It started in 2018, as a dare from two family members and my best friend. I had suggested we limit holiday spending to $25 a person, including card.
“That will be the day,” one person, who shall forever remain nameless, said. “Like you can stick to a limit?”
“I’m serious,” I told her. “Let’s turn it into a challenge.”
That’s when they dared me, and when I took the dare.
Right away, I wanted to go with homemade, but I’m far from gifted in the crafts department. However, I love to cook, and I follow a plant-based diet. Not many possibilities there, except—meal kits. In the past, I had purchased some from Purple Carrot and others. My best friend and I had fun gathering and packing ingredients. Even better, family members—doubtful to the last minute that I could stick to the agreed-upon budget—had fun receiving, and we agreed to do it again this year.
If you’d like to try it, here’s a suggested box for less than $15 each for two lucky people.
Bad Ass Chili
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, chopped,
- 1 small green onion, chopped
- ½ cup red wine
- 1 14.5 oz. can chopped tomatoes
- 1 15 oz. can EACH black beans, pinto beans, and white northern beans, drained and rinsed
- 4 teaspoons red chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon oregano leaves
- 1 teaspoon basil leaves
- 2 teaspoons coconut sugar or maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
Heat oil over medium heat. Sauté onion and bell pepper. When wilted, stir in spices and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, and then reduce and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Adjust flavors.
For giving: Tuck canned ingredients into box or basket. Combine spices in one small container or bag. Add recipe card.
Most Healthful—and Delicious—Truffle Bars On the Planet
- 2 cups vegan chocolate chips, the darker the better
- 1 cup almond butter (or sub your favorite nut butter)
- One grind of sea salt (optional)
- 1/3 cup sliced almonds
Bring a pot of water to a boil and place a no-stick pan over it. In the pan, add the nut butter and chocolate chips, stirring constantly until melted and glossy.
In a loaf pan, place parchment baking paper, letting it hang over each side. Turn mixture into pan, smoothing the top. Pat sliced nuts over top. Place in freezer until hard. About 30 minutes before serving, remove from freezer, bring to room temperature and cut into squares.
For serving: Tuck all ingredients and recipe into gift bag.
- Sutter Home Pinot Noir Red Wine—four bottles, $4.99, Total Wine & More
- Hunt’s Diced Tomatoes, Fire Roasted, .99, Target
- Organic black beans, Great Northern, and pinto beans, 365 Everyday Value .99 each, Whole Foods
- Guittard Extra Dark Chocolate Baking Chips, $3.69 Target
- 365 Organic Almond Butter, 16 oz. $9.99
- Sliced almonds, 6 oz. Market Pantry, Target, $4.99
Spices: In case you don’t own any of these, I’ve padded the budget a bit.
Total: $27.62 for two gifts
Ready to try making and gifting your own DIY vegan meal kits?
- Make a list of your favorite plant-based recipes that are easiest to pack.
- Price them out. Stick to your challenge; don’t cheat.
- Create recipe cards, with photos, if possible.
- Pack them into a cute container.
Photo: Brandi Ibrao on Unsplash; Tamara Menzi on Unsplash