This month, we’re tackling all kinds of small, overlooked projects in a series I’m calling Taking Care of Small Things. So far, we’ve changed our furnace filters, organized our keys and updated our phones with important contacts. (If you’re late to the game, no problem. You can go back and work through that list as you’re able, or just pick up from here.)
Today we’re organizing our spice cabinet! I chose this task because I think it’s far less likely to get looked at than a general pantry straightening. Also, having fresh spices and herbs at the ready may make you more inclined to cook from home and have what you need to tackle just about any recipe. One of my goals with this series is to choose small tasks that will save time and money in the future, and I think today’s task ticks both those boxes.
Here is the state of my pantry before the clean. As you can see, I had a variety of jars, some in tins, some in bags. It was getting to the point that I kind of dreaded having to get anything out there and stuff would regularly fall onto the counter. Not good!
The first thing that I did was remove every item from the shelves. I had a few bottles that were way, way past their prime. I think the oldest one was circa 2010. Yikes.
I also had some bottles that were unmarked. It was anyone’s guess what they were! I took some time to jot down which spices I needed to replace and/or replenish. With a list in hand, I headed on out to WinCo.
Why WinCo? This is why! It’s sooo cheap to buy your spices in bulk like this! Seriously, you’ll pay mere pennies. I ended up buying a ton of spices for very little money. Many other grocery stores also sell spices in bulk, so not to fret if you don’t have a WinCo near you.
Here’s another tip: I often find that spices are far cheaper in the section where you’ll find Hispanic ingredients. They are every bit as flavorful and much less expensive than herbs in the jars. My WinCo store had these for less than a buck. So this may be another option to consider, particularly if your store does not have a bulk foods section or you’ve got an objection to buying your spices that way.
When I got home, it was time to fill up my jars with the herbs and spices I bought. I found the easiest way to do this was to clip the corner of the baggie and place it over the jar. This way it acted kind of like a funnel.
Today’s “Little things” task did take me a bit more time and effort than any of the other tasks so far. BUT, I love the result and it was completely worth it! I love that I can easily find everything I need. I decided to use one row for savory herbs, the second row is sweet spices and the back row is specialty/less used items. I also cleared out a bunch of older items that were contributing to clutter.
Incidentally, if you’re interested in my spice organizer, I purchased this one on Amazon a few years back and love it!
In the past, I’ve tried using different “fancy” labels on the jars, but over time some peeled off. I ended up just taking a good old fashioned Sharpie to the bottles. In the end, I realized it was more important to have them labeled by any means necessary than the cutest way possible.
I hope you’re able to complete this task! Depending on the last time you did it or how much you like to cook, the time involved may vary. To help you get started, I’ve got a super cute (and free!) Herbs & Spices Checklist. It contains a list of herbs and spices I consider to be staples along with some blank spaces for you to add your own. To get it, simply open this PDF version of the printable and print!
Now you’ll be ready for all the fall and holiday cooking and baking you’ll be sure to do this season!
Make sure to check back in once you’ve tackled this! How often do you update your spices?