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How to Organize Your Spices...the Minimalist Way | A Couple Cooks

Here are a few tips for how to organize your spices (and purge the ones you don’t need!):

  1. Get motivated! The first step is to decide it’s time. When finding chili powder adds an extra 5 to 7 minutes to a recipe (I know it’s in here somewhere), your spices might be in need of some TLC. Also, you may need a family member or friend to help motivate you, or agree to tackle the project together. I must admit this project wasn’t tops on my priority list, but after Alex completed the transformation, my life has been exponentially better.
  2. Take stock. What spices do you use on a regular basis? Which do you use occasionally but as a special treat, and which do you never use? If you bought a special spice for one recipe and haven’t used it in the last 6 months, chances are won’t in the next 6 months.
  3. Purge. The shelf life of most spices is 8 months to 1 year (see this graphic for more), after which they start to lose their flavor and potency. Along with some very ancient spices, you may have one-offs you’ve never used (as mentioned above), or duplicates or triplicates of the same spice. Trash everything but the newest essentials. Just do it: your kitchen will thank you.
  4. Organize the survivors. We removed almost all of our spices from their original containers and repacked them into glass containers with tight lids (we purchased spice bottles from the Container Store; small canning jars also work and are a cheaper option). The only spices we kept in their original jars were specialty spices: for example, a specific type of curry powder. Clearly label the jars with their contents (and make sure to put back the tops on the correct jars!).
  5. Repack the minimalist way. Place the new beautiful spices jars into your space in the organized fashion of your choice, making sure that the most used spices are as accessible as possible. We have a large drawer set aside for spices, and the new spices fit the space perfectly. If you’re using a cabinet, consider using a lazy susan or small trays for easy storage.

Wondering what the most used spices are in our drawer?

  1. Cumin
  2. Smoked Paprika
  3. Garlic Powder
  4. Chili Powder
  5. Oregano
  6. Coriander
  7. Cinnamon
  8. Cardamom
  9. Turmeric
  10. Paprika
  11. Black Pepper
  12. Ginger
  13. Thyme
  14. Basil
  15. Chipotle Powder

Are your spices in need of organization? Let us know if this helps give you the motivation you need! What are your favorite spices? We’d love to hear.

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Rose Stewart says:

    Hi guys! Loved your article about organizing spices! I’m curious about the spice jars you purchased from the Container Store… do they have a tight seal? I am asking because my spices tend to perfume my whole pantry and I’m looking for a solution to that. Thanks for sharing good food with us!

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Hi! Yes, they close tightly with the screw on lids.

  2. vivian ofori says:

    i like your recipe for the spices and i would like to know more

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