Just for fun...top 5 spices/seasonings to keep on hand?

I’m back home from our vacation, and am unpacking the cooler (how is it possible I have as much perishable food as I brought with us? We ate nearly every meal at the rental.)

The rental kitchen had a cabinet filled with just about every spice and seasoning I could imagine using…some dated back to 2008. :flushed: It got me to thinking, what’s reasonable to supply, and how often should those things be replaced? I’m going out on a limb and saying that everyone is/should be supplying salt and pepper (if you offer any kind of kitchen/kitchenette in your listing), but what are the top five things you offer/would want after that?

I think they should be replaced every year or so? Although they don’t last as long as that in my house. It’s different in the rentals though.

I supply black pepper as number one. There was a time when I used to always carry a small pepper mill in my handbag to perk up any on the road impromptu snacks but now I think that’s a bit foodie-posey.

But black pepper, definitely, Also one of those grinder thingies with sea salt. Oregano seems to cover all the Italian sauces and American guests seem to like those pepper flakes.

Other than that, I just leave whatever is left over by the guests - some of which are things I’d never thought of buying.


Garlic salt or powder
Red pepper flakes
Paprika? Curry powder??

(This is in addition to salt and pepper)

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Not necessarily. Ground spices can last up to two years and unground for a bit longer. Dried herbs between two and four years depending on what it is.

Made up seasoning mixes generally are good for between one and two years.

Simple way to check if something is past it… use your nose! If ground spices have lost their pungency, bin them. With herbs, try rubbing a pinch with your fingers and have a sniff. If they don’t smell of much, again, bin them.

For our apartments, only what others leave behind. That said, when folks are checking in and its obvious they’re not going to be eating out every night, I’ll sometimes offer fresh herbs from our herb garden on the middle terrace.



I bought a spice rack with 20 spices for $17 on sale at Costco around Christmas time last year. Not many have been opened. I’d look, but I’m about 5000 miles away right now. I have separate salt and pepper grinders and shakers, too.

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I have the following stocked:

French fry seasoning (seaoned salt blend)
Garlic powder
Old Bay
Tony Chacheres (Cajun seasoned spice and salt blend)
Italian seasoning blend

I buy a new rotating spice rack with spices every year. The ones most commonly used are basil, oregano, paprika, parsley, garlic powder, crushed red pepper and celery salt. No one ever uses the rosemary, fennel seed and anise. I always keep salt and pepper in the cabinet.

@JohnF is right about shelf life, you are correct on “maximum flavor” life on dried herbs.

When purchasing in bulk, they recommend not exceeding a 1 year supply to maximize flavor freshness, but nothing bad happens after that. Three years old dry oregano is perfectly safe, barring contamination, and if stored airtight might be plenty flavorful esp. if it was high quality to begin with. I have Penzeys rubbed sage in my own home pantry that is easily 5 years old and it is still very aromatic and tastes fine.

Nothing you don’t want your house to smell like!


I have salt pepper garlic powder parsley,an Italian mix and a few others. I also leave coffee in the freezer, in case they get in late and need some in the morning!

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Chef Ken here. Dried spices are marginal in flavor six months after the seal of the bottle is opened, except for things like whole nutmeg and cinnamon sticks. Buy the smallest quantities you can (I use small containers of Badia brand and McCormick brand). Extending coffee life by storing in the fridge is a kitchen myth like needing to soak dried beans overnight, and idea that mushrooms absorb water when washed.

My Five Spices:
I don’t offer salt as there is already far too much salt in almost everything you buy.

Black Pepper
Italian Seasoning Blend
Cajun or Latin American Blend
Everything But The Bagel Seasoning
Old Bay Seasoning


Top 5
Old Bay
Montreal Steak Seasoning
Seasoned salt
Salt grinder
Black pepper grinder

If we make it six—include lemon pepper

More than the items listed above are in the condo. Usually by end of summer there is an assortment of spices left by guests. It seems Italian spice blend and mild/medium hot sauce are frequently used.

The Dollar tree has decent salt & pepper in grinders for $1 each

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That’s because Penzey’s spices are so great to begin with! 5-year old Penzey’s is like brand-new any other brand.

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Besides salt and a Costco pepper grinder,

A small bag of dried chili peppers;
Homemade garam masala
Locally made organic garlic powder
Soy sauce

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Here in the Southwest there would need to be something spicy. Red pepper flakes would be the dried choice.

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I always do that. Put me out of my misery @KenH - am I doing it unnecessarily?

I have salt, pepper, sugar, coffee, tea.

My mom always soaked her beans overnight. Since I can’t be bothered, I cheat and use canned ones : )

Good to know. I admit that I use the canned ones too most of the time. :slight_smile:

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You can do a “fast soak” in just a few hours. Put in a pan, cover with water, bring them to the boil, boil a couple of minutes, then turn the heat off and let them soak for 1-4 hours.