Managing the Spice Cabinet with Word and Excel

Cooking is one of my things to do when I’m home and have the time. As a result I’ve got a pretty good selection of spice jars in one of the cabinets in my kitchen. I’ve had a spreadsheet of all the spices I have for a while now which I keep posted inside the cabinet door. This is useful for figuring out if I need to get something or if I have an extra when I run out of something. Unfortunately the problem this doesn’t solve is actually finding the jar in the cabinet. I’ve got everything lined up on a couple shelves in a cabinet and it usually requires emptying half the cabinet if I need something I don’t use too often.

I finally decided to deal with this tonight by labeling the top of each jar so I can look from the top and pick out the jars I need. Pretty much all of the jars I have are the same “McCormick Gourmet Collection” jars like this one. The caps on all these jars have a circular inset on top which is just shy of 7/8” in diameter. I walked over to Office Depot and found some round Laser Labels which were 3/4” in diameter. Unfortunately these are removable as the didn’t have any permanent ones in stock. Since I already had an Excel worksheet with all my spices in it, I was able to use this to mail merge my stickers.

My spreadsheet looks like this:

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Note: If you’re going to do something like the image above, and you have a bunch of spices (I’ve got 51 total), you’re not going to be able to fit everything onto one page. What I did was paste my list into Word and set the page to Landscape orientation. I then configured Word to have two columns (Columns button on the Page Layout tab) on the page and I was able to wrap my paste from Excel into the second column so it fit on one page.

To make my labels, I went in Word and went to Mailings>Start Mail Merge (2) and selected the labels I bought. I added the Spice column (3) to the first label in the template, and copied that to all my labels using the Update Labels (4) button. Finally, I used Preview Results (5) so I could tweak the values so they fit properly in the cells.

image

Printed labels In hand I pulled everything out of the cabinet and labeled the top of each jar. Make sure the tops of the jars are reasonably clean if you want these stickers to stick properly. Total time end-to-end on this little project was all of an hour and the time savings should be substantial.

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