In life there are few things that you want to declare bankruptcy. Wikipedia defines it as a “legal status of a person or other entity that cannot repay the debts it owes to creditors.” But in the organizing world I like to use the term bankruptcy to convey the starkness of some of my actions. For example when I get overwhelmed with my unread emails I do what is called email bankruptcy; I hit delete on them all.
This week before I started my holiday baking I couldn’t take the mess of my spices any longer. I knew I had to take the drastic step of declaring bankruptcy on my spices. I had talked about it for weeks. I was nervous to do it. I was lamenting the fact that I had spent money on the spices. But I knew that their better days of freshness had long been gone.
As a general rule whole spices will stay fresh for about 4 years. Yes I had some whole spices and I checked their dates….2006…..yes that would be 10 years past their prime. Ground spices are good for about 2 to 3 years and dried herbs for 1 to 3 years.
I used my memory as a good indicator to how old my spices were so that I did not need to check all the dates on the bottles. If I could remember in my recent memory of buying the spice I kept it. I did do random spot checks to see if my memory was serving me right, and it was.
The amount of spices I had was overwhelming. And the amount that I got rid of was also overwhelming. But the amount that I kept and placed back in my cabinet was very satisfying. I found when going through this process that I had a few habits that I can now break.
I will stop buying large containers of spices. I will never use the Costco size of spices in my lifetime and I am not cooking for a football team so these sizes I need to just say no to.
I also found that I had purchased many seasoning combinations. I think I was a junkie of buying these. I had Greek rubs, Moroccan rubs, baking combinations so many that went unused. Most of the recipes I use do not ask for Greek rub, but rather individual spices and herbs. I simply forgot to use them and they went unused.
I was brutal with my cleanout. It took me about five minutes to decide what I was keeping and what was leaving. I washed down my shelves where they were stored and set out to reorganize. I was a girl who liked to alphabetize. So putting them back was an easy task.
Then my husband came home to complete chaos and looked at me and knew he should stay out of the way. I had also started going to the shelves and cabinets surrounding my spices. I ended up filling a box with other items I no longer needed. It felt fantastic!
Now I only have fresh herbs and spices that are perfectly organized. I will no longer be buying duplicates as I can see what I have. I will stay away from purchasing large quantities of spices and spice combinations.
The funny thing about all this is that I started this project to be organized for my holiday baking. I returned all my spices to their new home and began my baking. Went to reach for my cream of tartar for my roll out sugar cookies and it was gone. My husband looked at me and said he was not going in the garbage to find it. We also were in the middle of a blizzard so there was not the option of going to the store. Thankfully Pinterest had a recipe that did not involve cream of tartar. Even with the missing cream of tartar I was very happy with the end results.
To Joyful, Simplified Organizing,
Melissa’s e-book on Kitchen Organizing can be found on Amazon.