How to Organize a Spice Cabinet

IMG_1133When eating clean, herbs and spices are pretty essential. The taste of plain chicken breast and barely dressed greens can get pretty bland, pretty fast. Fat me would add some kind of sugar or fat. Skinny me adds some savory flavor with calorie-free spices.

Hubbs thinks I had an infusion of caffeine. I think I like knowing where things are. The combination of needing specific spices and needing organization made me realize that my spice cabinet was in extreme need of order.

So here we go:

Step 1: Strip!

Take everything out of your spice cabinet. Put the bottles and cans on a flat surface (or surfaces if needed). Take advantage of the empty shelves to wipe them with a damp rag.

Step 2: Sort by Name

Group same spices together. Peppers and pepper medleys go together. Paprika and paprika mixes go together, etc.

IMG_1134Step 3: Consolidate

If you’re anything like me, you forget if you have the spices you need, so you buy them only to return and find that you really do have it. Take any duplicates and try to fit them into one bottle. This especially helps when cabinet space is limited.

Step 4: Sort by Need

My first inclination is always to sort alphabetically, but spices don’t work that way. When you are making tacos and you suddenly decide you need crushed peppers, you just want peppers, so it’s better to group spices by need. My spice cabinet was sorted into these groups:

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Group 1: the Basics: salt, pepper, oil, vinegar

Group 2: Spicy and BBQ: crushed peppers, mesquite seasoning, cajun seasoning, liquid smoke, other pepper medleys (we like spicy in my house).

Group 3: Baking – baking power, cornstarch, baking soda, various extracts, cinnamon, allspice, etc

IMG_1140Group 4: Common spices: paprika, basil, bay leaves, garlic powder, etc

Group 5: Boullion – chicken, vegetable, beef..duh

Step 5: Stuff!

Hopefully, with consolidation and some stacking, you can stuff everything back into the tiny space from whence it came. (Well, at least my first home was a tiny space.) Even if you have more space to work with, always leave room for growth.

Put Group 1 in the most convenient place. Being a short stock, this is the bottom shelf for me. I also took some of my most commonly used spices (spic pepper medley, paprika, garlic powder) on the bottom shelf. Salt and pepper are usually refilled from larger bottles, so I put the most grab-able bottles in front.

Put group 2 in the next most convenient place, and so on. This way when you see coriander in a recipe, and you know you don’t really use it, you know where to look. This also puts the spices that run out quicker in a more convenient place.

Step 6: Prepare for replacement

Put any spices that are gone or almost out. Make sure they are on your grocery list.

Here’s the final product – a neat and clean spice cabinet. For yay!

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