Guest post from Kelly of KellyWiggains.com
I love trying new recipes and new flavors in my kitchen, but too often I have found myself in the spice aisle of the grocery store, debating if a $4 bottle of smoked paprika is worth the flavor for one dish.
Usually, I decide it’s not worth the price, and I use the standard paprika I already have at home. If you have a limited grocery budget like I do, I’m sure you can relate.
However, I recently discovered the bulk herbs and spices section in my local grocery store.
This section, located with the specialty and organic foods, has opened up a new world of variety in my kitchen. I simply choose an herb or spice, dispense the amount I need into a small plastic bag, weigh the package on the scale, and print out the price tag. Then, I typically do a little dance in the name of saving money!
Let’s look at the last trip I made to the store.
I purchased .220 lbs of garlic granules at $5.99 a pound. I paid $1.32. You might be thinking, “That’s more expensive than the $1 bottle of garlic powder.” However, I purchased 3.5 ounces of dehydrated garlic. The average bargain bottle from the dollar store only holds .8 ounces. Essentially, I purchased 4 dollar-store bottles worth of garlic for $1.32.
Here are some advantages to buying spices in bulk:
1. Bulk Spices are Cheaper than the Bargain Spices
As I mentioned above, the herbs and spices in the bulk section are priced by the pound. At first glance, $5.99 for a pound of basil seems pricey until you actually weigh dried basil. It takes a lot of dried basil to make a pound. Half a bag cost me a whopping 11 cents.
2. Bulk Spices are More Economical
On my first trip to the bulk section, I purchased basil, rosemary, black pepper, garlic granules, cayenne pepper, and cumin. I spent right around $2 total for all of those spices. I could buy a wider variety of spices for less money because I only bought what I needed.
3. Bulk Spices are Fresh
I wish the internet people would just go ahead and invent smell-o-screen. Sadly, you’re just going to have to take my word for it. You can smell the difference in freshness.
I talked to an employee who said the store receives fresh spices at least once a week, replenishing their stock at a higher turnover rate than the spices in the baking aisle, where spices sit on the shelves for months with preservatives mixed in to keep them “fresh.”
4. Bulk Spices Provide Better Quality and Variety
Because bulk spices contain no additives, I can actually see the difference in quality. The colors and textures are richer than the bottled versions. I can also get a wider variety.
The dollar spice section offers only generic spices: black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, etc. From the bulk section, I can get a wide range of spices: curry powder, cumin, white pepper, smoked paprika, chipotle powder, etc. Yet, I still spend less than $1 for what I actually need.
5. Bulk Spices Allow You to Make Healthy Mixes
Buying spices in bulk allows me to have convenience items on hand that are healthy for my family as well as economical for my budget.
As you start to stock up on bulk spices, here are a few things to consider.
Once you start buying bulk spices, your spice cabinet will no longer contain tiny little bottles. Instead, you will have tiny little plastic bags to sort. You might consider keeping your empty spice bottles to refill with the bulk spice, purchasing some small plastic containers, or repurposing baby food jars to keep your spices contained.
Unless you only need one or two spices, I would suggest stocking up on spices without children in tow. I took all three of my kids with me the first time I bought spices from the bulk area, and they got restless. I also noticed a basket full of popular spices, already bagged, tagged, and ready to go, so you might check to see if your store does the same.
Check out the bulk foods section of your grocery store today and look for the spices!
Kelly Wiggains, a high school English teacher turned homeschooling mom, likes to surround herself with good literature, beautiful things, and big ideas, and she wants her home to reflect those things, too. She blogs at KellyWiggains.com, where she talks about everything From Literature to Living.