When I tell people about this blog, some folks think that entertaining with cheese is very expensive or overly extravagant. There is this idea that you have to pay high prices to a specialty cheesemonger to get authentic and delicious cheese, but that needn’t always be the case. Trader Joe’s, Costco, and even your local grocery store can be great places to find reasonably priced, quality cheese. If you don’t live near a Trader Joe’s or Costco, keep an eye on your grocery store weekly flyers for sales happening in the cheese and deli department.
Beyond the cheese, you can cut costs on the platter accoutrements by shopping sales or buying things like nuts and dried fruits from the bulk bin aisle or Costco. You can also try making things yourself to save money. Use summer sales on seasonal fruits to make your own preserves or doctor up your bulk bin raw nuts to create specialty spiced nuts.
With a few good recipes and some savvy shopping, you can confidently entertain with cheese without breaking the bank. Use the “Inexpensive” category filter on this blog for specific recipes, tips, and tricks to keeping costs down.
Specialty Cheese Shops
A note on the specialty cheese shops… I’ve found that it is very easy to overestimate how much cheese you’re going to need for an event. You need to remember that since cheese is fairly rich, people tend more to taste than to fill themselves on it; plus, you have all the other accoutrements like crackers, bread, fruit, and so on for people to eat as well.
So if your gathering is relatively small, say 3-4 people, you’ll probably find that ¼ pound (or 100 grams) is generally enough if you’re having a 3 cheese platter. Since it’s hard to find small quantities like that prepackaged, a specialty shop can actually save you money in this area. My blue cheese tasting platter cheeses cost $16, and those were for high quality blue cheese – the roquefort in particular would have cost me more money if I had to buy it prepackaged in a larger amount than I needed. So if you have a cheesemonger that lives near you, check them out before you automatically rule them out as being too expensive. They may have just what you need.