Have A Spice Trading Party

This is a tip we really love, because we have huge bags of bulk spices in our cupboard and occasionally they fall on our head. We’ve always just dealt with it because we refuse to buy a tiny jar of spice for the same amount as a huge bulk bag of spice, so there you are. 2 Pennies Earned has a solution. Have a spice trading party!

    First, get friends to commit and submit a list of spices they want. Then, have one or two people go to the store and purchase all of the spices on your friends’ list. They should also buy a bunch of the smallest Gladware (or similar cheap tupperware) containers you can find and some labels. Then get everyone together to divide up the spices and pay their fair share.

This is a great idea. The days of being hit on the head with a huge sack of bay leaves are over. —MEGHANN MARCO

Spice Trading Party [2 Pennies Earned]


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  1. datruesurfer says:

    Thats a neat idea. We already have an Italian market right down the street but I have never seen any bulk spices on the shelves. I’ll have to check again next time I’m there

  2. Amy Alkon says:

    The days of being hit on the head with a huge sack of bay leaves are over.

    They just pistol-whip you in my neighborhood. But, great idea.

    I also like the idea of a girl-swap. Well, that’s what I call it. Girls are not swapped; their clothes are. Supply alcohol and snacks, and friends all bring their fabulous designer clothes that never worked on them and trade with each other.

  3. WindowSeat says:

    I don’t make a party of it, but when I’m buying saffron or vanilla beans in bulk I get a couple friends to chip in. There’s no way I can use an entire ounce of saffron in six months on my own.

    I mention six months, because once a spice container is opened it’s quality goes downhill pretty rapidly.

    I’d also suggest you buy your spices whole when possible and grind them yourself.

  4. Gimpson says:

    Yes, I definitely think that bulk spices is a false economy. Sure, you spend the same amount on a bulk bag of spice as I do buying a small jar from Penzey’s, but not only is the initial quality of those bulk bags questionable (how fresh are those, exactly?), but six months from now you have a big bag of spices at half their original potency.

    I buy in bulk with a lot of food purchases, but spices are one thing I won’t skimp on.

  5. AcilletaM says:

    This works for other “herbs” sold in baggies as well.

  6. Nice AcilletaM! I do think I used this trick last time I had an “herb party”.

    I have a Bay Tree in a big pot Consumerist. If you want some bay leaves I’ll send you some.

  7. ElizabethD says:

    This is much better than keeping a huge bag of spice or herbs in your closet, not only because it’s cheaper but also because many seasonings deteriorate if not used in a year or so. I buy small containers for that reason, but the spice swap is a neat idea.

  8. Amy Alkon says:

    I find what’s cheapest is not to cook at all, but have a boyfriend who brings you prepared food from the Whole Foods gourmet section because he feels sorry for you, and hates to think of you with canned Wolfgang Puck soup and frozen organic peas as your only source of nourishment.

  9. MeOhMy says:

    A bay tree? What kind of growing conditions do they require?

  10. magdelane says:

    This is actually a favorite holiday activity of mine. I live in a city where there is a retail outlet for Penzey’s Spices (mmmm… penzeys.com). They sport the highest quality herbs and spices I’ve ever encountered, and are resonably priced, especially if you buy their bulk bags… so every holiday season, before going to visit my mother and whichever other relatives come into town, I take a survey of what people need, buy the bags, and we all split the goods. This way, we replenish our stocks of goodies without breaking the bank for new jars filled with grocery store (uck) ‘quality’ spices.
    (By the way, doing the same for a wedding gift works great! A whole group of friends/family buy bulk spices, get some nice jars for the happy couple, fill the jars, then share the rest.)

  11. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Oddly enough, I still have a huge bag of bay leaves..probably a year’s supply. My little old gray haired mother insisted on ordering them for me from her organic buying club, and when the package arrived, it was a bag of bay leaves the size of a brown lunch bag.

    Still, a lifetime supply bought in bulk is cheaper than buying a glass jar at the fancy supermarket that has maybe 3 bay leaves in it. Likewise, I bought an incredibly tiny jar of nutmeg for the eggnogg at Christmas (at said store) for $5. For that price, you’d think that nutmeg was a controlled substance.

    Buying in bulk and sharing between friends and relatives is an excellent idea.

  12. I live in WV, and the bay tree is about 3′ tall now. Its’ been alive for 10 years easily. I haul it outside in the summer (post frost) and inside in the winter. it can take light frosts from time to time.

    its less riskier than my previous gardening activities in my youth.

  13. Michael says:

    For that price, you’d think that nutmeg was a controlled substance.

    Well, at higher doses than you’ll usually put in eggnog, nutmeg can have hallucinogenic properties. Its effect can last for days; however, it can also induce some very unpleasant and potentially dangerous side effects which persist for the same duration.

  14. Keter says:

    Instead of baggies or plastic containers, I suggest reusing the nice glass bottles in which top-end spices come from the store, or going to IKEA and buying spice containers there. The seals on these containers are much tighter and bugs can’t eat into them like they can baggies.

    Thanks for the link to Penzey’s, Magdelane – their site is structured strangely, but their prices are great. They also sell spice bottles for $.99.

    Trading spices is cool. I moderate a Freecycle group, and I’m going to suggest it as a subgroup.

  15. infinitysnake says:

    Thta’s a neat idea…my FC group has been kinda resistant to that sort of thing (I’d love a ‘frugal’ splinter)

  16. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Well, at higher doses than you’ll usually put in eggnog, nutmeg can have hallucinogenic properties

    Somebody was telling me that very same thing. Perhaps that partially explains the small quantity available.

    Regardless, the last thing I need is a bad nutmeg trip. According to Wikipedia, nutmeg in sufficient doses causes symptoms similar to Ecstasy.


  17. Where do you buy spices in bulk? I didn’t know you could do that.