It is Friday night…

and I am organizing my spices. Isn’t my life exciting?

I suppose I should say I am attempting to organize my spices. Here’s the dilemma: I have 40+ spices (most of which I use on a fairly regular basis). I have a tiny kitchen cabinet to keep them in, plus a spice carousel on the counter. They take up over 2 shelves. I can reach about 1 1/2 of those shelves (one of the joys of being 5’1″!).  Did I mention that these shelves are 12″ deep and 14″ wide (yes, I just measured).  So far, the best option seems to be the Spice Stack.

Ugh. So… anyway… here’s the list of my essential spices, should you be interested in starting to cook or stocking up. If you *are* just starting out with experimenting with your own cooking, I highly recommend McCormick’s Recipe Inspirations so you don’t end up buying a jar of spices that you don’t like.

Essential Spices:

  • basil
  • chili powder
  • cinnamon, ground
  • cumin
  • garlic powder
  • garlic salt (though I am thinking surely there is some way to make this from garlic powder?)
  • marjoram
  • nutmeg (apparently this is essential, since I have 3 containers of it!)
  • onion powder (good for making your own spice combos and rubs)
  • oregano
  • paprika
  • parsley (unless you have a greener thumb than I and can grow fresh… yum!)
  • rosemary
  • salt, popcorn (it is finer than regular salt and works better for homemade tortilla chips!)
  • salt, sea (we use instead of table salt)
  • salt, seasoning (it is a wonder that I manage to keep sodium as low as I do!)
  • Mrs. Dash 🙂
  • thyme

Not so essential, but nice to have on hand:

  • bay leaves (I use them for soups)
  • cayenne pepper (quick and easy way to add heat)
  • onions, minced
  • poppy seeds (for poppyseed chicken — yum!)


  • Cinnamon sticks (used for potpourri… I need to post that recipe!)
  • Cloves
  • Ginger, ground
  • Cream of tartar (used for meringue here)
  • Sage

Skip it (links to make your own from other spices)

So… if nothing else, I’ve managed to inventory my spices and put my substitutions links all in one post.
I guess I should be thankful that my life is boring enough at the moment that I can devote time to researching ways to store spices?  And that I can appear to be organized?  Trust me, this post makes me seem so much more into organization than I actually am!  I do think I could save quite a bit of time if I didn’t have to drag a chair over to the cabinet to reach the second shelf of spices, and then remove 28 spices before finding the one I need.  I guess I also need to be thankful for a husband who doesn’t think I am completely loony for organizing spices on a Friday night, much less blogging about them (he is happily occupied watching TV at the moment).
Feel free to comment if I missed something you find essential or if you have any suggestions!

6 responses to this post.

  1. girl, you know you are nerd….and that is why i love you!


  2. We use cream of tartar year-round here. My younger daughter can’t consume wheat, eggs, or milk, and cream of tartar is a necessity for making some of her baked goods!

    We like Nature’s Seasons (seasoning w/salt, pepper, other spices) here! We use it on a lot (that, and Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning. I don’t cook Creole, we just like the seasoning!



  3. I pretty much only use cream of tartar for biscuits, but it’s also good for cleaning a pot you let dry out on a hot burner. I use cloves and ginger year round, too, especially ginger. I’ve taken to keeping fresh ginger in the freezer because it’s so much better in Indian and Chinese dishes.


    • Thanks for the tip about cleaning out a pot! I like cloves and ginger too. I didn’t know you could freeze fresh ginger, but now I do!




    • Good tip on cleaning out the pot! I use fresh ginger year round too, but fresh ginger is different from ground ginger (and I typically only use it for fall/winter goodies). Although it doesn’t look like it from all of the garlic salt and garlic powder I keep around, I use fresh garlic most of the time too.


  4. I confess – I use Old Bay in just about everything!


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