When I first started to play around with cooking and was reading recipe after recipe, I would get psyched and hit up the market with a list of spices to buy. Then reality hit when I stood at the spice isle and saw the prices of what I needed. Tiny fashionable glass jars and pure white containers of anything under the sun all for at least (!) $6 each. That list I was holding just to make one recipe turned out to be $20+ just on spices alone, and I only needed the tiniest amount. There has to be a cheaper way to go about this.
I then discovered the “ethnic foods” section and found everything I needed for under $5. You know, that section with those mysterious bagged and packaged weird things in clear cellophane that you pass by all the time without noticing.
It turns out, these weird things are the same things in those perfectly packaged jars. They’re weird to us because we’ve never seen them outside of their containers. Look at the picture… don’t you see thyme, cumin, and a huge bag of bay leaves? Most for a buck. How often have we purchased something from the spice isle at $6-$8 and only used a tablespoon of it and then sits in your cabinet and goes bad? I have, and it sucks. The money you save on these bagged items can actually go towards food.
My sister and I were at the market one time and she was buying ingredients to make something and she said she needed ground clove. Staring at the suckers spice isle she was shocked at the $6 price tag for a small jar of ground clove that she would never ever use all of it in her lifetime. She was getting discouraged because she really wanted to try out the recipe but didn’t want to shell out the money. I don’t blame her.
I then ran around to the “ethnic foods” section, grabbed a bag of ground clove, and handed it to my sister. She was surprised that one, that’s the same stuff in the jar, and two, how incredibly cheap it was at $0.69.
Look at the pictures above. Paprika, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves all under a dollar.
Now look at the spice isle prices above. Thank you supermarket for listing the price per ounce on your tags. A bag of paprika is $1.10/ounce compared to the jar at $3.70/ounce.
These bagged spices are usually found in big supermarkets in the “ethnic foods” or Spanish foods isle. They sometimes have a wall near the produce department, or are hidden under the produce displays as shown below.
I like the tinier Super A market near me. They have a giant wall of stuff to look at.
The availability of the spices vary amongst region and demographic. For example, there’s a big market near Glendale called Super King and in their cheapo spice rack, they have big bags of cheap cumin, paprika, and turmeric for great prices. Turmeric ain’t cheap, people.