How To Organize Recipes: Ideas From Readers For Hall of Fame
Ever wondered how to organize recipes? Well, there are actually lots of different methods, and none of them are right, or wrong.
All that really matters is that the method you choose for yourself is easy to start, and then to maintain.
Below I've created this hall of fame, with pictures of how readers have decided to organize their paper recipes, that they've worked on as part of Week #5 of the Organized Home Challenge, which is all about organizing recipes and cookbooks.
If the ideas you see inspire you and you take on this project yourself, or you've got you've already got your own methods that you want to share, I encourage you submit your tips and pictures to the Home Organization Hall of Fame, and I'll add the best ones to the page.
Make sure, however, that before you begin a big organization project with your recipes that you actually are only organizing the recipes you want to keep. So before beginning this type of project declutter your recipes, and you can get step by step instructions for doing that at the link provided here on this site.
So, without further ado, scroll down to see all the pictures and ideas from readers as part of this Hall of Fame.
Tracey sent me this picture of her new recipe she did as part of the challenge about how to organize recipes. Doesn't it look great?
Tracey said, "I got it on Amazon. It's $22 and made by Galison. I just cut out recipes from my favorite cookbooks and tape them on the paper inserts (then it slides into a clear protector)."
Unfortunately this particular binder she used is not available anymore, but it is really just one of many types of pre-made binders that you can buy if you don't want to create your own. The nice thing about this one, or similar pre-made binders, is they tend to already have the tabs created for you, with general categories of recipes, and come with page protectors, etc.
Here are some of the available pre-made recipe binders you can choose from:
This is certainly one way to organize your recipes, or you can create your own binders or use a completely different method too.
For example, here's a photo provided by another reader, Melissa, who created her own set of binders -- lots of them! She explained, "I have recipes I used or use regularly - typed on the computer - placed in sheet protectors and filled in notebooks - it takes a lot of space on the shelf but I can find recipes I use pretty quick - sometimes....better at trying to organize than actually cook. ;) "
Add Your Recipes To An Accordion Or Expanding File Folder
Here's a great idea from a reader, Lisa. She adds her recipes to what she calls a file sorter, but what I refer to as an accordion or expanding file folder.
She explained, "I use a file sorter. I used to have mine loose in a drawer and put them in here one day about 5 years ago. Works amazing. Can take out or add as you like. I keep most used at back of the slot for quick access. I have mine labelled easily - beef, pork, etc., cookies/treats, misc, appetizers, etc."
This is an especially quick and easy way to categorize untried recipes, since you can print them straight off the Internet or pull them out of the magazine, and then merely put them into the right categories file. No additional prep work necessary!
As you might have noticed when showing you these various organizational methods for recipes, I've been distinguishing between tried and true recipes, and ones you'd like to try, but haven't yet.
The reason is that you should put more effort into organizing the recipes you and your family have tried and love than the ones you've never tried yet. Sure, it might be amazing, but it might be a dud. Don't spend even more time on a recipe you haven't tried until you know whether it is worth your effort.
That's why for things like untried recipes I like the idea of adding them to a file folder, or loosely into a binder, but not onto recipe cards.
With recipe cards you either are typing or handwriting lots of information, so only do this if you really love the recipe!
But assuming you do like the recipe I like this idea from a reader, Kristina, who uses her own recipe cards. She explained, "Evernote didn't work for me. A popular app was nice but didn't work for me. A binder with printed recipes (I typed them) didn't work for me. Recipe cards are working great for me. I created them. They were initially small and I didn't like cramming stuff in there, so I made them twice as tall and they're perfect now. I like the not-perfect look of them being hand written and it's super easy for me to add to them. I only write out recipes that I've tried and like enough to make again."
If you don't want to make your own recipe cards you can purchase them here:
Sometimes you start out using recipe cards, but then decide you don't like that method and would rather have a book.
Instead of wasting a lot of time transferring all those cards into a new system, you can do what a reader, Elisabeth, did, and add them to a book.
She explained, "I have all my loose recipes in a journal. I keep a table of contents going in the front as a guide to help me find recipes."
I like this method, especially with the table of contents, but I also like to be able to move recipes around if I add to the categories, or add another recipe into a category. Therefore, while you could use the journal method, a small tweak to this method shown would be to add the recipe card pages instead to a binder which makes it easier to move things around if you want to later.
Add Handwritten Notes To Recipe Binder To Know Who Loves What
Crystal from Crystal's Ramblings shared how she organized her family's favorite recipes in a binder.
I think Crystal had some great advice about how to best use your recipe binder. She says:
as we use recipes that we like, I add them to my binder. You may even notice in this one below there is a little note that says, "Rebecca loves!" I also write notes to myself if I don't like a recipe. I usually do this in the actual cookbook itself.
I think really individualizing and personalizing your recipes is the best way to organize them. That's because food is such a personal matter, and everyone's tastes are different. The more you can remember who likes what, or tweaks to the recipe you've made to make it more to your family's liking, the more useful your recipes will be.
In addition, your organized recipes will eventually become a treasured family keepsake, reminding your family of how much you loved and cared for them with something as simple as the food served.
***Update: After publishing this I got a comment from another reader, Lolli, who did something similar to personalize her recipe binder. Here's what she said:
Lolli's Reasons For Loving Binders With Page Protectors
After I began keeping my recipes in a binder I regretted that I hadn't started collecting this way my whole adult life.
With the recipe in the protective sheet I can take out all the recipes I will use for a particular event and put the binder away.
The recipe is protected from spills and tears.
Those recipes that do have spills and show wear are also in the binder and they provide me with memories from BEFORE I had the protective sheets.
BUT the best thing that I added to the binder in the protective sheets are menus from holiday dinners and special events like "Mexican Meal."
I can add notes as to what the guests enjoyed and either repeat or delete the items the next year.
She explained, "I have this 3 ring binder for any recipes that the family decides are keepers. I'll take pictures of the food and make a scrapbook page. Until they make it in the scrapbook I have a recipe box I keep them in."
Further, she also has a recipe book for one of her children. She explained, "I have a 4 year old who is a very picky eater and has food allergies, so he has his own recipe book. . . . Anyone can pick up this book and know what he can/will eat for breakfast/lunch/dinner/snacks.
I used lunch paper bags for the inside pages so as I find recipes for food he will/can eat, I can easily put it on an index card and insert it into the paper bag for that section."
Thank you so much for the recipe challenge last week! I started that project over a year ago, and ever since they have been sitting in a bag in our office. I finally had the motivation to finish copying and sorting them into a binder.
I have sections for:
Soups, salads and sides
Dips, Appetizers, and Misc.; and
Within there, I put tabs on our family favorites so they are easier to find.
Main dishes were sorted with chicken together, fish, pork, etc.
I kept a pen and extra tabs with the binder for making notes and marking new favorites.
The dividers have pockets to stash new recipes in the right place until I can copy them and get them in the binder.
I also recycled about 8-10 cook books that had been handed down to me that I finally admitted I would never use. Feels great to finally have this done!!
Thanks so much for sharing these great pictures with me Jackie.
I am especially loving your idea to use divider tabs with folder pockets in them! (such as the ones on the right). That's absolutely brilliant, and I can see how that would make it easier to save the recipes in the right spot until you had time to add them to the binder properly!
I also like how you've kept your supplies for your recipe binder close at hand so when you need to add a new recipe you can do it quickly and easily, without having to search throughout the house for the supplies. This, all by itself, should help you keep your recipes more organized from now on, since it will be easier to do the one recipe as it comes up.
Great job, and please send me more updates from other challenges when you've completed them too!
I hope these ideas have inspired you to get your own paper recipes in order. If it has, I would also urge you to join the 52 Week Organized Home Challenge where over the course of the year we tackle every room and major type of item in your home to get everything decluttered and organized.
In addition, if you decide to tackle this particular challenge I would love for you to share your before and after pictures with me for the Home Organization Hall of Fame, and I'll add the best pictures to the site..
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