Sunday, April 26, 2015

Places to find inexpensive spices

When I post a recipe along with cost information, I generally don't include the cost of things like dried spices or small amounts of pantry staples. This seems to be true for most bloggers and writers who include cost information. But if you're like me and have gone from being a middle-class small family eating Trader Joe's food and takeout to a lower-class large family cooking from scratch most every day, you might find that your spice stash is running low. Sure, spices are versatile, and they keep fresh for a long time, but do I really want to pay $6 for cinnamon?

Here are some of my spice tips and tricks:

Goya adobo

I probably put this in 90% of the things I cook. (The others are baked goods, and that would be weird.) Goya often has a 50-cent-off coupon on their website or in the paper, and it often goes on sale for 99 cents at Stop-and-Shop, which doubles coupons. I currently have five bottles of free adobo in my cabinet. If you aren't familiar, it's salt and pepper, plus garlic, onion, and various other versatile spices (cumin, parsley, etc.) depending on the variety. I pretty much use it in every recipe that calls for salt and pepper.

Spice blendsFor whatever reason, these are cheaper than individual spices. My favorite two -- pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, a few other things depending on the brand) and poultry seasoning (sage, marjoram, thyme, etc.) -- are significantly on sale around Thanksgiving. Pumpkin pie spice works great in, well, pumpkin pie, as well as apple pie, holiday cookies, various fall baked goods, and just about anything that calls for cinnamon. Poultry seasoning is great for pretty much every Thanksgiving dish, or anything that calls for sage.

Latin, Caribbean, Indian, Middle Eastern, Asian stores...or the Latin aisle in the supermarket. You can often find the same spices either in small plastic bags or large jugs for a fraction of the price per ounce of the same spices on the spice aisle of the supermarket. If you get them at a family-owned local store, you can support local businesses, people of color, and/or immigrants. The bags can be messy once you open them, and the jugs are kind of ugly if you store your spices on the counter, so I either purchase the spice the first time in a jar and then refill it, or get some jars from Amazon to pour them into. These snazzy glass ones are about a dollar apiece, or these plastic ones are 59 cents each. If you have more time, a Google search shows that you can buy empty plastic spice containers by the dozen for 5 to 15 cents a piece directly from many suppliers.


  1. Bulk spices are also waaaaaaay cheaper

    1. Oh, good idea! Where's a good place to buy them in bulk around here?

  2. Also, I was at IKEA recently and saw that they have spice jars for under a dollar each: