Before & After: Spice Organization

Recently someone reached out to me for help with her spice organization. She doesn’t live near me, so we did an email-consultation. It was a great experience and I’d definitely do it again.

We started the process by me asking her some questions about her current set up and what problems she has with it. The biggest issue has she had spices in jars and bags and they just pile up. This made looking for what she needed very difficult and frustrating.

BEFORE: Spice organization

Spices Before

These are a few of the questions I asked:

Which of these of your spices is for everyday cooking?

Do you dash, spoon, or pinch your spices when you cook?

Do most the spices you buy come in those plastic bags?

She told me that she had already bought some plastic containers to hold her spices, but she had not tried them out yet. Having not seen those containers, and not knowing the dimensions of her cabinet, I gave her some initial tips to try:

1. Take out all the spices and see if any of them needs to be discarded. Reasons for throwing them out may be that she doesn’t like the taste, the flavor has faded, dried out, or bought it but never used and maybe never will.

2. I suggested “filing” the bagged spices in a box. She can decide to file them in whatever order that works best for the way she cooks.

3. Put the bottled spices in a box (or box lid so it becomes a tray.) Organize them the same way she decided in step 2. Put the bottles in descending order of height with the tallest in the back. (Option: consider adding a label on the cap to make each spice easier to find.)

These are the notes from her experience:

She pulled all the spices out of the cabinets and threw out the ones she would never use. Then she paired up the bagged spices with the bottle spices. She noticed that she really likes cumin and Mexican oregano! The duplicates were combined and labeled. And she decided to organize the spices in order of frequency of use. (Other options may be by alphabetical order, the type of cuisine, or by type of flavor)

Unfortunately, she was unable to fit the containers she purchased side by side in her cabinet, or in a way where they’d be easy to remove. So instead the bottles went in the containers, and the bags are attached with a binder clip. The binder clip helps keep the bags together and easier to remove from the cabinet.

DURING: Spice Organization

Spice During II

AFTER: Spice Organization

Spice After

I thought she did a great job sorting through her spices and coming up with a way to store them that works for her. It definitely looks like she will be able to get what she needs and put them back easily. One idea I suggested worth trying in the future is to find a container so she can put 2 side by side. Then try rolling the bags and store them in the container vertically (sort of like sushi rolls standing up). I think she might be able to fit more bags on a shelf that way. Also, to keep an eye out for other boxes that don’t have a lip or tapers on the bottom, which takes up more usable space.



Simple Joy Tip:

Always be on the lookout for rigid cardboard boxes that you can repurpose. Shoe boxes and lids that don’t have a lot of graphics on them are practical and has many good uses. Photo storage boxes are inexpensive and usually have nice fabric covers to fit your style. Smartphone and fancy chocolate boxes are perfect for storing smaller items in your desk drawer or hair and beauty accessories.

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