How To Declutter Cookbooks

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Today's mission is to declutter cookbooks and cooking magazines.


Organize Recipes & Cookbooks Challenge
It corresponds with a similar mission we did just a few days ago, which was to declutter recipes.

Both of these missions are designed to be done while we're working through the Organize Recipes & Cookbooks Challenge, which is one of the 52 Organized Home Challenges here on the site.

So the first question you might be asking yourself is why did I separate out cookbooks from recipes when deciding how to do these missions?

The simple reason is that I like to break things down into smaller more bite sized chunks to make the overall task less overwhelming, and so this seemed like an easy way to separate the task out.

But in addition, the reason is that while the thought process when decluttering recipes and cookbooks definitely overlaps, cookbooks also have their own thoughts and considerations to take into account and so your criteria for which book you'll declutter may be different than which individual recipes you'll keep or discard.

Before we begin with the discussion though, I know for some of you, who have only a few cookbooks, this mission will be a breeze. But others, who are cookbook collectors, this can be seem daunting. But like with all of these missions that for some take more than 15 minutes, no worries. Instead, do these steps listed below in 15 minute increments, and you will get it all accomplished even if it takes you a bit longer because of the size of your collection.

Gather All Your Cookbooks & Cooking Magazines Into One Place

The first step in the process is to get all of these items together in one place, so you can see what you really have.

And although we'll focus on decluttering magazines in a later mission, today you'll also focus on any cooking magazines you've got, because I've found the thought process for deciding which ones of these magazines to keep versus get rid of is more similar to cookbooks than other types of magazines.

Distinguish Between Cookbooks You Enjoy Collecting Versus Actually Cooking From

One of the things I've noticed is that there are many cookbook collectors amongst us. And I completely understand why. There are some truly gorgeous cookbooks out there, with beautiful pictures and awesome looking food that makes your mouth water.

5 questions to ask yourself when decluttering books
However, for just a moment, put on your practical hat. You need to think about cookbook collections, that you don't actually really cook from, in a different light than those which contain recipes you actually like to cook for your family.

For all the cookbooks that you haven't actually opened in a year or more and cooked a recipe from, you need a separate set of criteria than what I'm discussing below, because these are just part of your book collection. In that case check out my article on 5 questions to ask yourself when decluttering books.

For all books that you do actually, sometimes, cook from, or think you might want to cook from in the future, keep reading for how to declutter these cookbooks.

Assess How Much Storage Space You've Got To Hold Cookbooks

One practical way to determine how many of a kind of item you can reasonably keep in your home is to decide how much space you've got to devote to storing these items.

You will need to keep winnowing it down until you can fit the books into the space in your kitchen, living room, or wherever you store your cookbooks, that they fit in.

In the future, if you make a rule for yourself now about how much space you have to devote to them, as you acquire a new cookbook it will help you keep from again accumulating cookbook clutter, because you'll have to get rid of enough books to make room for the new ones.

You can quickly identify which ones you don't really care about, or that don't fit your tastes anymore, or your nutritional needs, and feel less guilt about getting rid of them. After all, you want to keep only the best of the best in the limited space you've got.

How Many Of The Recipes In This Book Do You Actually Use?

Next, go through each book and assess how much you actually use it.

With recipes you can look at each recipe individually and decide, does my family like this enough to keep it? But with a cookbook it isn't just one recipe, but a whole collection of them.

There are some cookbooks that become your go to, or have basic instructions for all kinds of things and end up getting referenced frequently, for many different recipes and cooking techniques.

And then there is a cookbook that does have one or two really good recipes, but the rest are duds, or don't fit your taste, or for whatever reason you don't cook any of the other recipes.

Those books that have only one or two good recipes are prime candidates for decluttering. For books like this I suggest making a photocopy of the recipe you do love, or handwriting it on a recipe card, or whatever method works with the way you've decided to organize recipes in your kitchen. Then, after you've saved the gem you can get rid of the book and free up a lot of space.

What To Do With Cookbooks You Decide To Get Rid Of

Top 10 places to sell books for cash
Once you've decided to get rid of some of your cookbooks the next question is, what do I do with them?

The two main ways to get rid of books is to donate them or sell them. Here's my article on the top 10 places to sell books for cash.

Top 13 places to donate used books
In addition, you can donate your books. I personally favor this method, at least for books that aren't very valuable, so that I can just drop them off and get them into the hands of someone who will appreciate and read them.

If you don't know where to donate your books please check out my article of the Top 13 places to donate used books for ideas.

Below you can find photos from readers who've done this challenge to let you understand their thought process and plans for tackling this challenge, to get you inspired and excited to do it too. You can get rid of your cookbook clutter!

Top photo courtesy of a reader, Kelly

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I Realized Which Ones I Used Versus All The Cookbooks I Owned

What books she started with

What books she started with

What books she started with The cookbooks she actually uses

A reader, Karen, sent in the photos above to show her thinking process when she began this decluttering project.

She explained, "I STARTED on this. Let's just say I KEEP everything, including cookbooks from when I was in 4-H (see the Teens Entertain book in the center of the picture! , it's probably 40 yrs old I think - Other 4-H books include: Cooking for You and Me, All American Foods, The Young Chef and my favorite, Foods with an International Flavor.)

Kept some books, and will update my recipes that I have in page protectors in 3-ring binders. Some of those need to disappear and be replaced with other recipes!"

She continued though when she showed the second photo, saying, "The funny part is I use the 5 cookbooks that I've helped gather recipes for and have published, as well as my red/white checks Betty Crocker binder and my other favorite is where is mom now that I need her or something like that. All these books and I use 7!!"

I think Karen made a great distinction, because she realized she was keeping things she didn't actually use for cooking.

I'm definitely not telling you to declutter all your cookbooks, and the 7 she mentions she actually uses should definitely be keepers. But the rest should be evaluated as possible clutter to get rid of.

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Decluttering Cooking Magazines & Loose Recipes: A Big Project

Lots of cooking magazines in the process of reviewing for decluttering {featured on Home Storage Solutions 101}


A reader, Carter, sent in this photo as she tackled this Declutter 365 mission for her cooking magazines. She said, "Inspired by this post I went through all of my magazines and threw out about half! Then I also went through the house and put all my torn pages/printouts/loose paper in one pile. Far to the left you can see the recipe binders I have from my college years! Oh, and this does not include my cookbooks downstairs. Yes, you could say I collect recipes...

Since this clearly isn't going to be done this week, I'm going to try and go through these over this month. I know others won't necessarily see why I would spend my time doing this, but cooking is a huge part of my life and this probably represents 50% of my free time and my discernible spending for the past 10 years! Haha."

I completely understand Carter, and I feel like many of us that are working on the Declutter 365 missions do too. For those who are avid collectors of magazines or cookbooks, yes, this task is going to take a while. But you can do it, and giving yourself a realistic amount of time to do it as your goal will help you feel like it can be accomplished, without being overwhelming!

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Gave Away Store Bought Cookbooks By Making My Own With Just My Favorite Recipes

by Paula

I had a lot of cookbooks but found that I only used certain recipes and the books took up too much space.

I decided to go through each cookbook and put a paperclip on the pages of recipes that I wanted.

I then typed up the recipes that I wanted from each book and divided by meat type and then sub categories such as salads, snacks, breakfast, etc.

I then made my own set of cookbooks with only the recipes I wanted.

I gave away all of my store-bought cookbooks.

Photo courtesy of jfiess

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Before & After Of Some Of These Decluttering Projects

Before and after of Jennifer's cookbook decluttering project {featured on Home Storage Solutions 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest


As you can see from this article a lot of participants in the Declutter 365 missions have already taken on this challenge.

Here's a couple of before and after photos from readers, which can help you see what you can accomplish in your own home when you do this mission.

The photos above are from a reader, Jennifer. She said, "I decluttered my book case in the kitchen which holds my recipe books."

In addition, here's another before and after, this time from a reader, Darlene.

How to declutter cookbooks and cooking magazines, with criteria to consider plus lots of before and after photos to get you inspired {a #Declutter365 mission on Home Storage Solutions 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

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I Decluttered & Organized My Cookbook Drawer

by Ferris

after

after

after before - just one of the two drawers everything pulled out of drawers separated pile of just the cookbooks

Ferris from The Hamman Family Blog shared before and after pictures of the drawers that she used for her recipes and cookbooks.

Basically, they'd become junk drawers.

She took everything out of the drawers, and separated it into recipe related items and other.

When she was done she had separated out all of her cookbooks, which she put back into the drawer with the ability to now actually find one of them when she needed them!

Great job decluttering Ferris!

Most people have been putting these books on shelves somewhere in their house, but if you don't have very many and they are relatively small and thin like yours a drawer will work too!

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Are You Ready To Get Rid Of Your Cookbook Clutter?

The photo above is from a reader, Earlene. She said, "This is not really a before. It's a here-we-go-to yard-sale- and an after. There used to books on both shelves and a jillion papers!"

So are you ready to do exactly what Earlene did in this Declutter 365 mission, and get rid of your excess cookbook clutter?

Once you've gotten rid of what you no longer want to keep, make sure to check out the companion article for this mission which is all about ideas for organizing the cookbooks you've got left.

Do You Want To Declutter Your Whole Home?

declutter 365
When you begin to declutter the feeling you get is contagious, so if you're loving the results you're getting I would encourage you to keep going.

I've got a whole series of 15 minute decluttering missions (eventually 365 of them!) that you can do.

Just pick and choose the ones you want to do, that will make a big impact in your home. But if you want someone else to tell you the order you can also grab the 15 minute daily decluttering mission calendars and follow along as we all get our homes clutter free together!

Related Pages You May Enjoy

Getting Clutter Free 15 Minutes At A Time Hall Of Fame

Getting Rid Of Kitchen Clutter Hall Of Fame

Go From How To Declutter Cookbooks To Home Page

Comments for Are You Ready To Get Rid Of Your Cookbook Clutter?

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This is such a struggle for me
by: Angela

This is such a struggle for me. I LOVE to cook and constantly (or so it seems) change strategies on what and how we will eat (high carb, no carb, low carb, high protein, etc.) And I have kids, so what they will eat at any given time is a mystery. But I am learning to let go of some of my cookbooks. One thing that's been helpful is putting some of them away. When we had kids (our oldest is now 5), we cleared a shelf in our kitchen (which normally holds cookbooks) for children's books. I put the cookbooks that I considered less "necessary" downstairs. They've been there since my oldest was about 1! If I haven't touched them in 4 years I can probably give them away! It's a work in progress, but that has helped me. I plan to give those away in the next month.

Evernote
by: Anonymous

So much easier to use Evernote and file recipes you might want. Premium is the key. Use it for everything. Bthe Scanner app goes with Evernote. No typing recipes. No paper recipes.

There is an app that I use called Paprika. It supports just about every cooking site out there. No longer a need for cookbooks if you have a computer or Ipad.

You will no longer need food magazines either.

What to do with cook books and magazines
by: Allison

I tackled this project a month ago and it feels great. I did the first step of sorting books and magazines like she recommended. I purchased a scanner. (Epson DS-510 it does color and front and back at same time love it!I have tried many apps/websites and have found this to be the easiest and best overall investment). I have scanned all my favorite food magazines labeling them for example; 2016 kraft mag Fall or 2014 Christmas cookies. When I tore each page out I tossed all the advertisements. Most magazines have an index in the back so I put the front cover then the index for easy reference. It really only takes about 5 minutes a magazine. It was a lot quicker project then I thought it would be. After done I moved all files to a really large thumb drive with a key-tag labeled recipes. Next I have scanned all the recipes I have collected over the years into computer. I had boxes. Then in the evenings I opened each one to see the titles then labels them. (right click rename). I then made folders labeled main meals, desserts, bread, crock pot (Like a cookbook) it was easy to drag and drop each recipe into folders. Now everything fits in the palm of my hand. It is very easy to plug it in and search the recipe I need just by a word. I am using this more than I ever used the old magazines or piles of recipes I dreaded digging through. The best part is had it made it easy to purge old magazines and paper collection of recipes. I am at peace. (It only took two days) I had also collected little homemade cookbooks of tea rooms I had visited on vacation (never used but good memories) with the plastic binders I pulled off plastic and ran them through the scanner as well. Now if I ever need it I still have it but I value the clean space so much more than the books. P.S. I have used my scanner to declutter papers I may never need but you never know. For example, an old insurance claim, my son's college tuition payments, etc. I have done the same technique with a different thumb drive. Folders in my kids, mine, bills, etc. It's easy to search names. It's awesome and all contained. Made my desk look less messy too. I always label year first for easy reference. Good luck!

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