Saturday, November 23, 2013
Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Food Gifts
There is one aisle at Goodwill that I walk down and quite often shake my head with sadness. For it is obviously (at least to me) filled with gifts people have received that they neither wanted nor could use.
Some are quite nice and ready to be picked up by those who do like them for pennies on the dollar. But most I fear were purchased because we "must give a gift" so an item is bought and wrapped with little or no thought given to it so there will be something to give.
Today's suggestions may be either obvious to some or perhaps silly to others but I do want to remind people that edible gifts for the pantry are often very well received. They are also quite often reasonably priced.
The Candy Cane Lane tea above was a gift that I loved! You can be assured that the giver was thanked profusely. I have a difficult time finding it at a good price like I used to, perhaps because it quickly sells out of such places as WalMart. The only store I can find it sells it at a price prohibitive for stocking up. Isn't it amazing how there can be such price differences in various stores? If you know a person's favorite tea or coffee, it may seem a simple gift to you but it will be well received.
If you know the person you need to purchase an inexpensive gift for has a Keurig machine, a box of coffee, tea, or apple cider K-cups would make a hugely popular gift. They are easily wrapped or slipped into a gift bag. Many people I know are like me, they carefully ration out their K-cups just because they are pricey. So a gift may not seem like much to you but it may mean many mornings (or evenings) of their favorite beverage.
Not only is coffee available for the K-cup user but so is tea (Stephanie brought tea K-cups when she visited and I was amazed at how good they were), hot chocolate, and my favorite evening drink... hot apple cider. I purchased the box above on sale at Kroger and with a coupon.
I took some items out of my pantry and a couple I have purchased for gift giving (for someone who does not read my blog). Just to hopefully spark your own ideas for inexpensive gift giving.
Perhaps the most obvious shown above is the tin of Harney & Sons Holiday Tea. It is pricier than a tea such as Celestial Seasonings but still an inexpensive gift for the Holidays. Many tea companies offer special Holiday brands in special tins or boxes.
Of course, if you know the recipient's favorite tea then they would most likely enjoy that. Some teas are pricey but if you purchase a small amount whole leaf (for those who will have tea strainers and know how to use them), they make lovely gifts.
I used to give a lot of gift baskets at Christmas, keeping an eye out at Goodwill and garage sales all year for inexpensive baskets to keep the cost down. For a tea lover... a tin of tea, a box of sugar cubes (perhaps placed in a pretty jar), with perhaps a box of "good cookies" or a scone mix would be a welcome gift.
Add a jar of Devon cream and lemon curd (should they be available) for a very special friend and the basket is taken to another level. Of course, for your best friend one may add a vintage teacup but then we are talking real money... unless you look for it while thrifting during the year. :)
A package of great coffee (make sure it is ground if you don't know the person has a coffee bean grinder) for the coffee lover, slipped into a gift bag would be oh, so welcome. Especially if you can find out their favorite roast.
Imagine an Italian basket with pasta such as the Barilla tortellini above or just a high quality box of spaghetti, a jar of very good pasta sauce, a bottle of wine or sparkling grape juice, perhaps a red checkered dish towel, and additions according to how much you want to spend. Like a CD of Dean Martin music or The Three Tenors.
Sometimes items which seem rather plebeian can be excellent gifts, too. It all depends on how they are packaged and what kind they are. For instance... oil and vinegar as a gift? Well, if the vinegar is champagne vinegar (Kroger brand) as shown above and a bottle of organic GMO free canola oil... ummm, yes!
The organic canola oil is actually a gift I gave to Hubby! It is used only when he makes his own oil and vinegar salad dressing (the vinegar he uses is our favorite Nikano original rice vinegar).
Imagine a small basket with the organic canola oil, or a really good extra virgin olive oil, or a hot pepper infused oil and a special vinegar (if not champagne than perhaps a good balsamic, sherry vinegar, or fruit vinegar, etc.).
If you know someone loves a particular kind of ethnic food then a gift of condiments would be lovely for their pantry. For instance, a bottle or jar of something like the above Bangkok Peanut Sauce, a package of rice noodles (or angel hair pasta), and one or two other Thai style items would be lovely for one who likes spicy Thai food. Carefully wrapped so they don't break and slipped into a gift bag... I don't think that would get sent to Goodwill.
For one whom you don't know if they like spicy or not... a small basket with a few safe spices and perhaps a sea salt would be welcome and used! I showed the tiny bottle of organic cinnamon above as an example that one does not need to spend a lot of money to give a few spices. Our local Target sells these small versions of organic spices, usually less than $3.00 according to the spice (slightly higher for a few).
Once again... just a reminder that what seems too simple to give at Christmas can be quite wonderful to many. Let's say you know a person who loves gourmet cooking but is on a very tight budget. One small jar of an expensive spice such as saffron, or a package of high quality vanilla beans, or even a package of a special salt such as Celtic sea salt would not be a huge price for a gift but beyond the means of a gourmet on a limited budget.
Some food gifts can be simple and inexpensive. I saw this done somewhere in a magazine and thought it clever for last minute gifts. They took one package of a very good quality bean mix (like the 11 bean mixture shown in the picture), poured it into a Ball jar, put a square of pretty fabric on the top of the jar (affixed with a rubber band), and printed out a small label with the instructions. Great last minute gift if you have glass jars available (for it only looks stunning if you can see the various colors).
Of course, you can make your own bean mixture at home for multiple gifts.
This week I plan to make some brownie mix in a jar to give for Christmas. Hopefully there will be pictures next week!
This recommendation is a gift I gave Elisabeth that she liked very much. It is one of my very favorite Homestead Blessings DVDs (my other favorite is their DVD about growing herbs).
I own this one, too. It is a wonderful DVD for the beginning bread maker as well as the more experienced baker. You can find it at this Amazon Associate's link... here. I keep it handy to watch again and again. I know it sounds silly but I find their DVDs quite relaxing...
I hope some of these suggestions will spark your own ideas as you shop this Christmas season. Let's make it a goal to keep gifts out of Goodwill... unless it is in my town and something I'd love for just pennies on the dollar. ;)