One of my daughter’s recently pointed out that she has to go “spice” shopping, since she, as so many others are, is cooking from scratch versus buying pre-packaged dinners or stopping for take-out. She pointed out hers are old and she wasn’t even sure where to start, with the exception being salt and pepper.

Spices lose their potency over time, and some of them do get “buggy” so it’s a good idea to check, sort and discard and replace them once or twice a year. Unless you do a lot of cooking, it’s better to buy spices in small amounts. Of course if you use a lot of a particular spice monthly, such as cinnamon or tarragon, etc. then you want the larger amount.

When you see those spice packets for spaghetti sauce, chili and other meals on sale, buy what you think you will use in the next few months. They are pre-measured and so very convenient when you’re harried and still need to fix dinner.

Below is a partial list of some spices you might want on hand if you’re going to be doing your own cooking. If you can’t afford to buy them all at once, simply pick up one or two during your weekly shopping trips.

Remember…never, ever store spices above, on or around the stove. They’re best kept in a cool corner cupboard. Never store spices in plastic or metal containers. Their potency will drop drastically! While those pre-filled spice racks can be so very cute and cost very little, remember you have no idea how long those spices have been around and you’re not saving money if you have to replace them a week after your purchase.

Some spices to keep on hand are:

ground yellow mustard
garlic powder
garlic salt
poultry seasoning
chili powder
red pepper
an assortment of bouillon cubes
kosher/sea salt
granulated sugar
powdered sugar
brown sugar ( light and dark )
cream of tartar
bay leaves
Tabasco or other hot sauce
And it goes without saying, salt and pepper.

The above will get you started. There’s many other things to keep in the pantry( like Hershey’s cocoa ) but I’ll save those for another day. I have to go spice shopping now!