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How I Organized My Spices With Yard Sale Finds {Organizing on the Cheap}

Posted Aug 20 2012 12:01am

I’m so happy you are here with us this week for 5 Days of Organizing – more than 20 bloggers will be bringing you daily inspiration for organizing every aspect of your life. And with back-to-school days breathing down our necks, we all need it! 

Have you ever been frustrated by all the creative organization ideas you see in magazines and on blogs, only to realize that you simply can’t afford (or don’t want to spend the money) all those gorgeous bins, boxes, baskets and other containers? Me, too! I’ve learned to organize my home (uh, to a certain extent) without spending an arm and a leg, and I’ll be sharing my tricks with you all week long. Stick with me for great cheap organizing ideas!


AND>>>>>> Scroll down to the bottom of the post for a cash giveaway!! You might win a little cash to do some organizing yourself!
I’m so glad I finally get the chance to share with you how I organized my spice cupboard. An embarrassingly long time ago, I invited you to help me figure out a cost-effective way to organize my spices , and you all certainly delivered! I got lots of great suggestions:

  • The spice rack  (more of a small set of drawers) I was eyeing at a more expensive online store is available at Amazon for only $35 , which was significantly cheaper than the one I had seen. I figured I could save up my Swagbucks Amazon gift cards to buy it, but unfortunately, I keep finding far more interesting things to spend my free money on!
  • Others suggested cheaper spice rack alternatives, like this  SpiceStor Organizer Rack 20 Cabinet Door Spice Clips
    or Spectrum 43778 Scroll Wall Mount Spice Rack Boxed , or Swivel Store Organizer Storage System , all of which seemed like they would do the trick nicely.
  • Ami suggested I organize them in baby food jars in a drawer a la this example she found on Pinterest . Unfortunately, I have no spare drawer to use for spices, although I did spend a considerable amount of time trying to figure out how I could rearrange my drawers and cabinets to accommodate the concept. Alas, it was a no-go.
  • Rita and Kristine were the ones who really helped me out! Kristine had seen an idea on America’s Test Kitchen to organize all your spices in zippered plastic storage bags like these , then label them, and store them upright, organized alphabetically, in a container of some kind (like a basket or box). Rita had a similar thought, but recommended using small glass jars (like baby food jars, or 1/2-pint canning jars).

First, I tried Kristine’s idea, but I ended up ordering the wrong size of bags (they were way too small!) from Amazon, which set me back on my little project. I was all set to order a larger size, but then I started to get concerned about the effects of storing food long-term in plastic. The danger is probably minimal, but it was enough to worry me that I started leaning towards Rita’s idea of using jars.

So between the two of them, I came up with the idea to store spice bottles like these  in some containers I had lying around the house. That way, all my spices would be contained in jars of the same size,which I could easily label myself, and those jars could then be contained in small boxes that I could easily pull in and out of the cupboard as I needed them. I hadn’t quite gotten around to ordering those spice bottles from Amazon, though, when I went yard saling one day and found this:

BINGO! Now, I wasn’t all that excited about the spice rack itself – I have hardly any wall space in my kitchen for one thing, and for another I kind of thought it was dog ugly. It is now awaiting a chance to be spray-painted and repurposed as a rack for my nail polish bottles and other manicuring supplies (that as a busy mommy and blogger, I almost never use by the way). But the bottles were exactly what I wanted, and for a fraction of the price! A set of the 6 spice bottles on Amazon would be $6, which is not a bad price at all, but twice the number of bottles, and for only $2?! And new!… or at least still in the packaging! You bet I snatched those babies up.

I took them home, ran them through a cycle in the dishwasher, dried them thoroughly, and poured my spices into them. I didn’t have the time then (and haven’t taken the time since) to beautify them with pretty labels, but one day I will get around to that. For the moment, though, I’ve just written the name of the spice on the neck of the bottle with a Sharpie. Works for me!

On the left, you see a basket containing my large jars of bulk spices, the ones I use most often: granulated garlic, cinnamon, oregano, etc. I opted to keep them in their original containers, because pouring them into smaller jars would just be too time-consuming, and I would have to do it far too often for it to be an ideal situation for me.

On the right, you see more spices that I kept in their original containers. Eventually, I will get another set of spice bottles and finish the transfer, but for now, I left these spices in their original plastic bottles. Most of them are spice blends (like lemon pepper) that I don’t use too often, and most of them are a relatively uniform size that fits nicely into the container.

In the middle is the box where I put the spice bottles. These spices mostly came from plastic bulk containers or even bags. These are the ones that I typically buy “loose” so I need a neat and organized place to put them. The glass jars fit the bill perfectly!

As for the boxes that I used to hold all the bottles, I originally had bought them at the Dollar Tree, I believe (more on that later this week!), for another purpose. Having served their original purpose, they needed a new home, and found a perfect fit in my spice cupboard! The box in the middle is a Rubbermaid container that used to contain brown sugar. I don’t buy brown sugar anymore, so the little plastic box needed a new job. Now it holds spices, which is a much more worthy endeavor.

  • Have a list, at the very least a mental one. Know what you need and what you’re looking for. Are you trying to organize your bathroom cupboards? Or your linen closet? Do you need boxes? If so, what size? Or would bottles fit the bill better? Maybe even bowls? Is the storage going to be visible? Then you will want it to be pretty. Is it going to be in the closet? Then, pretty is not quite as important.
  • But don’t get stuck in a box. Literally. Although I had mentally settled on the idea of using spice bottles, I was willing to consider any other workable option. As I was yard-saling, I kept my eyes peeled for ANYthing that might potentially work in a spice cupboard. I was beyond thrilled when I actually found the exact thing I was looking for… but that doesn’t always happen! Sometimes I end up finding something better, just by being a little more creative and open.
  • Know your price point. I knew that the glass bottles on Amazon were $1 apiece, so there was no way I would pay more than that at a yard sale, especially if it were used.
  • Don’t be afraid to haggle. My personal rule of thumb: if I don’t like the price, I offer half what they are asking, but I’m willing to pay 75% because typically, that’s what their rebound offer will be (although, usually, they just take whatever I offer). In the case of my spice bottles, I took the $2 and ran! No need to haggle with that one!
  • Be prepared to wait, or have a plan B. Some things I will just keep looking for at thrift stores and yard sales until I find something that will work. Other times, my need is more immediate, so if I don’t find what I need right away, I’ll go to my plan B. I was not in a huge hurry (obviously) to finish organizing my spice cupboard, but I also knew in the back of my mind that if I ever got completely fed up with it, I just needed to place an order on Amazon and be done with it.
  • Clean the items thoroughly. Depending on what it is, run it through the dishwasher or washing machine, or just give it a good scrub. No need to obsess about it, but it is a good idea to wash away whatever it might have collected at its previous home.
  • I found a big pourable Tupperware container for a couple bucks that I use to store the oatmeal that I buy in bulk.
  • I keep books that we don’t use very often (and don’t fit on my bookshelves) in 2 large trunks that I bought at yard sales for less than $10 each. Those trunks also double as a side table in our living room! I’ve used the trunks previously to store extra linens as well.
  • I’ve found those  hanging canvas shelves (the kind you use for shoes and sweaters) at thrift stores and yard sales, and I have several of them in different closets throughout the house.
  • I’ve also bought several under-the-bed storage boxes at yard sales for one or two dollars each. I’ve seen plenty of other sizes of plastic storage boxes like those at yard sales, too, although those sizes don’t  usually work well for me.

What yard sale treasures have you found that have helped you organize your home or life?

Visit these blogs for lots more ideas on organizing your kitchen, your office, or your homeschool room! Just click on the image below (And by clicking below, you can access even more great giveaways!).

Sharing at Better Mom Mondays , Homestead Barn HopTeach Me TuesdayTitus 2sday,   Domestically Divine TuesdayWomen Living Well WednesdayWorks for Me WednesdayFrugal Days Sustainable WaysRaising Homemakers , Simple Lives Thursday , The Mommy Club , Your Green Resource

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