It’s the highlight of every picnic, family gathering, or special occasion. But I know what your thinking... a cheese platter, laden with prosciutto, salami, olives, nuts, gourmet crackers and fruit comes at a pretty hefty price. So, figuring out how to make an Insta-worthy treat that won't send you crying all the way to the bank is essential for getting through isolation relatively unscathed. I created this blog for those who are living on a tight budget, but envy to live a little fancy. A cheese platter is an essential at 99.9% of my gatherings and picnics. There’s something about styling colourful cheese platters - I look at them as an edible form of art, the centrepiece of an event, and an opportunity to create an atmosphere. If only you didn’t have to spend half your wage on them.
Here are my 4 top tips for creating a beautiful platter without having to live on two-minute noodles for the rest of the week. We talk about whats essential, shopping tips, and how to style your platter in 5 simple steps.
1. Utilise What You Already Have
Open up your pantry! I guarantee you there's some crackers, nuts or dried fruits hiding in there somewhere from that Christmas hamper last year. Or those olives your grandma gave you that you never opened? Honey and jams are also great elements that almost everyone has on hand.
2. The Essentials - Having Enough, But Not Too Much
Getting this balance right is always one of the hardest parts of making cheese platters!! You want to make sure there's enough food for everyone to graze, but not too much that it will turn into wastage. Knowing how many people your platter will feed is essential, but a good platter doesn't need to break the bank - The simpler, the better! Ask yourself - do you really need 4 different types of cheese, and 3 different types of salami? All you need for a backyard picnic in isolation for two is:
2 Cheeses. 1 semi-firm or hard (Aged Manchego, Cheddar, Danish Blue) and 1 soft (Brie, Camembert, Goats Cheese, Ricotta)
1-2 Cured Meats
1x Box of Crackers
2-3 Fruits - A range of fruits that will taste amazing and add brightness are a nice alternative to the heavier ingredients like cheese & crackers
3. Saving Money
The easiest way to save money is to shop around before you settle on buying anything. Instead of draining your wallet in the fanciest options at the speciality shop, head straight to your regular ol’ grocery stores. Choose what ingredients you can afford to splurge on, and which ones you can get cheap. Meats, cheese and fruit can vary significantly from store to store. They may be comparable in price, but even fifty cents or one-dollar difference accumulates. You might even be able to buy that $10 bottle of Rose too!
* SHOPPING TIPS *
FRUIT: Keep an eye on sales - particularly fruit, and pick what's in-season. Blueberries might be $6 a punnet, but those Strawberries are looking fineee at $2.50. Some grocery stores even have a 'seconds' section with heavily discounted fruit + veg that looks fresh but might not be up to standards for the store. Have a look at Harris Farm's seconds area!
CURED MEATS: Salami or Jamon is always cheaper than Prosciutto. Always get your meats sliced from the deli (Woolworths & Coles are reasonably priced) - Those prepackaged cured meats are super overpriced $$$
CRACKERS: Why spend ridiculous prices on those boxes of fancy gourmet crackers with dried fruit? $3 for a box of wafer crackers, or $7 for a small box of fancy crackers? I know what I’m steering towards.
4. How to Style
Cheese platters can look very fancy and time consuming, but let me tell you: it’s SO EASY and EFFORTLESS. Follow these steps and you'll be creating killer cheese platters in no time. No pressure, but in all seriousness, us ladies need to be able to Instagram it!!
Arrange your cheeses evenly across the platter. Cut some cheeses in half and stack them to give the platter volume.
Transfer dips, honey, jams, and olives into small bowls and arrange evenly around the platter.
Fan out crackers or bread throughout the platter.
Add charcuterie. *See the tip below on how you can make meats more attractive.
Fill in the gaps with fruit, vegetables, nuts and chocolate!
*TIP* Charcuterie Styling
Salami: Fold thin circular pieces in half and tuck the edges underneath each other to form a small cone or slice multiple pieces, set them up like lying dominos and roll to create a rose.
Prosciutto: Create folds or clumps
Now you know all the tips and tricks to creating a killer cheese platter on a tight budget. Let's drink (& eat plenty of cheese) to that!!