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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Packaging soup mixes for gifts

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 tucked the soup mix into the sack, folded the top of the sack down, then rolled the rest of the sack with label, around, to make a tidy little bundle. I tied the whole thing up with a length of red and white twine.

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.


  1. I have never seen soup mix in a bulk bin. But overall, I think you have a lot more bulk bin shopping there than here. Maybe it's a regional thing. Some of the grocery stores I go to don't have any and other's usually just have it for candy.

    Maybe next year, when I have a little more time, I will do more of a homemade Christmas like you have shown us. You made it all seem doable and lovely.

    1. Good morning, live and learn,
      We have one chain store, WinCo, that is known for an extensive bulk bin section. It's the largest bulk section in a store that I've seen before, carrying many items, that you wouldn't expect, in bulk. I bought fruitcake fruit in the bulk bins last month, even.

      So, yes, having this source near us has been great for finding lower prices and items by bulk. But you do have Aldi. And they sound like a great low-cost chain. Some day, I'll get out to an area that has Aldi, and I can check them out.

      Have a great day, live and learn!

    2. I am very fortunate to have an Aldi's in my area. If you don't have time to do all of the comparison shopping or couponing, you will still know that you're still getting a good/reasonable price there. They are really expanding. Maybe they will open some in your area soon.

  2. Interesting about needing to do a test run on the mix--I wouldn't have thought to do that. I love the idea of gifting soup mixes. To tell the truth, I feel overwhelmed with all the sweet treats we are given during the Christmas season. Soup is such a practical idea--who doesn't need easy dinner starters? Your packaging, as always, is beautiful. I'm not good at that sort of thing, but here's a link to an easy wrapping/packaging technique--my daughter did it last year (at age 10) and it turned out so cute!

    Winter has arrived in west Michigan. Snowy and blowy (I bet Alice is getting the brunt of this where she lives!). For once, I don't have anywhere to be today, so I'm doing laundry (time for flannel sheets), baking, wrapping gifts, and general de-cluttering (does it seem to anyone else like this is the most clutter-ful time of the year????). Hope everyone is staying warm and cozy today!

    1. Hi Kris,
      Snow is so fun, early in the season! it gets old in January, I bet, though.

      Thank you for that link, Kris. Those bags are so incredibly cute. I'll use that idea maybe this year, maybe next.

      I feel the same way about all of the sweet treats. Some are nice to have. But I always appreciate the non-sweet food gifts, too. I'm hoping these go over well.

      Have a great day, Kris, and stay warm!

    2. Hi Kris,
      Yes, it LOOKS yucky outside but I haven't been out since I drove to work when it was still dry! My daughter drove to her internship and back and said the roads were fine. We are tucked right between the worse parts of the storm--Kind of worse north and south of us and then worse again to the East and West. But I'm sure it will get worse for tomorrow. I worry about our daughter driving but she told me today was her last internship day so she doesn't have to drive in it tomorrow!

      As for all the cute gift ideas from Lili, I just have to say that I'm glad we just don't do any of the gift exchanges anymore. I have officially missed all the work parties for some reason or another so I didn't even have to bring a game gift nor a white elephant gift.

      I think I will put the flannels on tonight too. It has really gotten cold and my office is cold too!


    3. I think we are also in the eye of the storm, so to speak. Hoping the roads stay decent till after 9:00 tonight as we are going to our youth group party and it's a bit of a drive for us. We will take the 4 wheel drive truck, that's for surer!

  3. That is a nice gift idea, as were the birdseed ornaments in yesterday's post. We do very little gift exchanging within our family and friend groups at Christmastime, but we are bigger on birthday gifts, so I will keep these in mind for potential birthday gifts to make.
    Have a great day!

    1. Hi Mary,
      I hadn't thought about these as birthday gifts, but I think they would make nice ones. The birdseed ornaments, made in the shape of eggs (using plastic Easter eggs as molds) would be adorable for anyone with a spring or summer birthday, or hostess gift at Easter. I'll definitely do those for spring gifts, this year.

      Have a lovely day, Mary!

  4. Lots of cute ideas my electronics are on strick for the holidays. The stars Alined today and the internet and the
    Kindle are working at the same time. Both laptops are having a holiday break. The newer one says it can't go online and the other one keeps freezing. Hope you have a great day.

    1. Hi Patti,
      how frustrating! I hope you can do all you need to do, online, with your Kindle, today. Thank you for making it work enough to comment, though.

      Have a wonderful day, Patti!


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