It’s that time of year, when we start making lists, collecting addresses, and begin to stock up on wrapping paper, extra tape, and holiday cards. It’s that time of the year that your oven only gets a break while you are sleeping, and your dishwasher is running at all times; when you stock up on plastic containers to ship cookies, brownies, and cakes from coast to coast. Welcome to Cooking with Books Holiday Gift Guide! This is a special edition and unique gift guide that focuses on culinary subscription boxes for the cooks, chefs, bakers, and foodies in your life.
What is a subscription box? This closely depends on which service you choose to use, but generally they are monthly curated boxes that you receive filled with mostly new-to-you food items ranging from boxes that only send coffees, boxes that only focus on gluten free, and boxes that curate only vegan products. They’re a fantastic thing to receive in the mail and you can gift either a month, 3-months, or even a year of a specific subscription box, which makes this the gift that keeps on giving!
Below I’ll be sharing some of my top picks of subscription boxes that I received to review. Note that I received many more boxes from other companies and the ones below are the ones that stood out the most to me, either for the value, products, or audience it reached.
Love With Food is what comes to mind when you read about Aihui Ong road to success with her company. As the Founder & CEO of the company, she recounts that this was not an easy road to travel, starting off with a tough relationship that pushed her to her limits, having her break off and literally sky dive into the world of food. She traveled, she ate, she enjoyed life. Through various tough moments with friends, she understood she had to find a way to share this passion and support small food businesses trying to make it in the world. This is how Love With Food was born. Oh and doesn’t stop there. For every box you purchase, a meal is donated to help end hunger in the United States!
Why I loved this box: curated by a blogger, this box was was 90% new to me products (I had tried the Bonne Madam jam before), which made it very exciting to try the products. Unlike other boxes which only focused on snack products, Love With Food included a variety of balsamic based dressings, nut butters, granola from San Francisco, dried fruit, and a few herbal coffee flavored teas.
Who is this box for: depending on who curates the box (changes monthly), this is a great gift for that friend that just moved into a new city or someone that just loves food as it’s not very audience specific.
Okay, so you all know about my coffee addiction. I just can’t get enough and this subscription box is a gift from the heavens. These guys, lead by Michael Horn, taste around 50 coffees a month trying to pick and choose which are the best. They are sent from all over the world, by small to large coffee roasted looking to be showcased in their box. Watch this video about Craft Coffee and you’ll fall in love instantly! Another thing that makes Craft Coffee unique is that you can choose what kind of grind you want your coffee to arrive as: whole bean, french press, flat bottom filter, and cone filter.
Why I love this box: Simple, because coffee is my life. But seriously, you’ll receive three different coffees, cards on how to brew, taste, and love it even more; a card with information about the three coffees, where they come from, who roasts them. The packaging is simple and to the point – they’re no-nonsense about their coffees!
Who is this box for: Coffee lovers. None of that “I only like Starbucks Double Shot Latte, extra foam, three pumps of vanilla, two pumps of hazelnut” kinda crap. This is for people that love the true essence of coffee; those that enjoy a good espresso or simple brewed black coffee. It’s for that foodie that wants to learn more about coffee – tasting, brewing, recognizing flavors.
Why I loved this box: It answers a need for subscription boxes geared towards people with allergies. Products are researched and made sure that they meet the criteria of the company.
Who is this box for: People with allergies looking to discover new products. And just regular foodies that want to steer clear of a specific ingredient, this is just the box!
If you’re a fan of traveling and discovering new flavors, this box is for you. You’ll receive original recipe cards from a specific culinary destination. “Life’s Too Short For Food To Be Boring” is their slogan and it’s definitely true! Why eat the same old chicken dish for dinner every night when you can be making Argentinian Spiced Steaks with Chimichurri sauce or a rich and luscious Madras Curry over Jasmine Rice?
Why I loved this box: Because this is the first box that I’ve received that showcases food culture from another country. The ingredients in the box where well sourced and not common sights in my regular grocery store, and for someone that lives on an island without an ethnic market, receiving the Hungry Globetrotter is like a splash of foodie traveling in your month. It included spices and chai as you can see, as well as two full-sized products. I loved that it also included a reusable tote bag.
Who is this box for: If you’ve traveled to a specific country in Asia and miss the flavors; if you love discovering new combinations in your recipes; if your love for spice is bigger than your love for coffee – the Hungry Globetrotter is for you!
This box is named perfectly, but everything in it will surprise you. And the biggest surprise is that it’s all filled with healthy snacks! Included in the box were fruit bars, spiced nuts, caramel coconut corn, gluten free cookies, and even hemp-based snacks. I’m not the healthiest snacker (oh, pound cake slices slathered with Nutella isn’t healthy? oh dear!), so this box has been a true eye-opener to me and anyone that receives it.
Why I loved this box: Everything in this box was new to me and included around 20 products, so you can imagine the variety. Even better? Every snack was a good for me product – healthy, full of vitamins or fiber, packaged in eco-friendly wrappers, etc. And it addresses the reality, that snacking is a part of our every day life. With this box, they’re trying to lead us to healthier snacks that actually give you good energy without the crashing;
Who is this box for: An office at a start-up company that needs new snacks, Healthy Surprise offers more expensive boxes for larger companies, but this box would be great for a small office of 3-6 people. It’s also for a family that wants to explore new snack options other than Oreos and Cap’n Crunch. It’s a great way to start teaching kids about healthy snacking!
Cost: $33/month (16-20 snack servings)
Why I loved this box:It’s filled to the brim with information on the coffees, and I love that they also offer an online shop where you can purchase full-sized bags when you try one you love.
Who is this box for: Again, the coffee explorer in your life. The co-worker that can’t seem to start his/her day without caffeine; maybe it’s your mom that has an innate love for coffee; or how about a month subscription for one of your kids teachers (they probably need it more than anyone!)