You are SICK of paying a FORTUNE for spices, right? Why is one brand of spice $8.00 and another brand $2.50? It makes no sense and HOW IN THE WORLD DO YOU SAVE MONEY ON SPICES????
HERE ARE 11 SMART WAYS TO SAVE MONEY ON HERBS AND SPICES.
Take a look at the prices on spices and it will whisper of international intrigue complete with cartels and overlords. You can almost see the smoke from the sleazy little backroom deals and feel the sway of the boat as mysterious crates cross pirated seas. All of this sitting quietly on the unobtrusive spice shelf at your local mundane grocery store.
I say all of that to say this, “I don’t know if your spice aisle has anything to do with international collusion, conspiracy and double-downs or not”. However, when a tiny jar that weighs less than an ounce costs more than $5, the first place my mind jumps is seedy little back room deals (get it? Seedy!! LOL!!!).
And…. anyone who knows me knows that I’m not one to stand quietly aside for even a second for such ridiculous price gouging.
I AM SICK OF PAYING HIGHWAY ROBBERY PRICES FOR SPICES!!!
Yeah, I know you are.
So, I’m going to share a few ways I’ve found to save money. I hope you’ll check out my video here on this page detailing how I do this – I give a couple of short demos – besides, I’d love to chat with you.
Here you have it. My 11 SMART WAYS TO SAVE MONEY ON HERBS AND SPICES (and no, it doesn’t involve using LESS spices! NEVER!!! Give me spices or give me death! [please, I hope no one takes that literally].
11 SMART WAYS TO SAVE MONEY ON HERBS AND SPICES
1. BUY IN BULK.
Yes, that’s right. There are several ways to do this. You can go to your local big box store and buy in a pretty large container. I do this for salt and pepper. Great for onion powder, garlic powder and Ranch dressing mix (which isn’t a spice – but someone at my house has an addiction). You can also find bulk spices at your local organic spice purveyor. For example, my local Whole Foods has bins of spices and you may scoop as much as you like! (It is a savings from the small spice jars, but it is still pretty pricey).
When purchasing in bulk there are a couple of things to think about. Only buy spices in bulk that you are likely to use the most. No one wants a lifetime supply of Red Pepper flakes just sitting around waiting to be used in the year 2070.
If you DO buy other spices in bulk – think what a great gift this would make to neighbors and friends. Perhaps several of your friends would like to go in together on a large container of, let’s say, cumin? It’s worth asking!
You will hear, if you read up on such things that spices should never be kept more than a year. You will read that once opened, spices should be consumed in 3 months or less.
Now, I’m going to tell you the truth.
That is HOGWASH.
Spices may lose some of their flavor after a certain time – that is true. Should you throw the entire, barely used, $5 bottle of ground mustard in the trash because it hasn’t been used in 3 months. If you do, I’ll come straight to your house and smack your hand.
All you have to do is give it a tiny taste, dab your finger in and place a tiny bit on your tongue. Does it taste good and flavorful? Then use it. If you don’t taste anything or what you taste is bitter – then time to get a new bottle. It is probably only the most trained and discerning palates that could tell the difference between a freshly opened spice and a three month old spice.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most spices are fine for home use for a couple of years as long as you keep them tightly sealed and in a cool dry place.
If you are really concerned about it – you could keep them in the freezer.
2. GROW YOUR OWN!
I know, I know – your thumb is black and you don’t feel you can adequately grow anything at all – much less an herb you might want or need. I PROMISE. I ABSOLUTELY PROMISE. You won’t be disappointed if you grow a few simple things. I find that oregano, thyme, sage, chives and rosemary are about the most simple plants to grow EVER. I have them growing in pots out on the deck and just outside my kitchen door in the flower bed. They are beautiful and the Rosemary even lasts through the winter! What is better than beautiful edible plants?
3. DRY/FREEZE YOUR OWN!
So, if you follow suggestion number 2, somewhere before the first frost you are going to need to do something with your harvest. Drying herbs is simple simple simple and involves an oven and a baking sheet. You’ve got that, right? Here is an example of a process you might want to try.
What I often do, instead of drying the spices is to pack a bunch of them into an icecube tray and then cover with enough water to cover the herbs – then freeze. This gives me a fresh little plop of flavor as I am putting together soups or other dishes. Just keep a resealable plastic bag of like things together and pull one out when you need it!
4. AVOID BUYING SPICE MIXES.
I know, I’ve done it too. The demo lady at the grocery allows you to taste the olive oil with the spice mix and some yummy bread and you walk away with a spice mix that you will likely only use once.
I can’t think of a single spice mix that you can’t easily mix up yourself. For example – Italian spice is just equal parts Oregano, Basil and Thyme. If you have those three you can use them individually or mix them together for an Italian dish!
5. GRIND YOUR OWN SPICES.
There is something really special tasting about freshly ground spices! SErious! All you need is a grinder (like the one you would use for coffee beans). I often use a zester in my kitchen. If you grind cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg yourself, you will find that the flavor is OUT OF THIS WORLD! The cost is usually less too – which in this case is just a secondary benefit! Here is the kind of grinder I have…
6. CHECK OUT YOUR LOCAL ETHNIC GROCERY.
I didn’t know this until I was looking around the little grocery section at the Golden India restaurant after dinner. The spices were SO MUCH LESS expensive! Why? I have no idea because most were the same brands I have seen at my local grocery. I checked the dates – all in date. I know what is keeping you back – you don’t know what to expect in those groceries. Am I right? I know I am. Just put on your “Adventure Girl (Boy)” hat and go on in. They will be glad to see you. Your money is green, right?
7. BUY TINY QUANTITIES FOR SPICES RARELY USED.
My Whole Foods offers tiny packages of some spices. On a volume basis, these spices are probably more expensive than gold. However, if I only need 3 juniper berries for a recipe that I am likely to make only once – there is no point in buying an entire $10 bottle. The tiny quantity allowed me to buy about 12 berries for $2.
8. CHECK OUT SPICES FROM THE DOLLAR STORE.
No, I’m not kidding. Are you a spice prude? I have purchased the hoity toity spices from my expensive local purveyor of all things snobby and overpriced. I have purchased spices from my local Dollar Tree and Dollar General. Frankly, I can’t tell the difference. My guess is that unless you are a trained chef with a dainty trained palate, you probably can’t either. So – garlic powder that costs $4 or garlic powder that costs $1? You choose.
9. BUY ONLINE.
I’ll just say, I haven’t purchased spices online myself….. Yet. My friend, Jimmie Sue, who is an accomplished home cook herself swears by her online spice company. I checked it out as well as a few others and I’m finding the prices to be pretty affordable. Here are some places you could look if you are interested:
10. TRY STORES WHERE YOU DON’T USUALLY SHOP.
I tend to shop a little bit of everywhere, BUT…. I have found very affordable spices at Aldi Grocery – VERY FRESH and some are even organic! Kudos to Aldi! World Market also has a big selection of some interesting spices/oils and other cooking items that are usually very affordable. Occasionally I find just what I am looking for at Marshalls or HomeGoods. You never know what you will find in the cooking section – so just go snoop around.
11. THIS IS MY FAVORITE TIP EVER! SHOP IN THE LATIN FOODS SECTION AT THE GROCERY!
At the grocery, there is a Latin foods section. Ironically, in my local grocery, this is about 30 steps from the spice aisle. When I say “Latin” section, I’m NOT talking about the “TACO” section. I’m talking about the section where a hispanic person would be able to find the products that they are used to from home! The labels are usually in Spanish. The SAME spices are a FRACTION of the cost in the Latin section. Check it out. I use a lot of Bay Leaves in my cooking – 10 Bay leaves in a bottle – $8.19. A whole SACK of Bay leaves in the Latin section – 0.63c. Go figure. I”ll just say, “Gracias y Bueno”!
A VERSE TO SHARE
I’ve had one of those weeks…. An unnerving thing happened when trying to sell our car….. Our electrical meter BURNED UP and now, I’m sitting here writing this as I run my computer on a generator while waiting for the inspector to come and say grace over our new meter base. XXXXX – the sound of me kissing our tax refund away.
I’m also aware of some other sorrows – my sweet tax lady – HI TERRI! Suffered a loss in her furry family. I know her heart is aching. A friend of mine had an upper GI. Another friend of mine is suffering after losing her husband. I know someone who has something medical going on and is afraid to go to the doctor to have it checked out.
We’ve all had these kinds of things to happen, right? In fact, sometimes I feel like Homer Simpson who says “DOAH!” when he has a good day – because it means a terrible day is probably coming.
When I have days like this – or even weeks – occasionally, months…. I am reminded of the words in Jeremiah, and it gives me strength….
Jeremiah 29: 4 – 14
This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord.
This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”