I get a little frazzled around the holidays. That means I don’t always plan ahead (read: I never plan ahead) and gather little gifts for friends and party hosts. Since I love to cook and bake, food gifts are a natural choice. So when I need something fast, I turn to things I already have on hand or can pull together quickly. Here are five of my current favorites:
1: Homemade jams and jellies: If you have some in your freezer or pantry, package up a jar by itself or with a loaf of homemade or bakery bread.
2: Local meat: I buy local, grass-fed beef in bulk, which means I always have one-pound packages of frozen ground beef to tuck into a festive bag. (You may also be able to get some at a winter farmer’s market.) Yes, ground meat is an unconventional gift–but it always goes over well. Just be sure your host stashes it in the freezer right away.
3. Preserved fruit: If you put up any fruit during peak season, a jar of home-preserved goodies from your cupboard makes a sweet and simple gift. Who wouldn’t love the flavor of July peaches or September applesauce in the cold winter months?
4. Cocoa mix: This simple hot cocoa mix is easy to stir together. I recently made a triple batch, scooped it into jars topped off with a swatch of cloth, and brought it to a holiday gift exchange.
5. Granola: I’ve been making granola instead of buying regular cereal, so I usually have some around. Otherwise, it takes 10 minutes to mix together then about an hour to bake in the oven. I use this 100 Days of Real Food recipe but liberally modify it based on the nuts and seeds I happen to have.
What are your favorite holiday food gifts to give?