Make Your Own Meals: Use More Spices #30DaysofGOOD

Posted by Evan George

Things are easier said than done, or so the old adage goes, and we couldn't agree more. That's why we do The GOOD 30-Day Challenge (#30DaysofGOOD), a monthly attempt to live better. Our challenge for June? Make your own meals.

Today’s task is simple. Use. More. Spices. The seeds and powders you keep in your kitchen are what elevate basic cooking to the next level.

Start by taking an inventory of your spice cabinet. What are you packing? How old is everything? Most spice bottles have a shelf life of one to two years at most. So toss out anything older than that (or anything that has clearly lost its punch).

Use a checklist and figure out what you're missing. Seek out a gourmet food store or an online spice shop and buy a couple spices you've never cooked with before (if you're looking for something currently in vogue, try Spanish smoked paprika). Oh, and when choosing between ground and whole, go whole or go home.

Once your cabinet is refreshed, spend a little time organizing your spices (clear jars with no labels rule). Now you're ready to add new and inspiring flavors to the meals you're making. Look around online for ideas and experiment a little. For instance, if you're thinking of adding cumin to your chili, gently toast the whole cumin seeds for a minute, then grind them in a mortar before you toss them in.

Just don’t breathe in too deeply when the cayenne pepper jar is open—trust me.

We're giving away $500 for you to unite your community and "Make More Meals" from locally-sourced foods. Participate in our Share a GOOD Recipe challenge.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user Bri Lehman