Spices add

extra value

When it comes to buying spices, keep these rules in mind:

•Buy your spices from a busy shop. It will have more turnover and the spices will be fresher.

•Think small. Don't be tempted to buy big containers full of spice even if they're a great value. You might think you are getting a bargain, but spices will lose their flavor in six to 12 months. So unless you plan to use the spice very frequently, choose small.

•Simplify your life and buy spice mixes. Sometimes it's really worth it. Some favorites include: five-spice powder, which you can add to Asian dishes; and chili powder, a Southwest staple.