Herbs and spices are essential to making any homemade dish taste even better, but they’re often expensive. You’ll find that it adds up quick when you buy a few different bottles of spices only to use a teaspoon here or a tablespoon there. However, if you buy spices in bulk — by weight instead of containers off the shelf — it can help save money. But how do you build a varied spice cabinet that’s both delicious and cost-effective? Where can you buy spices for cheap?
Here are some tips to get started.
Build your spice rack slowly and keep it fresh
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your spice rack won’t be either. But before you add anything to your existing spice cabinet, write down what you have and note the expiration dates. Toss out anything that’s no longer useable so you have room for other, fresher spices. Two half-used jars of thyme? If they’re not expired, combine them and use them up. No cayenne, cardamom or cinnamon? Plan to purchase them only as needed based on what meals you have planned.
While you’re reviewing what you have, pay attention to which spices have been used often and which only have a teaspoon missing. This will help you gauge what you want to buy in larger quantities and what you don’t. Reducing waste is often just as big of a money saver as making smart purchases.
Head to your favorite warehouse store
If you know that garlic powder or cumin is something you use daily, it might make sense to buy those spices in bulk from warehouse-type stores. Big containers certainly are more cost-effective, but they can be unwieldy to store and use. Solve this problem by refilling any smaller spice jars you already have and then storing the rest either in the original container or in another airtight one (this also works if you buy whole spices rather than ground ones). It’s important to store your spices properly so they last the entire shelf life, sometimes a year or more.
Buy smaller quantities from bulk bins
“Buying bulk” doesn’t always mean buying massive quantities. Some grocery stores sell spices by weight from large bins. If you are trying a spice for the first time, or just need a specific amount for a particular recipe, this is a great option. Some stores also sell spice refills — bags with just a few ounces of spice to add to the jars you already have.
Try specialty stores or the international aisle
Another way to stock up on bulk spices is to head to a specific market dedicated to authentic ethnic foods. Most international specialty stores sell spices from bulk bins and in pre-measured jars, and they may be less expensive than grocery store offerings. You may save on staples like cumin, allspice or oregano but also find new-to-you flavors that are cost-effective enough to experiment with. Something like Korean gochugaru chili flakes can spice up a dish, or you can try Mexican sazón seasoning in soups and stews.
You can also check the international aisles of your usual grocery store. Sometimes bags of spices for cheap are hiding in plain sight outside the spice aisle.
Buy store brand spices
If you don’t have the time to go on a hunt for bulk or by-weight spices, you can still save a few cents. Look for a generic or store brand version of the spice you need; you can often get the same product for a bit less than the brand name. And it doesn’t hurt to have a coupon to use on top of it! Check out our cash back app for more savings.
A flavorful kitchen doesn’t have to be expensive
With some savvy planning, a well-stocked spice cabinet can be affordable. Follow these tips on how to buy spices in bulk and maximize savings where you can. Before you know it, you’ll be cooking with a ton of flavor without the extra cost.