I like to think of my spice cabinet as more of a supplement cabinet.
Historically, herbs & spices were hailed by ancient cultures as more precious than gold. Rightfully so- they are a powerhouse of nutrition, packed with health benefits, and just happen to taste amazing in food.
Adding herbs & spices to foods are easily one of the cheapest and easiest ways to majorly boost the health & flavor of foods.
When high-quality stored and used properly, they are a powerhouse of health benefits and flavor.
The key to using herbs and spices more is an organized spice cabinet!
Which herbs & spices to buy?
Ideally, it’s best to buy organic spices when possible. Spices labeled ‘organic’ are always non-irradiated and not sprayed with chemicals (by USDA Organic standards), plus they often taste better.
Since most spice packets in stores contain additives such as corn, wheat, preservatives, etc. and at $1 for a 1oz package, it’s MUCH cheaper (and healthier) to buy individual spices and make your own blends!
While more expensive, if you prefer to buy blends, these are good options:
FYI: The best way to get the most health benefit and flavor out of spices is to buy them whole, dry roast them in a cast-iron skillet, then grind them up. But, mama don’t got time for that right now!
How long do they last?
When stored properly, ground spices will keep for about a year and whole spices will last up to 2-3 years.
After purchasing new spices, I immediately date it so I can toss it if not used by the year mark.
How to store them
Spices are best stored in an airtight container in a cool dry place, ideally 50-60 degrees (F). Ideally, it’s best to store them away from the stove since the heat of the stove can often warm them up and impact the flavor and health benefits.
Since many kitchens (including my own) are setup to have the spices near the stove for convenience, this may not be realistic. But, I keep my backup spices for blends in a separate container in the pantry.
Best places to buy herbs & spices
Once upon a time, while trying to save money, I purchased a 1-pound bag of Oregano on Amazon. Apparently, 1 lb of Oregano is A LOT of Oregano.
It’s true that high-quality bulk spices are most cost efficient, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy them in bulk…who knew?
Local Health food store or Co-op
these places often have a bulk section of herbs that you can get only as much as you need and pay by weight. Most stores have Frontier Co-Op brand spices which are a great product!
Local ethnic market
do a quick internet search for local Asian, Indian, or Latin grocery stores. You’ll likely find some unique flavors and blends there too!
Thrive is my go-to for organic herbs/spices at a great price (2.99/oz compared to ~$5.00/oz anywhere else). These are the staple spices I buy from Thrive:
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- celery seed
- dill weed
- minced onion
- chili powder
How to use more spices in your Cooking
Making my own spice blends has encouraged me to use spices in almost everything I cook. I use these to flavor sauces, soups, meat, roasted vegetables, protein shakes….really, anything!
You can even combine mixes in recipes to customize flavors. One of my favorite things is a scoop of Taco Blend and a scoop of Ranch blend in a Tex-Mex recipe like Taco Stuffed Bell Peppers or a Tex-Mex Casserole.
Other blend ideas:
- Chai spice– homemade chai tea lattes, anyone?
- Apple Pie/Pumpkin Pie Spice- these aren’t only for the holidays… try adding to protein shakes or yogurt for yummy flavor!
- Cajun or Jerk seasoning
Organize Your Spice Cabinet
Throw away any ground spices more than a year old and any whole spices more than 3 years old.
With whatever you have left, combine alike spices into 1 container. If you are keeping current containers, combine alike spices into the newest container to ensure you are using the oldest first. If you want to make everything match, check out the next step!
If you want your spice cabinet to be neat & uniform, consider getting pretty glass spice containers with air-tight lids.
For individual spices, here are some different styles to choose from:
- I love my 6-ounce square glass spice container set (or just the jars) because they are efficient on space and hold a bit more than the standard 4-ounce size.
- 4-ounce round glass jars or 4-ounce mini mason jars (so cute!)
- 4-ounce spice jars with gold lids
- 3-ounce glass jars with bamboo lids
For spice blends, I use these larger air-tight spice blend containers, (or a classic mason jar would work). Since I use these a lot in cooking, making a larger jar of each saves time (they usually last about 3 months).
I store my backstock Thrive Market baggies in a clear storage bin in the pantry to keep things neat & tidy.
Depending on how your spices are stored, you can either label the side, the lids, or the bottom of your spice jars. I chose to do the sides and the lids with these labels. There are tons of options for spice labeling:
- These spice labels are the ones I have (1.25w x 2.25t) for the sides, and 1.5” round for the lids. These classic modern spice label are cute too!
- Many spice container kits on amazon come with blank chalkboard labels that you can write on yourself (I suggest using a fine-point marker).
- If you already have jars, these spice jar labels are an easy budget-friendly option.
You can stick them on the side of the jar or on top of the round lid.
There are several ways to keep spices. This will primarily depend if you have a spice drawer, or a spice cabinet.
- Expandable & stackable spice rack organizer (customizable to cabinet size)
- a mini lazy susan turntable
- expandable cabinet tiered risers (customize to cabinet size)
- expandable plastic spice rack for drawers (customize to your drawer size)
- metal spice rack tray for drawers (not expandable but comes in different sizes)
I use a mini funnel to pour individual spices into the glass containers
Happy cooking with your yummy & organized spices. I’d love to hear your spice cabinet organization hacks!!