Maegan Brown, who runs the viral Instagram account The BakerMama, gave me her best snack board-making tips.

Jaime Milan
December 17, 2020
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Instagram / @thebakermama
| Credit: Instagram / @thebakermama

This is Obsessed: my weekly column devoted to sharing all the things I'm loving right now—from unique food and gift ideas to travel destinations and beauty products—plus some tips and tricks for living your best life.

I love beautiful charcuterie boards, but it seems like they’ve gotten really intense now that people are spending more time at home. New trends like jar-cuterie, charcuterie houses, charcuterie pizza and even hot cocoa charcuterie boards have cropped up this year, and it can be a little intimidating to try to tackle one of these Instagrammable snacks on your own. So when Maegan Brown from The BakerMama teamed up with Albertsons grocery store to talk about their amazing product offerings, I jumped on the chance to ask her about her favorite snack board ideas. Here’s what she had to say.

How to Make a Beautiful Charcuterie Board on a Budget

Don’t buy things just because they’re pretty.

Your family should enjoy and want to eat the foods you put on your board. For example, if your kids hate Brie or won’t touch blue cheese, skip them for something more family-friendly like Cheddar or mozzarella pearls. Brown says, “Customize your board based on your family’s or friends’ preferences. Use what you have and pick cheeses, meats and other things you know people will love.”

Put your serving bowls on first.

Before layering your meats and cheeses, Brown suggests adding small bowls to your board first. For the adorable spread pictured above, Brown fills some small bowls with peanut butter, hummus, honey, jam and olives. If you’re wondering what to fill your bowls with, Brown says that anything “with a brine, that’s spreadable, would stain or drip off the board” should be contained in a bowl instead of going straight on the board.

You don’t have to spend a ton of money.

To keep things reasonable (but still interesting), Brown suggests picking a few varieties of cheeses and meats. To keep her boards budget-friendly, she likes to stick to one meat and two types of cheese, plus some fun snacks to fill in the space. Brown recommends shopping your pantry for what you already have and buying things like nuts and dried fruits in bulk for multiple grazing boards. She says, “I also love buying mixed nuts or trail mixes so you’re not committed to buying four different bags of nuts.”

Always add something fresh.

After the cheese and meat (or in the case of this photo, PB & J sammies), Brown likes to add some fresh elements as palate cleansers. Apples and grapes are classics, but I love the addition of celery in the board pictured above. You can add just about any kind of produce, such as strawberries, pomegranates, berries, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli or green beans. (Side note: Brown has an awesome trick for keeping apples from browning: After slicing, just turn them skin-side down so they’re not exposed to as much oxygen. Bonus: the beautiful apple skin adds some color to your board!)

Fill in the space.

After layering your cheeses, meats and other fresh ingredients, add fun additions like crackers, cookies, nuts, dried fruit, candy, edible flowers and more. Get creative with it: Layer crackers around your bowls, break up pieces of chocolate for added dimension, drizzle honey over your cheese or decorate your board with fresh herbs. These are all great ways to fill out the space on your board and add some personality. 

Have fun!

Grazing boards don’t have to be just cheese and meat. In fact, I kind of prefer ones that aren’t so limited! I love the idea of making themed boards (like the holiday one above) or a dessert board with all of your favorite treats. Have fun with it and don’t forget to snap a pic of your gorgeous creation!

Jaime Milan is EatingWell’s digital editor for all things newsy and trending. She’s always on the hunt for the latest and greatest things to share with EatingWell’s readers. In her spare time, you can find her experimenting in the kitchen, tackling home projects with her husband or taking pics of her very photogenic American Eskimo Dog, Grits. Follow her on Instagram at @jaimemmilan