Well now you have done it. With a "go get 'em" spirit boasting from an inspired and creative imagination no doubt put there by the latest set of cheeseboard and grazing table pins on your Pinterest homepage. You have volunteered or promised an excited audience to bring an appetizer spilling over with quality meats, cheeses and charcuterie goodness to your group's next gathering. Not wanting to disappoint, I suppose now it's time to get down to planning that beast of a board. But where do you begin??
I love to look online for inspiration and there are some incredible cheeseboard artists out there, but at some point we have to get into the planning part of this process. I like to break it into steps to help me organize everything before I get into the fun mode of putting it all together.
Set A Budget
If you dream about cheese at night and daydream about it during the day like me, then I'm sure your imagination has already created a bounty well more costly than is reasonable for said event. Before I do anything, I need to set a budget and figure out how much I'm planning or willing to spend on this masterpiece. I have seen stunning boards created with as little as $25 and I have seen grazing tables that look like they were built for a queen that cost more than $1000 to build. The key is deciding how much you are willing to spend overall and go from there.
A good rule to follow is determining how much cheese you need overall. If your board will be for an appetizer, 2-3 ounces per guest is perfect. If this is the only food being served then moving it to roughly 5 ounces is better. I will typically use about half of that amount for the meat on the board. Having an idea of how much you need according to how many people will be snacking should help you in determining a budget and then shop according to it later.
Make a List
I like to categorize my shopping list as an early step in the planning process. This keeps my creative brain from going haywire and bulking up too much in one direction. I skipped this step one time and ended up with more of a veggie tray than a cheeseboard when I got done at the grocery store.
Here are categories to include:
Carbs (crackers or breads)
Produce (fruit & veggies)
Pantry (nuts, dried fruits, pickled stuff)
Dips & Spreads
Not to say that you must fill every one of these categories but having them will help with creating variety on your board. You might choose which types of items in those categories are best to include on the plate and then find something at the store that you think goes even better. The idea is to simply have a map. Some people like to have an exact list and I can see how that could make a shopping trip go faster. I personally like to have it "mostly" ready with the ability for some creative freedom at the store.
Things to consider
When deciding on what items to add into your categories and creating your shopping list, it's helpful to consider a few of the following:
- Will you be using a garnish to decorate your platter and if so, are you able to pull it from your own garden or should you add something to the list?
- Will guests be drinking wines or other beverages that you could pair items from your board with?
- Are there items that you can put on your board that would play nice together?
- Where will you be able to find a good selection for everything that is on your list?
- Are you able to do some of your shopping online ahead of time and then shop for the fresh ingredients on the day of your gathering? *Click here to check out Grazing Goddess Charcuterie online store
- Are there any known food allergies among your group to consider?
Having your ingredients and shopping list planned out in advance takes the pressure off of you and allows you to enjoy more of the fun parts in the experience. Putting together a beautiful cheese plate for your friends or family is rewarding in so many ways. The prize for creating such a masterpiece is that the board is devoured and enjoyed by the people you love. For myself and many of my fellow charcuterie artists out there, feeding people is one of the ways we show love to those around us.
I would love to hear any planning or shopping tips from those of you making your way through the world of charcuterie. Connect with us on social media and be sure to tag us to show us your work!
~love in abundance,
Crystal @ Grazing Goddess Charcuterie