How to Organize Your Spice Cabinet or Drawer
Time to Organize My Spices
I love, love, love spices. And because I make everything from scratch for my son, who is on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, I have a ton of spices. I buy them in bulk and save a small fortune, but I end up with a bunch of little re-sealable bags of spices—31 to be exact. Plus, I had others in a variety of spice containers (see the embarrassing "before" photo, above). Several times a week, the entire stock of spices would be scattered over a countertop as I searched for a specific one.
Last summer, two dear friends stayed at our house while we were on vacation. About a month after we returned, one of them was over visiting and cautiously mentioned that she thought I could use my spice cabinet a little more efficiently. Ha! That was the understatement of the year. Consequently, I commissioned her help in finding a solution for my spices. She scoured Pinterest and came up with several great options.
First, I’ll take you through what worked for us. And I love it! At the bottom of the article are the other options from Pinterest—as well as the reasons they did not work for us. But those options may work better for you.
What Worked for Me: Baby Food Jars!
My cousin and another friend gave me more baby food jars than I could ever use. With a little Goof Off, the paper labels and sticky stuff came right off. (Don’t settle for Goo Gone. It doesn’t compare to Goof Off, which can be purchased at your hardware store and probably other places, too. I do recommend using it in an open space, however; it has an incredibly strong smell.)
My cousin also had a three-tiered lazy Susan that held the baby food jars. She was glad to get rid of it, and I didn’t even know such treasures existed. They cost about $8 at Target and Walmart. As you can see from the top photo, I ended up buying a second one, too. There are smaller ones that hold 12 jars; mine holds 24 jars each. Also, the upper trays can be adjusted either higher or lower to accommodate the different heights of your jars.
How I Labeled the Jars
Because I am too cheap to go buy supplies, I used what I already had—a full-sized sheet of self-adhesive paper to print out my labels. I made an Excel worksheet to type in all the names of my spices, printed them, and cut them with a paper cutter. But yours would be more uniform if you had a blank sheet of return address labels. Then you could just use the corresponding Microsoft Word template to get your sizing right, type in the names of your spices, print, and stick them on your jars.
When my husband saw the completed project, he reminded me that we have an actual label maker. Oh, well. That would have been too easy.
After I put the spices in each of their jars, I alphabetized them as I put them on the lazy Susans. That was a tad bit OCD for me, but it makes me smile to see them.
Some Spices Didn't Quite Fit
Sometimes, form and function cannot co-exist...
Some spices are simply not practical to put in baby food jars. In our house, black pepper, grilling seasonings, and red pepper flakes need to be in the shaker-type bottles. My family is too practical to choose a perfectly organized shelf over a fully functional one, so I ended up with a few renegade shaker bottles.
And now for the Pinterest projects and why they didn’t work for me...
More Ways to Organize
These strategies didn't work for us, but they may work for you!
Baby Food Jars in a Drawer
I did attempt to put all the baby food jars in a drawer. Think of how much space that would save. I could have put all my cookbooks in the current spice cabinet! But I had way too many spices to fit in even my biggest drawer. I wish that option had worked.
Magnetized Spice Jars
Ikea has some great containers for holding spices. The bottom has a magnet on it, and the top is clear so you can label it, or just enjoy looking at all the different textures of your spices. If you like this idea and don't want to mess with finding baby food jars and Goof Off, Ikea had several options/sizes/shapes of spice containers to choose from. You could stick them on your refrigerator or buy a metal strip and mount it to any cabinet. They were about $1 each, and that was out of my price range.
The photo with the silver jars hanging from the cabinets is my favorite spice storage solution. Unfortunately, there is not a good spot in my kitchen for it. If I were going to spend money on organizing my spices, I would have figured out a way to make this one work.
Other notes on magnets: If you choose to put the magnets on jars as your own DIY project, it takes a pretty strong magnet to hold up a jar with spices in it. Those can get pricey. I read one post where the lady ended up putting two magnets on each jar so it would hold the weight of the jars. And then she had to worry about glueing the magnets on the jar flush with each other.
Square Jars From Amazon
I am just too cheap to spend money on jars when I could get them for free, but I’m including them because they are cute (and because I wrote earlier that I would include other ideas I found on Pinterest). And maybe you like to spend money!
Spice Jars Organized on Stairs
I think it’s officially called a “spice stepper,” and my handy husband would have gladly whipped one up for us. But my spice cabinet is really tall, and it seemed like a waste of the height to just have one level of spices.
Chalkboard Label Jars
I’m not sure when chalkboard paint became all the rage, but I am on the bandwagon. We even have a wall in our house painted in it—my children’s favorite wall.
So when I saw the posts about painting spice labels with chalkboard paint and then writing on them, I did it. Do the people who posted all these articles actually use their spices? The chalk smudges every time you open up the jar. You can still read the label, but it is fainter, and I’m guessing it would continue to disappear the more the jar is opened. Plus, you end up with chalk on your hand. I wanted this one to work, but I can’t recommend it.
This idea is really doable. However, I think it would work best in a cupboard with short shelves. You just put your spices (in their respective containers) in bins or baskets, label the tops of the spice containers and stick the bins on your shelves. My cupboard is tall and deep, so I didn’t even consider this.
Mop Holders or Shoe Racks
Isn’t this cute? If you are the person who only buys spices in the bottles with the red lids, and you have a cupboard door available, this is a great option. For the people who have their spices out on a wall or on a counter-top, don’t they get dusty? And since I'm asking questions: Does anyone really just buy one brand of spices? If you are that person, this idea could work well. The spice containers need to be relatively skinny in order to fit into the holders.
Another DIYer had a shoe rack hung over her pantry door. It was one of those with 24 clear pockets, and she just put her spices in the pockets. The pockets are large enough for several spice containers.
Maybe your spices are all in order. I hope they are! But if they aren't, you have plenty of options.