I've seen a lot of spice drawers. And spice cabinets. And spice baskets. And turntables filled with spices. And even spice pod magnets on the side of a refrigerator. You get the picture. I've seen a lot of clients homes and have decluttered a lot of home spice inventories.
Here's what I see time and time again when we declutter - years old expired spices that go right into the garbage can. So, before we get into how to organize spices, let's dig into the bigger challenge first - decluttering.
The dictionary definition of "take stock" is "to review or make an overall assessment of a particular situation." This is exactly what you are doing each time you declutter a category.
As a professional organizer, I encourage my clients to consider their actual reality as they take stock. Decluttering is spending time assessing what you have and why you have it. If you've dreamed of being Ina Garten, which led you to buy a cornucopia of spices, but your busy life does not allow you to use 90% of them or you realize that you don't like cooking as much as you like going out to eat, then it's time to reassess your need for all of those spices.
Taking stock doesn't have to take all day, you can use our Focused15 method to declutter your spices and be done before dinner is ready.
find your most valuable spices
In my house, our MVP list is salt, pepper, Sunny Paris, turmeric, cinnamon and a steak salt mix. We use those six spices more than any others.
My husband loves to cook, but even he appreciates the less is more approach to spices. Over the last few years, we've reduced our spices by about half and have never looked back. We chose to eliminate those once-in-a-blue moon spices, which has both simplified our cooking and our spice cabinet.
two great ways to organize spices
If you cook even a modest amount, organizing your spices can have a very positive impact on your day-to-day life. Being able to see all of your spices quickly makes cooking and baking more efficient and enjoyable. My favorite two ways to organize spices are in a drawer and on a tiered rack.
In a drawer
Organizing spices in a drawer is my favorite way to organize spices because you can see everything so easily. I've curated some of Neat Little Nest's favorite spice drawer organizers.
On a tiered rack
There are a few ways to organize the spices on a tiered rack. You can organize them by color, by alphabet, favorites in front, et al. When using a tiered system, I recommend using the favorites in front strategy vs. placing them in alphabetical order. If you'd prefer to have them alphabetized, then I recommend putting the label on the lid if possible so you can easily see it.
When selecting a tiered organizer for the cabinet, I like to select one that goes with the aesthetic in the kitchen. Shown here, we used natural bamboo to blend in with the color of the wood inside the cabinet. In an all white cabinet, I might opt for white, clear or even bamboo depending on the overall aesthetic we're going for.
increasing the joy factor
Once you've parsed things down to your favorite spices and have it at a number that makes sense with your cooking style, consider both the form and function of the bottles and the labels. Personally, I love decanted spices so that all of the spices are in consistent bottles. It brings me joy when I open the cabinet.
You can purchase glass spice bottles to store your spices in and have them for years to come. For the labels, one option is vinyl labels like we do with our Neat Little Nest clients, but there are ones like a pTouch, chalkboard and more. Find our favorite labels here.
Neat Little Tip: If you like to buy your spices in bulk or plan to do that in the future, it's important to designate a space for the bulk spices so you know where to go when you need to refill the bottles.
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