There is no denying that high quality, artisan cheese is expensive. Even though the justifications for their price tag are valid, it’s just a fact that cheese is not within the budget of many. The inaccessibility of good cheese saddens and frustrates me which is why I have created this list of tips on how to save a couple of bucks when shopping for cheese:
1. Buy straight from the source if you can.
Part of the price you pay for store-bought cheese goes towards the work of a distributor. If you buy cheese directly from the farm of a producer, the same product will be slightly cheaper, and probably fresher too. Take Smith Country Cheese’s Gouda as an example.
2. Split the wheel and the cost with a fellow cheese lover.
Often times, people get intimidated by buying a wheel of camembert or a wedge of cheddar because of the it’s steep price and how much of it they’re afraid would go to waste. Split it with a friend and share in the joy and nourishment of this protein-rich, nutrient-dense snack.
3. Look out for sales.
Although I firmly believe in supporting small businesses, I understand that not everyone can afford to pay the extra money that small businesses often charge to cover the cost of buying on a small-scale. Larger corporate grocery chains that have cheese departments such as Whole Foods and Wegman’s often hold sales on their merchandise. If you’re willing to be flexible, you can find a good deal, like I did with Montasio.
4. Opt for foreign cheeses.
Another tip that I resentfully offer is to compare the prices between domestic and foreign-produced cheeses. You will often find that cheeses from Europe are cheaper than those from the United States. This is primarily because creameries in the U.S. are generally much newer than European creameries, some of which have been producing cheese for centuries. New creameries need to account for the startup costs when pricing their products, hence the higher price tag.
…That being said, new American cheesemakers such as Jasper Hill Farm, Uplands Cheese Company, Meadowood Farm and so many others are making a lot of cool, experimental cheeses that you won’t find from European producers. Like Willoughby and Ledyard.
And in addition to start up costs, creameries in the U.S. are up against a market for milk and milk-products that is less than ideal. Dairy farming in the U.S. is highly unprofitable at the moment as the supply of milk has considerably surpassed demand. But this doesn’t change the fact that raising cows, goat and sheep – especially if you’re doing so ethically by giving them enough space to roam and good fodder to eat – is expensive. Recently, a highly popular creamery called Many Fold Farm which produced award-winning cheeses announced that they are going out of business because they’re no longer making a profit or even breaking even.
*If you can afford to, I highly advocate for supporting small, local farms and businesses.*