Spices…no, they’re not just a figment of history, useful only in the sense that they saved Europe from consuming rotting meat for centuries. Spices can take your meals to places your taste buds have only dreamed of.
Speaking as a college student who is just as intimidated by the colored powder filled bottles as the prices that accompany them, I decided to do a little research to see what I need to do to spice up my life.
While the miniscule jars lining the spice aisle are enough to break any college student’s bank account, buying from the bulk foods section is significantly cheaper. You can find refillable containers at garage sales (or from your parents’ kitchens) to manage your bags of spices.
Obviously a bit of wisdom is required before shaking away. I’m not sure how satisfying spaghetti with cinnamon would be…but that said I encourage experimentation. Spices do not have rules. If you’re a college student becoming rapidly bored with the repetition of your meals, grab a spice from off the shelf and experiment!
Cinnamon – Bring warmth and sweetness to pancakes, oatmeal, hot chocolate, pumpkin pie, or any dessert
Bay leaves – Add flavor to soup or stew by adding a bay leaf. Just don’t eat it; it’s not the most enjoyable plant to have in your mouth.
Cayenne pepper – College students who love pouring hot sauce over their meals might also enjoy cayenne pepper. Sprinkle on pizza or on top of toasted bread with olive oil (recipe credit to my grandpa).
Ginger – The “stay awake” flavor, Ginger has a way of cleaning out my sinuses. It’s a great accompaniment to stir fries or roasted vegetables.
Curry – Also good in stir fries, curry is found in many Indian dishes. If you have a stove, pan, and rice, this one would be great for experimenting.
Cloves – Cloves are great for anything from winter desserts to Mexican food. Be careful: too many cloves can be overpowering.
Rosemary – Rosemary has a fresh piney flavor that tastes great in salad dressing, soups, on bread, or with chicken or turkey.
Parsley flakes – Parsley flakes are good at bringing out the other flavors in a meal. Put in salad dressing, soup, sprinkle over a baked potato or chicken.
Basil – The classic Italian seasoning for pasta, meat sauce, or garlic bread.
Cumin – Not only is this pepper-like spice used in Mexican dishes but it can be sprinkled over vegetables or popcorn.