We like to cook at our house. We'll read cookbooks cover-to-cover as entertainment, subscribe to a nearly ridiculous amount of food magazines and blogs, and think a whole day spent in the kitchen or the grill is a very fine thing to do with a weekend.
And since we like a variety of foods, we have a lot of spices. Like, a lot. Since ground spices only last about six months, we like to buy them in bulk at ethnic markets and toast and grind them as needed. Which means, of course, that our cabinets is full of all kinds of bags and shakers and chip clips and jars and complete insanity.
So, this week, I decided I'd had enough. Enough mess, enough inefficiency, and enough buying things more than once cause I didn't realize what we already had. We still keep our daily use and ground spices and herbs in easy, accessible jars. (I like the RAJTAN containers from IKEA, cause they can be displayed on their sides.)
And? it totally worked. Here's how to do it.
- Small storage boxes, about 7" wide (these look nice)
- Label maker (I loooooove my Dymo LetraTag)
- Clear packing tape and scissors
- Sandwich-size zip top bags (these are great deal)
So, in order to come up with a system, I started thinking about other ways we store a little amount of a lot of similar things. I don't why I hadn't thought of this before, but, somehow, my lightbulb moment got me to: filing cabinet! Thin, vertical storage with easy-to-read labels.
I searched for "spice file organizer" or "spice file cabinet" but....got nowhere. (See?) Luckily, we had these old boxes from IKEA (I can't find them on their website, so it doesn't look like they make them anymore. If you see them anywhere, please let us know), and the perfectly fit a sandwich-size baggie. Boom and done.
To make yours just organize your spices and decide which get their own "files" I recommend alphabetizing them according to the main species... so, "green pepporcorn" go under P, not G; "hot smoked paprika" is also a P, at least in my house.
Print your labels accordingly, then attach them to each bag on the front part of the zip. Most bags have one side that's higher than the other; choose the shorter one. Then, cut a piece of clear packing tape and place it on top of the label. This keeps them stuck to the bag, and reinforces the label and protects it from spice-covered finger stains. Wrap the tape around the top of the zip top thing and stick it to the inside to make a file-folder like label.
Then, just arrange them. My boxes have these little removable dividers that allow things to stay straight up. If yours aren't divided, you could hot or model glue some in, or just make rigid dividers from cardboard that can go in between. This series looks promising. You may have to remove the items around them to get at the contents of bags with smaller amounts. Just don't over stuff your container with bags, and you'll be good to go.
If anyone knows of some great storage bins we can recommend, please share them in the comments below!