Hostel on a Budget: How to Make a Butcher Board in Any Price Range

Charcuterie boards are a great addition to any gathering. Here are some ideas to keep costs down while still creating a beautiful guest board.

Meat boards are like my children, I’m afraid to say how long I think about them. They consume my Pinterest, TikTok and even Instagram feeds. When I go to an event, the butcher board comes with me. But the price of meat and cheese can really rise! After spending a week at my local Trader Joe’s, I discovered the essence of every charcuterie board and how to create one at just about any price point. With a budget of $20, $40, and $60, here are my best butcher boards.

(Jules Hassler for WSN)

Board 1: $20

Ingredients: Cheddar cheese, goat cheese, sliced ​​salami, crackers, blackberries, dark chocolate and olive pesto.

This is a board where you really get into the four food groups of the perfect meat board: meat, grain, fruit, and cheese. You need at least two cheeses – this is practically a law. By doing this, you create a variety of flavors, even if there is only one type of meat, grain, and fruit. I usually choose one hard cheese and one soft cheese, giving guests a choice in their meat consumption. I recommend classic cheddar for hard cheese and goat cheese for soft. At first I was nervous about inviting goat cheese to the party, but by the end of the night we had scraped this block down to the board. Pperfectly accompanied by a cracker, blackberries and a drizzle of honey, the goat’s cheese creates an incredible bite. If you’re feeling indulgent, replace the crackers with a square of dark chocolate and you’ve just made dessert.

I decided to keep it simple with the savory parts of this board, but some simple salami and crackers will take you a long way. Once I finally figured out how to shape salami into a rose, my life changed and my board game was infinitely elevated. You simply put the salami on the rim of any glass and then let it set in the fridge for a while. For the rest of my budget, I added olive pesto, which I highly recommend. The olive flavor is not overpowering, so olive haters can still enjoy it with a cracker and a slice of cheddar. For a chilly Sunday night, this board was cheap and easy!

A charcuterie board is assembled, consisting of crackers, cheese, grapes, pomegranate seeds, various cured meats and a bowl of pesto.
(Jules Hassler for WSN)

Board 2: $40

Ingredients: Cheddar Cheese, Monterey Jack, Trader Joe’s Mini Brie Slices, Sliced ​​Salami, Sliced ​​Prosciutto, Sliced ​​Calabrese, Green Grapes, Pomegranate, Olive Pesto and Madeleine.

As you can see, the four main food groups for a good board are still here, but I’ve updated the meat, fruit and cheese sections. I added another basic cheddar, this time with sharp Monterey Jack, to offer a new flavor. I opted for Brie instead of goat cheese, but I found that a slice of Brie never goes well when served on a charcuterie board. Trader Joe’s Mini Brie Bites were cheaper than any other Brie option in the store, and to be honest, they were much more functional as well as super cute. Add a drizzle of honey and you’re in meatloaf heaven.

When trying to find the best bougie for your salami, prosciutto can fit both sweet and savory flavor profiles. Trader Joe’s has a tray of three meats for about $5 with the Big Three—salami, Calabrese, and prosciutto. This is called a limited budget.

When it comes to fruit, I always think that grapes make everything so pretty and go perfectly with Brie. I also love pomegranate seeds for their nice crunch and they go incredibly well with cheddar. My total at this point was about $33, but adding in the olive pesto from the previous board brings our total to just under $40.

A charcuterie board consisting of crackers, cheese, blackberries, grapes, apple slices, various cured meats and madeleines is assembled on a wooden cutting board.  Nearby is a receipt from Trader Joe's with the prices for each ingredient.
(Jules Hassler for WSN)

Board 3: $60

Ingredients: sliced ​​pear, sliced ​​prosciutto, blue cheese, crackers, sliced ​​apples, manchego cheese, gouda, pepper salami, sharp cheddar cheese, blackberries and red grapes.

To prepare for this board, I spent way too much time at Trader Joe’s. I went at 9am and without the rush of after work people I was able to browse the store and visit some of the aisles with ease. The thought process that went into this was incredibly difficult, but my guests deserve the best.

This board is my first and is all about a casual night out with the girls. The prosciutto-wrapped pear went perfectly with the Brie. If you’re feeling less extravagant, a simple pear slice with blue cheese and crackers will do. The apples came with all sorts of manchego or gouda, which came in a pre-sliced ​​package for about $5.

The next food pairing took a little inspiration from the first board, consisting of cherry goat cheese, croutons and blackberries. Salami with pepper and spicy cheddar cheese made my nostrils flare with the strong aroma—my whiteness even from pepper bothers me most days. Finally, the madeleines look really pretty and add a nice sweetness and soft texture to contrast with the crunchy crackers.

Contact Jules Hasler at [email protected]

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