Charcuterie plates might seem like an extravagant treat, but there are many ways to enjoy them that don’t break the bank (or your belt loops). It’s not difficult make a delicious and healthy finger food spread using affordable ingredients. Here’s how to do it:

Look for deals

This one might seem super obvious. If you want to indulge in a traditional charcuterie board with decadent meats and cheeses, watch out for what’s on sale at the grocery store, then build your board around that. This way, you also get to try different types of meat and cheese you might not have picked up before. Stores often put the ripest cheeses on sale just because they’re almost at their best before date, but if your party is coming up soon, you’re laughing!

Keep it local and seasonal

Fresh local and seasonal ingredients not only taste the best, but they’re also usually cheaper than the stuff that’s shipped long distances. It’s a win-win!

Make your own pickles

You don’t have to have a root cellar and several months to spare to create delicious pickles at home! Find an easy quick pickle recipe and make your own healthy and inexpensive pickles to fancy up your charcuterie plate, because we all know premium, store-bought pickles can get downright extravagant in price (I have been known to drop $10 on a jar of my favorites). Try this recipe: Rachel Ray’s Quick Pickles

Marinate your own olives (or other veggies)

I have a thing for marinated artichoke hearts. You might be an olive monster. Buying these things in the store can get pricey, and lots of them are swimming in oil. To combat both these problems, make your own! Purchase some naked olives or artichoke hearts (mushrooms, zucchini, and roasted red pepper work well too), make your own marinade, and let those badboys soak up all the flavorful goodness before you display them on your charcuterie board. Try this recipe: Marinated Olives with Lemon, Thyme and Rosemary

Spice up inexpensive cheese

Cheese can be the most expensive item on your charcuterie plate, but some cheeses are less expensive than others. Make less expensive varieties more interesting by spicing them up with your favorite herbs. Here’s an idea: take inexpensive mini bocconcini (fresh mozzarella) balls, and skewer them with some fresh basil and grape tomatoes for fun kebabs! You can also make your own cheese ball by rolling a ball of goat cheese in an herb mixture. Bonus: both bocconcini and goat cheese made it onto our list of cheeses that won’t hurt your New Year’s resolutions.

Bulk up the plate with fresh fruit

Fruit looks great on a charcuterie board, and it can also take up a lot of space for when you’re leaving big-ticket items out. Try bulking yours up with some apple slices, grapes or strawberries – whatever you like! Remember to keep it ‘in season’ for the best flavor and price. Pro tip: apples taste great with cheese!

Make your own condiments 

Fancy jams and preserves taste delicious with soft cheese and crackers, but specialty preserves can get expensive. Try making your own! You can make a quick, easy and inexpensive onion jam with just a few ingredients. Just slice up an onion or two and sauté in olive oil. Add a few splashes of balsamic vinegar, a teaspoon of sugar, fresh thyme and some salt and pepper. Cook down into sticky, caramelized deliciousness and serve!

With a little strategy and planning, you can make an impressive charcuterie spread that’s a little nicer to your wallet and your waistline. What are your favorite ingredients for a healthy charcuterie board? Share in the comments below!

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