Project: Beat spice cupboard chaos

Spice chaos I’ve been frustrated for awhile with the crazy mess in my spice cupboards.  I use about 40 different spices and seasonings, and store them in the cupboards on either side of the stove.  I’ve been keeping large (Costco size) bottles of spices in the cupboard to the right. My small bottles are in a smaller cupboard on the left. Both cupboards are crowded, and it is a pain to try to remember which spice is in which cupboard.  Seems like I always end up pulling out 10 or 12 bottles before I find the spice that I need, which definitely adds to the chaos when I’m cooking.

In thinking about my problem, the ideas I liked best were a wall mounted magnetic rack and a shelving rack.  Both had a common factor:  containers of uniform size and shape.   I loved the jars and magnets in wall mounted rack, but the jars were expensive, and I’m a little short on empty wall space in my kitchen.  The shelving rack was great, but I knew my hubby didn’t have time to carpenter me something right now.

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Still thinking about workable solutions, I decided to order 4 dozen of these clear top square tins (in the 4 ounce size) and see how much difference they’d make on their own.  When they came the other day, I was utterly delighted and set to work immediately.

I started by pulling out all my spices to see what I had. I typed their names into a Word document, experimented with fonts, and printed the names out on plain paper.   I cut out and taped the names onto the tins with clear packing tape.   Then the fun began:  filling the tins with all my spices.  I found that my 4 ounce tins were big enough to hold a whole 3-4 inch tall jar of seasoning.  I did end up with some dibs and dabs of extra spices in a few cases, mostly those that I’d bought in bulk.

The tins have clear plastic windows in the tops I hoped that in uniformly sized containers my spices would now fit in one cupboard.  Since the cupboard is normal depth and the tins are small, it took a bit of thinking to figure out how to use the space in a way that would still make the tins easily visible. 

Finished project!

I decided to put a couple of large Tupperware storage containers at the back of the two lowest shelves.  My plan was to line the tins up against the bins. The containers are shoebox-sized, and almost as long as the cupboard was wide.  I filled one bin with extra bags and duplicates of spices.  Into the other bin I put my birthday fixings: birthday candles, cupcake papers, sprinkles, food colors, and icing tips. 

The bins filled the back of the cabinet and provided a ‘wall’ for the tins to line up against.   Getting things out of the bins will mean moving tins, but since things in the bins are not used often, I think it will work well.  Now the cupboard looks so pretty that I hardly want to close the door, and finding a variety of spices for a recipe is a snap!

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Go HERE to see the shelving unit my husband built to make this even better!

{ 51 Comments }

  1. Looks great!!

  2. Love the tins! In case you need to get to the bins more often than you think you might need to, you could always put the tins on some sort of long rectangular, short tray. That way, the tins could all be moved as one unit instead of each individual stack. Just an idea!

    • Yvonne, Yes, I think my hubby will so something like that for me, maybe after the holidays. He was even thinking about some kind of a shelf on a hinge that would swing outward to access what is behind. Wouldn’t that be sweet?

  3. You have officially become the wisest woman I know!! That’s the best solution for my spice chaos!
    Bless you, bless you!!

  4. That looks great. Where did you find the cute little tins?

    I’ve got a spices all over the place. I had a spice drawer that got too full and wasn’t working well, so I installed an IKEA bathroom cabinet just beside the stove and did some fake stained glass effect on the mirror to disguise it. It works pretty well, but it’s still two jars deep with spices so you can’t see the back row. I love your system.

  5. That looks nice Mary! I also use the shallow hard plastic trays as Yvonne mentions. That way my shelf is broken into 4 “drawers” of spices which are easily pulled out and put back into place.

  6. Great idea! My spice situation is sheer chaos… I love your solution!

  7. Ooo nicely done, it looks so pretty! I love organized cabinets like that (but I hate organizing, LOL).

  8. Wow! As I was reading the top part of your post, I was nodding my head in agreement with your spice cabinet struggles. When I scrolled down and saw the picture of the result, I think I heard the “Hallelujah Chorus”! 😀

    Great idea!

  9. Awesome!

    So… whaddya’ do with the empty cabinet?? 🙂

    • In the small cupboard I have baking supplies: b.soda, b. powder, vanilla, cooking spray, etc. So the cupboard isn’t empty. But there’s actually air space– it is so awesome.

  10. This is sooo timely, you have no idea! I was just going to make a little cooking video for the blog the other day and couldn’t post it because I was so embarassed with the state of my spice cabinet! We’ve lived here for a year and I’ve yet to arrive at a solution. I love this one!

  11. Did you order the 4 oz or 8 oz. I am sure you say, but i can’t seem to see it!

    • 4 ounce — and it is a good size for most of what I was doing. You’d have to have a LOT of seasoning to fill an 8 ounce. Might be an option for cinnamon and salt and a very few other spices that you tend to use a lot of.

  12. I LOVE this idea, Mary! I just fought with my spice cupboard the other day, and brought some order to it, but thought it was hopeless to completely get the thing organized… now there’s hope! Thanks!!! 🙂

  13. Awesome! This really appeals to the OCD in me : )

  14. Awesome! Just out of curiosity, how much did you spend on the tins?

    I know it’s too late to help you, but my father invented a spice bottle organizer that holds 27 store-bought spices in the cabinet. Drawers drop down to make it easy to locate and choose your spices. Check it out at SpiceStack.com.

    Happy cooking!

  15. Great idea Mary…I may do this as my spices are nuts too!
    C~

  16. Very nice, I am also forever searching for spices. thanks for the tip.

  17. you know, one of the BEST thinsg I ever saw in all the houses we have looked at was a simple yet great one–the couple cut into the wall just between the studs and framed it out and put on a little door and it’s whole purpose was for spices. It obviously couldn’t be really deep so spices fit great, they had a smaller ktichen without lots of room for addinga nother cabinet, etc so it was only as big as between 2 studs, but the benefit of that is it can go floor to ceiling if you really needed LOTS of room, lol!! Anyway, I thought of that just now and your little square tins would just be prefect in a place like that!! and no neat and orderly–oooh, it makes me feel giddy!! 🙂 And also, round containers are a huge space waste as they do not allow corners to be used so very good move in ordering the squares!! Love them!

  18. ok, I was CLEARLY giddy b/c I just typed that w/o even re-reading it and it is full of typos-ack! sorry-supposed to be “so neat and orderly”, btw. and also they just used simple boards inside the cabinet to make a box frame and little shelves.

  19. Those tins are so great. Cute, too!

  20. I loved your solution! A number of years back I bought the circle tins with the clear top and magnet on the bottom. Then I took one the drawers on my island and added a piece of sheet metal in it. Now all my spices are neatly in a drawer and can’t move around at all. I think your solution though was much more cost effective since each of my little tins were 2.99 http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product.asp?order_num=-1&SKU=13335656
    .

    Have a great day!

  21. Wow! This is such a great idea. I’ve been wondering what to do with my spices. I am seriously considering trying this myself 🙂

  22. I love this! One of the best parts is that the tins are square and fit neatly next to each other–I don’t like round containers, there is too much wasted space.

  23. What a great idea! My spice cabinet still has the carousel style rack in it that my mother had when I lived at home. It’s over 30 years old and still works. But I like the prettiness of yours better!

  24. You are a Goddess! I just wrote on my Christmas wishlist the desire for empty, glass spice jars – I am switching it to these. I have a spice drawer, so I will simply label them on the top instead of the side – brilliant!!!! Love your book, BTW, especially the cheesy, corn chowder. Can’t wait to try the clam chowder variety at Christmastime up in snowy WI with the family.

  25. Jennifer H. says:

    Nice! I use a wide drawer and lay my spices down two deep and have two rows. I only have to shift around a few to see the ones on the bottom and they are so easy to find! I keep the very large containers of extras in a different cabinet and refill as needed. I keep bouillon, sprinkles, etc, in the back of the drawer.

  26. Wow – sooo pretty!

  27. Nicole Slack says:

    Your spice cabinets look fantastic! I am jealous as mine is in disorganized chaos. I too use about 40 spices and have to pull out abou 11 ot 12 each time I cook to fimnd the ones I need. I call it the root and search method. SO irritating!

  28. cute cute cute! I love it. my spice drawer is so awful..i basically take 15 minutes to pick thru ALL the bottles til i find the right one..sigh

  29. I love this idea!! Your spices look beautiful. 🙂 I just recently organized my spice cabinet too. But I have a spinning spice rack, and not nearly as many spices as you do, so it wasn’t quite as much of an undertaking. [:-)

    One question – – will you have to unload the whole shelf to get to your “birthday” bin?

    Rach

  30. That is brilliant and appeals to my need for organized chaos.

  31. I love this idea!!! And I think I am going to have to do the same thing.

  32. Looks like a fantastic idea! Do you know what material the tins are made from?

  33. Hehe. I checked. TIN. 🙂 Food grade, at that.

  34. P.S. If you put your extra spices in the freezer, they’ll stay fresh longer.

  35. Could you put magnets on the back yourself? Do the tops fit tightly enough that you wouldn’t end up with a mess if you put together a DIY magnetic spice wall?

  36. This is brilliant!

  37. Looks great. I did this a few years back, except I used the plastic rectangle baby food containers from Gerber. Not nearly as fancy, but I’m cheap! And I also had a baby at the time so I was finding a million uses for those containers!

  38. I bought a two layered lazy suzan that fit nicely in my cupboard over my stove. I put all of my spices on it and just turn the ‘suzan to find my spices.

  39. I bought the materials and did the same thing…..finally, some order in that cabinet! Thanks :0)

  40. Now that you’ve had this for almost a year, is it still working well for you? I have mine in a carousel thing that has worked great for years but I’ve continued to add additional spices for the various ethnic foods and have too many for my carousel. I don’t think they sell them any longer so I can’t just get another one, so I thought about switching it all to this style. I just want to hear it actually worked out as lovely as it first seemed.

    • I positively LOVE it! When I first set it up, I purposely bought a couple dozen extra containers, and the little shelf that my husband made has enough space for those containers. I have filled some of the containers, but I still have expansion space for other spices as I discover them. I’ve found that I use seasonings oftener and more creatively, simply because it is so easy to get to each of the spices. It wasn’t the cheapest setup, but I truly couldn’t be happier with it.

    • Forgot to mention– here’s the final incarnation of that project, just in case you missed it http://john.owlhaven.net/?p=2565

  41. Rankemainee says:

    One of these days at my husband birthday.
    Prompt what good gift it is possible to present to the husband?

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