Do It Yourself

23 Common Spices That Should Be In Your Pantry Now



MRE’s, mac and cheese, powdered potatoes, and canned vegetables are going to get really old, really fast after the SHTF.

But if you take a little extra time to include herbs, spices, and seasonings into your supply lists, you can completely change the flavor of otherwise bland meals.

I don't always follow the rules and tend to be a fan of the “throw it in, how bad could it be” cooking method when it comes to spices.

With many of the prepackaged survival meals on the market, it would be pretty hard to ruin a meal by adding some. (Which in a survival situation you really don’t want to do.)

Common Spices:

  1. Salt
  2. Black Pepper
  3. Crushed Red pepper
  4. Chili Powder
  5. Garlic Powder
  6. Garlic Salt
  7. Minced Garlic (If you can't tell, I like garlic 🙂 )
  8. Onion Powder
  9. Cinnamon (also great on fruit)
  10. Bay Leaves
  11. Parsley
  12. Oregano

Uncommon Spices:

These mostly include ingredients mentioned above and are way too high in sodium, but they sure can turn bland food into something delicious and take all the guess work out of seasoning.

  1. Meat Spices ( those mixed spice things that are made for grilling) One of my favorites is Montreal Steak Seasoning by McCormicks.
  2. Mrs. Dash
  3. Cajun Seasoning
  4. Chinese 5 spice
  5. pickled peppers ( jalapeno,  banana, and peperoncini are my all time favorites)
  6. Wasabi Powder
  7. Tobasco sauce ( Or my favorite Cholula… goes great on eggs)
  8. Sriracha Sauce
  9. Balsamic Vinegar
  10. Oils ( olive oil is great and can be infused with other flavors for all kinds of uses)
  11. Honey (Not technically a spice, but an unlimited shelf life that can be used to sweeten everything from coffee to baked goods is never a bad thing to have around!)

The Great thing about spices is that they never actually spoil. But over time, spices will lose their potency and not flavor your food as intended and you may need to experiment on how much more spice needs to be added.

As a general rule, whole spices will stay fresh for about 3-4 years, ground spices for about 2-3 years and dried herbs for 1-3 years.

What Else?

What other spices and seasonings would you most want to stock to keep your meals flavorful?

Read more with these related articles from our site:

The 10 Pantry Items Worth More than Gold

27 Surprising Uses for Salt

The Top 35 Reasons You Need To Stockpile Vinegar NOW!

Continue Reading


  1. mariowen

    May 16, 2013 at 6:54 AM

    If you do any canning, you will want a good supply of pickling spice – also, of course, you will need to have canning salt on hand. I have that stored up for future canning. I just decide on my favorite canning recipes and stock those spices that are needed. It will be hard to pickle things without them. Another option is to grow your own and have them handy as much as possible.

  2. Michael

    May 16, 2013 at 6:56 AM

    Basil (esp. with tomato-based dishes)
    Cilantro (dried)
    Cumin (esp. for Tex-Mex)
    Ginger (dried)
    Soy sauce

  3. mariowen

    May 16, 2013 at 6:57 AM

    When I cook, I just head out to the garden and gather any herbs needed for my dinner. It is so much better tasting than the stuff in a jar. I have learned to accommodate my taste to my garden. I grow what I like and I like what I grow.

  4. gena

    May 16, 2013 at 6:58 AM

    I like the Lawrey (sp?) seasoned salt, no MSG, and you can get original or italian flavored. And I have bought salt substitute since I read it is a good thing to have for your medicine chest since it used potassium instead of traditional salt, and then if someone has potassium loss while medical care is unavailable, it can be used to get their potassium levels back to normal, which could prove to be life or death.
    I have my own herb garden and am growing several varieties of peppers this year, and plan to pickle as much as I can. The cayenne peppers also serve a good health use, I’ve read that nibbling on a dried cayenne pepper during a heart attack can stop the heart attack in its tracks. And adding ground cayenne pepper to drinks on a daily basis can to wonders for heart health. And honey, in addition to being a sweetener, can be used to treat infections on wounds or cuts. A neighbor has infected dog scratches and I was checking with a friend who is a doctor and she advised me to tell him to soak it in epson salts, and then keep it covered with raw honey since he does not want to go to a doctor. She told me soaking it in hot epson salts would draw out pus and that then treating it with raw honey could cure what infection is still there and keep it from getting worse. BTW – I bought a cheap book at, for my Kindle that tells about how to make your own condiments cheaply at home. Might be good to know for those of us who feel we cannot live without them.

  5. Schneewitchen

    May 16, 2013 at 7:17 AM

    When it comes to spices, think about some of the foreign cuisines you and your family enjoy! Curry, if you like it is a great spice combination to hide the flavor of weird meats you may have to consume post SHTF. I also stock up on taco/chili packets for same reason. If you want you can buy the individual spices in bulk very cheaply for either, at your local Indian or Asian Grocery. You can mix them up yourself. Simply look on the ingredients of the Taco packet and know they are listed by most prominent to the least in volume. Then experiment NOW to make a mix you like.

    You can buy many spices at the Indian or Asian markets in bulk and seal them up for later.One spice we always buy in bulk is Coriander, which is used in many Indian dishes. Buy the seeds in bulk, they can be used to grow Cilantro, which is the plant that we get the Coriander seeds from! Sow the seeds in a pot in partly sunny place inside or outside. Resow every few weeks to keep the plants coming and ward off bolting. Cilantro is used in salsas, Asian and Indian dishes.

  6. Schneewitchen

    May 16, 2013 at 7:27 AM

    Another thing for those who have the space, is to grow your own Parsley, Oregano,Sage, Rosemary, Thyme, Mint and many others. They are ridiculously EASY to grow, and when they are mature, cut lengths and hang them to dry in a cool place, or place them in a brown paper bag to dry. When dry, crumble off the stems and store as you would any spices.

    Many herbs are perennials, making them even easier to grow because there is no need to plant them every year. Some woody herbs ( sage, thyme, rosemary) can be replicated from green cuttings in spring, then root them in damp, sandy soil for new plants.

    • Chris

      May 20, 2013 at 8:45 PM

      Schneewitchen…when it comes to spearmint and peppermint, make sure you plant them in a container. A friend gave me some spearmint plants close to 10 years ago and we now have spearmint in our blackberries, lilies of the valley, and growing in between the rocks in our rock wall. We clean it out periodically and it comes right back. As long as you can contain the roots, you should be good to go.

  7. JJM

    May 16, 2013 at 8:18 AM

    This spring I started and planted 30 different herbs for flavor and medicinal uses. Primarily to get accustomed to growing, saving and usage. About half are doing good enough to start using and drying. Another quarter are slow to start and barely hanging in. Another quarter don’t sprout or die off in infancy. In general, herbs are easy to grow.
    What I do need is a quick/condensed list of Herbs and Usage. ie expansion of Michael’s:
    Basil (esp. with tomato-based dishes)
    Cumin (esp. for Tex-Mex)

    • BrthrLee

      June 5, 2013 at 9:56 PM

      These may not be quick/condensed lists, but these books have some good info;
      1) Healing Herbs and Spices: The Most Popular Herbs and Spices, Their Culinary and Medicinal Uses and Recipes to Use Them In
      $8.99 – Barnes & Noble
      2) Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Herbs Their Medicinal And Culinary Uses
      $8.00 – eBay
      Hope this helps.
      Peace Be With You,
      Blessed Be,
      Brthr Lee

  8. Cheryl O.

    May 16, 2013 at 8:24 AM

    I really use a lot of ginger. I have been buying many of these seasonings listed as well as others like Smoked Paprika, Curry, Cloves, Nutmeg (bought whole to file off on demand)mixed apple pie spice, and Pumpkin pie spice. The pie spices can be used to flavor teas, coffee, and hot chocolate as well. I grow a lot of my own herbs but living in growing zone 4, bordering on 3, I am limited to what does well here. I have purchased a LOT of seasonings both mixed as well as individuals by the pound from places like Amazon,, and Emergency Essentials.

    • Joe

      May 16, 2013 at 8:48 AM

      hey Cheryl,
      Great Idea on the Pie Spices! I never thought about using them for tea’s and hot cocoa. Sounds Yummy

    • JayJay

      May 21, 2013 at 8:40 PM

      I make my own pumpkin pie spice:
      2 tsp. cinnamon
      1/2 tsp. nutmeg
      1 tsp. ginger
      1/2 tsp. ground allspice
      Since it isn’t a frequent need, I only make the above amt.

  9. sally

    May 16, 2013 at 9:05 AM

    No one —either before or after the SHTF—-should be without a good stock of turmeric aka “Curry powder”. It is an excellent antioxidant (one of the best known in the world) and can be used not just to enhance the flavor of food but to fight diseases such as dementia and joint pain.
    I take it daily.
    If stranded on a deserted island, it would be amongst my top five items to have.

    • joyce

      May 16, 2013 at 11:53 AM

      Curry is a blend – not just tumeric. You can adjust how hot by adjusting the mustard and cayenne. Here is the recipe I use:
      Makes about 1/2 cup
      2 tablespoons whole cumin seeds, toasted
      2 tablespoons whole cardamom seeds, toasted
      2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds, toasted
      1/4 cup ground turmeric
      1 tablespoon dry mustard
      1 teaspoon cayenne


      Place all ingredients in a container with an airtight lid. Shake to combine. Store in a cool dry place for up to 6 months. When ready to use, grind and add to dishes according to taste.

      • Laurel

        May 16, 2013 at 1:36 PM

        and Fenugreek in the curry. Also a great medicinal seed.

      • pat

        May 16, 2013 at 1:55 PM

        Turmeric is also known to stop bleeding. I keep a small container in my car in case of accident as well as in the house.

  10. Nick

    May 16, 2013 at 10:15 AM

    I can’t go without Zatarain’s Blackening and Cavendar’s original greek seasoning! Both useful on everything from meat to squash!

  11. kaytee

    May 16, 2013 at 10:40 AM

    Technically, most of what you listed are not SPICES…. Seasonings, yes; spices, no.

    For SPICES– I have cinnamon, cloves, allspice, star anise, 5-spice and a couple different curry mixes in bulk. Have a small amount of pepper corns (I don’t like pepper, so it’s a table seasoning for those who do).

    For other seasonings, we have “Italian herb mix”, wasabi powder and dry mustard, dried onions, granulated garlic and several kinds of salt (hubby’s current gourmet passion). Have a couple of kinds of ginger– bought fresh, though (garlic, too). Vanilla extract (homemade) and a few beans. A few other “extracts” (commercial), plus the olive oil, and a few different vinegars.

    Of the herbs you’ve listed– I have bay, oregano, and parsley growing in my garden; also basils, mints, cilantro (bolting now), stevia, rosemary, sage, thymes, marjoram and “cutting celery”. Plus, lavender, catnip and calendula and a few theoretically medicinal types (but not growing them for medical use). They all grow pretty much year round and/or re-seed themselves (like the cilantro). For those who like hot/spicy– I have a couple of different “chili” peppers growing that apparently are perennial here. Unfortunately, dill won’t grow for me, and I don’t care much for the dried version.

  12. snowman8wa

    May 16, 2013 at 10:51 AM

    “As a general rule, whole spices will stay fresh for about 3-4 years, ground spices for about 2-3 years and dried herbs for 1-3 years.”

    I bet you could extend that with a ‘FOOD SAVER’. Air is what gets to spices and herbs; you could stock-up and store them, making for easy storage; even use them for barter (if needed). Personally, for cooking I would stay away from or limit the salts, too much salt means your need for excess water that may not be easily available; also because of health issues.

    Some I thought of:

    Poultry Seasoning, for your domestic and wild birds.
    That’s(4-in-one= parsley, sage, rosemary and Thyme),
    Saffron (for Rice),
    Curry Powder,
    Old Bay (for fish and seafood),
    The previous mentioned Picklng Spice can also be used for “Corned” meat.

    We have done foodsaver for hunting meals, just drop in and boil, but I bet the meals could also be turned into MREs, the cost and longevity of the meal would be the question.

    Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis

  13. Get'n Ready for It

    May 16, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    I think this list is incomplete. I found these along with the others single spices above all as organic spices in sealed bags that will last for years at Some that I find will create a much greater variation are as follows:

    Basil – good in everything
    Thyme – great in eggs (probably even better in those powdered eggs)
    Curry – chicken
    Cumin – chicken or fish
    Turmeric – good in eggs and anti-cancer with black pepper
    Fennel – good for sausage and spaghetti sauce
    Dill – good for that fish you catch

  14. Get'n Ready for It

    May 16, 2013 at 11:10 AM

    Somehow that link did not go through properly regarding those organic spices. It should be

    Sorry about that.

  15. joyce

    May 16, 2013 at 11:37 AM

    I buy spices and herbs by the pound (a few favorites I grow) for 3 general purposes in my preps.
    1. Cooking enhancement
    2. Medicinal uses
    3. Trading
    Once you take the time to learn the medicinal qualities of your favorite seasonings it will change the way you think of them and how much you stock. They are a very handy source of pharmacueticals in a time of need.
    Spices and herbs have been a trade currency for several thousand years. I am of the opinion that they will be again.

  16. WinterCrone

    May 16, 2013 at 12:33 PM

    Probably many of you who grow herbs and spices also grow some to make tea, such as peppermint(good for tummy troubles), or spearmint. The crushed seeds of fennel also good for tummy. Lemon balm makes a comforting tea and dried is delicious on chicken and fish. Chocolate mint grows rapidly and dries well to use for tea, if you just want a yummy treat. Absolutely delicious with just a touch of honey.

  17. Kealamailani

    May 16, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    Ras el Hanout (an Arabic spice blend)
    Herbes de Provence
    Curry Powder
    Vanilla (and other flavorings – one of my favorites is Coconut)
    Sesame Seeds
    Ground Coriander
    Poultry Seasoning

  18. Kealamailani

    May 16, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    Also Peanut Butter Powder (Amazon)

    • Joe

      May 16, 2013 at 4:00 PM

      haha don’t even get me started on peanut powder. I’m addicted to the stuff

  19. Nanook

    May 16, 2013 at 4:00 PM

    Alot of those spices/herbs mentioned in the comments are also great for medicinal purposes. To do that, you need to have a stock of olive oil and vodka on hand. Dr Bones & Nurse Amy have some great literature available on their web site.

  20. Adrin

    May 16, 2013 at 5:38 PM

    Dollarweed is an edible that tastes just like parsley. Also dries nicely.

  21. susan

    May 16, 2013 at 7:45 PM

    I winder how long dried spices would last if you vacuum sealed them?

    • joyce

      May 17, 2013 at 4:42 PM

      In my research I haven’t found shelf life to be as big a factor as storage. Vacuum sealing is excellent. Add to that dark (light destroys nutrition as well medicinal quality) and controled temperature (usually between 60 and 70 degrees). This will give a shelf life of 3-5 yrs depending on oils.

  22. Josephine DeFranco

    May 16, 2013 at 9:26 PM

    Thyme and Rosemary a must to have.

  23. Daryl Hoff

    May 16, 2013 at 10:09 PM

    I don’t bother with garlic salt when I can just add salt to garlic powder. Another favorite of mine, the brand I don’t recall, is
    a Greek seasoning blend available with salt or salt-free, available at Walmart and most super markets. I won’t duplicate the lists of others, but they look pretty good. If you can find a store, like Sprouts, or shop which sells bulk, measure to the customers’ needs you’ll have found a bonanza of flavor enhancers.

  24. Karen

    May 16, 2013 at 10:58 PM

    turmerick, clove, cinnamon, dry mustard, celery seed, dill seed, black pepper, red pepper, sage, basil, peppermint, other mint, allspice, nutmeg, minced onion, parsley,ginger,-

  25. Bernie

    May 17, 2013 at 7:22 AM

    Nature’s Seasoning is a great flavor enhancer.

  26. Michael

    May 18, 2013 at 8:46 AM

    I strongly recommend stocking up on Cummin. It is great on beans. You can also get “pinto bean seasoning”, which would also be excellent for all of those beans you have stocked up on – which by themselves are pretty tasteless.

  27. Mil

    May 19, 2013 at 6:56 PM

    All great suggestions. My handy-dandy “go-to” seasonings are chicken and beef bouillon cubes and powder; use as a hot drink, for gravies, soups, etc.

  28. DocDIY

    May 20, 2013 at 1:36 PM

    Very useful tips on all of these “Survival Life” postings – seriously.
    Info on seasonings recall memories of days past, when “hot” foods were a favorite. Time wounds all guts, and a significant number of folks “survive” while developing problems like GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux = feels increasingly like heartburn), lactose intolerance = gas, bloating and/or diarrhea due to dairy products, as their reserve of lactase enzyme diminishes with age) and/or intolerance to other veggies (onions, certain things like brussels sprouts, or broccoli -as a result of some viral episode affecting the duodenal intestinal wall). What can add insult to any of the aforementioned, might be one of the other spices mentioned. Instead of “donating (your) body to science” (in case you notice one of the above maladies), you might consider experimenting with a restrictive diet of rice, adding one new “offending” agent (a food, or a spice) weekly. Don’t wait until your wilderness trek, bemoaning having left home without “facial-quality” tissues in the back pack, A&D ointment, or a quarter for the pay-toilet…(you’ll have my sympathies, as I LOL).

  29. Pickle98

    May 20, 2013 at 4:15 PM

    For Gina: the reason to use honey for one thing is because it is so dense nothing can exist under it- I found it out by accident when I had a mysterious itch in the arch of my feet but it wasn’t athletes food it drove me nuts itching and burning. Had no Heath ins so went online. Put the honey on the arches and it was the only thing that stopped it nothing else even touched

  30. Mark Conger

    May 20, 2013 at 9:58 PM

    I agree that spices (or things we call spices) are a great asset in bad times. But, spices run out eventually.. They also go stale pretty quick after opening if not kept properly. I think you should add some spice seeds to that list so you can grow your own supply. Things like dill, basil, thyme, rosemary, coriander/cilantro, and hot peppers. Kept properly, the seeds should last a good while.

    Just my 2 cents.

    • Mark Conger

      May 20, 2013 at 10:04 PM

      Just to follow up on growing your own spices and seasonings, wouldn’t that make an awesome form of currency for SHTF days? History teaches us that people value flavor in very hard times. Ever heard of “he’s not worth his salt?” Salt used to be money long ago. (I’m getting too old.)

  31. JT (Ph.D.)

    May 23, 2013 at 5:00 PM

    The “sweet spices” should always be carefully included. Nutmeg, mace, allspice, ginger, cloves, cinnamon. Each of these has antibiotic properties as well as being good sources of trace minerals. Not a spice, but coconut oil also is a powerful antibiotic. It is the only oil I use for cooking.
    BTW: Good sea salt is NOT a bad ingredient. The contaminated junk sold as “table salt” is to be avoided. Research has shown that salt does not raise blood pressure in most people (except for some with specific adrenal issues). The only nutrient shown to raise blood pressure is inadequate calcium.

  32. John Smith

    May 25, 2013 at 6:27 AM

    Frank’s hot sauce. It comes in big bottles at any grocery store and is good to spice up rice and meats.

  33. Great Grey

    October 27, 2013 at 12:36 AM

    If any member(s) of your group are allergic to any spice(s). I would recommend that you remove them from your store of spices to prevent an accidental allergic reaction cause by somebody who likes it putting it in the food for whoever has an allergy to it.

  34. JCBParodi

    December 6, 2013 at 6:24 PM

    I’d make a few additions… Ginger, Tumeric, Cumin, curry, and pretty much everything else in my herb containers.

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