If you’re tired of searching through cluttered spices … or buying spices that you later realize you already have, it’s time to get organized! Here’s how to organize your spices for good.
I’ve moved eight times since graduating college (…12 years ago 😳) and with me through those moves came TWO types of mustard seeds. Which would be ok if I cooked with mustard seeds…but I don’t.
Needless to say, my spice collection was out of hand (read: a hot mess), full of random spices in random containers, few of which I ever actually used. So last year, I decided to organize my spices FOR GOOD. And, as weird as it sounds, this one change has made weeknight cooking So. Much. Easier. Here’s how you can do it too.
Step One: Take Your Spices Out
Take all your spices out of the cabinet(s) and lay them out on a clean, flat surface. A counter or kitchen table is great for this. Leave no stone unturned here; make sure to find all the spices in your kitchen and lay them out so you can see what you’re dealing with.
Step Two: Edit, Edit, Edit
Editing down your spices is the most important step of this entire process. Be realistic about which spices you actually use and be ruthless with those spices that you don’t.
First, eliminate the spices that you know it’s time to say goodbye to (old spices, spices you haven’t used in years, and mystery spices are good candidates here). After your initial sweep, use these guidelines to determine which spices to keep:
- Only keep spices you really use. For some guidance, grab my capsule pantry spice list of the 15 spices you need to cook practically anything here!
- Only keep spices that are still fresh. Whole spices should be replaced every 4 years, ground spices every 2-3 years, and dried herbs every 1-3 years.
- Only keep one spice jar of each spice. Unless it’s a spice you use all the time, that “back up” jar will likely go bad before you get to use it. Simplify your collection by getting rid of duplicates.
*If you compost, empty the spices into the compost and recycle the containers. If you don’t compost, empty the spices into the trash and recycle the containers.
Step Three: Streamline Your Spice Jars
This step is completely optional, but there’s something satisfying about uniform spice jars. After you’ve done a ruthless edit, you can transfer your spices to spice jars that match. You have two options here:
- Repurpose old spice jars. If you’re ambitious, you can save old spice jars, remove the labels, and repurpose them. I like the shape of Trader Joe’s spice jars (yeah ok, I have a spice jar shape preference), so I saved several of them over the course of a year. Then, once I had enough spice jars saved up, I soaked them in a bowl of soapy water overnight, scrubbed off the old labels, and decanted my spices into the clean jars.
- Purchase uniform spice jars. The (much) easier route is to simply purchase uniform spice jars. These spice jars are my favorite for shape and value.
Once you have your uniform spice jars, use a funnel to transfer your spices into them. Warning: this process is miserable without a funnel, so I do recommend one! This is the funnel I use but these uniform spice jars come with a small funnel so if you buy those spice jars, you’re set.
Step Four: Streamline Your Spice Labels
Another completely optional step, but (I think) the most satisfying one! I had these spice labels designed for myself, but I got SO many requests for them that I decided to offer them on their own!
You can find the ones I use here.
Step Five: Store Your Spices
Ok, so your spices are decluttered, decanted, and labeled. It’s time to store them in a way that you can easily find them when you actually need them. How you store your spices will depend on your kitchen and cabinet space, but I like to be able to see all my spices at once. Here are a few of my favorite spice storage products:
- Simple Spice Rack (this is the one I use on the back of a cabinet door)
- Bamboo Spice Rack (good for inside a cabinet)
- Pull-Down Spice Rack (good for pulling spices down to eye-level if in a high cabinet)
I suggest storing spices alphabetically (which is made easy by the numbers on these spice labels!), so you can find them as quickly as possible.
A quick note on specialty, seasonal, and bulk spices. If you have seasonal or specialty spices that you use rarely (but do really use!) and/or bulk spices in large containers, I suggest keeping them in an overflow “spice basket.” I use one of these baskets and keep it in a less accessible cabinet so it’s out of the way, but still easy to get to when I need it.
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