This Whole Foods Shopping Tip Will Help Save You So Much Money in the Cheese Section

published Nov 21, 2022
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Woman holding Whole Foods bag filled with groceries while walking down the street
Credit: Joe Lingeman

As a former cheesemonger, I know it can get pretty pricey to take a chance on a new cheese — especially when you don’t know your guest’s capacity for all the funky, fresh, and foreign curds of the world. Luckily, there’s an easy way to curate a perfectly balanced cheese board without needing a second mortgage — and it’s hiding in plain sight in the Whole Foods Market cheese section.

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

What’s So Great About Whole Foods’ Cheese Nubbins?

Yes, tucked into Whole Foods’ cheese case, you’ll find a corner that’s positively PACKED with cheesy gold. When larger wheels of cheese are cut to more manageable portions (typically a 1/4 pound to start), there are smaller pieces left over. Whole Foods sells those tiny cheese bits (what my editor and I refer to as the “nubbins” because this must become a technical cheese term ASAP) for a more manageable price, making it the perfect way to try a new cheese, experiment in the kitchen, and/or build a bomb cheese board on a budget.

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

A recent quick rummage through the “nubbins” bin revealed a new-to-me Pyrenees cheese called Brebis, a raw aged 24-month Parmigiano Reggiano, and a 36-month Gouda studded with salt crystals. Oftentimes these cheeses can easily reach $22 or more a pound, so it’s well worth a peruse — especially if you’re building a board for a smaller crowd (or, like me, just want to fit as many cheeses into your grilled cheese sandwich or mac and cheese as possible).

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

What’s the Best Way to Use Whole Foods’ Cheese Nubbins?

When it comes to building a winter cheese board, I immediately think of all the beautiful semi-hard and hard alpine cheeses, like Swiss Gruyère and Emmental or French Comté.

Outside of those seasonal gems, I have my own way of making sure I’m picking a diverse range of cheeses. You likely know the traditional wedding-time rhyme “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue,” right? Well, I make a few adjustments to apply this rhyme to my cheese board choices: Something old (either aged or familiar-to-you), something new, something goat, something blue.

For example, here are some favorite choices that follow this rule.

Alternatively, I’ll even build a board composed of individual cheeses from different countries or by type of milk (cow, goat, and sheep’s milk, or a blend). Whatever route you take, you’re guaranteed a cheese board that’s full of textures, ages, and an element of surprise. And because you saved money on the cheese, you have some extra money for cornichons, olives, and jams to go with them!

What cheeses have you picked up from the Whole Foods bin? Tell us about it in the comments.