A Trader Joe's Cheese Plate

Our month of Trader Joe’s hacks wouldn’t be complete without an ode to their cheese aisle. Their selection includes everything from the classics to wildcards like blueberry goat cheese. The biggest draw? Most options are under $4. Which brings me to my friend Taylor‘s genius entertaining tip: the Trader Joe’s cheese plate. “It’s my low-lift, low-budget party trick,” she says. Here’s how she creates one…

A Trader Joe's Cheese Plate

Pictured above:

TJ Manchego
TJ Wild Blueberry and Vanilla Chèvre
TJ Unexpected Cheddar
TJ Goat Milk Brie

TJ Fig & Olive Crisps
TJ Pita Bite Crackers
TJ Organic French Baguette

TJ Dried Apricots
TJ Marinated Olives
TJ Fancy Medjool Dates
TJ Marcona Almonds with Rosemary

Taylor usually picks three to four cheeses, with about an ounce per person per cheese. Her mandatory inclusion? The Wild Blueberry and Vanilla Chèvre. “It’s always the first to go,” she says. “It’s so good that my roommate and I buy two of these before a party, so we can keep one for ourselves.”

Other favorites include Manchego (because Manchego), Unexpected Cheddar (it tastes good with everything) and Goat Milk Brie (mild and creamy). For pairings, Taylor adds a combo of fresh and dried fruit, olives, nuts, a ramekin of honey and a selection of crackers, like the Fig & Olive Crisps and Pita Bite Crackers.

Overall tips: Take the cheese out of the fridge at least an hour before friends arrive. Cheese should be eaten at room temperature, when it’s at its full flavor and texture. When arranging items, start with big things first, like the whole pieces of cheese, bowls of nuts or clusters of grapes. Then fill in the space with the smaller things to add color and texture. Finally, cut a few slices of cheese to invite guests to dig in. No one wants to be the first one to crack open a wheel of something!

A Trader Joe's Cheese Plate

Thoughts? What do you serve when friends stop by?

Thanks so much, Taylor! You’re the best.

P.S. Our complete month of Trader Joe’s hacks, and more delicious cheese pairings that won’t break the bank.

(Photos and cheese arranging tips by Yossy Arefi for Cup of Jo.)