While buying most foods in bulk is a great way to save money, buying large quantities of spices is generally a bad idea. Unless you use a lot of a particular spice or frequently cook for large crowds, you’re not likely to use up a large canister of something before it loses its essence.
Maybe you’ve never thought about this before, but herbs and spices lose their flavor a couple ways. The first is adding them too soon to your cooking process. You don’t want the flavor to boil or bake away, so add as much as you can closer to serving time. This is especially true for fresh herbs like basil, parsley, cilantro, etc.
The second way spices and herbs lose their flavor is over time, especially once a jar is opened (even if you replace the cover or seal it in a bag).
- Buy the smallest container available
- Only buy or replenish your supply before you need it next time
- Consider buying from the bulk section and only purchase what you need each time (you can buy only a teaspoon or two this way), especially a spice you rarely need.
- Share with a friend or co-worker
- Plan recipes and freezer meals that use up what you have
- Buy whole spices, which last longer and can be ground as needed. Some people swear by freezing until ready to use.
Go through your spice cupboard and check dates. Replace spices that are old or no longer fragrant.