At $3 or $4 a bottle, spices aren’t cheap, and they tend to clutter up your pantry in a hurry. Fortunately, I’ve found a simple way to keep the cost and clutter under control:
When I come across a recipe that I want to try, and it calls for a spice that I don’t have on hand, I buy enough from the bulk bins to make the recipe. If I decide the recipe is a keeper, I’ll buy a bottle of the spice to add to my collection.
Some Other Things I Do to Save on Spices:
I grind my own. Sometimes whole spices are significantly cheaper than ground spices. I found that to be true when I needed cumin the other week. So, I bought a bottle of whole cumin, pulled out my coffee/spice grinder, and ground some myself. Doing this results in fresher spices than you’d get at the store because the essential oils aren’t released until you grind them, so it’s an all-around win.
I save my bottles and refill them. Bottled spices cost more, so I buy my spices in pouches when I can, and pour them into the bottles that I already have. I have a little funnel that I use for the job, so it’s an easy task. World’s Market and The Fresh Market are my go-to sources for spice pouches. This week I picked up a pouch of rosemary for $2.49, and after filling my bottle, I probably have enough left to fill it a second time.
I grow my own. Most herbs are perennials or self-seeders, so once you plant them, they’ll come up on their own year after year. And they don’t require much care either. I only water mine if we’re in a long dry spell. In fact, the less water you give them, the more flavorful they’ll be.
During the growing season, I pick herbs as I need them. (I’ve even put up little plant markers, so I can send my kids or husband outside for a quick clipping of something when I’m busy at the stove). And to extend the savings into the rest of the year, I freeze and dry my herbs, too.
I make my own seasonings and spice blends. Most seasoning mixes are made from basic spices that I already have in my pantry, so I make them myself. Poultry seasoning, Italian seasoning, pumpkin pie spice, taco seasoning they’re all really easy to make at home. Want to give it a try? You’ll find a bunch of my spice recipes over at About.com.