I just updated my spice rack. After years of assorted babyfood and tiny jam jars and miscellaneous used spice jars, I bought a couple of 12-packs of 4 oz. canning jars - on sale for $6. I almost bought some aluminum tins that have clear plastic lids, but I decided that they were not quite airtight enough and something about the metal and the plastic just doesn't feel quite right to me. I think the herbs might get stale faster if they aren't airtight and I think the plastic and aluminum could interact with the herbs. Also I like being able to look through the glass and see what's inside.
I have had this wooden spice rack for at least 25 years. I like that it has dowels that keep the jars from falling off. One should keep spices and herbs in a place that is easy to access from the food prep area, but not too close to the heat of the stove or sunlight from windows.
Here's a basic list of the spices and herbs I like to keep on hand. I don't like to have big containers of spices - they lose flavor, especially when they sit 'round for months and years. I prefer to buy small amounts from the bulk section, so I can use it up and get fresh spices when I need more.
cumin (seeds & ground)
paprika (regular and smoked)
dill (weed & seed)
sesame seeds (brown and black)
mustard seeds (yellow and black)
dried mustard powder
ginger (dried ground, fresh gingerroot, and candied ginger)
cinnamon (ground and sticks)
furikake (Japanese seaweed & fish - comes in many varieties, serve on rice)
fresh in the garden:
marjoram ("Italian oregano")