What’s in Your Spice Cabinet?

Tips for Spice Organization

When you enjoy cooking, you quickly accumulate a large collection of spices and seasonings. You don’t even realize how fast it happens either, until one day you open up your cabinet to grab the parsley and have to struggle to find it because it’s buried amongst so many other little bottles. 

A messy spice cabinet was something I was okay with and lived with for a long time. The couple of times that I tried to fix it, it quickly went back into a state of disarray. I tried to order them alphabetically, and I tried by shape and size of the bottles, but nothing ever worked. 

Finally the English teacher in me came out. I realized that just like books in a library are organized into sections by genre, why couldn’t my spices be organized by style of cuisine? 

Before starting my sorting process, I had to decide which categories would be best to divide the spices out. This can differ from household to household depending on which styles of food are cooked most, but no matter what, it can be done. 

Here are the categories that I came up with after moving all the bottles on to my dining room table and sorting them into groups: 

  1. Most Commonly Used Seasonings
  2.  Italian Cuisine
  3. Chicken Seasonings
  4. Mexican Cuisine
  5. Sweet Baking Spices
  6. Rarely Used Spices

Most Commonly Used Seasonings

My first category is seasonings that I most commonly use. Some of these could easily fit into other categories, but it seems to make sense to make a separate section of my cabinet just for seasonings that I use most often. My cabinet has a Lazy Susan, so I always make sure to have the most commonly used seasonings face the front. This makes them easy to grab whenever I want them. 

While everyone has different preferences, my most used seasonings are the following:

  1. Salt
  2. Black Pepper
  3. Seasoned Salt
  4. Lemon Pepper
  5. Ground Mustard
  6. Dill Weed

Italian Cuisine

The next category in my cabinet is Italian cuisine. Cole loves Italian food, so I use these spices quite frequently. Since I use them so often, these spices are awarded the space in my cabinet right next to the Most Commonly Used Spices on the bottom shelf. 

The spices is this category are the following:

  1. Garlic Powder
  2. Onion Powder
  3. Parsley
  4. Dried Onion Flakes (Yes, these are different and just as necessary as onion powder.)
  5. Crushed Red Pepper
  6. Basil Leaves
  7. Mexican Oregano

Okay, now I get it. The last item doesn’t make sense. It clearly says Mexican oregano; therefore, it shouldn’t belong in the Italian category. Overall, oregano is used in Italian dishes. Mexican oregano has extra flavors of citrus and lemon in it. I prefer the extra tones that Mexican oregano brings to dishes, so I always buy that kind. I still store it in the Italian section of my cabinet though since that’s the cuisine that mostly calls for oregano. 

Chicken Seasonings

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I cook with a lot of poultry instead of red meat, but usually my chicken dishes contain pretty similar seasonings. I prefer my chicken to have a warmth of flavor, so these spices lean toward the spicy side. 

The spices in this category are the following:

  1. Cayenne Pepper
  2. Paprika
  3. White Pepper
  4. Cajun Seasoning
  5. Chicken Seasoning (This one is kind of on the obvious side.) 

Mexican Cuisine

A monthly round of meals wouldn’t be complete without a couple of Mexican meals sprinkled throughout the menu; therefore, this cuisine definitely deserved it’s own spot in the spice cabinet. 

The spices in this category are the following:

  1. Taco Seasoning
  2. Fajita Spice Rub (This one is a homemade recipe I found on Pinterest, and it’s so good!)
  3. Chili Powder
  4. Cilantro
  5. Cumin

Usually I have a 6th spice on this list too. I like to buy Mexican Chili Powder in addition to Regular Chili Powder. Unfortunately, the stores have been completely out of Mexican Chili Powder the last five times I went shopping, so there is a lack of it in my cabinet at the moment.

Sweet Baking Spices

I use this category primarily in autumn when there are pumpkin and apple desserts galore. I LOVE all pumpkin recipes, and Cole is a sucker for a good apple crunch, but since these spices don’t get used as much as everything else they earn a spot on the top shelf in the back of the lazy susan. Luckily, I can always turn it and stand on tip-toe when I do want to get these down. 

The spices in this category are the following:

  1. Cinnamon
  2. Ground Allspice
  3. Ground Ginger
  4. Ground Nutmeg
  5. Ground Cloves
  6. Pumpkin Pie Spice

Kitchen Tip: I’ll let you in on a little secret, I’ve only ever bought pumpkin pie spice once, and I’ve reused the same plastic bottle ever since. A mixture of items 1-5 on the list are all the ingredients that it takes to make your own pumpkin pie spice. A recipe for the spice can easily be found with a quick Google search, and it is way cheaper to buy the ingredients, which can make multiple batches than it is to buy the small container of pumpkin pie spice in the first place. 

Rarely Used Spices

The final category in my spice cabinet is Rarely Used Spices. Only three spices go in this category, and that’s because they don’t belong anywhere else. It’s also because I only use these three spices for making two different dishes: gumbo and curried squash bisque. I only make these dishes twice a year, and I make them in bulk to freeze. Therefore, these three spices hide behind the Sweet Baking Spices on the top shelf of my cabinet. I have Cole reach them down for me when I do need them. 

The three spices in this category are the following:

  1. Gumbo File
  2. Curry Powder
  3. Ground Sage

Does this Method of Organization Work?

Here’s the reason I’m sitting here writing this blog post – this method actually works. All the other methods I’ve tried have broken down in a matter of weeks, but I’ve been organizing my spices this way for five months now, and everything is still in its rightful place. Cooking is so much easier now these spices are accessible, and I’ve been so happy with this system.I hope you are able to find a similar helpful solution after reading this post!

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