Thrifty Food Gifts

Justin All Recipes, Food Gift Ideas 2 Comments

A couple months ago, I briefly wrote about some affordable food luxuries…how to stock your pantry with dried mushrooms, get truffles for very cheap per portion and enjoy some wild meats affordably by embracing braising. Here’s a little follow-up to that.

With the holidays fast approaching, here’s what we are doing at to give our foodie friends the finest foods without breaking the bank.

I’m Buying Truffle Oil by the Case and giving individual bottles to friends. When purchased by the case, each bottle is very affordable. I know that friends rave about truffle oil and end up drowning their food in it when I have them over for dinner. For me, this is a way to give a killer gift…and do it affordably. Other great and inexpensive food gifts by the case are truffle honey, aged balsamic vinegar and truffle salt.

Emily is Giving Cookies on Disposable, but Elegant Palm Leaf Plates. She is avoiding the dilemma of whether to give out baked goods on cheapie disposable plates or drop a few bucks a plate on something more elegant. This year, she is handing them out on palm leaf plates, which are both affordable and elegant (and environmentally friendly). Even better, there’s several shapes to choose from, including hexagonal disposable plates, rectangular disposable plates and, of course, round disposable plates. And, she’s already promised me a towering plate of peanut butter cookies, my favorite. If ever there were a return on investment for employee discounts…I’m getting a return on this sale, big time!

Katy is Making Vanilla extract and Vanilla Sugar from Bulk Tahitian Vanilla Beans. Here’s how she explains the process:

“Believe it or not, vanilla extract is unbelievably easy to make! And it is a great gift for the bakers in your life. All you gotta do is get a few vanilla beans (use about 8 beans for 3 oz of extract), put them in a small jar and fill it with vodka or bourbon. Wait about a month, maybe swirl it around every few days, and it should be ready. As the extract is used, the jar can be replenished with more alcohol. Or if you need a vanilla bean for a dessert, you can pluck one out and use the seeds. Just keep adding more alcohol and beans as they are used, and there will be extract for years.

And if you happen to have extra vanilla beans, you can actually make vanilla sugar in much the same way. Take a bean, some sugar, put together in an airtight jar. Wait a couple weeks, remove bean, presto! Vanilla sugar. So simple.”

So, grab some ball jars, a pound of vanilla beans, and a couple handles of vodka. And, stay tuned, because next week, she is going to make some here in the office, Ryan will photograph it, and we’ll be out with a photo tutorial on how to make both as holiday gifts. Order your vanilla beans now. By the time they arrive, we’ll have step-by-step instructions for you.

And, Ryan is Giving Fine Finishing Salts to his family and friends. A collection of Seven Fine Artisanal Salts may seem expensive up front,  but split it up and you’ve got seven great gifts.  Plus these salts are fantastically flavorful: we added some fennel & salt to our kobe burgers yesterday and that one pinch of salt permeated the burgers with the flavor of fennel pollen. I’d bet there’s 200 servings in each jar. That’s only cents per bowl of pasta (truffle & salt), batch of cookies (sweet & salt), roasted strip steak (Fiori & Salt), or seared tuna loin (sea & salt), etc.

If you’ve got any other great ideas, please share them with us…

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