Save Money on Your Spices

In Panama spices were always sold in little packets.  I didn't get it at first.  Then my curry powder got a big streak of green mold in it.  When you are living in 95% humidity with no air conditioning spices go bad fast.  I got used to buying my spices in little envelopes, just enough for two or three weeks.  I also developed complicated systems to keep the spices dry. Lots of little spice jars that had to be sterilized and then heated in the oven to ensure they were dry.  Then quickly opening the packets of spices and transfering them into the jars.

When we came back to The States I had no spices.  Zero.  I gave all food products away before I left.  Building a spice cabinet takes time and it is expensive.  I bought just the basics kosher salt, course ground pepper (haven't got the pepper mill out yet) and cumin. 

Then I stumbled on the Mexican spices in their own seperate rack at the grocery store.  They are all labeled in Spanish and they are so much less expensive.  Not to mention they are in less packaging.   In the picture above is the cumin (comino) that I bought when we first got home, I'm now on my second or third packet.

Before I knew Spanish I never would have been able to pick out which of these spices I wanted.  Here's a list of common spices used in Mexican cooking and their English/Spanish names so you can take advantage of the savings. 
Anise - Anis
Basil - Albahaca
Bay Leaves - Hojas de Laurel
Black Pepper - Pimiento Negro
Cinnamon - Canela
Cloves - Clavos
Cumin - Comino
Garlic - Ajo
Ginger - Jengibre
Mint - Menta
Mustard - Mostasa
Parsley - Perijil
Rosemary - Romero
Sage - Salvia
Thyme - Tomillo


  1. I love your site! Wow - I am making your Black Bean soup tomorrow. The link did appear in my dashboard.

    I love getting spices in smaller packages because some I just use once a month so much of a larger jar just goes bad. I found spice jars for $0.79 a while back. I think Frontier has them priced less that that. It is so much better than buying all those little plastic bottles.

    I am heading to a market in the next week or so that I just learned about. I hope they sell spices where I can scoop out just what I need.

  2. I dig the fiesta brand spices as well. I usually buy my spices in bulk, or grow them. All my herbs are homegrown for the most part, and i reuse old spice bottles/envelopes and get a few tablespoons of spice at a time. Much nicer to buy 32 cents worth of turmeric than however much it costs in a fancy jar i won't use up before it loses its flavor.

  3. Miranda's right. Fresh spices are just way better, there is no comparison. If I could grow all my spices I would. I'm starting to run out of the thyme I dried this summer. Still plenty of parsley. It seems like I can never dry and save enough to make it through to the next year.

    I do love the place where you can buy by the scoop too Reesa. It is also less expensive than the jars. And you can buy as much or as little as you want. When I first try a new spice, I usually buy from the bulk spice section so I can get just enough for that first recipe. If I hate it I won't buy more, but it it's good, I know just where to get a lot more! But I do have to be careful. If a place doesn't go through their spices very quick they lose their flavor. And then I buy weak spice. Don't buy the week spice.

    Before I wrote this post I didn't realize how much thought went into my spice buying/growing.

  4. Anonymous4/15/2010

    I live in san antonio, where Fiesta spices are made, it's awesome to have all their options at the local stores. I have never been disappointed by their spice mixes, the enchilada mix is particularly good and doesn't have a terrible amount of salt in it.