I think (but I'm not sure) that this is the last of the gifts that I'll post about this season.
There are a handful of people to whom I am gifting soup mixes, for Christmas.
If you recall, I knitted a set of kitchen wash cloths, and I bought a set of tea towels from Williams-Sonoma to go with the dish cloths, to go to my step-mom. Going with a kitchen/cooking theme, I've made 3 different soup mixes for her, to add to the box of gifts. My soup mixes fall under the category of semi-homemade, as I began with mixes from the bulk bins at WinCo.
Before I began, I checked out various soup mixes for sale at a local holiday store. I noticed that many of these had additional items, suggested to add to the mix. In addition, I was able to gather ideas for potential soup "flavors".
For the first soup mix, I used WinCo's vegetable soup blend, and dried tortellini, from the bulk bins. With these items, I added some seasonings, and a packet of Parmesan, to come up with a Vegetable Tortellini Soup Mix. The suggested add-in for this soup is a can of tomato sauce.
WinCo also sells a bean and tortilla soup mix. To the bean and tortilla soup mix, I added more seasonings, and included a baggie of tortilla chips for garnish. The suggested add-ins for this soup are some diced, cook chicken and a chopped tomato. My name for this soup mix is Mexi Chicken, Tortilla and Bean Soup.
The third soup mix began with WinCo's Beanland soup blend. Again, I added some seasonings, plus some dried onion, and suggested cooking with diced carrot and celery.
I tested out each of these "recipes" a couple of times. I did find that WinCo's suggested cook time was off on all of the bulk bin ingredients, so testing was very important.
As I tested, I kept notes on what I added and the timing. I was able to type of my notes, to include as a recipe for the soup preparation.
|the soup mix in ziploc bag, a white lunch bag, the printout of instructions|
For the packaging, I was working with supplies I had at home. I didn't want to spend more money on packaging supplies, plus I wanted to use up some of the supplies that I have, already.
What I came up with -- ziploc freezer bags, quart, and snack-size bags, white paper lunch sacks, free online images from the internet, to print out in black and white at home, and red/white twine.
I put the soup mix into ziploc freezer bags, separating any ingredients, into smaller baggies, that needed to be added at different times in the preparation of the soup. Along with the ingredients, I slipped in an extra copy of the soup instructions, into the quart-size ziploc bag.
the packaging part
For the outer bag, I found a lovely vintage vegetable image. I cut and pasted this into a Word document, and just below it, I typed the soup-making instructions. This is my label. I printed this label, cut it out, and used a glue stick to attach it to the front of a white paper lunch sack.
I like the way these look. A bit homey and vintage. Brown paper bags would also suit this look. This packaging idea could be used for a variety of food-gifts, such as homemade fudge, cookies, mini loaves of quick bread or muffin mixes. It's very inexpensive to make, using a basic home printer for a label, some online images, a small paper sack and a bit of string or twine.
**An update on the birdseed ornaments -- I had one break on me yesterday when I went to pick it up/see if it was all dried. I was squishing it sideways, and it broke.This was the last of the ornaments that I made, it wasn't as thick, and I wasn't able to really pack it well, as I didn't have enough mixture. Plus, I was kind of squishing it absent-mindedly, checking for dryness. (They had been kind of spongey when not dried out.)
The others were fine for wrapping in cellophane and bubble wrap. Just an FYI about really packing the birdseed together.
Also, I read up on using a dehydrator to dry them. This could be really beneficial in damp climates, and especially if you plan on making these well in advance, and wrapping for favors or gifts. Birdseed ornaments seem to be a popular wedding favor, and many brides make these a couple of weeks in advance. Getting them very dry prevents molding. With my next batch, I will try a dehydrator. the suggestion I read was to allow to air dry overnight, then transfer to a dehydrator for 6 hours. then allow to air dry some more for a couple of days, before wrapping. And perhaps, on your gift tag, a little note "handle with care", so recipients don't press or try to squish them.