Best Cheeses To Buy On A Budget

A Whole Foods expert weighs in on (cheese) ballin' on a budget

If you're planning a cheese plate for your next dinner party, the last thing you want to do is waste time sorting through unfamiliar French words and astronomical price tags. You might know Gruyère, cheddar and goat cheese by name, but do you know where they come from? Probably not. What's more, higher-end cheeses can certainly be pricey, and after taking care of the main course and drinks, there might not be much left over for appetizers.

That's why we've enlisted Cathy Strange, global cheese buyer for Whole Foods, to give us the inside scoop on the beloved mega chain's most affordable cheeses.

Rest assured that all the cheeses listed below sell for under $10 a pound, which allows you to grab a couple of options without blowing your entire paycheck. And if you're looking to pep up your platter, Strange suggests adding cheese-friendly accompaniments. "Nuts with skins on, like walnuts or pecans, bring out the creamy profile in the cheese. These can be found at great prices in our bulk bins, and shoppers can buy only what they need," she explains. "Dried fruits are another perfect complement, and honey is a lovely finishing touch."

And what's cheese without a little wine? So we've also rounded up wine pairings to go along with each cheese, courtesy of Whole Foods' global beverage buyer and master sommelier, Devon Broglie.

365 Everyday Value Goat Cheese Log

"Sourced from California, this cheese is made by a leading cheese maker. This is 11 ounces of heaven, creamy and smooth," Strange says. Broglie suggests pairing it with Criterion's Dry Creek Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($15), which he describes as "fresh, crisp and dry with herbal and citrus notes, and a perfect pairing for creamy and light goat cheese."

Mitica Manchego, Aged 3 Months

"Buttery and sweet on the palate, this is a sure winner," Strange shares. "It's a sheep's-milk wonder from Spain." According to Broglie, the ideal pairing is a Marques de la Musa Garnacha ($10)—"medium bodied with berry and plum aromas, and a rosemary-and-pepper-accented finish."

Salemville Blue

"Spicy yet creamy, this is a great value for a blue cheese," Strange says. "This producer is still hand milking their cows in Wisconsin for this special cheese." Broglie recommends something "light and fresh with notes of plum and sassafras, salty blue," like the Autoritas Pinot Noir ($8).

Kerrygold Kilaree Irish Cheddar

Strange loves this aged cheddar for its "nice sharpness" and "creamy finish." When it comes to wine, Broglie suggests the H&G Napa Valley Red Blend ($18), describing it as "rich and velvety with black cherry and mocha flavors—an incredible value worth twice the price."