The Cheesemonger: Our Top Ten Cheeses for Cheap(er)

The Cheesemonger: Our Top Ten Cheeses for Cheap(er)

Nora Singley
Nov 4, 2008

Have you been seeing cheese prices climbing upwards of $30 or even $40 per pound? If cheese is on your list of staples, we know what you're thinking: Stop the insanity!

There's so much potential for economic change to take place in today's election, but until our economy shakes off the brutality of the past few months (or years, depending on how you're looking at things), we'll continue to monitor our budgets.

In the meantime, what are some of the best cheeses for less?

Many of our go-to cheeses that have prices in the more sane range are European. Despite what you may think because these wheels have to come from so far away, imported cheeses can often be less expensive than domestic ones since shipping costs are often offset by and distributed over numerous consolidated shipments. In other cases, European cheesemakers may receive subsidies from their governments, and so their source of income isn't solely from the sale of their cheese.

You'll also notice that most of the cheaper cheeses tend to be made with cow's milk. Cows produce the greatest quantity of milk, making sheep and goat milk all the more precious because they don't make as much cheese.

All of these cheeses are widely available but we've priced them out from Murray's Cheese for a mailorder option (if you don't live in New York), which we found to be the most competitive option price-wise in our online research, and Whole Foods for a retailer option, since they seem to be just about everywhere these days (and generally have a pretty nice cheese selection).

And now, our TOP TEN picks of great European cheeses for less:

  • Aged Goat Gouda- (Gouda, Pasteurized Goat, Holland)- $14.99/lb (Murray's Cheese)

  • Irish Cheddar (Cheddar, Pasteurized Cow, Ireland)- $9.99/lb (Murray's Cheese)

  • Fourme D'Ambert (Blue, Pasteurized Cow, France)- $13.99/lb (Whole Foods)

  • Fromage D'Affinois (Bloomy, Pasteurized Cow, France)- $13.99/lb (Murray's Cheese)

  • Morbier- (Semi-soft, Pasteurized Cow, France)- $14.99/lb (Whole Foods)

  • Piave (Hard, Pasteurized Cow, Italy)- $12.99/lb (Murray's Cheese)

  • Primadonna (Gouda, Pasteurized Cow, Holland)- $13.99/lb (Whole Foods)

  • St. Andre (Triple Creme, Pasteurized Cow, France)- $9.99/lb (Whole Foods)

  • Taleggio (Washed Rind, Pasteurized Cow, Italy)- $14.99/lb (Murray's Cheese)

  • Tetilla (Semi-soft, Pasteurized Cow, Spain)- $14.99/lb (Murray's Cheese)

Other tips to help save on cheese:

  • Look for cheeses on sale! Retailers will often discount cheeses that are at their peak of ripeness, so sales aren't necessarily always to promote product of which stores want to rid themselves.

  • Buy less and supplement cheese plates with honeys, membrillo, and other condiments.

  • Spotlight 2 or 3 cheeses for a cheese board instead of 4 or 5.

  • Beware of small format cheeses! Although they may seem cheaper because they cost less, they're generally much more costly than other cheeses when you compare the price per pound. A 4 oz. drum of goat cheese may seem appealing for just $4.99 but when you do the math that's $20 per pound!

  • As you may guess, the cheapest cheeses out there you'll find in your large-scale grocery stores, and are usually industrial, uber-pasteurized, and mass produced. We're not usually ones to promote this contingent of the cheese population, but everything has an appropriate time and a place. Most of these block cheddars and generic swiss, havartis, and fontinas, etc. are excellent for cooking and make great melters. We probably wouldn't highlight any of them on a cheese plate, but a certain purpose they do serve.

Happy Election Day from The Cheesemonger!

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(Image: Flickr member santheo licensed under Creative Commons)

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