This summer two of my kids will be moving out and setting up their own apartments. Their oldest brother has been living on his own for a couple of years. One thing I did to help him and what I’m doing for the younger two is helping them get set up with all the kitchen things they will need. It’s great for them and a good way for me to process this huge change for our family. Since my kids all like to cook I know they will need some things for a starter spice cabinet.

Putting together basic spices, herbs, and baking things is a really fun and practical gift. You can do this for someone as a housewarming gift or for yourself. You may be starting out on your own or wanting to redo your existing spice collection. We all have old spices, something for a specific recipe that you aren’t using, or a spice you just don’t like anymore. Use this as a guide for what you may find essential and what you can focus on buying or tossing.

An Affordable Spice Cabinet

You can spend a lot of money on spices and containers. For example, a jar of cinnamon at Walmart can be as much as $4.36 for 1.5 ounces depending on the brand. Yesterday I bought a 4 ounce bag of cinnamon from Natural Grocers yesterday for $3.50. While you may be able to find a cheaper option than this, you also are paying for glass or plastic packaging that you don’t really need. Depending on the spice or herb you are needing, the price can be much higher from a grocery store.

I use thrifted or reused jars and containers for my spices. If you chose jams, pickles, olives, and salsas in glass jars that are a good size for spices you will be set. All it takes is a good wash and the jar is ready to reuse. I share how I remove sticky labels in this post. Thrift stores often have sets of small jars if you prefer matching sets but don’t want to spend the money for a new one.

Essential Basic Spices

Here are the spices and herbs I like to include in a starter spice cabinet:

  • Cinnamon
  • Paprika
  • Cumin
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Black Pepper
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Salt
  • Baking Powder
  • Baking Soda
  • Spaghetti Sauce Seasoning
  • Chili Powder
  • Cajun Seasoning

Now for the Fun Part!

I fully accept that I am a nerd and have an obsession with collecting spices and other ingredients you can pour into jars. This is who I am and I embrace it. Also I’m required to keep my fruit in pretty bowls on the countertop. It’s just how I roll. That said, I think you will find it quite satisfying to pour spices and things into jars and get them all organized.

Gather up your jars, a sharpie, a funnel, and your spices and baking ingredients. I like to get them all set up so I can work through them easily and not run back and forth a bunch. Choose a jar that’s the right size for the spice you’re storing. For example, you will want a bigger jar for salt or chili powder than you need for paprika.

Using your funnel, pour the spice into the jar, seal it tightly, and label it clearly. This is an important step. You don’t want to add a bunch of cinnamon to a pot of chili instead of cumin because you didn’t label the jar. Not that this has happened to me before. You also don’t want to use dried stevia instead of oregano. It’s not a great twist on baked pasta. Believe me!

Jars for spice kit.
Supplies for spice kit.

Add Variety!

Above I listed what I like to include in a starter spice kit but you may have some other ideas or favorite spices. Add those to the set of basic spices and herbs. I also put jars of baking essentials in the kit like baking powder and baking soda. There may be an ingredient that you can’t imagine not having in your kitchen. By all means share that with the lucky recipient of this starter spice cabinet. Below you can see some of the jars I put in my son’s spice kit.

Spices and herbs.
Spices and dried herbs.
Baking ingredients.
Baking supplies.
Spice blends.
Spice blends.

Great Gift or Reset

As I mentioned above this makes a great housewarming gift for a new couple or someone moving into their first apartment. It can also be a good way for you to reset your own spice cabinet. If you’re tired of the collection you have or you have stale expired spices and herbs, consider starting fresh!