I love spices & herbs. If you saw my spice cabinet (it’s too big for a rack) you would think I was a hoarder. I just love how a dash of this or a pinch of that can turn a meal completely into something else.
Spices can be expensive though so here are a few tips for spending less on these flavorful additions.
Head for the international brands. In my family growing up- spices meant the McCormick bottles. When I got married to my husband, whose family is from Mexico and we’d go shopping- he’d head for these little bags of spices that I had always passed by without noticing. It’s amazing how the same spices can cost so differently based on what aisle they are purchased on! The international section of the store will have spices from all over the world- much cheaper than the bottled variety.
Grow and Dry Your Own. Seed packets are SO cheap. We can usually find them 4/$1 at the Dollar Tree and spices grow fast. You don’t need anything fancy- they are easy to grow. If you want to go all out you can even get an inside AeroGarden to have fresh herbs all year long.
I just have 4 BIG pots on my back porch and fill them with little herb plants and use them all summer then I dehydrate them in late summer and use them all fall and winter! Then plant again in the spring! (I can’t wait until our BIG garden gets started next year I am going to go a little crazy…..)
You can dry them just by handing them upside own in a well ventilated and dark place and store them in an airtight jar or you can freeze them. Rinse them and remove the leaves and allow to dry flat and freeze on a flat cookie tray. Then place in a freezer bag and remove as needed. You can also use a food dehydrator to dry them faster ( I LOVE mine- this is the new version of the one I have)
Shop the Sales. Generally we see the biggest and best spice and herb sales during the Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. We see BBQ rubs and spice mixes on sale during the summer (grilling) season. Stock up during these times and you won’t need to pay full price during the rest of the year. We usually see some coupons for spices during these times too.
Check the discount stores. We’re not a gourmet family so having the super fancy (super expensive) chili powder or oregano isn’t vital to us. The discount and drug stores often have amazing prices on bottled spices and herbs. The Dollar Tree has all the basic spices and herbs for just $1 (sometimes less) and I’ve seen them for $0.50 each at Walgreens too.
Keep an eye out for clearance. When a brand changes packaging, they often clearance out the old bottles to make room for the new designs. Perfect time to stock up. I got some $8 bottles of spices for under $1 on a clearance sale. The expiration dates were still really far out so I stocked up. According to Still Tasty (one of my favorite reference sites)- spices will stay fresh about 2-3 years and dried herbs 1-3 years. Keeping them n a cool dark cupboard keeps them fresh. Whole spices and herbs will stay fresh even longer!