How I Store and Organize Spices and Seasonings

posted by Andrea | 05/15/2018

When we renovated our kitchen (exactly 6 years ago this summer) we had a little bit of space to play with on the wall with our stove.

Ideally, I would have liked more room on each side of the stove (and a bigger stove!) but due to the many doorways, windows and awkward “old house quirks” inside the walls of our kitchen and dining area, this is where the stove ended up.

A tiny pull-out spice cabinet is what we decided to do with the leftover space on the side of the oven.

I think it looks pretty good, and honestly, I LOVE this spice cabinet!

It’s so easy to access, it’s the perfect placement for when I’m cooking at the stove or the island, and it really is a fabulous size as 2 spice bottles fit next to each other.

I don’t think there is any other way we could fit as much as we currently have in this small of a space without our handy spice cabinet — so I’m thankful for how everything worked out so well.

Ironically, even though I love this spice organizing cabinet, and even though I personally feel like I have a good system for organizing my spices and seasonings, I’ve never actually shared anything about it on my blog!

I think it’s mainly because I don’t have a cute Pinterest-y system with matching jars and chalkboard labels.

Believe me, I’ve wanted to purchase matching jars so many times, I’ve even put them in my Amazon shopping cart multiple times… I just never went through with the purchase!

For the record, these are the jars I would purchase! They are square and they’ll fit perfectly 2-across in my cabinet. They also have flip lids for easy distribution, and yes, they have chalkboard labels!ย 

But alas, I’m too ‘cheap’ to purchase the 3 dozen jars I would need AND then take the time to manually transfer all the spices over, make the labels, etc. etc.

Plus, I like how my current system works just fine… and normally, no one but me sees the inside of my spice cabinet!

Some of my spice bottles are SO old, but since I buy in bulk (usually from Penzies’ Spice or Costco) I simply refill my bottles as necessary and keep the larger quantities in our dark, cool pantry cabinet downstairs.

The shelves of my cabinet are adjustable, so I have it set for taller 4 oz. bottles on top, shorter 2 oz. jars in the middle, Jello-size boxes on the 3rd shelf, and larger miscellaneous items on the bottom.

I’ve been using the exact same set up for 6 years and it continues to work well for me.

As you can probably see, I don’t alphabetize my spices, but rather store them according to how often I use them. This seems to make more sense for me and how I cook — especially since it means I often only have to open the drawer a few inches to get my most-used spices from the front.

In preparation to write this post, I searched through some previous photos of our spice rack… I had to laugh when I realized this spice cabinet has long been a source of entertainment for my kids as I cook (another reason I don’t spend time alphabetizing them right now!)

All 3 of the older kids have had fun “rearranging” my spices, pulling them all out, putting them all back, etc. etc. and I’m sure Clara will follow suit in a few more months!

So while my spices don’t always STAY organized exactly the way I like them, I can still find everything I need in a matter of seconds, thanks to my clearly labeled bottles.

Some day, I might finally spring for new, matching jars with attractive chalkboard labels — and I’ll most likely love the results! But for now, my semi-mis-matched system with homemade non-matching labels seems to work just fine!

How do YOU store and organize your spices and seasonings?

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27 comments

  1. Pat

    06/04/2018

    I considered one just like that but I just didnโ€™t have room. Very small galley kitchen.

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  2. Rhonda

    05/16/2018

    I had to laugh at the pictures of your kids rearranging the spices. My kids definitely used to love taking things out of drawers, spreading out the contents, and then putting back. It must be a fairly well-loved toddler activity.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, I think all kids do it! something about the tiny bottles just draws them in ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. Brooke

    05/15/2018

    We got matching jars – but only because it made economical sense when I looked at how much spices were in the bulk bin at my supermarket. It was so much cheaper to buy the jars and refill them for pennies then to buy spices already in the jar – and it keeps them from going stale as I finish them up more often (my jars are small).

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    Andrea Reply:

    well consider me envious of your matching spices then ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m sure it looks awesome!!

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  4. Liane

    05/15/2018

    Mismatched jars win over those that all look alike. I’ll ask somebody to hand me the cinnamon. Then I’ll say it’s in the Cinnabon jar. Or hand me please the Traderjoes xyz. Has a black top. Or The McCormick rubbed sage. Green top funny shaped bottle. Montreal steak. Black lid. McCormick rotisserie seasoning– red lid on a plastic jar. I’d hate to have to read my jars. I recognize them by shape brand and color. And I have probably as many if not more than you have. I put all my Penzeys on a turntable. Those are all baking. The turntable lives in my pantry not by my stove. Yes I have some duplicates but it’s fine because when I do a lot of baking I do it away from the stove which has virtually no space along side it, but when I season food I’m cooking I love have the things right on hand. I rarely even set them down. Grab salt, shake salt, put salt back etc.

    I love my pullout. Yours inspired me and I actually moved my stove closer to the corner to have it.

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — glad to give you a little kitchen inspiration. We do love our pullout cabinet (and I agree that I locate my spices by size/shape of the bottle, not label!)

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  5. wilma

    05/15/2018

    form follows function, right? your spice cabinet is fabulous–we make due with a narrow upper cabinet by our stove–it works fine. although, if you do buy matching containers one day, you might miss having the lids so clearly labelled…

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    Andrea Reply:

    exactly! Practical versus pretty… practical almost always wins in my book!

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  6. Susanne

    05/15/2018

    When my now-16-year-old was about 18 months old, he loved to pull out my spice drawer. He would pick up every bottle and hold it up and say, “What’s this?”

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    Andrea Reply:

    awwww… cute!

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  7. Melinda

    05/15/2018

    Andrea,

    I love this post and I like your mismatched spice jars just the way they are, even though I’m also the kind of person that likes to have everything look the best it can in my eyes.

    One thing you said really stood out to me in your post. You mentioned, in parenthesis, you’re too cheap to spring for matching jars for your spice cabinet. You have simply chosen to spend money on other things in your life such as a farmhouse remodel instead of spice jars. You make intentional decisions on a continual basis when it comes to spending money, and that allows you and Dave to live within your means and save for your future.

    If anyone is going to buy matching spice jars I know it would be you, but you have the patience and persistence to stick to your financial plan. Through your blog, you are teaching others we don’t have to buy everything we want. We need to be selective about what we buy. We need to plan for our financial futures and at the same time go about our daily lives. You are such an inspiration to so many, one blog post after the other. I don’t think you realize, through your frugalness, you’ve given us permission to say no ourselves when know we shouldn’t spend money on things we think we need.

    Your home is beautiful, your kids are nicely dressed, and you are truly successful in the eyes of your fans. All of this while living frugally. I’m always honored to forward your emails to my clients, friends, and family members when I feel the topic pertains to them.

    Way to go Andrea. If I ever find 3 dozen square spice jars at Goodwill, I’ll put your name on them!

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    Andrea Reply:

    wow — thanks so much Melinda! what a fantastic compliment!
    and you’re right, I could easily spend $50 or $60 on spice jars if I really wanted to — and if it would really make a big difference for me and how I utilize my kitchen, I definitely would spend the money. However, by thinking through my purchases (even little ones like spice jars) I have been able to be more frugally minded and put more money towards other things I want more than spice jars!
    Also, if you ever find 3 dozen spice jars at Goodwill, I’ll pay you to ship them to me ๐Ÿ™‚ HAHA!!

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    Melinda Reply:

    You’re welcome. You’re the best.

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  8. Barb

    05/15/2018

    I keep my most used spices in two shallow plastic bins in an upper cabinet. The bins are labeled โ€œA-G and โ€œH-Z. That way they are semi-alphabetized. Works for us

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    Andrea Reply:

    sounds like a good system for you (and easy to clean if something spills as they are in bins.

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  9. Gillian

    05/15/2018

    This is awesome! I think things look totally organized for your needs. I bet that if you did go through with buying the new jars, your system wouldnt work as well for you with the fancy chalkboard labels on the side rather than the top.

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    Andrea Reply:

    you might be right — which is one of the reasons I haven’t actually purchased the matching jars! I’ll probably have buyers remorse and miss my old unmatching jars!

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  10. Kate

    05/15/2018

    I started writing the date I opened them on the top. I know I still don’t replace them as often as what is recommended…but at least it keeps me from having the same one for many years! I only do that on the spices I rarely use. Some I use often enough that I don’t worry about it. I wish I had a spice cabinet. I keep mine in an old tuperware container (no lid) that I slide into a cabinet. I can pull the whole container out when I’m using several things at one time.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, I usually put a sticker on the bottom! I can’t write it on my lids because I reuse the same jars over and over again (refilling from bigger containers) so then it always got confusing. Now I just put a new sticker on the bottom ๐Ÿ™‚

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  11. Summer

    05/15/2018

    Girl! I totally burst out laughing! I love your practicality!!! I am the same way… “this functions just fine, why am I going to spend money on something so it looks either nicer or better to others?!” I have a few things that I ‘should’ replace, yet I don’t see anything that is so highly functioning or priced well enough to replace it. Here’s an example… We have a free standing outdoor wood burning fireplace. It should be replaced and I have thought this for at least 4 years now. Thinking every season it’s totally going to be it’s last!. However, it’s 12+ years old and I am not going to find something of that quality, yet alone reasonably priced to justify an expense of something that works perfectly! I will replace it when it finally burns it’s final fire. (It’s safe, no worries. We have too many people and animals around here.)

    I did bop over and price your spice jars to see what was ‘too much’ and I am with you! You need at least TWO sets of those to do all those spices! They are cute, but your house is already way way Pinterest Worthy and your tips more valuable!!

    And alphabetized?!?!? Ha! Great concept, but way too many hands in that arena! Only in my dreams…

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha Thanks Summer ๐Ÿ™‚
    Glad we’re on the same page with this one!

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  12. Mary Eastvold

    05/15/2018

    I have a narrow space between stove and wall. The lower cabinet is space for trays and cookie sheets to stand on edges. The upper cabinet is full of spices. I created โ€œstadium seatingโ€ for the containers with a few scraps of lumber stacked up in steps so itโ€™s much easier to see the spices. It really helped.

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    Andrea Reply:

    our skinny upper cabinet is our “candy cupboard”! we have way too much candy!

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  13. Bonnie'sMama

    05/15/2018

    I have clear glass bottles in a carousel in a base cabinet near but not beside the stove. Tops labeled with a Sharpie. I loved having them alphabetized, but toddlers . . . I gave up.

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — definitely not worth alphabetizing with toddlers ๐Ÿ™‚

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    Bonnie'sMama Reply:

    I should add–I did get the carousel with 24 glass jars at a thrift store for around $7. You could end up with matching spice jars yet!

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