Organize Your Spices, You’ll be Glad You Did

Home cooking can fall anywhere on the spectrum between a chore and a pleasure. One of the things that really helps me land more on the pleasure side of that field is having an organized kitchen, where grabbing ingredients and equipment is easy and convenient, eliminating some of those little barriers to cooking.

I’ve tackled my own kitchen gradually… Utensil and tool drawers, check. Dish cabinet, check. Pantry, check. But the spice cabinet loomed as a hodge-podge of different sizes and shapes of containers and lots of random baggies with twist ties (bulk spices). Every time I needed a spice it added a little unwanted dose of stress (plus extra time and effort in the cooking process to find it).  So I recently set out to tackle it once and for all, and wanted to share some tips.

1. Buy a new set of spice jars that are all the same size and shape

Spice%20Rack1I realize this might sound wasteful, however keep reading and you’ll see there’s recycling and bulk buying in this story, so it’s ultimately a very green path. I looked around for a set, I wanted glass not plastic.  I ended up buying two of these Chrome 18-Bottle Sets from The Container Store. (Although it turns out I needed to order a third set as I have more than 36 spices, so you may want to count in advance.)

2. Decide where you’ll store the jars

I inherited a small spice rack in my kitchen so decided to keep my most often used spices there – you can see it in this photo.  My secondary spices I lined up in a drawer. I prefer drawers because you can put labels on top and look down at them, although I do like the way the spices look all lined up in the upper rack – it makes me happy when I open it to see all the textures and colors.  (If I’m unsure which is which I just check the labels on top).

3.  Label the jars

Spice%20Drawer1My daughter and I considered using her label maker but it seemed too time consuming so I just hand-wrote them and it worked great.  I labeled them on top because (1) I knew it would work for the batch in a drawer as I would be looking down at them, and (2) even for the ones I store in my cabinet, I wanted to leave the sides label-free because I think they are beautiful.

4.  Alphabetize them

This might seem “OCD” but it is efficient and fast. If you have more than a few spices you’ll be glad you did this every time you reach for a spice.

5.  Recycle all of your existing containers

If they’re glass or plastic they should be able to join the crowd in your recycling bin.

6.  Going forward, buy all your spices in bulk

Spice%20Drawer2This is one of those “why didn’t I do it sooner?” things. Buying spices in bulk will save you tons of money – some of my spices were 90% LESS EXPENSIVE to buy in bulk than in a jar!   (Also, your herbs will be fresher, as you’ll likely buy those seldom-used herbs in smaller quantities.)

One Saturday morning activity -> Years of kitchen bliss

Oh, and one last tip…  I also picked up some new Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons from The Container Store, they are designed specifically for spice jars (in the photos they are the rectangular one, which is designed with less height and a longer handle, to easily slide in and out of jars and reach to the bottom).  My other measuring spoons are definitely more adorable but less practical.

Teaspoon3         Teaspoon2        Teaspoon1

Do you have any tips and tricks for organizing your spice cabinet (or kitchen in general)? Leave us a comment and let us know.

Happy Cooking!

Note: The Container Store had nothing to do with this, I just liked their jars and their measuring spoons 🙂


About Mary

Gatheredtable Founder.

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