Spice Cabinet Organization

I did quite a bit of inventorying, purging and reorganizing of my main food storage spaces (pantry and freezer) earlier in the year, but never got around to taking stock of my spice cabinet. Finally a few weeks ago I took the time to go through all that I had accumulated. It was a little horrifying. I had a lot of duplicates. I also had a few items that I decided really shouldn’t be kept any longer. Generally herbs and spices just lose power, they don’t really go bad, so I tend to hang on to things and just use more? But really, some of these were outside of what even I am comfortable using. Despite the excess of many things, I also was out of some key essentials (or almost out). Ugh. I’m hoping that this reorg keeps me on better track, as I consolidated a few things, did a better job of sorting like with like (where possible or applicable) and also just made a list of what is on hand! I have pictures of what had been stored on each almost every shelf as well as a picture of the final, reorganized cabinet. And, of course, an inventory of what I have on hand.

File Mar 26, 9 45 41 PM

These spices had been on the bottom shelf of my spice cupboard. I use one of those expandable risers to more easily see what I have available. There are some duplicates here:

  • garam masala
  • ginger
  • mustard seed
  • ground cardamom
  • ground thyme
  • cinnamon
  • more mustard seed
  • dried rosemary (almost empty)
  • chipotle chili powder
  • nutmeg (whole)
  • curry powder
  • wasabi powder
  • tarragon
  • dill weed
  • cayenne (empty)
  • curry powder
  • cinnamon sticks
  • med. chili powder (this is actually really spicy)
  • cardamom pods
  • ancho chili powder (empty)
  • celery seed
  • red curry powder
  • ginger (nearly empty and old)
  • ground cloves
  • turmeric root
  • bay leaves
  • chinese five spice powder
  • cream of tartar
  • smoked paprika (empty)
  • even more mustard seed
  • sugar (jelly jar)
  • flour (for roux or other uses where I don’t want to grab the big canister)
  • dried mustard powder
  • and MORE mustard seed (this time brown)
  • ground allspice
  • more dill weed
  • two very old jars of curry paste (tossed)

File Mar 26, 9 45 19 PM

On the middle shelf I have two lazy susans, plus I tuck extra spices in as I can. These items are from one lazy susan:

  • dried onion
  • oregano
  • a very tiny bit of cumin in a very large container
  • onion powder
  • more oregano
  • black pepper
  • more onion powder
  • dried basil
  • crushed red pepper flakes (I keep a larger jar of this in my pantry and just refill this very old container…we use these quite a bit)
  • garlic salt
  • thyme (leaves, not ground)
  • cayenne pepper
  • powdered sugar (I keep a small amount in a shaker so that I can decorate cakes/scones if desired)
  • saffron
  • more dried mustard powder
  • sazon w/cilantro and achiote (other sazon in pantry…)
  • achiote
  • autumn harvest spice blend (st. augustine)
  • pumpkin pie spice (st. augustine)

File Mar 26, 9 48 19 PM

And these items are on the second lazy susan:

  • liquid smoke
  • hot sauce
  • bakers blend spice mix (st. augustine)
  • homemade taco seasoning
  • homemade chili powder (which I don’t like, so it’s just been hanging out — I need to use it up)
  • cajun seasoning
  • old bay
  • more cream of tartar
  • baking powder
  • vanilla
  • almond extract
  • mint extract
  • butter flavoring (part of a homemade butter beer kit that was a gift)

Finally, the top shelf. What a mess this was. I actually can’t find my photo, but Found the pics! There was a large tupperware bowl that held a number of random spices and spice mixes in bags and then lots and lots of tins and containers from the Mennonite store (at home) and random jars of homemade or premade mixes (like Mrs. Dash). This was truly horrifying — I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I had something like 24 spice/herb blends on hand, most of which are these tiny ziploc bags of spice mixes and meat rubs from a tea and spice store in St. Augustine. It was/is ridiculous.



spices_top shelf

On the shelf:

  • ground coriander
  • poppy seeds
  • paprika
  • simon & garfunkel rub
  • specialty salt pack
  • vindaloo curry powder (super hot)
  • pretzel salt
  • bay leaves (very few, all broken pieces)
  • dried parsley
  • oregano
  • turmeric
  • mrs. dash lemon pepper
  • saffron
  • mrs. dash garlic & herb blend
  • mrs. dash steak seasoning
  • mrs. dash table blend
  • mrs. dash southwest chipotle
  • curry powder, reg.
  • sesame & ginger blend
  • chicken & rib dry rub
  • BBQ chicken rub
  • spicy Mexican dry rub

spices_tupperware_top shelf

In Tupperware:

  • everyday smoky rub
  • smoked salt rub
  • Mongolian style bbq rub
  • au jus gravy mix (why do I have this? I never use these mixes)
  • whole nutmeg, 2 pks
  • hot paprika
  • california herb blend (st. augustine)
  • signature spice blend (st. augustine)
  • sundried tomato dipping spices
  • salmon tea rub (st. augustine)
  • espresso steak rub (st. augustine)
  • tailgaters spice blend (st. augustine)
  • smoked sea salt (st. augustine)
  • matanzas chili spice blend (st. augustine)
  • island sweet blend (st. augustine)
  • chardonnay smoked sea salt (st. augustine)
  • seafood blackening (st. augustine)
  • ras al hanout (st. augustine)
  • grilled fish blend (st. augustine)
  • cinnamon sticks (two packages)
  • ground cardamom
  • ground turmeric
  • whole cloves
  • pesto allo genovese (dried, gift)
  • cinnamon
  • unnamed spice blend

Ridiculous, right? I consolidated as much as possible, threw out some really old stuff and generally just reorganized. In addition to the long list above, I also keep some bulk-size containers in my pantry, which include:

  • chili powder
  • peppercorns
  • seasoned salt
  • red pepper flakes
  • cinnamon
  • mrs. dash original
  • mrs. dash garlic and herb (except — I was out! the horror — i use this quite a lot)
  • costco no-salt seasoning
  • steak seasoning (montreal style)
  • dried chives
  • dried mint
  • seasonings for popcorn

Despite ALL these items in my cupboards, I actually needed a few things like dried rosemary, garlic powder, cumin, smoked paprika, the Mrs. Dash garlic and herb blend, etc. I recently signed up for the Penzey’s email list and while generally I am happy to purchase most spices at a bargain grocer, there are a few things I think are just worth spending a few more dollars on. They had a few freebie offers that I took advantage of and so for the most part my spice cabinet is stocked with all the things I find essential as well as all the extras I’ve accumulated over time. Except I forgot to pick up the Mrs. Dash when I was at BJs this month, darn it.

File Mar 26, 9 46 00 PM

Here is the final, reorganized cupboard. It’s still stuffed pretty full, but spices have been moved around for better usability. And now that I have a list of all those spice blends (in my defense, MOST of those were gifts) as well as an inventory of all spices on hand, I’ve been working more diligently to use them in my cooking.

Are you a minimalist when it comes to spices, herbs and other seasonings? Or more of a maximalist like me? Do your friends and families like to give you culinary gifts that sometimes take a while to use up?

ETA 4/22/17 to include pictures of top shelf spices before reorganization.

Five Frugal Things


Chocolate stash: for scale, the tin is about the diameter of a medium pizza pan and quite deep.

  1. Even though I’ve stocked up on lots of items this month (and have blown the grocery budget), I’m still concentrating on using up items on hand. I’ve got a ways to go on using up all that chocolate, but I made magic layer bars, chocolate pecan scones and ganache for the Easter cream puffs using goodies from this tin rather than buying something special. I also used a lemon cake mix that had been in the cupboard for a while to make a lime soaked citrus cake. I should have added some baking powder, but it still tasted good. And had the added advantage of also using up a container of limeade concentrate and some leftover frosting that had been in the fridge for a LONG time.

***All these desserts were made over the course of a whole month. Even my sweet tooth is not that intense!

2. I picked up a tub drain cover at Target after pulling an unseemly amount of hair and other debris from the shower drain. So gross. Hopefully this will keep us from having to call a plumber out or do any expensive DIY work.

3. I chopped up leftover Easter ham to use in a ham, potato and bean soup for dinner tonight. This also makes use of some white beans I have in the pantry, bought quite a while ago at the local Mormon canning center. I’ll also use the ham to make egg cups for breakfasts/snacks this week, ham fried rice, and chop up the remainder to freeze in 1 cup portions.

4. Frugal splurge: I used a $10 Balance Reward that had accumulated at Walgreens to get three 12 packs of Diet Dr. Pepper for only $2 OOP. An end-of-semester lifesaver. Which is what I’m also calling the package of cherry licorice that jumped into the cart at the same time…

5. I finally took Nathalie’s advice and rooted the green onions I buy at Aldi. I planted them in the same planter that has the cilantro (currently looking great!). Hopefully they will thrive and my need to buy green onions is more or less over!

Daybook, April 17


Monday, April 17

Good morning! I haven’t done a daybook in a while, so thought I’d write one this morning while I try to jump start my brain. I’m pretty tired after cooking an Easter meal yesterday and deciding I was recovered enough to do some gardening. This may have been a mistake!

Outside my window…….it’s dark, but the birds are chattering and singing quite noisily. It’s so cheerful and a nice sound to hear upon waking up (as opposed to the weird yowl that woke my husband and I up at 2:40AM — one of our cats either was having a spiritual experience, heard/saw something that spooked her or just decided to be a little shit — it freaked us out and messed up my sleep. Grr.).

I am thinking…….about the work I need to do today — I have a final in one of my classes and need to study.

I am thankful for……health insurance and also the lifetime learning credit — I finally finished our taxes last night and that credit means a tidy refund is coming our way!

From the kitchen…..I need to finish a few dishes from yesterday and then get started on breakfast. I’m not cooking tonight as we have plenty of leftovers from yesterday, although at some point I should start thinking about the rest of the week.

I am wearing…..pjs and slippers.

I am creating…..mostly, messes. But I am also working on some birthday gifts for my family to share when we are all together at the end of the month.

I am going…….to campus later this afternoon and evening, but otherwise I am staying put!

I am reading……..textbooks about research methods and design and abnormal psychology. That last one has me diagnosing myself every other day, lol.

I am hoping……that the exam today isn’t too bad and that coffee restores my energy levels!

I am hearing…..birds outside greeting the morning and my husband stirring. The cats have just been fed so they are quiet.

Around the house…….things are a mess. The busy-ness of the semester and being sick mean the house is more untidy than usual. It will take me a little while to get that straightened up, especially as this week and next are still fairly busy with school assignments and exams.

One of my favorite things……coffee. This is always a given. And I’m just about able to taste it again, whee! Oh, and I did enjoy watching my nieces and nephew on their egg hunt yesterday, so FaceTime is another favorite.

A few plans for the rest of the week…..catching up on work, on school-work, studying, getting back to some household routines.

Here is a picture I am sharing…….from Easter dinner. We aren’t very religious, but I still like to celebrate the holiday with a special meal. It makes me feel close to my family, who are all doing the same thing far away.  Also I am going to enjoy some leftover cream puffs for breakfast, so that is a nice bonus!

File Apr 17, 6 41 04 AM

Lately…Easter 2017


  • This semester has been rough. It has the biggest course load of the whole program and I further lucked out by having most of my presentations and group work clustered over a ten day period. Y’all. I am exhausted.
  • Because I let myself get so overwhelmed with school work and didn’t do great at planning ahead, my exhaustion led to illness. I am finally taking baby steps out of the worst spring cold I’ve ever had. I finally went to the doctor yesterday and she has me on steroids and a powerful antihistamine.
  • I’ve never taken steroids before; it’s crazy how pumped up they make me feel. I started them yesterday evening and after having no energy for several days, I was up at 11PM working on kitchen projects and trying to convince my husband to start a project with me (he wanted to go to bed 🙂 ). Of course, this afternoon the steroid is wearing off and I just want to lay down.
  • Our grocery budget is out the window this month. Michael made several grocery trips for “sick food” while I was out of it and I had already made big trips to BJs and then Aldi to stock up on some things we actually ran out of during the pantry challenge. And then today Winn-Dixie had bacon on sale and I’ve been wanting to stock up on that ever since we ran out of it a couple of months ago. Basically I’m trying to restore what we ate out of our pantry.
  • Also, getting sick and run down really has me evaluating how well I’m doing at self-care (not well at all!) and thinking of ways to improve. As ever I turn to diet first and I’ve been kicking around the idea of doing some kind of reset, perhaps a Whole30. I’ve been resistant because the rules seem arbitrary to me. But all elimination diets are somewhat arbitrary and I just need to get over my innate desire to point out all the ways the rules (any rules) are wrong. I don’t think it’ll happen until sometime in the summer, but I want to try out a few recipes to have a decent arsenal before truly committing. The biggest mental hurdle is the idea of giving up my coffee w/cream.
  • If I feel up to it, I’m planning on making a ham for Easter Sunday, with whipped sweet potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts, rolls and some kind of dessert. Possibly homemade doughnuts because doesn’t that sound wonderful?!
  • Except I can’t really taste anything! Today I’ve had a 50/50 chance of tasting any part of what I’ve eaten, which is a marked improvement over the last several days. I’d hate to waste the effort on doughnuts if I can’t really enjoy them!

What have you been up to? I am way behind on my blog reading. I actually opened up feedly yesterday and then closed it because I have hundreds of unread posts to read on all the blogs I follow. Ack! I may just have to start where I am!