Making gifts from the kitchen – think healthy!

Making holiday gifts from your kitchen is a wonderful way to save on the budget, instead of the brownies or cookie mix, look for a healthier time saving recipe for the recipient.

It is that time of year where our sense of giving sometimes takes over and we find ourselves looking at our lists and wondering how on earth we will be able to stick to a budget. Giving gifts is a tradition for many holidays, in many parts of the world, through many cultures; the ritual is often celebrated with the gift of food. Giving a teacher, friend or co-worker a time-saving gift from your kitchen may be a treasure for them and an easy solution for you.

The trick is to think healthy. We know there are all kinds of recipes out there for cookies in a jar, brownies in a bag and more desserts than we can imagine. Try putting together the ingredients for a hearty soup mix, which would include the beans, lentils, dried peas and spices, once the gift is opened just a few perishable ingredients may need to be added. Or maybe a dried seasoning mix for spaghetti or tacos, these would be great time savers and healthier because they would not have the salt in them that their commercial version would have. If you are thinking something sweeter would be more appreciated, look for a healthier granola recipe; this would consist of oats, wheat germ, dried fruits, but not a lot of sugars or fat. 

Where would one go to find these recipes? Look through your own recipes and see if you are able to adapt a favorite, check out already designed mixes that are on-line or in bookstores or libraries, keeping in mind that you are looking for healthier versions, less sodium, sugar and fat. Michigan State University Extension often refers to recipes from the Recipe Finder at the USDA SNAP-Ed site for their classes. Also consider what your family likes. Making kits that include pasta, seasonings and canned veggies or tomatoes may be just what a tired cook can grab at the end of a hectic day and create a wonderful casserole with just a little prep work. 

If you like the idea of themed gifts think about taco night, pizza night, salad night, breakfast night and start there. Include a baking pan or muffin tin, and some cooking utensils if they are appropriate to the recipe and of course the non-perishable ingredients along with the recipe tucked into a gift bag or basket to make wonderful inexpensive gifts. To add the final personal touch add a personal note sharing something special about the recipe, thanking the gift recipient or whatever you think is appropriate for the occasion. Involve children in the preparation of these gifts to help share in the memory making and fun of sharing what was done together as a family.

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