Organizing... your spices
Greetings, friends! I recently had a friend inquire on my FB page about how to organize a spice cabinet. Normally, as a professional organizer, I would have to assess your individual space to develop a system that would cater to your spice-ific (see what I did there?) needs. I wish I could reach through the blog-o-sphere and do that for each one of you! Since that is not an option, I am going share what I do in my home. My hope - as always - is that it will give you some ideas on how to tackle your own space. Here we go!
1. Pick Your Spot. I have a few tried-and-true organizing phrases. One of them is "Store it where you use it." In this case, your spice cabinet (or in my case, drawer) should be where you do the bulk of your food prep. This not only makes for easy access, but easy clean up as well. I do my prep in the corner next to the stove, so I use a drawer located right there. If you happen to use a drawer, too, I recommend purchasing a liner. I found this placemat at Goodwill for pennies. It's easy to wipe down and keeps the spices from sliding around.
2. Empty & Sort. Place all of your spices on the countertop and begin to sort through them. Get rid of any old, expired spices (they likely won't hurt you, they just don't hold their flavor). You
might find you have multiples of a spice - try and combine them into a single container. Also, set aside any spices you simply do not use, did not like and will not use again, or can simply do without. Sometimes the space is worth more than the spice! If you're worried you "might need it someday for some recipe," is asking a neighbor for a pinch of this or a dash of that out of the question? Another great option is to put them in a container and tuck them away in the pantry. If you find after a few months that you didn't even touch them, it's time to part with them. (I gave my turmeric to a friend and ditched my thyme). Also, when it comes to Italian spices, I usually just keep an Italian Seasoning spice and use that whenever a recipe calls for oregano, thyme, or rosemary (that eliminates the space for three spices right there!). If you are very particular about your spices, then keep them all. I, however, am not! Another tip is that if I don't have a spice for a recipe (& neither does a neighbor) then I simply skip it. Over time I have found that many spices don't impact the taste of a dish that much, and I never miss them. It also saves me a few bucks!
3. Put Back. Ideally, you'd purchase the same brand of spice so the sizes and shapes of the containers are consistent, but #reallife happens so you end up with a drawer like mine. For the most part, mine are alphabetical with the exception of the few I had to play Tetris with. I also have a basket in the back of the drawer for spice packets. Another quick tip is to put the spices away in the same spot each time. This way you have no trouble finding one when you need it.
4. Why a Drawer? One reason I prefer a drawer over a cabinet is that I can see all of the spices at a glance. Another reason is I don't have to move any spices out of the way to reach any "in the back." This works for me because I don't have an extensive spice collection. Finally, I'm short! At 5'3" (on a good day) I prefer grabbing from a drawer over tippy-toe-ing to get things down from a cabinet.
Should you need to (or want to) use a cabinet space for your spices, I recommend either a Lazy Susan like this one, or a tiered system like this one. For a more permanent fix, there are also ones that pull out, like this one. There are several options of each. [These links are just for ideas - I have not personally ordered these from the above vendors, I simply want to provide you with a visual of the products I mentioned.]
5. Be Encouraged. Just remember, unless you have glass front cabinets and drawers, it doesn't have to look pretty. Being organized is more about function than fashion, so don't worry if your spices don't look like an aisle at Whole Foods Market. Let your goal be to "find what you need when you need it!" <--- another one of my tried-and-true organizing phrases.
Thank you for reading to the end.