I've got a confession you guys: this one was tough for me. Nearly all of my spices needed to be thrown away because they were beyond expired. This project was LONG overdue for my family. While I already owned a great spice organizer, it was stuffed with very old herbs and spices and I didn't like my organizational system. I needed to switch things up!
STEP 1: PURGE!
Check all the expiration dates; throw away any that are expired. Let go of any herbs or spices that you have that you simply don't use. My oldest spice with a date, expired July 22, 2012. Beware you may need to hunt for those expiration dates! Look over the entire bottle: top, sides and bottom. Look for a stamp, or raised plastic. I include a photo below so you can the variety of different places I found expiration dates on my spices and herbs. I tossed a total of 17 of my herbs and spices.
STEP 2: CLEAN.
Clean the cabinet and your spice rack. If you're like me, you cabinet looks like it's sprinkled with a little of every spice you own! Wipe everything down and start fresh.
STEP 3: CHOOSE A SPICE RACK
If you don't already have one, buy a spice rack that takes into consideration where you want to your spices to be and how many spices you have. I recommend your spices be close to your stove. You could do a drawer system where all your spices would lay flat. You could do a tiered system that fills a shelf in a cabinet. You could also do a simple basket with labels on the lids. You could consider the stack and pull system like I have. You could also install a fixed spice rack to your wall. A lazy Susan is also an option, but keep in mind you'll need enough height; same goes for the spinning spice rack. If you short in stature, you may want to consider a pull down system. You could also consider using a spice rack that would live on your counter if you have no cabinet space. There are also magnetic spice racks! As you can see the options are pretty endless.
STEP 3: REORGANIZE
Establish an organizational system that makes sense to you. Here are some options to consider:
- color code.
- flavor family.
I originally tried to go alphabetical, but I didn't love that system. I decided to organize our spices by flavor/ recipe family. I put all the spices together that I commonly use in a recipe. For example I put all the "warm" spices together at the top. Then my baking spices all together in the middle with my "random" (i.e. BBQ, Dill , Celery Salt and Bay leaves). The bottom row has all the dried herbs. Just while sitting here and writing this I have gotten up and and reshuffled it a few items.
STEP 4: LABEL
Depending on the system you choose, labeling the home of each of your spices can be pretty critical to your spices staying organized. A label maker is always ideal, but since the text is pretty small you could always print out the labels on your computer, cut to size and attached with clear tape. The spice rack I purchased a few years ago came with a sheet of labels, which was super convenient!
Now, if you really want to get fancy you could consider decanting all of your herbs and spice into matching jars with matching labels. For me, this is not a system I want to maintain and my spice rack hides the jars anyways. Amazon sells a matching spice jar set that comes with everything you'll need. Custom vinyl labels you can really take this design to the next level!
STEP 5: PLACE ITEMS BACK
Now go ahead and put those categories into your chosen organizational vessel. Don't be afraid to make changes as you settle into your new system. Next time you cook you may decide to move things around, that's okay! I always tell my clients, "Just keep messing with it until it feels right!".
As for me, I have a LOT of new spices and herbs to purchase!