Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Portable Spice Kit for Camping or Travel

Today's DIY project at The Handy Hausfrau is a portable spice "rack." 
We have a second home (a ski condo in the mountains) and I am constantly filling up Ziplock bags with various spices for cooking. Why don't I just leave the spices up there? you ask. We rent the condo out and on more than one occasion, I've searched for my crushed red pepper, only to find that a renter used the last of it on his pepperoni pizza slice. To solve my problem (and to be a little more kind to the environment), I created this Portable Spice Kit.

It's only 6 inches x 1.5 inches and it easily fits in any tote bag or suitcase that I'm lugging back and forth.  It would be the perfect gift for the frequent traveler* or an outdoor lover who spends their time camping, but doesn't want to give up the luxuries of cooking with spices.

*I would check with the airlines to see if you can carry on spices.  Not sure of the current regulations for powdery substances on flights.

To create this project, head to your local Walgreens, CVS or other drug store.  I perused the racks until I found the section for the 7-Day Vitamin/Medication Containers. They had two sizes, and in my case the $2.99 (Large) size was perfect for what I needed.



Notice the little key in the upper right corner of the package?  This indicates a locking mechanism - great for ensuring that your cayenne pepper doesn't end up popping open in your backpack - creating a week's worth of flourescent orange underwear.
When you open it up, you'll notice that each day's lid also has raised dots on the corner - braille to indicate the day for the visually impaired.  For our purposes, the braille will get in the way.
Find your strongest pair of nail clippers and get to work clipping those dots off.  Place the clippers as close to the surface as possible to remove as much of the raised plastic as you can.
Then get our your emery board (or buy a pack of the cheapies for $0.99) and get to work sanding the lids to a smooth finish.  You could also use sandpaper for this, but I was too lazy to walk to the garage to get some. The emery board worked perfectly.
This is what the lids will look like when you're finished. Don't worry about the scratches.  Your labels will cover this right up.
Now comes the fun part.  I found vintage spice and canned vegetable labels and adapted them in Photoshop so that each would contain the name of one of my chosen spices.  My seven containers hold: Cinnamon, Cayenne Pepper, Crushed Red Pepper (can you tell that we like spicy food in our family), Oregano, Ginger, Dill and Garlic Salt.  You could definitely find your own and adapt them for your use, or feel free to download my complete PDF file here. Print the file out on 8.5"x11" full sheet labels.  You'll see that the file prints with trim lines already in place. (If you're using my file, you'll need to find a vitamin container with lids that are 5/8"(w) x 1"(h) to ensure proper fit of the labels.)
Get our your straight-edge and Exacto knife and trim each label to size.
Apply the labels carefully.  Make sure that they are fully adhered or the paper will bubble and curl when you apply the Mod Podge.  Here's what it will look like with all of your labels in place.
Cover each label with two generous coats of Mod Podge to seal the lids.
Allow it to dry thoroughly. (You can see that "Ginger," in the foreground, started to bubble after the Mod Podge was applied.  Just push the bubbles down gently with your finger nail and reapply another coat of Mod Podge to remove any fingerprints.)
Here's a close-up of the final product after the Mod Podge is dry.
Pop open those lids and fill with your favorite spices.  Each container is big enough to hold approximately 2 teaspoons of each spice.  Not enough to season a whole vat of stew, but enough to makes sure that two boys have cinnamon toast for breakfast and Mommy gets her salmon seasoned just right!
Be sure to send me pictures of your final product at sara(at)thehandyhausfrau(dot)com.

47 comments:

  1. This is a great idea. I have lots of extra pill containers. Our pharmacy gives them away...FREE!
    Beckie in Brentwood, TN

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  2. What an awesome idea! And the vintage labels look GREAT. Way to go!

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  3. This is brilliant idea and such cute labels!

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  4. I love this idea! thanks for sharing! Lisa

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  5. This is one of the most clever ideas I have seen! Thanks for sharing it.

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  6. Thanks for sharing this idea, it is perfect for all the camping we do in the summer months. We have been carrying around all the jars from my regular spice cabinet in a small cooler only to forget something at some point. Looking forward to making one of these for our trailer.

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  7. this is a FABULOUS idea! I'm thrilled that I found your blog today...I'm following now!

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  8. You can clean the printed letters with acetone, or nail varnish remover. You just have to be quick not to hurt the plastic surface.

    I really like the labels, love vintage packaging.

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  9. Nothing short of brilliant! Actually so many applications! Thank you for the thorough tutorial and the labels!

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  10. I love that you used nail clippers to remove the braille. That is something I would do. Great idea with the pill box.

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  11. Wow! Saw this on tip junkie! I think my hubby would love this for camping!

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  12. LOVE IT! This is such a great and Cute idea. I am gonna have to tell all my friends that go camping!

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  13. You are one clever cookie! DD sent this to me and I'm going to try it for our motorhome!

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  14. Brilliant We travel to Hawaii in the Summer and never have the right spices...I am getting my supplies tomorrow
    Thank you thank you
    Valerie

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  15. That is AWESOME. Love this idea. LOVE IT.

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  16. Can you tell me how you found the vintage labels? I would like to have some spices you didn't use and LOVE the vintage labels. Thanks for the fabulous idea!

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  17. This is a perfect idea for camping. We have settles on one spice due to storage limitations but now I can expand our selection.

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  18. Thank you for the spice labels template but I wanted to do another pill holder with different spices. Where can I find the vintage labels?
    Thanks!

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  19. Wow! Found your site through Dollar Store Crafts and am so glad I did! What a wonderfully creative project! It appeals to both my crafty side, and my culinary passions! Absolutely love it!!!!
    Jenn/Rook No. 17

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  20. this is one of the most genious ways to transport different spices. I am fed up with the ziplocks!!! Thank you so much for sharing! Love Michelle.

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  21. You can actually find something similar to this in the camping section at Walmart. It is in a round container. Pretty cheap too. I bought one and I love it.

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  22. Brilliant! My boyfriend and I have have just finished converting a campervan and we go on our maiden voyage this Easter. Been doing the grocery shop and was wondering how we can avoid duplicating all our spices/ not emptying our cupboards every time we go away. Thank you for sharing! I love the labels too!

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  23. Thank you for sharing such a creative way to store spices for camping!!!

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  24. fabulous idea. i'm such a flavor junkie, when i travel i often wish i had my spices with me, this completely solves the problem. thanks for the idea.

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  25. This is awesome! I actually used this idea to sort my jewelry findings. Thank you so much for sharing this!

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  26. This is so cute! It's perfect for people who cook when they travel! Great idea!

    Allyson
    http://cupcakescandycanes.blogspot.com

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  27. Your descriptive link says it all. Fantastic site. Thanks for sharing.

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  28. Great idea. I could use this camping.

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  29. This is such an awesome idea. I decided to use a larger pill box and bring it to college. It's perfect for anyone cooking for one and looking to save a little money at the grocery store. Thanks for the idea!

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  30. I just a two-week pill container yesterday at the Family Dollar store with this same idea in mind. I wanted to see if anyone else out there had thought of it, too! I love the labels-- definitely going to "borrow" that idea. Great job!

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  31. I'm a teacher and I'm going to make one of these to keep in my desk at school. We have meals provided on certain days of the week, and to ensure a uniformly bland taste for the student body, they are not seasoned at all. This is perfect! What a great idea! Thanksgiving break project, here I come!

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  32. This is an amazing idea, I just had to share it on Pinterest. Brilliant!

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  33. My husband is in the Navy, and one of his biggest complaints about life on a ship is the lack of flavor in the food. So, I'm making one of these for him for his next deployment. Thanks for the great idea!

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  34. Another cool thing about this is for those of us who buy small quantities of bulk spices at the health food store. I love using super fresh spices, so what I don't grow myself gets purchased about a Tablespoon at a time. I'll use a bigger pill box, but this is a fabulous idea. THANKS!

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  35. Hey there! Just wanted to let you know we featured you in our Favorite Find Fridays post over at Whimsically Homemade. We used one of your pictures. If that's a problem let us know and we'll remove it immediately. Thanks for your great inspiration!

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  36. this is a great idea and i was excited to try it. i used two diff types/sizes of pill containers and they both leaked. so save your money. it doesnt work

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  37. This is really cool. The labels look great! You can use wintergreen essential oil to remove the ink on the pill box with very little effort.

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  38. I think the idea could be modified to put tea bags in it... labels from online just like for the spices.

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  39. Wow, as a frequent camper with my group of Sister on the fly camper friends, and my husband, of course, I will use this a LOT!!! Thanks~

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  40. I did something simular with bead containers from the craft department of our local Wal-Mart. It is great to have an assortment of my favorite spices on our camping trips.

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  41. LOVE this idea! Just wanted you to know it was featured on our site today: http://www.thedatingdivas.com/food/101-camping-tips-ideas/ Thanks so much for sharing!!! XOXO, The Dating Divas

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  42. A travel kit will typically include: instructions, protective amulets, incense and incense holders, chimes, and a compass. In this article, we will give some advice and examples for those who want to have a better journey using the feng shui notion and tools.

    Worlds Best Travel Experience

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