Simple Spice

When I became vegan, I got more into food.  With that, came more shopping, cooking, and preparing homemade meals.  Herbs and spices are an important part of a healthy kitchen, so I got quite a collection going.  As I am learning about new ways to be more green and to care for our earth, I have a nice glass jar collection going while using less plastic.  These two things led to a spice cupboard needing a bit of a makeover.


Spice cupboard BEFORE photo. Lots of spices, but not easy to find and a bit cluttered.


Yesterday I took on simplifying my spice cupboard.  It began with taking all the spices out, cleaning the shelves, and figuring out my favorite 18 spices.  It takes being willing to make a mess to really get in there and clean and organize.  I found spices that I had prior to moving to Portland, which meant they were more than six years old, so I tossed them.  I also had spices I bought with good intentions, but haven’t used.  It felt good to get rid of the things I am not using or that no longer inspire me.


Taking everything out is an important first step

I got this neat spice rack off of Amazon and used it to make good use of the space while also making it super easy find the spices that I want.


Bottom shelf AFTER the project

I originally bought a set of labels off Amazon that were clear with black ink, but they were not easy to see, so I made my own from Avery labels I had on hand.  I had to cut them out to get them to fit, but I like the finished look much better and I love the ease of finding which spice I want without squinting!


I decided to make my own labels

I could have bought several racks that hold 18 jars each, but I really do use my favorite 18 spices more than 80% of the time.  With that in mind, having less to deal with, versus more to organize, made sense.  So here are my favorite 18!


My Top 18 Spices are Black Pepper, Cardamom, Cayenne, Chili, Chipotle, Cinnamon, Cloves, Cumin, Curry, Garam Masala, Ginger, Lemon Pepper, Nepali Mix, Nutmeg, Roasted Peppers, Sesame Seeds, Smoked Paprika and Turmeric!

One tip is to buy spices in the bulk section of your food co-op.  This allows you to buy only the amount that you need for that particular recipe.  Bulk saves you money while also avoiding waste.  And having fresher spices in small amounts is better for flavor, your pocketbook and your cupboards!


The AFTER photo with less to manage and a bit more organization.

I just love making my own spice mixes as well. I made the Nepali Spice mix as a holiday gift this past year. Yum! It’s good on popcorn, veggies, rice and more. Here are some other spice mix recipes as well and my son-in-law just made this Ras el Hanout mix which I must try.

December 2016 update: After two years, I had to admit that I just wasn’t able to stick to 18 favorite spices. So, I got a 2nd spice rack and now it looks like this. I like that the spices are kept away from the light and they are easy to find. I can also only buy only the amount I need versus having to fill the container.


What are your favorite spices and when did you last clean your spice cupboard?


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  1. Ron Nilson says:

    Kathy – Thanks for helping with a problem that’s been begging for a solution!


  2. Sharon says:

    we use lots of herbs and spices and storing them quickly became a problem. We bought a drawer insert that worked, but I really like the of choosing our favorites and grouping them together like this. Thanks for the idea!


  3. Cindy Koczy says:

    My husband built me a spice rack that is tucked into a long wall that holds 36 containers! They are in alphabetical order.I want to encourage everyone to try tarragon! I use it with veganaisse- and make my own herb mayo,potatoes,leeks and cheezy sauces. Tofu scramble too!Tomato sauce.
    I use glass containers and take them to the store, where they weigh them; and I refill with fresh herbs.
    Always enjoy what you write about K, thanks!


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