During our stay in temporary housing this summer, we didn't want to deal with bringing lots of little half-full jars, but we also had a hard time narrowing down our selection. In the end, we realized that it made much more sense to mix our most-used spices together into a few blends.
We tried to come up with just a few blends that could be used for a lot of different dishes, from pastas to marinades to spicy stir fries. We brought one mix of oregano, thyme, rosemary, and marjoram as a basic aromatic seasoning blend. We also brought a southwestern blend of about half chili powder, equal parts cumin and smoked paprika, and a small amount of cayenne. For any baking we might do, we brought a blend of mostly cinnamon with a bit of nutmeg and clove.
Eleven spices down to three blends! Not bad!
We'll go back to cooking with straight spices when we're back in our kitchen. Ultimately, we prefer having control over the type and quantity of spices in an individual dish. But for easier meal planning during trips away from home, we'll take spice blends all the way!
What are your favorite all-purpose spice blends?