Saving Money on Quality, Inexpensive Discount Herbs & Spices



Herbs and spices are essential in cooking and baking. However, they can be quite costly, especially if you need a lot of them, such as when you make rubs and marinades. I have found that you can save a lot of money by purchasing in bulk, at discount stores, or even store brands. Some people are reluctant to purchasing discount or store brands, even if they will save money by doing so, because they believe they get a tastier and healthier product by purchasing brand name foods. If you are one of them, you may want to CLICK HERE to read this very interesting article by Consumer Reports, which includes taste-test results of store brands vs. name brands; you may be surprised, and find yourself going for store brands soon! Here’s a quote from the article, though please read the article itself if you have a chance, as it is quite interesting:

“Don’t be reluctant to give any private-label product a try. In fact, our results may knock some of those iconic brands off their pedestals.”

Here are a few examples of price differences, though you may be able to do even better than I did if you have bulk stores near you. I probably do as well, but I haven’t been able to locate any, so far. I did go to our local supermarket to compare prices of brand name spices (McCormick), to store brands and other discount brands. The following is only meant to give you an idea. I will compare prices of matching container sizes as much as I can. Naturally, when referring to the pictures, L = Left, R = Right. There is also a table toward the end of this post with a price-per-ounce comparison of a few spices.

Here are two containers of garlic powder.
L: Aldi brand, which is from the discount grocery store Aldi, 5.5 oz priced at $0.99, compared to a store brand to the right, of 3.12 oz at $2.79. McCormick brand of the size 5.37 oz, which is a comparable size to Aldi’s 5.5 oz, cost $4.99. So essentially, you’ve got Aldi at $0.99, compared to brand name (of slightly smaller volume) for $4.99! That’s a big difference right there!

Next: Onion Powder. L: Aldi brand, 4.75 oz at $0.99. Store brand of 3 oz was $2.99  R: McCormick, 2.62 oz, was $3.88. Brand name price is four times higher, and you don’t get nearly the amount of spice.

Cumin: L: Aldi brand, 3 oz, $0.99. Store brand, 2 oz, $2.29. R: McCormick, 0.9 oz, $3.43.    !!!    Need I say??? Aldi gives you 3 oz for a buck, while McCormick doesn’t even give you a full ounce, and you have to pay well over 3 dollars? Enough said… I’ll get my cumin at Aldi’s.

Cayenne (Red) Pepper: L: World Market, 1 oz, $0.99. R: McCormick, 1 oz, $2.89. Of course, with WM, you don’t get the container. But if you already have one, like I do, I’ll just refill it with WM spice when needed, instead of buying a new container at that price. Or, sometimes I will reuse an empty container from a different spice; wash it out, dry real well, use a permanent marker to label it (or make a pretty label).

And here’s a biggie: Whole Bay Leaves. L: World Market, (I’ll show you the volume in grams, because it’s easier to see the difference that way) at a whopping 28 g, for $2.99, compared to a puny 3 g of brand name leaves priced at $3.39!!! Now that’s a crazy difference, if you ask me! McCormick is more expensive, and as far as ounces goes, you get only 0.12 oz compared to WM at 1.0 oz. To show you the difference in yet another way, I decided to pour the contents of my bag out on the counter top, and compare to the contents of McCormick’s container. The only problem was that the McCormick container was already opened and half used up, so to be as fair as I was could, I pulled out my scale. This is a very good and accurate scale, but when it comes to such tiny amounts as 3 grams to start out, very few kitchen scales will be able to be 100% accurate, or even detect it. But I did the best I could, measuring as carefully as I was able to, repeating and double checking the steps to give you the results as accurately as possible. I kept my camera on a tripod, kept it zoomed at the same distance, and tried as much as I could to keep the leaves at the same thickness in the piles. The results will not be 100% accurate, but it will definitely give you an idea of the difference when you see it spread out like this.

First on the scale. 3 grams, the weight of the contents of an unopened McCormick container in a quart measuring cup.

This is what came out of the bag, and it actually measured 31 grams! Same measuring cup.

Here’s the 3 g from the container, on the counter top:

And the 31 grams from the bag:

And the big pile was less money than the little pile! I will NOT be purchasing brand name bay leaves again, you can trust me on that! Not that I’ll ever have to, with such large amounts! Ha!


The following is a price comparison table of a few spices, herbs, and flavorings. It shows the container size, the difference in price, and what the price ends up being per ounce (bold):

Compare the Price on Bulk, Store Brand and Name Brand Spices. Prices were obtained in March, 2012.


Regarding cinnamon and vanilla extract, the above discount prices are of Kirkland brand, which is Costco’s store brand. As you can see, the price difference and the volume you receive, compared to brand name, is staggering! You get 16 oz (yes, two cups) of vanilla, real vanilla extract, of Kirkland brand, for $6.79, which is 42 cents per oz. Of brand name vanilla extract, a mere 2 oz cost $5.99, which is $2.99 per oz instead of $0.42! That’s a huge difference! If you were to purchase 16 oz of vanilla at brand name price, you’d pay almost $50 for that size bottle, instead of Costco’s $6.79! Kirkland brand vanilla extract is of great quality; I’ve never found it to be inferior to brand name. It’s the real thing!

Kirland’s cinnamon is wonderful as well! You get over 10 oz for less money than the 2.37 oz that McCormick will give you. Not even store brand cinnamon comes close to Kirkland’s price. Kirkland, again, high quality cinnamon, very pleasant aroma that appeals to me much more than McCormick’s cinnamon does.

I hope I have cast some light on how much money you can save by purchasing great tasting discount spices and herbs, instead of the tiny, little containers of brand name products at outrageous prices.

About Terese

10 Responses to “Saving Money on Quality, Inexpensive Discount Herbs & Spices”

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  1. Betty M. Bird says:

    This list is pretty impressive especially with spices being so expensive and if you don’t use them quickly they go stale. The only thing I know of right now that I’ve found marginally cheaper is onion powder wal-mart has it for .50 a container which makes it one penny per ounce cheaper than the aldi brand. Let me throw in locally mccormick brand garlic is $2.88 at the w but at dollar tree they have it right now for $1

  2. Myra Thomas says:

    Even though written 3 years ago…this information is still interesting and useful. Amazingly, cinnamon at my local Costco is still $2.59 and it’s Saigon cinnamon which is the most flavorful. Although, people who consume more than 1/2 teaspoonful of cinnamon daily on a regular basis should read about cinnamon because unless it’s Ceylon cinnamon it can be harmful to one’s liver. Most cinnamon sold in retail is not Ceylon which is expensive compared to others. I still buy the Costco or Dollar Tree cinnamon and make sure not to use more than 1/2 teaspoonful in my breakfast oatmeal.

    While the main topic is cost…it’s appears in the picture that the World Market Bay leaves are clean, have few small broken pieces, and seem free of insect damage. No matter how inexpensive we wouldn’t put yucky Bay Leaves in our food. I’ve bought some shockingly bad Bay Leaves which were taken back to the store two separate times…the first time for an exchange and when that jar was worse than the first…for a refund and won’t buy that brand of Bay Leaves again…although most all their other seasonings are quite good and I will purchase those many times over. If the quality of the seasoning is good…then it’s OK with me if it costs less than others.

    Wish there was an Aldi’s in my area. Besides price for the quantity (and assuming quality)…the packaging appears quite useful because it looks like the lids have dual openings…a shaker side and a pouring/scoop side.
    If ever lucky enough to get jars with those kind of lids…I save them to put on others that don’t come with them (if they fit).

    • Terese says:

      Wow, I did not know that about cinnamon! A half teaspoon is quite a bit, so it is hopefully not a concern for most of us. But good to know nevertheless. I agree with you on quality, that’s definitely important to pay attention to. Thank you for all of your insight! And the lids on those Aldi containers are great! I keep collecting them and fill the empty ones with my own homemade spice mixes.

      • Myra says:

        I have oatmeal with blueberries for breakfast almost every morning and was adding 1 teaspoonful of cinnamon until reading about the problem with consuming that much on a regular basis. Sometimes also had applesauce during the day and added cinnamon to that too. Now carefully only consume 1/2 teaspoonful total per day. For most people who add cinnamon to flavor, for instance, their French Toast, pancakes or apple pie they are not consuming very much cinnamon in one serving. But anyone on blood thinners should check with their doctor about the effects of Cassia cinnamon. It’s easy to know whether one’s cinnamon is Cassia or Ceylon…because if it’s Ceylon it will be labeled as that.

        Since Aldi spices and herbs are economical to purchase for just 99 cents each…I would like to encourage your blog readers who are able to do so to purchase one or two basics ones of Aldi or any other brand of seasonings during their weekly shopping to donate to their local food banks…maybe once a month. When trying to make a meal with limited resources seasonings other than salt become an extra that is not affordable even if just $1. Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, chili powder, cumin, basil, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, sage, thyme and especially black pepper would be wonderful to donate.

        • Terese says:

          Very good point regarding donating spices! I use spices all the time, but it isn’t what we think of first, when donating food items. I’ll definitely be keeping that in mind for next time. Thank you for this very valuable tip!!!

          • Myra says:

            You’re welcome…and thank you too.

            Forget to mention Food Banks prefer not any glass containers…so if donating spices and herbs best to get them in plastic jars or cellophane bags and not glass jars.

          • Terese says:

            I didn’t know they prefer no glass. Does that count for all foods, including pasta sauce, pickles etc.? Lots of foods come in glass jars. Aldi spices come in plastic, so that’s good then.

  3. Myra says:

    Food banks in my area put out flyers of most needed items and on the flyers it’s stated nothing in glass. I’ve heard that food banks won’t turn anything away when brought to them…but nothing in glass is preferred. Maybe it’s not a consideration with your local food banks.

    Hunt”s makes a really good pasta sauce in large cans which is widely available at many stores for about $1…even Dollar Tree routinely has Hunt’s Spaghetti Sauce…so that’s an alternative to pasta sauce in glass jars. It’s actually my preferred Spaghetti Sauce for it’s flavor and makes great lasagna. Heinz makes sauce in cans as well…but Hunt’s has my vote.

    • Terese says:

      Good to know. I haven’t heard that my local food banks have said anything about glass, but it still is nice to know about the Hunt’s pasta sauce. I’ll have to try it for myself just to see. I usually use Prego.

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