Let's put it this way: what would you actually like to receive in your Mishloach Manot on Purim? (I'm trying to figure out what to put in there would actually be most appreciated?) I feel like everyone sends cake, cookies, and/or candy -- it winds up being a lot of extra junk food, and all the starchy items have to disappear in a month anyhow because of Passover. Cheese? Grape juice? Fruits? Home-baked vs. factory items?
closed as primarily opinion-based by Y e z, Isaac Moses♦, Shokhet, Shmuel Brin, HodofHod Nov 16 '14 at 22:57
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Within reason, having a few of those little grape juice bottles on hand comes in handy for travel and the like.
There was a woman where I grew up who made miniature carrot kugels for everyone. They were good, and well-received.
We have implemented an extreme version of your query - send "We donated in your honor." cards to a bunch of people, and send a proper gift of food just to one. That way, we can ask the intended recipients personally what would be useful in their meal this year.
Hot dogs. The perishibility of the hot dog implies immediacy of eating, which complies with (at least) the T'rumas Hadeshen's opinion that the manos should actually contribute to the s'uda. Hot dogs are also compact and durable enough to be packed and walked around the neighborhood, and are substantial meal-worthy food that (ironically) are still delicious cold.
I have never received one, but have given them on account of the above logic.
The nicest Mishloach Manos I got was a scoop of tuna with some salad and some crackers. I was starving when it arrived and it was a perfect lunch.
I think a vegetable platter would be perfect as with all the candy and Junk you want something Healthy to eat and its perfect for the meal too it has all the hiddurim!!
The non-junk-food items I've most appreciated getting, and that aren't burdensome to prepare or store, include:
Durable fresh fruit: apples, oranges, bananas, etc. Berries and other fragile fruits are nice if you can keep them from getting squished during delivery, but that's more work.
Dried fruits: raisins, figs, dates, plums, mango, etc. Raisins can be bought in single-serving boxes, and most of the rest I've seen in smaller (~4oz) packages, so if you don't want to unpack from larger packages because of kashrut concerns, you can use those.
Single-serving cups of applesauce.
Pita or rolls.
Raw vegetables (carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, etc) already cleaned and cut up.
Nuts: almonds, pistachios, etc.
Some cute, small, ready-to-eat ideas that I've received and enjoyed:
- Strawberries and cream (finished before it made it through the door :) )
- Loaf of Italian bread and butter (helped that it was delivered in the morning around breakfast time ;) )
- Fruit platter
- Homemade pizza (I don't remember what the second food was in this one)
Last year, my community had a program where people would send things that are actually able to be used for the se'udah, with assigned people to give to.
We received fresh-baked pitot, much appreciated. (We got them early in the morning, and had nothing for breakfast yet. They didn't last until the se'udah. ;))
We gave a lasagna, also appreciated by the receiving family. I don't know if they had it for lunch of supper. :P
Just some ideas...
A couple I knew gives (or, when I knew them, gave) a piece each of chicken and kugel every year to each recipient. (That's not an answer to the stated question of what I'd like to receive/give, but is an idea for others.)