As I browsed through a back issue of Real Simple a couple weeks ago, I came across a page of their recommended kitchen gadgets that reminded me why I’m writing a series of budget-friendly gift ideas. I really do enjoy reading Real Simple, but sometimes, it seems like a better name would be “Real Expensive.” The magazine recommended a “knife-resistant glove,” saying: “From legendary knife manufacturer Victorinox Swiss Army, these sliceproof polyethylene gloves will protect your digits during your next fight with an unwieldy apple.”
Let me get this straight… I’m supposed to pay $24 for a glove that will protect my hand when I use a knife? I’ve actually cut my hand badly when using a knife to cut an apple… so badly, in fact, that I had to get a cast for a few weeks. And I still can’t imagine buying those gloves.
But these gloves got me to thinking… There are some kitchen tools or foods that really are fabulous and worth every penny. And, there are a whole lot of kitchen tools or foods that are not-as-fabulous and not-as-worth-every-penny.
For the people in your life who love to make food, here are some of my top (mostly) budget-friendly gift recommendations:
An Apron – I have a super cute apron from Anthropologie a few years ago and they have quite a few in stock now that I really like. Most of their aprons are more like $32, though. I also found some cute half aprons on Etsy that are less expensive like this coffee/tea cup themed one for $15, this vintage-style one for $16; or this polka dot one for $21.50.
Kitchen Essentials – Things like cutting boards, spatulas, and other kitchen basics wear out and need to be replaced every few years, but aren’t usually fun to spend my own money on. If you know your recipient well enough to know what they need, it can be nice to buy them a higher quality or more fun version of whatever they need. My friend Sarah got me this fun Princess spatula when Beach Girl was born and, while it sells for $10, it was much nicer than I ever would have bought myself, it makes the most delicious cookies, and it brought some fun pink into my kitchen! I think the key here is finding something that isn’t necessarily expensive, but is higher quality or more unique than your recipients would normally buy themselves. If you’re feeling crafty, you could paint these fun colorful wooden spoons or make these homemade wooden cutting boards.
Kitchen towels – I love these cute homemade towels from Martha Stewart and they seem really easy to make.
America’s Test Kitchen Cookbooks – These cookbooks, from the editors of Cook’s Illustrated Magazine, are the source of many of my favorite recipes, including teriyaki chicken. America’s Test Kitchen tests absolutely every aspect of a recipe to find the very best ingredients and processes for making all sorts of yummy recipes. My favorite thing about these cookbooks is they explain everything, so have taught me a lot about how to tweak recipes and improvise in the kitchen. My sister has a full collection and everything she’s ever made me from them has been delicious. My favorite books are The Best 30-Minute Recipes and The Best Make-Ahead Recipes. Most of the cookbooks are $23, but I’ve found used copies in like-new condition from Amazon for even less.
Kitchen Gadgets – There are a few kitchen gadgets that make working in the kitchen more enjoyable. Like I said in my post about organizing a kitchen, one person’s clutter is another person’s most valuable kitchen tool. But if you know your recipient well enough to know their favorite recipes, a tool to help their prep is great! For me, gadgets that have become invaluable are a cookie dough scoop and an ice cream scoop.
Small Appliances – On the much pricier end of things, there are some useful small appliances that would make a great gift for the chef in your life if you’re feeling especially generous. My favorites are my Cuisinart ice cream maker, fondue pot, and Kitchen Aid stand mixer (I have this stand mixer that we bought nearly half off on Amazon before Christmas last year, so keep an eye out for a good deal!). If the chef on your list already has a stand mixer, you could give them an attachment like this food grinder attachment (that lets you use the mixer to shred cheese, among other things) or this ice cream maker attachment.
Recipes – Whether they’re an addition to another gift or a gift on their own, personal recipes are a meaningful and frugal gift. One of my favorite frugal wedding gifts to give is a cookie dough scoop with some of my favorite cookie recipes. Or, if you’re giving a fondue pot, consider including recipes for cheese, meat, or chocolate fondues.
Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook – I have been reading Jessica Fisher’s blogs Life as Mom and Good Cheap Eats for years and have learned so much about freezer cooking from her. She just released her first cookbook and I had it on preorder. It’s filled with yummy recipes and tips for make-ahead meals… especially perfect for someone on your list who loves to cook, but often doesn’t have the time to on weeknights. $11.32.
A Meal with Jesus: Discovering Grace, Community, and Mission around the Table – There is so much incredible food for thought (ha!) in this book, I can’t possibly summarize it all here. You can check out the book’s reviews and preview the book on Amazon, but here’s a teaser quote from the introduction – “Jesus spent his time eating and drinking – a lot of his time. He was a party animal. His mission strategy was a long meal, stretching into the evening. He did evangelism and discipleship round a table with some grilled fish, a loaf of bread, and a pitcher of wine.” And, later on, “I don’t want to reduce church and mission to meals, but I do want to argue that meals should be an integral and significant part of our shared life. They represent the meaning of mission, but they more than represent it; they embody and enact our mission.” If your recipient likes hospitality, food, and Jesus, this book could be a great gift. (The Kindle version is $8.)
Cookie-Making Kit – On my “Gifts for A Crafty Lady” list, I told y’all about how my friend Toni and I made cookies based off of Bake at 350‘s gorgeous cookies and recommended you give the supplies as a gift. That’d be a fun gift for a chef/foodie as well!
For those on your list who are more foodies than chefs, I also have some ideas for special foods that make great gifts. For me, the key is finding something that is delicious and higher quality than they would normally buy themselves, but that still doesn’t cost much.
Gourmet snacks and treats – I think nearly everything sweet or salty that Trader Joe’s sells would make a great gift. My favorite gifts to give from Trader Joe’s are their dark chocolate peanut butter cups, chocolate covered espresso beans, pumpkin butter, Speckuloos cookie butter, and “Everything” Bagel Chips. I’ve also found some yummy and discounted Harry & David brand snacks and treats at stores like Marshall’s or TJ Maxx.
(By the way, I bought these peanut butter cups just so I could take a photograph of them… you know, for my blog. I really love y’all. And peanut butter cups from Trader Joe’s. Please don’t notice how many are already gone haha!)
Fun drinks – Our favorite inexpensive wines are Yellow Tail Shiraz-Cabernet and Chateau St. Michelle Reisling. It’s possible to find them on sale for under $10 a bottle and we’re no wine connoisseurs, but we find them delicious! There are also fun non-alcoholic drinks like Wegman’s delicious Italian Soda lemonade or cider & mulling spices with cute mugs. Yum…
Tea infuser – For tea drinkers, this Thermos travel cup with tea infuser lets them brew and enjoy hot tea on the go. $17.15.
Tervis Tumblers – My friend told me Tervis Tumblers like this one are like South Carolina’s fine china. They keep drinks hot or cold without any condensation, are virtually unbreakable, and can be customized for your recipients’ favorite sports team, colors, or interests. (around $16.65)
Hot Chocolate Mix – Layering all the ingredients for hot chocolate in a jar makes for a cute (and yummy) gift. I especially love including crushed candy canes! Here’s a yummy recipe for peppermint cocoa. Their packaging is super cute too!
Cookies in a Jar Mix – The idea behind cookies in a jar is that you include all the dry ingredients in a jar, along with a list of the wet ingredients and instructions for mixing and baking the cookies. My friend Stephanie made this cookies in a jar mix for her son’s birthday party favors and I can attest to the fact that these cookies are delicious.
[Note: I included prices for some of these items, but they’re subject to change. If you purchase through my amazon affiliate links, you’ll be helping to support stayatbeachmom.com. Thanks!]
I hope these gift ideas help you as you shop for the chefs & foodies you love. Do you have any ideas to add to the list? I’d love to hear them! You can also check out the other lists I’m making for “Give Great Gifts on a Barebones Budget” and subscribe to stay up to date!