DIY $2.50 Travel Spice Rack

Travel Spice Container

Now, I realize that not everyone spends as much time in other people’s kitchens as I do, but there’s always the occasional picnic, family dinner, or camping trip that requires some on-the-spot cooking, and you never know what you’re going to find in Aunt Mildred’s cupboards (or worse, you have a pretty good idea of what you will!)

You can pick up mini-spice containers online or at specialty kitchen shops, but typically they’re a little spendy, complicated to use, and either don’t hold enough spices for more than one meal, or have openings that are too small to fit a teaspoon into.

So, when I found this beauty at The Tualatin Pharmacy the other day, I was pretty excited. It holds a reasonable amount of my seven most common spices (I’m seriously considering buying a second one, as well) in huge 1.5″ x 1.5″ x 2″ compartments.

It’s lightweight, durable, easy to use, and best of all, it was a whopping $2.50!

Some tips:

  • Before you load up your new container (and after you wash and dry it), get out all of your favorite spices, and line them up on the counter according to your favorites and the ones you use the most often. If you enjoy different cuisines, you could get multiple containers and label them according to the type of spices (Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Vietnamese, etc…)
  • You can use a sharpie to write the names of each spice on the outside of the container, but I recommend using a strip of masking tape so you can change your mind in the future.
  • The snap on these lids are pretty tight, but due to my own paranoia, I like to add a good, tight rubber-band lengthwise down the box. You could also put the whole thing in a gallon zip back for a third layer of protection.
  • For big multi-dish meals with lots of spices, you could also pre-mix the spices for each recipe and store them in an individual section. Dedicate one space each to salt and pepper, and the other 5 to specific recipes!

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Just a note, the great big ones like this can be hard to find, so when you do, splurge and buy a couple of extra for future use.


Chef Perry



Candied-Onion Bacon Burgers with Steamed Cheddar Cheese

Candied Onion Bacon Burgers with Steamed Cheddar

Candied-Onion Bacon Burgers with Steamed Cheddar

Makes 3 burgers

1 lb 80%/20% ground beef
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 tsp. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3 garlic cloves
3 sprigs fresh thyme
6 oz Cabot extra-sharp cheddar cheese
6 slices of bacon (thin), for serving
3 pub rolls split and toasted
1 beefsteak tomato
1/2 cup candied onions


Peel and smash the garlic, cube cheese, split pub rolls, slice the tomatoes.


Prepare the candied onions (see below).

Cook the bacon to not-quite crisp, 3-4 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.

Form the meat into 4 patties, about 3/4-inch thick. Using your thumb, make an indentation in the middle of each patty. (This keeps the burger from cooking unevenly and swelling in the middle). Season the patties on both sides, using 1 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper for each one.

(By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, you may want to subscribe to our free newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week. Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk teens!)

Candied Onion Bacon Burgers with Steamed Cheddar
Heat 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet over high heat until just smoking. Place the patties in the pan and reduce the heat to medium-high, and cook for 4 minutes (never, never press on a burger – you’re just squeezing out the juices).


Flip the patties, add the butter, garlic cloves and thyme to the pan.

Once the butter has melted, tip the pan and baste each burger a few times, spooning the hot butter over it. Continue to cook, basting often, until the burgers are well-browned on the bottom and the meat is medium-rare, 5-6 minutes. Remove the burgers from the hot pan and let rest for 5 minutes.

While burgers are resting, steam the cheese and toast both halves of the pub rolls.

To build the burgers: spread onions on each bottom roll, top with 2 slices of tomato, then beef, bacon, and finally spoon the hot cheese over all, and top with the top of the roll.

Serve immediately.

Candied Onions

Candied Onions

Makes 1 cup

1 Tbsp. butter
1 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp kosher salt
Dash of freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp cup white wine vinegar


Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onions, garlic and thyme leaves, and stir. Cover and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are deep golden brown, 30-45 minutes.

Add the sugar, salt and pepper. Stir, replace the lid and cook for 10 minutes.

Add the vinegar and deglaze the pan. Cook away the excess liquid (about 10 minutes) then set aside. Use warm.

Steamed Cheese

Steamed Cheddar CheesePut about one inch of water in a pasta pot (with a strainer) and place it on the stove over medium heat.

Insert the strainer.

Divide 6 oz of Cabot extra-sharp cheddar cheese between 3 ramekins or small oven safe bowls. When the water begins to boil, set the ramekins in the strainer. Then cover the pasta pot, trapping the steam inside.

In about two minutes, check to see if the cheese has melted completely. Then use a spoon to scoop it out onto each hamburger. (Careful, it’s HOT!)

Steamed Cheddar Cheese


-Chef Perry