Saturday, November 10, 2012

Saving Money on Spices

Vegan eating is probably the cheapest AND healthiest way to eat.

But, many vegan dishes are seasoned with spices that are not cheap at the grocery store. So, some people find themselves cooking a dish with ingredients that cost $2 or $3 to feed the whole family - and then seasoning that dish with spices that cost $8 a jar! What a budget-buster!

There are some great ways to get your spices inexpensively, so that your whole budget makes sense. Here are a few of my favorite ways:

1) Check your local dollar store for spices at $1/jar. Usually these spices are only those that are very commonly used, but once in a while, I find some great more offbeat spices there, too.

2) Go to the ethnic market. I usually can find 1/4 pound to 1/2 pound bags of spices at ethnic markets which cost MUCH less than those little one-ounce bottles at the grocery.

3) Hit the health-food store. Many health food stores sell bulk spices that they measure into little bags. Often, these spices cost from 50cents to $2/ounce. If you already have an empty spice-jar, why pay the equivalent of $6 for the one from the grocery store?

4) Go to your favorite spot for big purchases - like a warehouse club, or (my preference) the No-Membership fee GFS store. Often they have huge containers of spices for the same price as those tiny bottles.

I've read all those articles that say you have to buy your spices in tiny bottles and use them within some ridiculously short period of time or they'll lose potency. But, I've NEVER had a spice lose potency (except for those that were SEVERAL YEARS old) - and I've kept them a lot longer than they recommend. Most of them don't have a "best by" date or date of manufacture - so you don't even know how long they've been in a warehouse before you got them. In my opinion, the little-tiny-bottle-you-have-to-use-in-x-months should be recognized as the marketing ploy it is. Don't hesitate to buy the big one when the price is right.

This is being shared at Living Big on Less Money


  1. Also, if you budget in one "extra" every two weeks or month, you can quickly have quite a collection (ask me how I know this ;) I buy most of my spices from the Asian supermarket, and store them in glass jars...that way if one is contaminated with bugs they don't get into everything else. Bugs can chew through plastic packages, but not glass! I find the Asian supermarket cheaper than Health Food Store spices, and they have a greater variety than our supermarkets and "herb shops." I bought some tiny little plastic boxes at the dollar store, filled them with spices (each holds about a quarter to half a cup) and labelled them with stick-on labels. Then I stored the boxes in a large tin box that I bought for something else and never used (a tin box of the kind that holds some brands of cookies or crackers would do as well). Hey presto, my very own "curry box"! And as both the box and the small boxes are square, everything fits nicely. When a small box gets empty, just fill from your jars. The curry box is always to hand and I don't have to be searching through the pantry for what I want. I am not above refilling those expensive little glass bottles, too!

  2. Such good ideas! My husband and I recently bought several huge spice containers at Sam's because we just go through them so fast. I'd LOVE to grow my own to dehydrate but at the time it's not a feasible option. I've also bought spices at Ollie's which is an overstock/liquidation/etc type of store.


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