Getting Organized in 2009: Spice Cabinet & Beyond…

I’ve been organizing like a mad-woman the past couple of days. Something about putting away the Christmas decorations away sent me off on a tangent that involved cleaning out closets and cupboards, and ridding ourselves of all kinds of excess ‘stuff’ (between fits of baking, of course).

Among my obsessive organizational projects was to completely re-organize the spice cupboard to create a more efficient means of finding what I need.

Here’s what I purchased at Bed, Bath & Beyond… two of these metal utensil organizers and a whole bunch of metal spice tins with magnetic bottoms. I got the little round stickers at a craft store.

Regular-sized jars of spices fit nicely inside of each tin. I adhered a little round sticker and labeled them as shown. If you had a white sharpie, you could write directly on the clear lid.

I wanted to be able to remember what date the spices were purchased (with the intent of keeping them fresh on a somewhat regular basis). On the inside of the lid, I placed a little sticker and put the month/year of purchase. If I wasn’t sure, I put the current date. You might notice that I’m still not comfortable with ’09 yet. My mind was thinking ’08!

The utensil trays were nailed into the back of the inside of my spice cupboard. And the magnetic tins stuck easily onto the metal trays, with the dividers acting as a nice ‘shelf’ so they wouldn’t slice down.

Here’s my spice cupboard… now organized (alphabetically) and extremely easy to see everything that I have. No more digging around! For the ones down below- I used the same sort of mesh metal but in the form of a tiered sheld (like this one).

A few months ago I also organized my pantry. I bought several of these pop-top containers, labeled them, and have been very happy with how they work, as well as how fresh they keep everything. This week I purchased a few more in which to store all of my acquired baking decor items. And the best part is… ants cannot get into these!

It feels great to have a more organized kitchen. It’s much easier to cook and bake when you can find things with ease. This wasn’t a cheap project… the large canisters varied in price and the metal spice tins were $2.99 each. You could certainly purchase them a little at a time. If you have BB&B coupons, those will help cut down on the cost. They also carry the metal tins at Cost Plus World Market.

Not food related, but another thing I did to kick off ’09 is to give our 7 year old an opportunity to earn a weekly cash allowance. I made a list of things that he is required to do on a regular basis (making his bed, clearing dishes, taking trash out, etc.), and then I also made a list of things that he can do if he wishes to earn an allowance (vacuuming, dusting, watering plants, special projects, etc.). If he does his required tasks and his optional tasks (all without a single complaint) then he can earn an allowance for the week. One single complaint and the allowance offer is withdrawn for the week. We’re also requiring him to plan for savings and charity donation with the amount he is given. It’s never too early to teach them!

Hope you’re having a great start to ’09, and I’ll be back with recipes in my next post!


  1. postedJan 3, 2009 6:49 PM

    I love your spice rack. This one makes so much sense. I have a spice drawer and I am thinking I could use your idea in the drawer. How tall are the spice tins?

  2. postedJan 3, 2009 6:57 PM

    Julie- They’re just a couple of inches tall. I’m sure they’d work in a drawer just fine as they fit inside of the utensil trays I bought (which are meant for a drawer).

  3. postedJan 3, 2009 7:39 PM

    I’m so impressed with your organization – great job!
    Thanks for commenting on my blog.

  4. postedJan 3, 2009 7:41 PM
    Peter M

    I wish I had that much room in the kitchen but point taken. I shall sort & organize the shelved of ingredients in the cellar/pantry.

  5. postedJan 3, 2009 8:00 PM
    Clumbsy Cookie

    How cool! Tha’s the perfect way to start the year, all organized!

  6. postedJan 3, 2009 8:06 PM

    Now you’re making me look bad πŸ˜‰ What a good idea for the spices… mine are all in cans jumbled in a cupboard. I must go fix them!

  7. postedJan 3, 2009 10:30 PM

    Happy new year Lori! My, those are a LOT of spices! Mine are in the highly variable bottles I bought them in, hee hee πŸ™‚ Good luck with the allowance plan of the youngun!

  8. postedJan 3, 2009 11:25 PM

    This is exactly what I have at the top of my to-do list. my spice rack is out of control. writing the date on the inside is BRILLANT!
    those pop top containers, are they fairly good about keeping a tight seal? I have been searching far and wide for a nice tight seal for my larger pantry items like flour, sugar, etc…

  9. postedJan 4, 2009 1:43 AM

    I really need to reorganize my spice cabinet! I love those spice tins you used.

    You are off to a great start in 2009!

  10. postedJan 4, 2009 1:50 AM

    That is so awesome! I can only dream of being so organized. I’m so jealous right now!

  11. postedJan 4, 2009 2:09 AM
    Proud Italian Cook

    I’m jealous! Mine’s a disaster!!

  12. postedJan 4, 2009 2:31 AM

    This looks great! I hate digging around in my cluttered spice drawerβ€”and I hate having three containers of five-spice even worse!

    I commend you for putting your spices inside of a cabinet. I cringe when I see people with immaculately organized spice racks that are open to ambient light. The horror!

    Now if only I had a few hundred dollars for spice tins…


  13. postedJan 4, 2009 3:24 AM
    Cathy - wheresmydamnanswer

    I did the same spring cleaning this past week as well and I love it.. There is nothing better than a fresh start!!

  14. postedJan 4, 2009 3:55 AM

    Wow! Can you come do my house? Happy New Year!

  15. postedJan 4, 2009 4:56 AM

    Next week is my vacation and I’ll be doing lots of this, isn’t that what vacation is for!! LOL!! You’ve got some pretty darn good ideas!

  16. postedJan 4, 2009 4:59 AM

    Awesome organizing! Come on over here next! πŸ˜‰

  17. postedJan 4, 2009 5:14 AM
    That Girl

    I really need to do this…but I worry about making holes in our apartment. I’ll have to investigate using magnets to hold up the utensil holders also (or magnetic paint)

  18. postedJan 4, 2009 5:59 AM

    Great idea!!!!

    With regards to the allowance we did something similar. Each week they earned an allowance they were required to put 1/4 of it into savings, 1/4 into the “caring” jar, and could do what they wanted with the balance. After a year the caring jar was emptied and they made a donation to whatever charity they wanted at that time.

  19. postedJan 4, 2009 6:01 AM

    I meant to add that we have since stopped giving allowance as the bickering between the twins over who does what and hasn’t done what became a HUGE headache! πŸ™‚

  20. postedJan 4, 2009 1:05 PM

    Great ideas & tips!! Thank you!!

  21. postedJan 4, 2009 1:47 PM

    Happy New Year. I was telling my husband today that I need one of these to organize all my spices. This is perfect.

  22. postedJan 4, 2009 3:29 PM
    Garden Faery

    OMG! I love this! What a great job you did, so creative!

  23. postedJan 4, 2009 5:08 PM

    I *love* this! It looks amazing. What a great idea. πŸ™‚

  24. postedJan 4, 2009 5:09 PM

    You've been reading my mind. I received a bunch of new herbs and spices for Christmas (which is what I asked Santa for) and have been feeling a bit overwhelmed with the poor organization I have going on in my cabinets. Ugh, what a mess. I also have a 20% off coupon from Bed, Bath, & Beyond. Yippee! You've totally inspired me to overhaul my spice cabinet! Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    Wishing you health, happiness, and fun in the kitchen in 2009!

  25. postedJan 4, 2009 8:41 PM

    organization has been a foreign word to me lately, but you’ve done some inspiring work here. very nice. and i think a work-based allowance for your kiddo is a great idea!

  26. postedJan 4, 2009 10:46 PM

    You are incredible! This is great because all those store bought ones don’t have enough room and take up too much room themselves. As of now I just have a basket that all the spices get thrown into.

    Thank you for the great tips and pics.

  27. postedJan 5, 2009 12:34 AM

    I’m so jealous of your organization! We have recently started buying a lot of things in bulk so our pantry is full of those flimsy bulk goods bags and such a mess! Great work!

  28. postedJan 5, 2009 2:59 AM
    Stacey Snacks

    I too, went to Bed and Bath and bought drawer organizers! how funny!
    I needed those expandable organizers for my larger utensils, it’s so difficult to find anything in those messy drawers!
    Your spice containers are lovely.
    Good way to start the new year!

  29. postedJan 5, 2009 11:57 AM
    Jerri - Simply Sweet Home

    Everything looks so nice & neat!

  30. postedJan 5, 2009 12:36 PM
    Robin Sue

    Doesn’t it feel great to be organized. I am almost there. A few more drawers to go and done in the kitchen and mudroom. Thanks for the post it keeps me going! Sounds like you had a nice Holiday too!

  31. postedJan 5, 2009 2:26 PM

    Is there any harm in putting spices or baking powder/soda in metal containers? My spices are all kept in a cupboard, so the light isn’t hitting them anyway, but is there any concern for having them in metal containers?

  32. postedJan 5, 2009 2:42 PM
    Nina Timm

    This can only be a teacher that spends a holiday organizing her spice rack….I am impressed!!!

  33. postedJan 5, 2009 3:30 PM

    Sarah- I haven’t heard of any concern. And those tins are sold all over the place. I don’t, however, put baking powder or soda in them.

  34. postedJan 5, 2009 5:32 PM

    Wow, I’m impressed with all the work you put in! Spice organization is such a problem in a lot of serious cooks’ kitchens.

    My Dad invented a spice rack for my Mom that we now sell online called the SpiceStack. Its nice because it holds your own spice bottles from the grocery store (i.e. no transferring containers or labeling required) in your dark, dry cabinets where they stay fresh longer. Drop-down drawers allow you to easily find and reach your spices while cooking.

    Check it out at and Happy cooking!

    Lauren Greenwood, President, SpiceStack Inc.

  35. postedJan 5, 2009 11:24 PM
    Girl Japan

    These are fabulous ideas Recipe Girl, I love kicking off my heels and can dive into any type of organization.. LOVE IT.

    P.S. Where do you buy all your spices?

  36. postedJan 6, 2009 3:45 AM

    Wow…I’ll have to give that a try. My spices are a wreck!

  37. postedJan 7, 2009 6:50 PM

    2009 is the year of organization! Love what you’ve done here πŸ™‚

  38. postedJan 9, 2009 5:06 PM

    So clever! A woman after my own heart…labelled and alphabetized. I can’t wait to move into a larger space and have where to put spices. Happy belated New Year!

  39. postedJun 15, 2009 9:12 AM

    Hey this is a great idea!

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