I run a pretty tight ship when it comes to kitchen organization but the spice cabinet was my dirty little secret. I blame some of the disfunction on the cabinet itself but the truth is I moved this mess from my old apartment. I bought those adorable little jars thinking they would magically beautify my cabinet and keep themselves tidy but soon realized they only add to the chaos by forcing you to either buy extra (which you have to store somewhere) or go out and buy more every time you add to your spices. These ones in particular were not even big enough to fit the standard spice jar amount of 3oz – so it was just complete and utter failure. It is stressing me out just thinking about how it was.
I have needed to do this for a long time and I hope to inspire anyone else who has been avoiding it too. My method is nothing revolutionary which I hope makes it easier to jump in and just get organized – i mean all you need are some labels and a marker.
SPICE ORGANIZATION GUIDELINES
Assess Your Stock
Take all of your spices out of the cabinet and determine what (if anything) needs to be thrown out. There are varying opinions on the exact shelf life of spices – if you are talking about safety its up to 4 years but if you want them to have flavor its more like every 12 months. To help keep them fresh always close the top fully for an airtight seal, make sure the spoon you dip into a spice bottle is dry and never pour directly from the container over a steaming pot – basically moisture is the enemy here so act accordingly.
Make a Plan
First think about the space: is it a tall or deep cabinet? Is it high up? Unless it is a space specifically designed for spices, you will likely need an organizing aid (stacking shelves, a lazy susan, etc). I went with a tiered exapndo-shelf but use what works with your space. Second think about how to organize – alphabetical? frequency of use? Alphabetical is great is you can see all of the labels at once and can easily return the spice to its proper place. I am going with frequency of use until I have my perfectly made custom cabinet.
The only way I am going to realistically label every spice as it goes into the cabinet is to make labels part of the organizational strategy (and ocd aesthetic) but more importantly to keep a stash of labels and a sharpie right there in the cabinet. I know myself and in that 3 seconds it takes to find the marker, I will have moved on to something else. I used packaging labels (2×2¾” to be exact).
It can be quite useful to keep a list of the spices you have if you can’t see them all at once – and so other, less orderly folks wont go rummaging through your spices to find the one in the way back. And when you are out of a spice, make a note so you remember for your next grocery run.