiastic descriptions give her the win. Thanks to all who participated.

Last week a regular letter-writer called me to say that she's considering giving up the practice because after her last letter, a very angry woman called her up to argue with her, scaring her a little bit.

She'd hate to stop expressing her opinion, and asked if I'd put something in my column asking readers to confine their debates to the letters column.

That's probably a good idea, because as I tell people all the time, if you tell me, then one person knows about it, but if you write a letter, then all the readers of The Herald-Mail will get your message.

However, if you're angry, you might want to write that letter and let it sit for a day. Maybe you'll reconsider what you said. If not, send it along to Letters to the Editor, The Herald-Mail, 100 Summit Ave., Hagerstown, Md., 21740.

As for those experiencing problems with unwanted callers, I recommend an answering machine to screen calls. There's something about being recorded that seems to make people think twice about what they're saying.

Bob Maginnis is Herald-Mail's Opinion Page editor

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