These tips and tricks will get you through the holiday season without busting your budget.

Charcuterie boards are living their best lives right now taking over social media streams, and plenty of people leaning into them as full meals instead of just snacks. The classic versions merge cured meats and cheeses with some sassy accompaniments, and the best ones need only a basket of crackers or a baguette to make them a complete dining experience. Anyone can assemble a terrific charcuterie board, no cooking needed, and they can be a fun way to graze, whether you are entertaining or just having a quiet family night at home.

But as simple as a great charcuterie board can be, it can also be a budget buster. High quality cheeses and cured meats lean pricy, as do those little extras like the imported olives or fancy Marcona almonds. If you aren't careful, a single board can easily top $100 by the time you are done! Keeping costs rational isn't impossible; it just requires a bit of thinking and planning before you hit the store. You can make a terrific charcuterie board for under $30 if you pay attention to some simple tips and tricks. Here are our favorite ways to board on a budget.

Charcuterie board
Credit: Getty / bhofack2

Use grocery store variety packs as your base

Many stores carry packages of pre-cut cheeses or cured meats in packages that contain 3-4 varieties in each, and these packages tend to range between $9-14, so you get a lot of bang for your buck. A variety pack or two can be a good base to build a board on, you'll only need some little extras to fill in.

Make a homemade cheese spread

Herbed or seasoned soft cheese spreads are classic but can be expensive. You'll save money by buying an inexpensive block of cream cheese and blending in your own herb mix or seasoning blend to fancy it up, and homemade is always going to be nicer than store bought.

Hit the snack aisle for nuts, olives, crackers, and chips

Charcuterie boards rely on a lot of small portions of things, so buying large-volume packages is both cost prohibitive and potentially wasteful. Luckily, a lot of stores now carry all sorts of individual sizes of many snack foods to pack in lunches or grab on the go. Try buying the snack-size packages of nuts, olives, crackers, or chips to fill in your board and not have to purchase full sizes.

Ask the deli counter for ends of meats and cheeses

Often the last inch or two of a brick of cheese or piece of cured meat or salami are impossible to slice at the deli counter and can be had at deep discounts. Just cube them up for your board and no one will be the wiser!

Bulk up with fresh fruit and vegetables

Produce is always an inexpensive way to fill out a board. Think about adding carrots, celery, jicama, endive spears, whole mushrooms and grape tomatoes, sliced apples, and little bunches of grapes. Buy whatever is in season or on sale.

Go large format with fewer items

You don't always need a huge variety of items on your board. One good brick of cheese and one whole cured salami are enough to create a great charcuterie experience, and you can usually source these for between $5-9 each. Then just add whatever fun accompaniments work best, and keep the expenditures at a minimum.