Hey everyone! It’s Kate again, with some more tips for preparing for emergencies while living in a small space. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that there’s a huge variety of THRIVE foods offered by THRIVE Life (formerly Shelf Reliance). However, if you’re ever forced to live exclusively from your food storage, you might have trouble thinking up ways to make your meals more creative. Luckily, there’s a simple solution that is inexpensive yet effective, and takes up almost NO space in your kitchen: spices.

Add variety to your food storage with basic spices. (Image credit: Piyachok Thawornmat)

Spices are a fantastic way of taking a food that you may view as bland or boring and changing it into a completely different dish. I REALLY hate plain chickpeas, but I’ll devour roasted chickpeas with cayenne pepper and garlic salt. On the other hand, if you add coriander, cumin, and tumeric to some plain chickpeas, you’ll have an Indian-inspired meal that adds great variety to your diet. Even a basic spice cabinet can have a huge impact upon the quality of your cooking if you know which combinations of spices to use for certain dishes and food items. Luckily for us apartment-dwellers, spice bottles barely take up any space! You can even

store spices in magnetic bottles on the side of your fridge.

So which spices should you keep in your kitchen? And why? Here are some ideas:

Basic spices


This is the spice that I use most often in my kitchen. It’s great on almost every type of meat and soup, as well as eggs and cheese. Goes well with chili powder.

Curry powder

An extremely versatile blend of spices that can be used on almost any meat, vegetable, or soup dish.

Chili powder

Obviously, chili powder can be used to make…chili! But it also adds great flavor to egg dishes and other soups.


Are there cans (or buckets) of oatmeal in your pantry? Probably. Would your kids eat it plain? Probably not. Something as simple as cinnamon and a splash of milk can make regular oatmeal taste decadent. Or, sprinkle it over baked fruit for a sweet dessert.

Garlic powder

I love fresh garlic, but sometimes I run out unexpectedly. I use this in soups and as part of a dry rub for pork and beef. Goes well with chili powder and cumin.


For even more variety:


Wonderful in many soups, as well as on pork and in sweets. You can also add some ginger to a mug of hot water for an emergency tea. Goes well with cinnamon and black pepper.


Good in vegetable-based soups and scrambled eggs. Goes especially well with corn. Can be used with curry and chili powder.

Lemon pepper

A great way of adding a lemon flavor to your fish without relying on fresh fruit.

Cajun or creole seasoning

A mix of salts and spices that takes fish, rice, and beans to new heights. Works best alone.


Strong and somewhat bitter. Oregano

is very commonly used with beans and lentils, but I also enjoy it with scrambled eggs. Add it to tomato sauce to make pasta night feel special.


A wonderful book that I used when I was learning to cook is The Flavor Bible, by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. It contains an alphabetized list of ingredients, and underneath each ingredient is a list of spices and foods that go well with that particular item. I highly recommend it as a tool for your kitchen. Ultimately, the best way to figure out which spices your family will enjoy is to buy a small variety and get cooking! Once you determine what you’ll use the most, you can buy and extra bottle or two so that you can be ready to “spice up” (ha!) your food storage if necessary. Spices lose their flavor and aroma after a while, so make sure you rotate your bottles on a regular basis.

What’s your favorite spice? How do you like to use it?