Saturday, December 02, 2017

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Gifts from the Grocery Store

I have written before about purchasing gifts for others that we may not think would be special.  However, when you give a gift of an item that is more than someone on a tight budget would buy for themselves, it is indeed very special.

Obviously gift cards are usually appreciated whether they are to a restaurant, a store, for the gas station, Amazon, etc. I once received a gift of a prepaid Visa (I think, could have been Mastercard) that allowed me to purchase items online like stocking various nuts from the growers,  An unusual gift that I appreciated so much. 

I once read that many people do not like gift cards and I wonder what planet they are from.  However, I digress...

One of my favorite gifts ever received was the "Wedding Recovery" box a good friend gave me.  I opened it up after returning home from my son's wedding (per the instructions from the giver of the gift) and was so happy to see tea, snacks, if I remember... some chocolate, and a few past issues of British magazines my friend knew I'd love to read.

Not only did it help me relax after a busy season of wedding preps (and I was just the groom's mom!) but I was touched because it showed how well my friend knew what I loved.

I was thinking of this last week as I was purchasing groceries and saw the various items that would make great gifts for people I knew.  Especially those items they might not buy for themselves due to the cost. 

What would be pricey for everyday use was perfect for Christmas giving...a gift that will get used and not end up unused on a shelf at Goodwill.

Some possible gift items I saw at the grocery store were:
  • A bag of almonds, pecans, walnuts, etc.
  • A bottle of California Ranch Everyday olive oil.
  • A small bottle of a more pricey olive oil for the true gourmet.
  • A small bottle of extra aged balsamic vinegar for the gourmet.
  • A wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano or another favorite cheese.
  • A jar of great olives, sun dried tomatoes, or a tube of tomato paste.
  • A bag of very good ground coffee or coffee beans... or tea.
  • An unusual spice such as smoked paprika for the cook.
  • Himalayan pink salt or a bag of a very good sea salt.
  • A bag of organic raw sugar or a very nice real maple syrup.
  • A good quality dish washing liquid such as Mrs. Meyers or 7th Generation.
  • Their pet's favorite food (if you know it because pets can be picky).
  • ... and so much more if you are on the lookout for ideas.

If you have an Aldi's near you, they have a lot of gift ideas from their usual very good European chocolate collection to those packaged just for the Holidays.  They have a variety of European cookies and crackers that are reasonably priced.

Something I buy there that would be a great gift for someone you know who loves cheese and good butter... a package of salted Kerrygold butter (in the gold package) and a couple small packages of Kerrygold cheese.  Our Aldi's carries Kerrygold Blarney Castle (a mild Gouda style cheese) and their Skellig (a mild cheddar).   Add a box of good crackers and for less than $20.00 you have a very yummy gift.

If you have a friend who is a busy single parent, I can't think of a better fairly inexpensive gift than either offering to bring over a home cooked dinner or even simply picking up a dinner to go from a restaurant.  Even cold cuts and cheese from the deli would have been quite wonderful when I was working full time.

After I had my first eye surgery, our pastor brought by dinner from a favorite cafeteria.  Such a gift would be lovely for anyone who doesn't get to eat out much and perhaps cannot go to a restaurant themselves for various reasons.

Of course, there are nonfood options.  A copy of a favorite magazine that is too expensive for their budget normally (Bella Grace for the writer and dreamer, Where Women Cook, Where Women Create, Artful Blogging, British Country Living, etc.) and perhaps some tea or their favorite coffee to brew is a very thoughtful gift.  Some of these are available at grocery stores such as Meijers in our area and all of them are sold at Barnes & Noble.

I know this is not a long list but I hope it sparks imagination.  For unless someone has lived on a very tight budget, they don't realize what a great gift many everyday items would be for a friend or family member.

On another subject... I had mentioned a few weeks ago that I was going to try making chicken soup from a family package of chicken legs.  I never buy them even on sale (as this package was) because my husband doesn't like dark meat of poultry.

Well, after reading an article that the legs and wings make the best soup stock, I tried it and they were right.  They made a delicious soup with just enough meat to pick off the chicken legs for the soup itself (I added noodles this time).  My husband liked it in spite of being made with dark meat.

I will continue to make most of our chicken soup from the carcass of the chicken the day after we have it roasted but I will definitely be on the lookout for chicken legs on sale to keep in the freezer.  Chicken wings are ridiculously expensive now that they are a popular appetizer.  My mother would be shocked if she were alive today!  Chicken wings expensive?  Yes, Mom!

Image: Christmas Eve 2016


Terra said...

Your ideas for gifts are great. I like your idea of special magazines and sometimes I give a poinsettia as a gift.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great ideas! I've given specialty teas, or flavored coffee, and, of course, chocolate, as gifts, but hadn't thought of these other ideas! I made turkey barley soup from our Thanksgiving turkey carcass this year, for the very First time!😮 Turned out So yummy! Do you have a recipe to share for the chicken soup you made? I have a recipe that uses chicken breasts with the bone, but hadn't thought of using legs and wing bones. Sounds Yummy and Great for chilly winter meals! I'm just beginning to decorate our house for Christmas.....Kinda feel like we are the only ones who wait until December to decorate anymore! Oh well!
Take care and God Bless!
Laura C.(WA)

Anonymous said...

Yea, funny thing about wings being so costly!! But they are so delicious too!! Yes, my picky white meat only husband also will eat in soups or such, what I could not get him to eat otherwise...esp. soup tastes even better made of the thighs and drumsticks!! I have at times felt my job in cooking was very difficult...and it is from my own standpoint of allergies...then we have the food preference thing...
Elizabeth in WA

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the great gift suggestions.
You mentioned chicken wings getting expensive. Have you noticed how the price of soup bones has gone up now that "bone broth" is trendy.

terricheney said...

Lol. I nearly went into a state of shock at the grocery when I saw the price of wings the other day. It used to be cheaper to make your own than to buy them ready cooked but not so much anymore. Truthfully I've always liked the wing best of any other chicken part and do wish they were not so pricey now.

Vee said...

Well let me go on record saying that I would enjoy any of these gifts. 😉 My troubles this year are with a couple of nearly 12 and 11 year old boys. If only they’d be happy with a bottle of nice olive oil.

Anonymous said...

Hi Brenda,
I give food gifts each year and besides buying individual food items to give I also buy in bulk at Sam's Club. Each year I buy a large container of individually wrapped biscotti and box of individual flavored coco mixes that are used to make up gift baskets and also in Christmas stockings for the family. So much less expensive than buying these in smaller packages. There are usually enough left over to have some for birthday baskets I make up in Feb. and March. I've found that as I get older gifts of food, gift cards (your right Brenda, how can anyone not like a gift card?) and magazine subscriptions are much more appreciated than gifts that collect on the shelf. And the very best gifts are ones of time spent with loved ones and friends.

May God bless you, Marsha

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

Great list! I like to think outside the box and these are such nice gifts!

Mama Squirrel said...

I think the same way about some "fair trade" food products--they're out of my usual grocery budget, but they make good gifts. I have given "real" cinnamon and other spices, fair-trade chocolate bars, etc. We also do some of our shopping at a store that carries European imports, and those can be fun to give, even if it's just the label that's different (like German ketchup).

Anonymous said...

Chicken wings and flap meat used to be cheap but not any more...if any meat becomes popular with a dish people like the price goes way up. Have you seen the price of even beef tongue lately? At least $5.99 a lb. here.. and don't even ask about the price of a bone for your dog. $5.99 a pound....for a bone!! A friend asked the butcher for a beef bone for his dog and the butcher went in back and brought out bones with the cheapest being over $10.00. I remember when they would give you one for free..then for a few cents.. .. not now!!!!! I love chicken wings but will settle for the two I get when I buy a whole chicken to bake! :-))) Sarah