Fab Frugal Friday: Your Desert Island Seasonings

This is an essential frugal tip, one that I kind of can’t believe we haven’t really covered already. When your cupboard is getting barren, and you’re down the the last dregs of your pantry staples, your spice rack is going to be your best friend. Strong, bold flavors can give depth to even the simplest of dishes. Even with herbs – we all love fresh herbs, but in a pinch, the dried ones can go a long way. I was just contemplating what I might do if I had only brown rice and onions to work with – and I concluded that it would involve caramelizing the onions and seasoning the rice with smoked paprika. (I’m intrigued enough by this concept that it may end up being a future post of its own.)  So this got me thinking about the most essential spices and herbs there are, and what I might choose if my selection were limited.

So! You’re stranded on a desert island, and can bring only THREE dried herbs or spices with you. Assume you can always have salt and pepper at your disposal. What would they be?

Mine would be smoked paprika, cumin, and basil (I was very torn between that and thyme, but basil won out by a narrow margin in the end). I texted Donna to see what her choices would be, without saying ANYTHING about my choices, and I swear to you, she replied: “Garlic powder, cumin, and smoked paprika.” Guess we really are related!

What about you? Share what your Desert Island picks would be!

— posted by Anne


  1. Donna says

    So many spices . . . so little time . . .

    Another great FREE way to add flavor that I am only beginning to discover is the TOASTING of things. The flavor of nuts, for example, is exponentially improved by toasting. Unground spices, too – say cumin for example. It’s a whole different spice after toasting the seeds.

    I am toying with the idea of toasting rice first before cooking it. Maybe spread it on a baking sheet and toasting it first, then steaming it. A “Toasted Rice Pilaf” is on my list of future culinary experiments.

  2. says

    Ooh, good ones! Rosemary was a contender too, just behind thyme.

    Oh I just love so many, it’s hard to choose. Both ground coriander and cilantro leaves, chili powders, cardamom, cinnamon . . .

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