Spice It Up!

Spice it up!

I find it’s always a luxury getting out in the evening after the kids go to sleep. It seems odd to say, because I could really do it any night, right? But S&S typically don’t go to bed until around 9, and by that time I’m pretty tired myself and going out to run errands is usually the last thing on my mind.  But earlier this week I wanted to grab a few things that I had neglected to pick up during my weekly grocery shopping trip and frankly just wander around Whole Foods.  Yes, I’m that lame that wandering around Whole Foods is my idea of a good time!

I don’t go to Whole Foods often (maybe a couple times a month) for a couple of reasons:

1) They’re kind of expensive (yes, we’ve all heard of “Whole Paycheck”) and I can find most everything I need at Trader Joe’s (oh, how I love TJ’s!) for much less money.

2) Going there is dangerous because when I have one of my “wandering” trips, I end up buying a bunch of stuff I hadn’t intended on buying but seems like a necessity in the moment…  (this trip was no exception!)

But, alas, there are a few things they sell that I can only get at Whole Foods, one of them being bulk spices.  I’m a huge fan of spices AND buying them out of the bulk bins – this is one of the few areas where buying at Whole Foods actually saves money!  Typically when you buy the McCormick’s (or whatever the jarred brand your grocery store carries) you’re paying for the bottle it comes in, and usually that amounts to a $3+ additional expense for the spice.  So, I highly recommend reusing your existing bottles and refilling your spices from the bulk area.

The reason I love spices so much is that you can make any simple meal so much more interesting by adding different spice blends.  The same old boring grilled chicken can go from Asian to Mediterranean to Mexican just by adding some different spices!   I do this in two ways:

1) Via a rub  – just applying the spices to the meat or vegetable

2) Via a marinade – add spices + oil of choice (olive oil, sesame oil, coconut oil) + acid of choice (vinegar, lemon/lime/orange/<insert your favorite juice here>).  This simple formula allows you to get super creative and whip up something that you and your family will really enjoy.  Plus, you’ll save money because making your own marinade is less expensive than buying the bottled stuff AND you won’t be subjected to all of the nasty stuff in bottled marinades (you’re reading the labels, right?)

In the event you need a little inspiration, below are some of my favorite rubs and marinades… I hope you enjoy and it kick starts some spectacular meals in your home!

Garlic Rosemary Marinade

  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary (or 2 tsp of dried)
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano (or 2 tsp of dried)
  • 4 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp pepper

Cuban Marinade

  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp oregano


  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • ¼ cup water

Links to my favorite rub recipes:

Rachael Ray’s Israeli Spice Rub

Italian Sausage Seasoning

Also, as it relates to rubs, you can find some awesome spice/rub blends at places like Savory Spice Shop and Penzey’s Spices. These are a few of my favorite places to shop!

My favorite Savory blends: Mt. Elbert All-Purpose Seasoning Blend, Pearl St. Plank Rub, Park Hill Maple & Spice Pepper, Red Rocks Hickory Smoke Seasoning.

My favorite Penzey’s blends: Galena Street Rib and Chicken Rub, Ruth Ann’s Muskego Ave Chicken/Fish Seasoning.

Oh, and one more thing: definitely do not buy the taco/fajita/etc spice packets at the grocery store – they’re usually loaded with MSG, maltodextrin and other nasties.  Make your own taco or fajita blend, or buy from the Whole Foods bulk area, Penzey’s or Savory.

Happy Cooking!

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