If you cook frequently, like I do, you access your spices and herbs for almost every recipe. About a year ago, I organized our spices by purchasing jars from World Market and tiered organizers from Target.
I really like my new system, however I hadn't thought it through to the next step of maintaining the spices. This occurred to me on Friday as I was making enchiladas and ran out of chili powder.
I have a large basket full of bulk bags from Penzeys and had assumed there must be a chili powder bag in my basket. I was wrong. So today, I quickly typed up a list of every spice, herb and seasoning in my cupboard, and added a "P" if I have more in a bulk bag in the pantry (this project took less than 5 minutes).
I also added a date column in an attempt to monitor the freshness of my spices. I've heard various time frames on how long spices and herbs are at their best, so I'm not really sure when I would pitch older ones, but I figure the first step is knowing just how old each one is.
The list is taped inside my cupboard and I'm hopeful that this new system will prevent me from running out of a spice in the middle of a recipe. By the way, in lieu of chili powder on Friday, I added 1/2 cumin and 1/2 oregano, with a dash of Sriacha instead, and I couldn't tell the difference.
After taking inventory, I had quite a list for Penzeys. I buy spices and herbs at Penzeys for several reasons: great quality, bulk bags (much cheaper than buying the glass jar), and their coupons. If you sign up for their catalog (mailed 7 times/year), it often comes with a coupon for a free 1oz jar of a specific spice.
There's only one thing I dislike about Penzeys and that is the organization of their store. I find it very difficult to find what I'm looking for, and desperately wish they'd just arrange everything alphabetically. Even worse, the location I go to just recently rearranged and every customer I saw in there today was asking for help in finding what they were looking for.