|Harry calls it our magic drawer for a reason!|
First, "normal" people don't buy their spices in containers this large. Harry & I never claimed to be normal! Every single one of these containers (except the Old Bay) is less than a year old. A large part of our product line with The Wright Taste was mixes and seasonings - we had 3 types of dip mix, our buffalo dust, cajun kick, chili powder, mulling spices and more. We developed everything in our kitchen and had to buy large-size packages of the spices. I also used the dried herbs in our artisan-style breads.
Second, yes a very discerning palate can taste the difference between grating your own cinnamon and nutmeg or buying it pre-ground, but in general spices are relatively the same. I will admit to being a vanilla snob to some extent. It must be pure vanilla extract - none of that imitation stuff in this kitchen.
Now that we are retiring from the farmers market business - at least for the time being! - we won't continue to buy spices in bulk.
It doesn't have to cost a fortune to stock your pantry with a variety of spices to make it easier to make your favorite cuisine from scratch. Add a few items to your grocery list at a time. Check the dollar store or Aldi's for sea salt, garlic powder and peppercorns. Take time to build up your collection - always buying small containers that you will use up! - and expand your kitchen collection.
I will admit to getting VERY excited to find small tins of ground chipotle and ancho chili peppers! More excitement came when the price was $1.99 at Kroger! For four summers, I had a couple of customers requesting that I create some sort of chipotle dip mix. I was all about it until I found the container at GFS - 18 ounces for around $28. My concerns were two-fold: what if we couldn't sell enough (a little chipotle goes a long way!) fast enough to make back the expense? and not selling enough fast enough could lead to the expensive ingredient losing its potency and not being acceptable to sell. So, we bypassed it. Now, I can play on our own stage!
I put together an article including some of the basic spices for various cuisines - Italian, Mexican and Asian plus a few other ideas.
Variety of Herbs and Spices Makes it Easy to Cook from Scratch
If you don't have a drawer to spare in your kitchen, I thought this was a pretty nifty spice rack. It mounts on the back of a cupboard door and you just clip the spice bottles into it.