University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Don't be bland! Tips for stocking and maintaining your flavor station

Flavored vinegars in clear bottles

When starting up a flavor station, we recommend beginning with some simple herbs you might already have on hand.

Red pepper flakes, garlic powder, onion powder, dried basil, dried parsley are all great to start with! Seasoning blends are also an excellent addition, but make sure they are low sodium or salt-free. You can make these in-house (try these recipes from Chef Deanna Olson!) or purchase from suppliers.

What else can you add?

Lemon and/or lime wedges are colorful and add bursts of flavor to food. For older students, consider offering flavorful condiments and liquids like salsa, vinegars, sriracha, and spicy mustard. Some of these may be high in sodium but a little goes a long way. You may want to have packets instead of whole bottles to make sure the amounts students take are limited. Always make sure to check for added sugars and sodium, and ask your vendors about lower sodium options.

Keep it fresh!

Herbs and spices can be higher cost products, so be mindful of storage! Dried spices and seasoning blends can retain freshness and flavor for 1-3 years. Heat, moisture, and light all decrease shelf life, so store your flavor station ingredients in a cool, dark, dry place. It can also be difficult to forecast quantities needed to stock and maintain a flavor station. To prevent waste, buy your spices in small batches and re-order as needed.

You're almost ready to unveil your flavor station. All that's left is some great marketing and you're ready to rock. Check out our final post in the series for best practices and ideas!