Pantry gifts

The rewards of a well-stocked pantry spilled over into this year’s gift giving. I decided to make gift baskets for my giftees based on what really fits their lives. (As opposed to my first year of edible gifting, I made a truckload of marmalade, cute tags and spread it around regardless of the recipients’ stance on the fairly not-universally-loved spread.)

It’s a bit late in the game for some homemade gift projects, but don’t fret. The cool thing about providing pantry staples is your thoughtfulness, not the amount of money you spend nor the toil you endured to make something come about. Think of things that are hard to find, expensive and non-essential in a regular grocery shop (extra points if you can get it at bulk prices here!), or generally complimentary to their kitchen pursuits.

You can never go wrong with tossing a floursack dishtowel into the mix, too. A friend presented a gift recently wrapped up in the dishtowel, a fab no-waste and superbly cute idea.

Pantry gift ideas:

  • vanilla beans
  • locally milled flour or oats
  • a good olive or coconut oil
  • a bar of baking chocolate
  • a big bag of organic sugar (for your preserving-obsessed pal)
  • coffee beans from a local roaster

Feel free to share your pantry gift ideas in the comments below and I’ll add them to the list!

When you go to package up your specialty prizes, skip the ziploc and up your fancy ante with a pack of these cello bags. They’ll run you $10 at a bakery supply shop for a lifetime supply. You probably already own a stapler.

Beyond the pantry, consider fresh food components for those local pals on your gift list. Since I happen to have a box of local Meyer lemons on hand for January projects, I populated a friend’s basket with a handful of fresh lemons (as opposed to what I’m choosing to do to them in jars) so she can make her own perfect food prize. Other fresh food gifts might include a nice cheese, a sampling of local fruits or vegetables (a mini-CSA box!), roasting a pumpkin and pureeing it to present a from-scratch pumpkin puree, or anything that will help your pal do something they enjoy doing.

A note on keeping your costs low: The past few months have found me gathering supplies to stock the activities of my new business, HGGH consulting and classes. This fall I joined a buying club and I opened wholesale accounts with local farms and distributors. You don’t need wholesale accounts to be creative in your purchasing, though. Buying a whole box of something directly from the farmer is a perfect alternative. Split that box with a friend or five and all of you have just created a mini-buying club.

In any case, getting the larger portion of anything and dividing it up yourself will always be the most cost-efficient way to roll.