I buy my spices in bulk, since they are much cheaper that way. I also like never running out of favorites like cumin, cinnamon, and garlic powder.
I used to put them in pint size jars, but that took up so much room in my china cabinet, and I had to move them all out of the way to find the one that I wanted that was usually in the back of the shelf.
It wasn’t easy to find some of our “less used” spices, and I would often forget that I had them, and run out and buy more. Since I follow a “6 month shelf life” rule on spices, having several cups of white pepper is not a good idea.
Plus, having a ton of messy spice bottles and jars everywhere can be stressful. You probably already know what a relief it is to be able to work in a nice, clean, and organized kitchen.
If you already have your refrigerator organized and your pots and pans put exactly where they need to go, it’s time to give some thought to how you organize and store bulk spices.
If you’re looking for creative ideas on how to do so, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some tips.
Use Slide-Out Drawers
One of the easiest ways to keep your spices organized is to build or buy a slide-out drawer system. This will display all of your spices to you at eye-level so you don’t have to go digging through your cupboards. You can find an example here.
Baby Food Jars
Whether you have kids or not, you probably already know how expensive baby food can be. You can help get back some of the money you spent by saving the baby food jars and using them to stash your favorite spices. Here’s more information on how to do it.
Store Spices in Test Tubes
Here’s a fun spice storage idea that’s great for the nerd in all of us – a test tube storage system! You can buy cheap plastic or glass test tubes online and stash your spices in them. After all, your kitchen is a great place to experiment!
Use Floating Shelves
Floating shelves are always a great idea when it comes to ways to save space. Most people give little thought to storing their spices in this way, though. Consider using floating shelves to stash your favorite spices – your kitchen will thank you.
Make a DIY Spice Gripper
You can buy fancy, prefabricated spice gripping devices online, but it’s probably going to be easier for you to build one yourself. To do this, you just need to screw or tape some clips to the back of a cabinet door. This will allow you to attach all of your jars to the back of the door so that they are easily visible yet not in a cluttered pile.
Repurposed Glass Jars
If you have a few extra mason jars kicking around after canning season, feel free to use them to stash and organize your bulk spices. You can use any recycled glass jar you have lying around, for that matter, but mason jars tend to be a favorite of many homesteaders.
Try a Lazy Susan
A lazy Susan (or multiple lazy Susans, depending on how many spices you have to store) is a great way to keep your herbs and spices organized. It will make your spices accessible, and evenly so. This spinning tray will offer a no-mess solution for your most cramped kitchen spaces.
Pallet Spice Organization
Here is a fun idea that will have the rustic stylist in you smiling – hang a pallet on the wall, and stash your spices that way.
You can even add additional space to stash your oils, vinegars, and even measuring cups, if you so choose! Find more information on how to build this pallet craft (and others!) at this link.
Enlist the Help of Chalkboard Paint
Remember the tip I gave you earlier about stashing your species in repurposed glass jars? You can take that idea to the next level by labeling or decorating each one with chalkboard paint.
If you don’t have chalkboard paint, feel free to use a Sharpie or another permanent marker – but the benefit of using chalkboard paint is that you can wipe off the chalk, and reliably use the jar for something else.
Another easy way to keep track of all of your spices? Magnets! You can hook the spices to your refrigerator or mount them on a metal plate.
Whatever you choose, you’ll be able to keep your spices front and center. Arrange the spices just so, and you could even create a gorgeous centerpiece in your kitchen!
Hang Them From Hooks
Here’s another cute idea – simply hang your spices from hooks. Hanging your jars from hooks will free up plenty of valuable counter space – and it will bring a unique aesthetic to your kitchen, too.
Use Wire Baskets
Take advantage of that hidden space in your pantry or kitchen closet by suspending some wire baskets from the wall inside that space. You can make the most of space that would otherwise be wasted while at the same time keeping your spices well within reach.
Attach the baskets to your wall with screws or buy a rack that’s premade with wire baskets specifically for this purpose. Here are some more tips you can follow.
If you really like the vintage look in your kitchen, consider purchasing a few old wooden boxes or crates at your local thrift store or flea market. You can turn it on its side (ideally, you should pick a box with built-in dividers) and stash the spices in the slots.
If you buy lots of spices in bulk, you might already purchase them by the bag. There’s no need to take them out of the bags to store them. Instead, you can hang them from a window treatment or suspension rod with some curtain clips. It’s as easy as that!
Use Plastic Tupperware
For many people, it is far easier to store spices in little plastic containers where they can easily rip a measuring spoon or cup into them than it is for them to store those same spices in long, narrow containers that you buy them in at the store. This might make it easier for you to label your spices, too.
Use Old Tic Tac Containers
Although this simple idea may not be ideal for storing large quantities of bulk spices, it’s a good idea for keeping just tiny amounts handy (for example, if you store your bulk spices in the cellar but want to have a usable supply in the kitchen upstairs).
One basic tip for organizing your spices says that you should be vigilant about labeling absolutely everything.
While you might feel confident enough in your skills as a cook and forego labeling your spices, this is definitely not recommended. You don’t want to end up putting cumin in a dish that calls for cinnamon – trust me!
Put Tension Rods in a Drawer
Storing spices in a drawer is a good idea for when you don’t have a lot of counter space, but the spices can become cluttered and messy in that drawer in a hurry.
You can get around this by using tension rods inside the drawer to create artificial shelves for multiple layers of spices. It will be much easier to keep them all on display.
Repurpose Some Vintage Trays
Turn two trays on their side, and you have a gorgeous resting place for all of your favorite spices. You can pick any kind of tray you want so that it matches the decor in the rest of your kitchen. Here’s a tutorial you can follow to get more ideas for this fun storage technique.
Create a Traveling Spice Container
Have you ever seen those pill organizers that you can purchase at the pharmacy to stash your prescriptions, and sort them by day of the week? If you only have a small amount of spices that you want to take with you on the go, consider storing them in a traveling pill container like that.
This will help you take all these pieces you need with you – a must-have if you’re headed out on vacation or a backwoods camping trip.
Use a Shower Caddy
Shower caddies are easy to come by – and inexpensive, to boot. Use one to stash your spices and you’ll always have what you need right within reach.
Know How to Properly Store Them
Any of the suggested ideas above can be a good idea for organizing your spices. Whichever method you choose, it’s important that you pay attention to the best way to store dried herbs and spices. These ingredients don’t necessarily go bad, but they can lose their flavor and potency over time.
Therefore, you should always store your dried herbs and spices in cool, airtight containers. Ideally, they should be stashed in a dry location where they won’t be exposed to direct sunlight.
Avoid making the mistake that many books do- storing their spics above the stove. The heat from the stove can make them lose their aroma and flavor more quickly. Keep all spice containers closed when not in use.
Decide on an Organizational System
Do you like to organize by alphabetical order? For some people, this system works well, but for others, organizing by the type of use makes more sense.
In this system, you might line up your spaces that are used for barbecuing separately from those that you use for baking. You could also organize by category – like savory, sweet, and spicy.
Keep Them In Sight
While some cooks might prefer to have everything stashed in the back of a cupboard, for many people, this isn’t a great way of doing things because it will cause you to forget where you stashed things – or what you have in stock.
It will be much easier to keep things at eye level – and you’ll have fewer spices to waste.
Don’t Store What You Aren’t Going to Use
Before you go through all the effort to store and organize your spices, take the time to do a deep clean of the spices you have in stock.
If they’re old or expired, toss them. If you never use them, toss them. If you have multiple containers of the same spice, see if you can get rid of the older ones or even combine them to help save space.
Conduct a thorough inventory of what you have and consider the method of organization that will work best for you and what you have in stock. For some people, making a spreadsheet might make sense. For others, alphabetizing or color-coding is the way to go.
Either way, find a system that works for you, and stick to it. You’ll find you use your spices a lot more often when you can keep them organized and tidy!
Last But Not Least…
…my favorite idea for organizing bulk spices!
After going through the list of options and making sure I got rid of what I had too much of (and what had expired), I set to work at organizing my bulk spices in a way that made the most sense for me.
With some help from my local dollar store, I found some toddler snack holders that were 5 for $1 and got to work and here’s my “How to Organize Bulk Spices”
I originally tried separating them out in colors… like baking would go in pink cups, savory in green, spices for mixes in blue, less common in yellow… but as you can see that really didn’t work out very well for me. But, I have them stored in the cabinet drawer and the spice I want is much easier to locate.
Plus, the larger measuring spoons are easier to use since I don’t have to tip the jar to get the correct amount the first time. And the ability to take the cups to the store with me to fill them up is a plus since I don’t have to use a plastic bag or buy the jars anymore.
Win win! And, I can put my glass pint jars back in the glasses cabinet for drinking out of until the next jam and jelly canning season!
So, that’s my spice drawer now…all neat and organized 🙂
This was the method that I found to be the most successful for my needs – but you’ll likely find that something totally different altogether works for you. Be patient with yourself as you are getting it figured out!
There are plenty of different ways you can organize and store your bulk spices, but it’s important that once you find a system, you stick to it as best as you can.
last update 01/06/2021
Heather’s homesteading journey started in 2006, with baby steps: first, she got a few raised beds, some chickens, and rabbits. Over the years, she amassed a wealth of homesteading knowledge, knowledge that you can find in the articles of this blog.
Learn more about Heather and the rest of the writers on this page.