food

How to put together a delicious, fancy-looking cheeseboard for just $10.

Cheese is life.

It’s also expensive if you’re into the fancy stuff. You know, that oozy cheese that smells like feet but tastes like being rich? Isn’t it the best?

With party season upon us, we all have visions of recreating that gourmet grazing table we had at our work Christmas party when our friends come around for festive drinks.

Post continues after video…

But for some of us (me), serving layers upon layers of cured meats and cheeses from that fancy Italian shop down the road that all the glam soccer mums frequent just isn’t realistic.

So, in my never-ending quest to create the ~illusion~ that I’m fancy, I’ve learnt, copied, and collected many a cheeseboard hack over the years.

And now I’m willing to share them.

Here’s how you can create a cheeseboard for $10 that’ll make your friends think you’re a regular Nigella Lawson:

Shop smart

Olives

Jamie Oliver once told me (through the TV screen) that jarred olives are actually more flavoursome than olives you buy from the deli section in plastic tubs.

They’re also cheaper.

A jar of olives will set you back about $2.50, and you probably won’t use the whole thing.

Fruit

Grapes and figs are expensive, so opt for a single pear or punnet of strawberries (on special) to decorate your board instead.

One pear is about 60 cents and you can slice it up and spread it around on your wooden board. Boom.

Cheese

A very clever thrifty friend once informed me that huge chunks of “swiss-style” supermarket-brand cheese are often hiding in the sandwich cheese/shredded cheese section, rather than the platter filling section some supermarkets have. And it tastes like Jarlsberg. Win.

Buy one of these for about $3, and chop it in half. You can either use both halves to spread across your cheeseboard (fill all those gaps baby), or save half for the next time you have friends over.

For your other cheese selections (I usually go for two or three), shop the fancy platter section the night before your event, right before closing.

This is when all the markdowns happen, and you can score yourself that fancy French goats cheese.

ADVERTISEMENT

Meat

I don’t always include meat on my platters because I have a lot of vego friends. When I do – I usually steer clear of prosciutto if I’m going budget (it just doesn’t taste as good IMO), but you can never go wrong with salami.

The sandwich-filler kind is often just as good as the gourmet stuff, and a fraction of the price. It’s usually on special at my Woolies for $2. Score!

Bread is your friend

Always choose bread over crackers. My local Woolies sells a packet of Lebanese flatbread for $1. I usually pull out about half the packet, tear it up and chuck it in the oven with olive oil and sea salt. That’s 50 cents for a whole cheeseboard.

Alternatively – grab a baguette and slice it up. It’ll cost you about $2 versus the $5 to $8 you’ll spend on that box of fancy-shmancy crackers studded with seeds and dried fruit. (Even though those are delicious).

Step away from the quince paste

Look, we all wish we could buy Maggie Beer quince paste on the regular, but the weekend before payday it’s just not wise. That’s eating into your precious Monday morning coffee money which is just too important.

Instead – grab a jar of honey (awesome with blue cheese), or supermarket-brand strawberry or apricot jam and spoon it out into a small decorative ramekins dotted around your wooden cheeseboard. No one will know the difference.

Alternatively, use that stray onion you have floating around at home to whip up your own onion jam using sugar and balsamic vinegar. Google will show you how.

DIY antipasto

A different – though still very clever – frugal foodie friend used to fry up florets of broccoli with olive oil, garlic and chilli for her cheeseboards.

Not only is buying a head of broccoli (or using leftovers from a weeknight dinner) much cheaper than deli-section antipasto, it gives a nice, homemade-rustic touch to your board.

I’ve also roasted my own capsicum in the past, or fried up mushrooms with garlic and herbs to add interest to my platters. Yum.

It’s all about the aesthetic

I’m lucky I have a very generous housemate who lets me use his special cheese knives when I have friends over.

But I also put a lot of effort into how I present my bits and pieces by meticulously layering and stacking my bread, opting for brightly-coloured fruit and veg that matches the colours and patterns of my ramekins and decorating with slices of pear or strawberries.

It’s an art.

(And even if it is a cheaper cheeseboard, you still want it to look Instagrammable.)

The maths

Flatbread: 50c

Pear: 60c

Cheese (two varieties): Approx. $6

Olives: (half a jar) $1.25

Capsicum/broccoli/mushrooms or salami: Approx $2.00

Total: $10.35

…Okay, so just over $10, but you get the idea.

Now go forth and eat cheese.

(With wine, of course).

00:00 / ???