Welcome back to our irregular “one thing a day” series, the edition where we go through and organize, downsize, and rightsize our spices. Or, in librarian terminology: Let’s weed the collection, so that you can shore it up where necessary (and allow your existing spices to realize their maximum usefulness).
Yes, this is the series where we picture our future selves’ happiness when our current selves focus on accomplishing just one thing a day. So, how’s everyone doing with the one food-related thing a day idea?
See also these earlier installments:
It’s been a month since we’ve talked about one thing a day, but rest assured: I have actually done things over the past month. Writing about these things, though, is apparently not one of those things. (How’s that for a meta annoying sentence?)
Spice, Spice, baby
I’ve been gradually clearing out and organizing my cabinets in preparation to move later this summer, so I can see what I have, what I need to use up, and what I want to bring to my new place. Up this weekend: Spices!
This may not seem like a monumental task in the grand scheme of preparing to move, but… I do have a lot of spices, and tend to invest in backups on commonly-used varieties when I find them at a good price or on clearance. So, it was long past time for this little project anyway.
To get my spices all organized and ready for continued adventures in cooking this week, I:
- Pulled out every spice container (and backup container) and set them all out on the kitchen table.
- Grouped spices by type — all salts together, all chili powders together, and so on.
- Checked the “best by” date on each container, discarding any spices too far past their peak potency.
- Used my backups to refill larger containers, combining wherever possible to reduce clutter.
- Made a note of any spices needing refill or replacement soon.
- Reorganized my working spices in the pantry, and organized any remaining backup spices in a separate cupboard.
And on an unrelated note? I highly recommend the ground Saigon cinnamon from Costco pictured above! Yes, I have both a half used jar and a backup jar, so that we’re sure not to run out. I add cinnamon to my coffee grounds most mornings, too, to make for a flavored brew without the artificial taste you get with many pre-flavored coffees.
Oh, and while we’re recommending things: I picked up my little Himalayan pink salt grinder with Amazon subscribe & save, and it’s still on sale as I type (ignore the one-time purchase price and look further down, noting that pricing can change at any time).
What a hodge podge of spices I have…
You all know how I love ALDI, but you’ll also note that most of my spices are not from ALDI. This is by design: I wrote an earlier post on why I don’t (usually) buy spices at ALDI.
(I do sometimes buy seasonal spices there, though — and, my bamboo expandable spice rack is also from ALDI! This comes around seasonally, so may be back in store this summer as a special buy.)
When it comes to seasonal spices, this past holiday season I picked up ALDI Stonemill cloves, nutmeg, and ginger at $1.69 a bottle. I don’t use any of these spices often, so even though it might be more cost effective per ounce to pick up a larger container, I’m likely never even going to make it through these smaller bottles.
Refill larger containers of spices
I often refill larger spice containers with pouches I buy on Amazon or at my local produce store, or with smaller jars of seasonings I pick up on clearance. To help keep track of expiration dates when doing this, you can write the new date on the older large container with s Sharpie. (I swear it’s more legible in person than in this photo.)
If you have some older spices left in that larger container, just temporarily decant them into a separate bowl while you’re refilling it with new. Then, add the old spices back on top so that they’re used up sooner than the fresh.
What’s the oldest spice you’ve found in your pantry?
Spices and seasonings do tend to lose their potency and flavor over time, so you’ll want to discard older ones and invest in more robust in-date replacements. This go-round wasn’t too bad since I’d done a thorough weeding of my spices a couple of years ago. I did find a couple with best-by dates in 2018, including my last little bit of paprika — so I made a note to replace that ASAP and am just holding on to the jar until I’m able to pick up a new one.
I will admit that when I last did a major spice refresh and reorganization a couple of years ago, I found a couple of very old jars of unused-in-years spices dating back to around 2012. Shhh! 🙂
What one thing will you do today?
One last question, while we’re questioning: What one thing will you do today? Don’t get me wrong, we all still have to eat (and those of us with kids and families still have to make sure that they eat).
- When I say “one thing,” I’m not saying, don’t get dinner on the table. Instead, I’m saying: What’s one bonus food-related task you can do today, that will make you happy (relieved, excited) to have done in the future.
Earlier installments in the “one thing a day” series:
- One thing a day: Soup & banana bread edition
- One thing a day: Clean out the fridge edition
- One thing a day: Re-season cast iron edition
What one thing will you do today?