If you do not have older spice bottles, look at places like the "as is" Goodwill store, use baby jars that are cleaned, or check freecycle or other local recycling places!
It's easy to make "tags" for your new spice containers. I use "season greetings" tabs I got for a dime at a yard sale and they work great! You can easily "make" your own from blank paper, old envelopes, piece of typing paper, etc. Simply put on with scotch tape. This way the spices and herbs are used quickly and don't have the time to get "old" on you!
Also if you come across an excellent buy, but aren't sure how you would ever use that much say, cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice,. you can give to others to use.
I found out about checking out Asian markets when checking recipes online
By MzScarlett from Medford, Oregon
You may have heard spices are only "good" for six months. I believe this is not true. They have been dried and can be used for up to a year (sometimes more). So never buy the biggest container if it's used only a couple times a year. One reason things may not have that familiar flavor is the spices are old. I have saved so much money buying mine in whatever form they may come in at the 99 Cent store.
Being dried is a way of preserving them. It also makes the "bang" go to what I call asleep. They are easily woken up, if you simply put the spices in palm of your hand, instead of putting them directly onto meat or into a dish. Rub the spice for several seconds. If adding 2 or more like I do, you can put them all together and rub them back to life for a minute or so. The friction of heat caused by your rubbing them brings back what has been sleeping. You will notice the smell come to life. Sounds funny but in layman's terms that is what has happened.
My other trick with using spices that may be older (never know how long they have been dried) is to add a fresh anything to preparing your dish or meat. Even chopping parsley into very small bits makes the dried spices come alive; being more potent.
Cloves or cilantro works well also. It does not have to be part of the dish. You use a small amount so that fresh ingredient doesn't take over the seasoning blend you desire to have. After you do this, all of the other spices will come back to life with the smell, which is why we use spices.
If what you are cooking calls for garlic or onion, that also works if added to spice. If it calls for dried celery, onion flakes or garlic, etc., use a small amount of fresh of these. It will have same result not costing you a bunch of money.
Spices can be expensive, so I just could not throw away a half used container when this simple solution prolongs the life of any spice. Make sure you taste it. With chilies, some bring heat while others have a more smokey flavor. If spice is old, this may have changed a bit. You can make up for that before putting in your favorite dish.
This year I have noticed you can buy citrus zest where we get all of our spices. If it calls for a lot of this, buying the container is good. If not, use the fresh zest off of the citrus. Using the juices of it to add a little something extra to the sauce or gravy. No need to waste, add it to a glass of water. Tastes great!
Cooking is trying new things. So save a bit of money on your spices or watch how they suddenly have that desired taste you remember.
Source: My grandma, like almost everything I know. Living in the South, I became accustomed to hot and spicy since while still loving that. Spices we use before adding the heat is what makes everyone dishes have a signature.
By Luana M. from San Diego, CA
By Kate from Victoria, Australia
If you go to the grocery store, you have to buy a jar of the spice. Then the spice will probably sit in your cupboard for years before you will be able to use that amount.
Buying bulk will give you the ability to buy as little as a few teaspoons at a time and you'll always be able to have FRESH spices in your cupboard. Just compare the prices, you'll be amazed at the money you save by buying at the bulk store.
By GH in OK
Pure garlic powder, 7 dollars a pound instead of 4 dollars for a 4 ounce bottle. Salt-free "Mrs. Dash" type seasoning, 7 dollars a pound instead of three dollars for an ounce and a half. Whole black pepper for pepper grinders, 7 and a half dollars a pound instead of...
Too much for your own use? Split the cost and the spices with a friend.
By SpeedwellGet together with some friends and order them by mail order from http://www.bulkfoods.com, so that you get them very inexpensively, plus you don't have to drive anywhere to get them.
By Megan's mom
Jess in Portland, OR
Never buy spices at the grocery store. You have no way to know how long those spices have been on the shelf and the staff will not know anything about them, nor can you buy small amounts. Scout out local co-ops and health food stores that have a bulk spice area where the spices are sold fast enough to keep them fresh and the help should be able to help you with questions you may have and may even share a favorite recipe with you. Ask your friends where they shop for spices and ask questions at the stores too about the age of the spices where they came from, etc.
Grow your own. Few will be able to grow a nutmeg tree but you can easily grow basil, chives and many others in your yard in the summer months, on a bright window shelf or under lights in the winter.
Freeze or dry your extra harvest for later use. Freezing fresh herbs like basil in a little water will keep a lot of the color and flavor too. Put your herbs chopped in a ice cube tray with enough water to cover, freeze and you will have "fresh" basil whenever you need it.
Mexican Spice Mix Recipe
Instructions Combine all and mix well. Store in airtight container in a cool, dry place up to four months.
Fines Herbes Seasoning Mix Recipe
Fresh herbs: Chop finely and combine. Because these herbs quickly lose their flavor when heated, add to the cooked dish at the end of the cooking process.
Dried herbs: Combine dried herbs in equal proportions. Place in a glass airtight container and store in a cool, dark place up to four months
Herb Salt Substitute Recipe
Combine dried herbs and spices and mix well. Place in a glass airtight container and store in a cool, dark place up to four months. Use on all types of savory foods. Yield: about 1/3 cup months.
Poultry seasoning mix
A Little Italian Seasoning
In the bowl of a food processor, combine all the ingredients. Process for 30 seconds until finely ground. Transfer to a tightly sealed container, label, and date. Store in a cool dark place for up to 3 months (01/26/2007)
If you do a lot of cooking, then buying the more common spices in bulk is perhaps prudent. (01/26/2007)
I drive 50 miles (ok, I visit my Grandfather too) to go to a health food store in Santa Cruz, CA that sells bulk vanilla, it's cheaper than those nearly $10 bottles of Real Vanilla in the grocery store and SO good, my daughter and I use it in lots of things. We always buy tons of bags while there, new things to try (can't beat the bulk bins for that) and to add to our spice cabinet. Sometimes the stores even have bottles that you can fill right there (ex. for vanilla, pb, honey and sometimes even spices). Coming from my Mom whom is a chef at a "Nuts and Granola" college in AZ, I've learned the value of good spices, drying takes some of the punch, but AGE takes a LOT of it. Buy often and you'll be surprised at the difference you'll see in your foods! (01/27/2007)
In a month, you'll have mild vanilla flavor - three months for strong. It keeps till the brandy's gone and keeps getting stronger. Use it just like real vanilla extract in your recipes. The alcohol bakes out. (11/12/2007)
At WalMart and most grocery stores check the Hispanic foods section. There was ground cumin for 84 cents for 1 1/2 oz. McCormick's ground cumin was 2.82 for 2 oz.
The Hispanic Food section for cinnamon and oregano and other spices can save you at least $1.00, and probably more.
Source: Always checking the bottom line and being frugal (cheap)!
By meoowmom from Columbia, MO
The spices were the best! I still have some of the peppers and now that we can get a lot of Mexican products here in Alabama and Georgia that were in AZ. I am now able to afford all the spices I love to keep on hand again now! (12/01/2009)
Spices can be expensive. So first I hit Dollar Tree, Big Lots or Aldis for the ordinary spices. I save small glass jars for the bulk spices I buy at local health food shops and online at MySpiceSage.com. I usually save about 80% over normal grocery prices.
By CaroleW from Indiana
I'm a little iffy on the Dollar Store/ Big Lots spices - have tried both and they seemed to have a shorter shelf life to me. You've gotta remember that these big-big-box stores often don't pass along savings to customers just by being able to buy in large quantities; a lot of times you're getting a deal because they got a deal on almost-ready-to-expire stuff - or lesser quality items. ( Saying this from experience - I was a retail manager for 25 years).
The Hispanic cello packet spices are also generally offered in smaller quantity than the mainstream spices; the advantage to this is that if it's an occasionally used spice, your chances of using it up while still at its peak - six months, tightly capped or sealed - are better. (01/29/2010)