Until recently, one of the biggest deterrents to me in trying new recipes was the spice list. It’s great to try new things with new spices, but I have a VERY hard time paying $3 or $5 or $7 just for one jar of spices that I have never used before and don’t know if I’ll ever use again. And if there was more than one new spice – forget it! That was until I found the lovely bulk spices section of our local Sprouts store (this links you to the locations). I loved Sprouts anyway because of their great produce deals, but now I love them even more. I am guessing that if you checked around to other farmers market/whole foods stores in your area, they may have a similar bulk spices section. It is AWESOME.
If we can find a bulk spices section here, I’m guessing you should be able to find them almost anywhere. When you get to your bulk spices section, do NOT be alarmed by the prices. For example, cinnamon sticks here run $24/lb., but one large cinnamon stick only weighs .01 lbs. This means that it costs a whole $.24. Ha!
From left to right in this picture: my cinnamon stick that cost $.24 (a bottle of small cinnamon sticks runs around $5 here); dried cilantro – it didn’t even weigh in on the scale so they gave it to me for free (even though I kept trying to get them to weigh some other spice so I could pay them SOMETHING); and my whole allspice – which also cost me around $.25. Fifty cents for three spices in the quantities that I needed is WAAAAAAY better than spending $10 for too much of those same spices.
I also will go there to refill some of my more expensive spices when they run out. When I was trying to clean my cookie sheet, I ran out of Cream of Tartar. Remembering that they carry it at Sprouts, I decided to get a baggie of it to refill my empty container.
To refill the jar to the point that I got it (I slightly underestimated) cost me $1.00. To refill it completely would have been about $1.33. To buy a new jar would have been $2.88.
It is worth checking around to see if any of your local stores have a bulk spices section – both to expand your cooking horizons without breaking the bank, but also to refill your current spices on the cheap. I still will buy whatever $.50 generic spices that are available (onion flakes, cinnamon, etc.), but for the spices that don’t have a cheaper option, this is a great alternative to paying full price.