Sings: *It's a whole new wooooorld.....*
If I were the kind of person to purchase and display refrigerator magnets, you’d see this on mine: Cheese: Milk's leap toward immortality.
Like everyone who’s not vegan or lying, I love cheese. But it’s expensive. And it's so easy to eat too much of it! Even though evidence suggests that it is actually good for your heart, it's probably not in your best interest to say, house a wheel of Brie.
So, my relationship with immortal milk was a fraught one, until I discovered, by chance, the most magical thing—the “$4 and under” cheese bin at Whole Foods. The contents of this bin are the tiny cuts of cheese left over when the cheesemongers have finished parcelling out larger portions.
On any given day, there are between seven and 20 or more different morsels of cheese, all priced to sell. Here are five reasons the $4 cheese bin is my absolute favorite little corner of that most magical of stores.
Single People Deserve Cheese Plates, Too
Just because I live alone doesn’t mean I don’t long for an Insta-worthy snack dinner, with three kinds of cheese, assorted fruits, grainy mustards, and crusty bread. But the idea of buying a varietry of giant wedges of cheese and then trying to repurpose the leftovers for the next few weeks is daunting. Plus, it’s expeeeeensive, which brings me to my next point…
Cheese is Expensive
Too often, I’ll pick up a piece of some darling microcreamery cheese, only to find that a six ounce portion costs the same as my water bill. But everything in this bin is under $4! Yes, some of them are quiet small, but these pieces represent a much friendlier financial outlay. Case in point: if you’re entertaining and you’ve made a cheese board, a few small flourishes of aged Gouda or yummy Reblochon can up the posh wow factor on your spread for a fraction of the cost.
A Smidge of the Right Stuff Can Really Elevate a Recipe
Like all of you, I love to cook. Like some of you, I can be a bit extra in the kitchen. Have you ever stood there, making a green bean salad, and thought, “hmmm, wouldn’t this be great if I had just like a tiny bit of, say, aged Manchego?” Or, “a touch of Pecorino would set this gnocchi recipe on FIRE.”
It can seem like financial folly to buy a great block of cheese for just one recipe. Enter the teeny cheese bin. This weekend, I found a tiny wedge of Manchego. I grabbed some green beans, some bulk pine nuts, and a shallot. The result? Budget-friendly green bean bliss.
You Can Feel Free to Experiment
Even though Whole Foods has a notoriously friendly policy about tasting foods, if you’re anything like me, you might feel shy of asking a team member to just up and cut you a slice of something. TBH, if I’m going to experiment with a new food, I’d rather do it in the comfort of my own home. If I buy a $2 slice of some obscure local goat cheese and don’t like it, well no harm, no foul. Which brings me neatly to my last point...
It Helps Avoid Food Waste
The conversation about food waste is pervasive in the news these days (just recently, Austin, Texas passed a law that restaurants are no longer allowed to throw away edible waste). In my own kitchen, that means making stock with my rotisserie chickens, freezing veggie scraps for vegetable broth, among other money and waste-saving things. But what about simply buying less? We’ve all found a dessicated piece of cheese, forgotten in the back of our dairy drawer, a sad, dry casualty of kitchen war. I can honestly say that, since the teeny cheese bin came into my life, I have yet to throw away a piece yet.