Cooking from scratch is a great way to save a lot of money on your grocery bill. When you do a lot of cooking, it's fun to try new recipes and at times those recipes may call for spices that you don't ordinarily use and do not have on hand. As we all know, those little jars of spices at the grocery store are expensive! At several dollars per bottle, a recipe calling for two new spices just got a lot more pricey, especially if you don't know if you'll ever use that spice again.
A great way around this situation is to shop the bulk section of your grocery store. If your store doesn't have a bulk section, try Whole Foods or your local health food store. Buying in bulk is almost always cheaper than buying the little bottles. You will see the most cost difference in the more “unique” spices.
As an example of cost savings, I checked out the prices of chili powder, cinnamon, cumin and garlic powder. For the packaged spices, I checked prices on the Target Market Pantry brand, which is about as cheap as you can get. For the bulk spices I compared the prices at my local health food store. Figuring out the per pound price, it stacked up like this: Chili Powder and Garlic Powder were pretty much a wash at $9 per pound for bulk and $9.40 for packaged on the chili and $9.19 per pound for bulk and $9.07 for the garlic. But, when you got to cinnamon the difference was $8.69 for bulk and $14.45 for packaged and the price of cumin was almost 50% less for bulk at only $13.59 while packaged was $25.12.
Besides being priced less ounce per ounce, what is even better is that you can buy as little as you need. If your recipe only needs a teaspoon of a spice, go ahead and buy just one teaspoon. That way you won't be wasting the rest of a big container.
Even for spices you use a bit more frequently, it's better to buy them in bulk because you can buy only the quantity you will use within the next few months because spices degrade over time and so the fresher, the better!