Blog

DIY Trader Joe’s Cheese Board Guide

In order to properly celebrate National Cheese Day, I wanted to share with you my ultimate Cheese Board Guide so you can celebrate today (& any other day) with a cheese board of your very own!

This guide is strictly a Trader Joe’s shopping guide but in the future I’ll be sharing guides that can be used at other grocery stores.

The purpose of this guide is to give you an idea of what you can buy from Trader Joe’s, in order to make your very own cheese boards. It will help with planning, shopping & most importantly, budgeting. Cheesed boards can get expensive but having this guide as a resource can help you understand how to manage the cost, depending on what you’re wanting on your board. My intention is for you to use this guide as a “build your own cheese board” tool to help you navigate a possibly confusing arena. Ideally you’ll want to choose between 2-5 items from each category, but this is dependent on number of people, size & budget!

While I didn’t catalog every single item at Trader Joe’s that could possibly make its way onto a cheese board, there is a good variety of items ranging in price.

*I have not personally tried every single item on this list, but I wanted to show you what is available to you & I will add notes to the items I have tried! I have also highlighted my personal favorites that I use frequently on my boards for inspiration! At the end of the guide you can find pictures of some of the boards I have made in the past!

I hope this is helpful to your cheese loving soul!

Cheese:

  • Unexpected Cheddar – $3.99 / 7oz
  • Double Cream Brie – $5.99 / lb*
  • Cherve Goat Cheese – $2.99 / 5oz
  • Goat Milk Brie – $2.99 / 4.4oz
  • Goat’s Milk Creamy Cheese – $3.29 /4.5oz
  • Boursin – $3.79 /5.2oz
  • Double Cream Gouda – $7.99/ lb*
  • Cracker Cut Cheddar Cheese – $4.49 / 10oz
  • Dorothy’s Comeback Cow – $6.99 / 7oz
  • Cave Aged Blue Cheese – $6.99 / 7oz
  • Manchego – $9.99 / lb*
  • Chevoo (Marinated Goat Cheese) – $4.99 / 4oz
  • Le Gruyére – $14.99 / lb*

*Cheeses sold using ‘per pound’ prices are usually sold in portions ranging from 5-10oz so pricing will vary depending on location & availability.

My Favorites – Unexpected Cheddar: it’s my favorite cheese sold at Trader Joe’s & it’s great for cheese boards because its familiar enough being a cheddar, but it’s a little elevated in look & flavor! This cheese always makes it onto my boards! Double Cream Brie: it’s simple. People. Love. Brie. & this one is fabulous, great flavor & creamy texture. Cherve Goat Cheese: this goat cheese is mild in flavor but just tangy enough to add interest to your boards! You can also dress it up nicely with garnish since it’s basically a blank canvas. Boursin: it’s a very familiar cheese which makes it great for a crowd that’s new to fancy cheese! It also spreads wonderfully. Cracker Cut Cheddar: when you want something familiar & simple, this is the way to go. Bonus, it’s already cut for you! Cave Aged Blue Cheese: this is a mild blue cheese, it’s similar to gorgonzola which a lot of people love & has amazing flavor & creaminess!

Meats:

  • Prosciutto – $4.99 / 5.29oz
  • Peppered Salame $5.99 / 10oz
  • Chianti Salami – $4.99 / 8oz
  • Turkey Summer Sausage – $3.99 / 8oz
  • Sopressata Salame – $4.99 / 8oz
  • Calabrese Salame – $2.99 / 5oz
  • Italian Dry Salame (Sliced) – $4.49 / 8oz
  • Italian Dry Salame – $4.49/ 8oz
  • Pepperoni – $2.99 / 5oz
  • Salame de Parma – $4.99 / 4oz
  • Salame Secchi – $7.49 / 9oz

My Favorites – Prosciutto: it tears nicely into small pieces great for cheesed board snacking & it’s not too highly flavored so it goes well with stronger cheeses. Chianti Salami: this is a red wine salami with a really deep flavor & good chewy texture. Calabrese Salame: this salame you’ll notice has a more red color because its heavily spiced which is really nice when you want to add a spicy kick to your boards! Italian Dry Salame: it’s a classic! Everyone knows it & loves it. Always a safe choice. Salame de Parma: this salame is thinner & longer in shape which I love using to add interest to the boards. It’s always nice to add ingredients of different sizes & shapes! Salame Secchi: this salame comes with a white casing (totally edible) which gives it a great contrast to the colorful red interior. It slices into nice rounds & has a wonderful meaty flavor with a harder texture.

Crackers:

  • Savory Thins – $1.69 / 3.4oz
  • Pita Bite Crackers – $2.49 / 6oz
  • Water Crackers – $1.39 / 4.4oz
  • Bite Size Everything Crackers – $2.49 / 10oz
  • Brioche Toasts – $1.99 / 5.26oz
  • Golden Rounds – $1.99 / 12oz
  • Organic Salty Squares – $1.99 / 5.5oz
  • Roasted Gorgonzola Crackers – $2.29 / 10oz
  • Fig & Olive Crisps – $3.99 / 5.3oz

My Favorites – Savory Thins: these crackers have a mild sesame flavor that pairs really nicely with Brie & Goat cheeses! The crunch is also amazing! These are usually my go-to for boards. Pita Bite Crackers: these crackers are great because they have a nice pita like flavor & they have layers giving them a good crunch. These pair nicely with Cheddar & Gouda! Fig & Olive Crisps: these crackers always make an appearance on my boards because they’re so different than regular crackers. They have a deep dark brown color with specks of fig & olive which are two things that go amazingly with cheese! These crackers pair nicely with strong cheeses like Goat or Blue!

Dips:

  • Fig Butter – $2.49 / 16oz
  • Multi-Floral & Clover Honey – $3.49 / 12oz
  • Mostly Mesquite Honey – $6.49 / 24oz
  • Pink Grapefruit Marmalade – $3.99 / 13oz
  • Honey with Honeycomb – $6.49 / 16oz
  • Pepper Jelly $2.49 / 11oz

My Favorites – Fig Butter: this stuff is amazing I could just eat it with a spoon, but it’s even better on cheese! This fig butter almost always makes it onto my boards! I bought a jar & it lasted through 4-5 cheese boards! Honey: honey pairs incredibly well with cheese so I always recommend adding any kind of honey to a cheese board!

Crunch:

  • Pistachios – $6.99 / 16oz
  • Walnut Halves – $5.99 / 16oz
  • Pecan Halves – $4.99 / 8oz
  • Almonds, Roasted & Salted – $5.99 /16oz
  • Mixed Nuts, Dry Roasted & Salted – $7.99 /12oz
  • Truffle Marcona Almonds – $5.99 / 6oz

My Favorites – Pistachios: they’re so salty & so crunchy, they add a nice contrast to the really creamy cheeses! Walnuts: they’re my favorite nut so they’re usually on my boards & they pair well with Brie! Truffle Marcona Almonds: they have a great truffle flavor that goes well with the stinkier cheeses & they really elevate any board.

Extras:

  • Dried Persimmons – $3.49 / 5oz
  • Dried Apricots – $3.99 / 16oz
  • Black Mission Figs – $4.99 / 12oz

My Favorites – Dried Apricots: they’re pretty familiar to people so they’ll naturally gravitate towards them & they always add a really pretty colorful contrast to boards! Plus, they’re delicious!

Garnish:

  • Rosemary – $1.79 / .75oz
  • Mint – $1.79 / .75oz
  • Basil (Potted) – $1.99
  • Arugula – $1.99 / 7oz
  • Blackberries – $3.99 / 12oz
  • Raspberries – $2.99 / 6oz
  • Pomegranate Seeds – $4.49 /5.3oz
  • Blueberries – $2.99 / 11oz
  • Granny Smith Apples – $0.69 / each
  • Green Grapes – $2.99 / 16oz
  • Red Grapes – $2.99 / 16oz

My Favorites – Rosemary: it’s pretty much my go to garnish because its so beautiful & fragrant. It’s not consumed so I pretty much only use it for the look & smell, plus its always available! Blackberries: they look really great as a garnish on top of Brie because the color contrast really makes them both stand out, plus they’re delicious & go pretty well with most cheeses! Pomegranate Seeds: these look really beautiful scattered across a finished board to add a pop of color & they’re especially great on a fall or winter board! Granny Smith Apples: apples are usually my go to because they’re pretty much always in season & always taste great. Its another familiar item you can use on your boards & you can’t beat Brie on an apple slice drizzled with honey!

I’ve added some pictures of completed boards I’ve made in the past to show you how all of these ingredients come together! I hope all of this inspires you to make your very own cheese boards! Feel free to tag me (on instagram) so I can see all of your hard work! @millennial_kitchen_

Recipes

Pumpkin Pancakes

Growing up I always thought I didn’t like pumpkin because my parents never cooked with it or used it in the kitchen. It was an unfamiliar flavor to me that as an adult I just assumed I didn’t care for. But you know what happens when we assume right…

Fast forward to my adult years when I began cooking for myself and I realized I was in a position to do whatever I wanted in my own kitchen. Every fall there was so much buzz around pumpkin and everybody was obsessed. I knew I had to give it a try.

A couple years ago I made a recipe for pumpkin bread that I found on Pinterest which turned out to be delicious. Then it dawned on me, what else have I been missing out on? This bread was moist, deeply flavored and so easy to throw together. I was hooked. Chocolate Walnut Pumpkin Bread

As the years go on I try to incorporate more and more pumpkin dishes into my fall repertoire. I love fall, and especially Halloween, so I love to be able to get into the spirit in as many ways as possible. Cooking is definitely one of those ways. Now that I do 90% of my grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s I have been introduced to the plethora of pumpkin items that flood their shelves come September. Each week since the beginning of September, I have been picking up at least 1 (usually more) pumpkin related items from Trader Joe’s and I am pleased to say I have yet to be disappointed. I will do a separate post reviewing each of the pumpkin items in detail for you guys!

This morning I tried the pumpkin pancakes and oh my word. They were incredible. It was a boxed dry pancake mix that only required you to add butter, milk and 1 egg. Simple right? And totally customizable!

The end result was an incredibly fluffy pancake with deep fall flavors. Not overpoweringly pumpkin flavored, but a nice balance of pumpkin and spices. I added chopped walnuts to a few which gave the pancakes a great crunch. I also made a couple with both walnuts and chocolate chips which I HIGHLY recommend because they were out of this world.

I topped these bad boys with Trader Joe’s new Vanilla Bean Infused Maple Syrup which I also highly recommend. The vanilla in the syrup paired nicely with the spices in the pancakes to create the perfect fall bite.

I served the pancakes with a quick scramble made with eggs, chopped bell peppers, Trader Joe’s Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage  and mozzarella cheese.

Happy Brunching!

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And I obviously had to bust out the festive plates because it’s only 24 days till Halloween!

 

Blog

Easy Meal Prep for Busy Days

The thought of packing enough food to last a 12 hour school (or work) day can be very daunting. I’m here to give you a few tips & tricks to make the process a little less daunting & even save you some money. 

I mostly shop at Trader Joe’s & their prices are significantly lower than other grocery stores so if you shop elsewhere your prices will vary. I also include some ingredients you may not be able to find at other stores so if you’re following this closely, you’ll want to do your shopping at Trader Joe’s as well. A few ingredients did come from Mother’s Market because they have cheaper bulk items like granola, & they carry non dairy yogurt that I cannot find at TJs. You’ll want to research grocery stores in your area to find the best prices for the items you want to purchase.

Tips:

  • Pick foods high in protein to keep you fuller, longer.
  • Only pack foods you actually want to eat. Don’t pick foods you THINK you should eat, pick foods you WANT to eat or you’ll end up impulse buying food and wasting all the food you prepped for the day.
  • Make sure you have a heavy duty lunchbox to keep your food cool all day. There’s no point prepping all this food for it to spoil before lunch.
  • If you’re prepping food for the whole week, make sure to buy versatile ingredients that can be used in multiple dishes for maximum savings.
    • For example, buying strawberries and chopping them up the first day saves you time & you can use them in salads, parfaits, or smoothies.
    • I like to buy a big bag of arugula that can be used for sandwiches, salads, or pastas.
  • Buy snacks you don’t mind eating a few times throughout the week. I really love TJ’s cheddar puffs because a whole bag is only $1.99 & has about 10 cups worth of puffs inside.
  • Don’t be afraid to mix store bought & homemade ingredients. This saves you time when prepping & if you shop smart this will save you money.
    • This week I bought a pre-made tuna salad that cost $3.99 & got 2 sandwiches out of it. I like my sandwiches pretty packed so if you wanted to stretch your money you could easily get 3 sandwiches out of one container making it only $1.33 for each sandwich.
  • Prep as much as you can the night before. Long days usually mean early starts & no one wants to wake up earlier than they have to to get lunch ready.

*I didn’t use the whole container for most of my ingredients for this so I divided up the price for each ingredient depending on how much I used for this specific menu.


Sample Menu: $12.56 

Breakfast-

  • Cashew Yogurt $1.99
  • Hempseed Granola $0.35
  • Strawberries $1.09

Lunch-

  • Tuna & Arugula Sandwich $1.99 + $0.39
    • Ciabatta $0.65
  • Cherry Tomatoes $0.83
  • Sliced Cucumbers $0.39

Dinner-

  • ABC + K Salad w/ Poppyseed Dressing (apple, beet, carrot, kale) $4.49
  • White Cheddar Puffs $0.39

*Prices for each ingredient are listed depending on how much was used.

If you spend a little time prepping before you shop & prepping the night before a busy day, you ensure you’re saving money & eating fresh, delicious food. On average, bringing your own food to school or work can save you about 1/3 of the money you would normally spend on a day of eating out.

Hope this helps!


 

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