In the search for the perfect gift, one item can never go wrong: food. Everyone loves to eat. Food gifts offer some of the best ways of showing someone you love them and understand them. It doesn’t matter what time of year, either. Food gifts work for birthdays and graduations, as well as holidays.
Perhaps you're feeling a little intimidated to go the food route. You're not a sommelier or turophile, so you may need help in choosing the best wine, the best cheese, or some other particular item. Never fear. For the foodie in your life, let us help you get your gastronomic juices flowing.
Food Gifts 101
Food gifts come in many shapes and sizes. We focused our list of the best food gifts on individual items that your friends and family will love. But take note: You have options. The tech-driven innovation economy has not left the food and beverage industry untouched. In addition to individual items like the ones on your list, you could decide to sign your loved one up for a meal kit or monthly subscription to a specialty item, or even opt to make something at home. There are more ways than one to reach them through their stomachs!
We live in a high-pressured world with demands from work and family. Over time, we've come to appreciate the innovative conveniences, be it a prepared meal at the supermarket or a meal kit delivered to our home. Meal kits, as illustrated by companies such as Blue Apron and Hello Fresh, allow those who love to cook the chance to do so without the hassles of shopping and meal prep. It's become a highly competitive business with arguably more than 100 companies crowding the field. If you have a budding chef in the family, consider signing them up for one of these services.
Monthly food/drink subscription services
Another option if you're committed to the idea of food gifts is to consider a monthly subscription service. This choice will work great if your friend or family member is a fanatic for a specific item. For instance, wine and craft beer lovers can get the wine of the month and the beer of the month. Variations exist across the spectrum. Subscriptions are available for coffee or tea, cookies, candy -- and even, as Clark Griswold lamented in the movie “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” a jelly of the month club. With apologies to Cousin Eddie, monthly club subscriptions are the “gift that gives the whole year around.”
Homemade food gifts
The final option, for the creative types, is to prepare a lovely and unique food gift at home. It will have extra-special meaning since it means you'll have pulled together something from the heart. The possibilities are limitless. Midwest Living Magazine, for instance, suggests a unique snack mix mixture they call the “snowflake mix.” People have been known to go all out with their homemade treats. Some suggested ideas include, believe it or not, making a batch of handmade chocolate truffles, a nutty Mason jar for granola, black pepper jerky, and more. If you have the skills, the sky is the limit.
How Much To Spend?
As much as we'd like to believe our friends and family don't judge, the fact is, they might. So you might be wondering: How much am I signing up to spend on food gifts for my loved ones? That's the cool thing about it. You can get creative and make an excellent choice without necessarily breaking the bank. The critical thing to remember, as always is that it's the thought that counts.
How We Reviewed The Best Food Gifts
So, how did we come up with our best 11 food gifts? As you can imagine, there is no shortage of opinion about what makes a great food gift. So we focused on our search on those we consider the experts -- writers for lifestyle magazines who are reviewing and suggesting items the full year around. We sifted through ideas from Redbook, Town and Country, Chowhound, Food and Wine, and Real Simple. We even considered the hot sellers on Amazon.
The Food Gifts They'll Never Forget
We can’t guarantee that your loved one will take up that refrain if he or she gets one of these 11 best food gifts. We can say that you’ll get their attention. There’s a little something for everyone -- items that will satisfy the sweet tooth, beer drinker, bread lover, or other foodie specialists in your life. Did someone say, “dinner time?”
The Ultimate Snacks Sampler Care package targets the college student, soldier, office worker, athlete, or any other person on the go. It offers an extensive sampling of snack items that are at once sweet or salty or sour. These range from different varieties of cookies and candy to chips, peanuts, popcorn, and granola bars. The sweet thing about this food gift is that it offers small bags of each item. You're never too committed to any one thing, and the items are there to grab and go. Your loved one will find it perfect for the late afternoon hangry period. Note that you can buy care packages with different configurations and fewer items.
Sticking with the practical theme, we included an item on our list of food gifts that may not be edible but improves your enjoyment of food. The onion, tomato, and avocado keepers by Progressive International are designed to prolong the life of the delicious and nutritious veggies in your refrigerator. If you’re into the avocado, you know that once you slice one in half, the clock is ticking. This is a set of three storage containers that will protect your beloved veggies -- especially your avocados -- from more rapid spoiling.
Now we're talking. As someone whose mother was a master chocolate chip cookie-maker, and has been known the lick the spoon, I couldn't resist the siren call of Chocolate Chip Edible Cookie Dough. The best thing about the Chocolate Chip Edible Cookie Dough is that they're sold in 8-ounce snacking cups that are perfect for a night at home watching movies. (Though let's be honest, it's not going to last long at all.) In case you're wondering, the dough does not contain eggs, so it's developed explicitly for eating straight. No heat required. In fact, you shouldn't even try to bake it.
Since we’re on a roll with guilty pleasures, how about considering a kit that lets you make small batches of homemade ice cream at home? The Zoku Ice Cream Maker is designed to produce individualized portions of hard ice cream, soft serve, frozen yogurt, gelato, or granita in a little as 20 minutes. It's one of those food gifts that your loved one might think is too good to be true.
As long as you start with chilled ingredients and freeze the Zoku bowl overnight, it's for real. Zoku offers a delicious set of recipes, such as strawberry lime or peach ice cream, but you can also freelance. Once you pour the chilled mixture into the bowl, it's only a matter of churning and scraping before the liquid turns into ice cream. You don't even have to plug it in. Zokue works on human power alone.
While the payoff won’t come in minutes, Kama Citra India Pale Ale Homebrewing beer recipe kits also appeal to the do-it-yourself crowd -- especially if they love beer. The Kama Citra IPA kit comes with all the ingredients needed to brew five gallons of beer. These include malt extract, steeping grains, hops, dry yeast, priming sugar, and a muslin steeping bag. You'll also get complete instructions, just in case you're a newbie to home brewing. The fun of home brewing is that you learn something new each time out. According to the instructions, you should be beer ready within six weeks.
Remember the 99 cent cup of black coffee? Neither do we. Coffee has most certainly gone upscale. It's gotten interesting, too, as brewers have embraced the challenge of new and different approaches and flavors. So our list of the best food gifts would be incomplete without at least one coffee item. Our choice captures the new trend for coffee makers to "barrel age" the beans by putting them into barrels that once held various types of alcohol. Cooper’s Coffee Company sees the potential and has developed a full line of these coffees.
The Cooper Whiskey & Rum Barrell Aged Coffee Whole Bean box set includes beans with a tinge of single-malt, rye, and rum. Unsure? Consider that Cooper's backs its beans with a 30-day no-questions-asked guarantee.
Matcha tea has fantastic health benefits. The Tealyra - Matcha Kit provides everything you need to make the perfect cup of Matcha tea the right way, as the Chinese or Japanese would. This tea set not only provides a jar of matcha powder, but you'll also get a whisk, whisk holder, scoop, softer, bowl and tray. The whisk, scoop, and tray are all made from genuine Chinese bamboo. The bowl is also available in different colors.
Now it’s time to bring some food to the table. The Cultures for Health San Francisco Sourdough Starter kit, like the aforementioned brewing kit, appeals to do-it-yourselfers. This kit includes cultures that will have you making delicious genuine San Francisco sourdough bread all the time. The set comes with one packet of dehydrated starter culture. You activate the culture by adding white flour and unchlorinated bottled spring water. Once activated, you continue to feed your culture with one part water and two parts flour, whenever you’re ready for bread. The idea is to keep enough starter culture on hand to bake whenever you want to. The kit comes with instructions and recipes.
Not all foodies like to do it themselves. So for them, we've included a fun item for snacking that will last a long time. Taffy Town candies offer a five-pound bag of genuine Delaware taffy. Taffy Town is based on and created by a family who has been in the taffy business for almost 100 years. You'll be able to find other flavors if you prefer.
Foodies love breakfast almost more than any other meal. So we wanted to be sure to include a breakfast item on our list of the best food gifts. My Grandma's Cinnamon Walnut Coffee Cake, made by My Grandma's of New England, is a layered delight. The recipe calls for farm-fresh eggs, sour cream, and pure bourbon vanilla, along with cinnamon for streusel on top and whole walnuts. The loaf is 10 ounces, and the company says it will feed 10-12 people.
In our search for the best food gifts, we tried to go the road less traveled, and come up with items that might have more of a niche following. Pickles are one of those items that might not come to mind initially as you hit the market. If you have a pickle lover in your family, then McClure’s Bread n' Butter Pickles will make you a hero. The bread and butter pickle variety provides both a sweet and spicy or savory taste, covering all the bases for your pickle fan. The pickles use a recipe handed down through the McClure family for generations.
The family proudly notes that the recipe has been handed down through the years from Great Grandma Lala. Your pickle fan will appreciate the crisp crunch of the pickles.
Last but not least, we want to mention another convenience item. We realized the barrel aged coffee with a hint of whiskey requires a commitment, and sometimes coffee lovers are just looking for a way to grab and go. For them, we present the Coffee Variety Sampler Pack for Keurig K-Cup Brewers. Your coffee drinker will have the opportunity to sample coffees from the best-known names in the food business: Torani, Entenmann’s, Wolfgang Puck, and Coldstone Creamery. The cool thing is that the coffees in this special pack are never duplicated. Don’t brew them all in one night!
Stay Hungry, My Friends
What’s the best food gift? Only you will know for sure, based on the tastes of the person you love. For us, it’s a close call. The predictable choice is the edible cookie dough, which is too delicious to pass up. But for novelty and utility, the Zoku ice cream maker gets the nod. Who would have thought that you can have fresh, homemade ice cream in as little as 20 minutes? The ability to freelance and make different flavors is also a huge plus. So we say if it’s a close call for your loved one, go with the ice cream maker.