Alongside the charity shop offerings this year, I’ve decided to do ‘foodie gifts’ for my friends as well – and where better to start than by equipping a certain fan of my Tagine with a pot of magic to make her own with…

I haven’t given specific amounts as it depends on the size of the jar – so I haven’t costed these either. But for arguments sake, if you buy these four jars of spices for £1 each from the supermarket, you’ll make four presents with the jars as well! Simply pour the spices into four small dishes, soak the labels off the jars, and redistribute the spices between the four. Keep one for yourself and give three others away..

My spice cupboard is pretty well used, so I used what I had and popped them in a jar that I had under the sink, in my originally named Bag Of Jars. I think the one pictured here was from Ikea, part of a set of four.

Other jar options include buying the basic range mint sauce (15p) or mustard (27p), transferring the contents into a less attractive pot in the fridge, and cleaning the jar out to use.


1 part turmeric
1 part paprika
1 part cumin
1 part mixed dried herbs
A pinch of chilli

Simply combine all of the above ingredients until your jar is full. Depending on the size of the jar, you can do it a teaspoon at a time or in larger amounts.

And there you go! You can accompany it with a recipe or two if you like, spiced chicken and mandarin Tagine and the not-a-Tagine would be good places to start…

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

Categories: Recipes & Food


  1. what a lovely idea, I never thought of doing spice filled jars, done a cake jar and cookie jar, minus the fats and eggs of course lol they last ages as well if you sterilize the jars first, I hasten to add the idea came from someone who bought me a jar with cake ingredients in it for Christmas last year.

  2. Ooh I like this! Might make some with other stuff knocking around in the cupboard too, I’m thinking cocoa and marshmallows for the little ones : )

  3. I’ve done this using the Ikea jars too. I’ve made a basic garam masala mix, spice mix for chilli con carne and a Cajun spice mix. I buy my spices from a local Asian supermarket, so a large bag costs the same as a little jar from the supermarket. I hope that my friends see it as a personal gift, as I tailored it to their favourite cuisine. I’ll add the tagline mix next year 🙂

  4. I’ve just read your story in a magazine and it brought tears to my eyes and has made me rethink my weekly shop. I will definitely be donating some essentials to my local food bank now. Thanks for being such an inspiration. Xx

  5. Me has inspirado Jack. ´Qué importante es saber apañarse y tirar hacia adelante. Ánimo y mil gracias por tu blog. Abrazos desde España!!

  6. ‘s’ please can you expand a little on why it’s useless? Its your opinion and you’re entitled to it of course I’m just interested to know why.

    Its Christmas…..people like nice presents….some people don’t have much money to buy presents……here’s a solution for a nice inexpensive, thoughtful present.

    Sounds fairly straightforward to me but maybe I’m missing something though?? Oh and merry Christmas……festive cheer and all that.

    • Nice idea methinks! Include a recipe and make a pretty label and you have a pressie for a quarter of the shop price! And in my experience, people love homemade goodie gifts – whether your short of money or not. We’ve done biscuit mixtures in jars and jars of sweets, but nice to have a new idea. Perhaps, if you can run to it, a measuring spoon with recipe tied round the neck of the jar would look good!

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