a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Copy-Cat Holiday Treats: #2 of---Several

Keeping you Posted on More Holiday TR-eats — for yourself or others.

I have been posting ideas for homemade, original and copy-cat, gifts you can make for your holidays, quickly and cheaply.  I’ve encouraged you to look at the myriad gift catalogs filling your mailbox with a new eye — copying not buying. I’ve “talked” a little bit about how to recreate the expensive food and treat offerings from these catalogs.

Again, I am not doing this to rush the season—rather to give you a chance to think about and plan ahead for the season. Most, probably all, cheap, simple and quick. Three of my favorite words!

For the next several days I am going to share more of my ideas on holiday goody-gifts.

Today it’s Popcorn and Snack Gift Tins.

Close your eyes and picture the popcorn that comes in a variety of 1 to 3-1/2 gallon gift tins. While you can get a container that contains only one flavor, the most popular combination is plain popcorn, caramel corn and cheese corn. You can also buy the same containers filled with a combination of popcorn, tortilla chips and pretzels.

Next I want you to think about (or actually go price) the cost of packages of tortilla chips, pretzels, popcorn kernels or even already popped popcorn—and picture the volume they take up. It doesn’t take very long to see that even if you buy ready-made-popcorn you are saving money by creating your own gift packages.

Remember, a large variety of containers, including empty popcorn drums, can be purchased at garage sales or thrift shops for very little. 

Also, the prices I list here are prices from 1996 when I first wrote the cheapskate "bookette" on catalog-copy-catting. While I am not giving names, these prices are for products from well-known mail-order companies and--- the listed prices do not include shipping and handling.

Traditional Popcorn Trio
23 ounces of corn in a 2 gallon can for $22.50 (this is the only company that I noticed that listed the weight as well as the gallon size and it is no wonder because this works out to approximately 90 cents per ounce!

  • 3-1/2 gallon trio popcorn in red tin for $23.99.
  • 2 gallon trio popcorn for $19.95
  • 2 gallon “lite” trio popcorn for $19.95
  • 2 gallon trio snacks (popcorn, tortilla chips, pretzels) for $21.95
  • 3-1/2 gallon trio refill in the “home box” (described in previous post—a plain unadorned cardboard box with a warm and fuzzy name.)

Popcorn Nibble Mix
12 cups popped corn
2 cups cheese snack crackers
2 cups salted Spanish peanuts
2 cups small pretzel sticks or shapes
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
½ tsp. bottled steak sauce
½ tsp. garlic salt
½ tsp. onion salt
½ tsp. curry powder
½ tsp. salt
Heat oven to 250 degrees. Combine first four ingredients in large roasting pan. Combine remaining ingredients and add to pan, mixing well. Bake for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool. Store in air tight container. Will keep for several months in freezer.

The above Popcorn Nibble Mix is one of those recipes you could make together with a group of a few friends — sharing the ingredients and their cost.

One company sells a snack mix they label “unique.” It contains Spanish and blanched peanuts and sunflower seeds — all roasted and salted, mini-pretzels, and goldfish and tiny crackers–both cheese-flavored. I think the only unique thing about it is they are able to sell a 26 ounce container for $14.99.

Another company sells a six pound tin of “deluxe snacking mix” consisting of sesame and plain bread sticks, assorted pretzels and mini-toasts, all lightly salted with a garlic seasoning for $36.00. Even way back then that was $3.60 per pound!

Also available, 26 ounces of dried fruit and nut mix in a decorative tin for $17. Want to recreate something similar? Theirs contain dried pineapple, papaya, banana chips, and coconut mixed with unsalted Brazil nuts, filberts, almonds and cashew pieces. Choose the combination you like and can afford. And check out the bulk bins at large markets or health food stores—their savings over pre-packaged products is amazing.

Next Post: Recipes for Flavored  Popcorn

‘til we eat again,
          Simply Gail

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