Visit Trader Joe’s cheese section and you’ll discover a wide selection of affordable wedges and rounds. While standard-issue supermarkets regularly slash prices on their generic brands – I believe an 8 oz. block of cheddar can be had for just $1.50 at Kroger – sometimes you want a cheese with a little more heft, a little more panache, and a little less glossy sheen. Dare I say, a cheese that won’t bend like rubber beneath the dulled blade of your Cutco. But you can’t always dash off to the local cheese monger for an armload of French imports. Trader Joe’s to the rescue! The store has stepped in to fill a niche, offering satisfyingly creamy, tangy, or pungent cheeses that will only weigh on your cholesterol reading, not your wallet. Check out these cheeses:
Goat cheese: Just under $5 can buy you a 12-serving log of goat cheese – in my opinion, the best cheese ever. Tangy and creamy all at once, with a lower fat and calorie count (6 grams and 80 calories per serving) than its coagulated siblings. Having tried a few of the brands TJ’s carries, Silver Goat wins for best flavor and texture. Around Christmastime, TJ’s sells a cranberry, walnut encrusted log that is divine. Scatter a few hunks of it on a bed of greens with some other vegetables and vinaigrette, and you have a superb lunch.
Apricot stilton: I like a strong cheese, and the stilton is a solid choice for that flavor profile. Apricot adds a nice sweet touch. The cheese is crumbly and difficult to carve with precision, though, so use caution if including it in a spread at your next formal cocktail hour.
Brie: Cheap brie! Cheap brie! I know of one brie devotee who would give Trader Joe’s brie two big thumbs up. The brie comes in various sizes and levels of creaminess – light, triple-cream, double-cream, etc. You can dig through the selection and find a good 8 ounce wedge at or under $5.
Havarti: Last summer, I discovered that I really like Havarti. Perhaps too much. So I stopped buying it. TJ’s carries a creamy dill Havarti that also happens to be one of its cheaper cheeses (hence my purchase of it). Fear not, there is also a Light Havarti, which is good, buy certainly not as buttery as its full-strength cousin.
Panquehue: Just $1.99 will buy you an 8 ounce square of this Chilean cheese with the cool name. It is buttery, like the Havarti, but with a milder flavor. For the cautious palates, this cheese is nice to have on hand.
Other cheeses: TJ’s also has a sizable selection of pre-sliced cheeses (anything from cheddar to Muenster to Blue) ranging from $2.49-5 a pack, perfect for sandwiches. And be sure to check out the blue cheeses, cheddars, and other refrigerator staples the next time you peruse TJ’s, as the store is loaded with affordable treats. No need to rely on Kraft singles and Laughing Cow.