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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.

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 reducing your collection 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 mission to let you understand their thought process and plans for tackling this challenge, and to get you inspired and excited to do it too. You can get rid of your cookbook clutter!

How to #declutter cookbooks and cooking magazines, with criteria to consider when deciding which books to keep and which to save {part of the #Declutter365 missions on Home Storage Solutions 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

Top photo courtesy of a reader, Kelly, bottom photo courtesy of natalie's new york

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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

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



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.

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Declutter 365 missions: 15 minute missions for your entire home

Once you declutter one type of item in your home I bet you'll want to declutter some more. After all, decluttering gives you a great reward for even a small investment of time and energy.

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Hundreds of thousands of people use this proven system to get rid of their clutter, and bring peace and calm back to their homes.

Declutter 365 works to guide you to clear the clutter without overwhelm, focusing on just one small area at a time, and without making a huge mess in the process, so you see consistent forward progress without all that "messy middle" that makes it even harder to function in your home than before you started.

In addition to building a daily decluttering habit, the Declutter 365 program, along with the accompanying 52 Week Organized Home Challenge, teaches you the skills, habits, routines, and mindsets necessary to maintain the clutter free and organized state of your home from now on, so it'll never be as messy and cluttered as it is right now, ever again.

If you haven't already, make sure to get your copy of this year's Declutter 365 annual calendar here (it's FREE!), find today's date, and do 15 minutes of decluttering on the day's mission. Then, repeat again tomorrow, and again and again. Over the course of the next year, if you do this 15 minutes per day, you'll declutter your whole house!

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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.

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!

On a mission!
by: Delora

I'll have to take photos when I get home. Oh my Lord, I have so many cookbooks and magazines! I inherited my mother-in-law's when she passed away too! It's going to take a while!!!

now have long shelf empty
by: Amy

This was much easier for me than others I have read about here. I never was a cook--when I had kids, I tried harder. I did buy a book or two of whatever the craze of the day was--low fat, low carb, low whatever. Some years ago I gave them away to nieces who were into this type of cooking. I have a book from college graduation, a couple of books by 4H or other home county organizations--and use a few of those recipes. My kids raved over the baby sitters pork chops, when I asked, she said she used "Shake and Bake!" And my kids weren't impressed when I cooked them. I have recipes written in Grandma's hand. Once I gave away the unused books, I had a whole long shelf empty for other things.

15 “FANTASY” cook books recycled
by: Reet

I’ve just decluttered 15 cookbooks from my bookshelves, all of them fantasy cookbooks. I’m a sucker for a beautiful cookbook. I would buy it just because I would see something that I thought I could make, call it delusions of grandeur, and of course 10 yrs later & I haven’t even touched the book. I have kept a couple that are "tried & true", but the rest have gone, and the truth is that you’re completely 100% correct, it’s very liberating to get rid of things that take up lots of space with no reward whatsoever.

I need to get rid of some of mine
by: Anonymous

I need to declutter mine. In the past I collected to read and enjoy as well. I would put a sticker on the book on the spine when I used a recipe from it, reminder to use the others, but it could be used to weed out the ones to consider donating.

don't keep magazines anymore for the recipes
by: Sandra

I remove the recipe I want from a magazine and then toss the magazine. It was impossible to remember which magazine held which recipe I wanted. I also print out my recipes from the computer. I put the recipe in a page protector and insert it into the appropriate binder, which is sometimes broken into subcategories. Entree is broken into chicken, pork, beef, etc. I cook a wide variety of dishes and I try new dishes all the time. I occasionally remove recipes that didn’t meet our expectations or ones that I shouldn’t have even kept because they contain some odd bottled ingredient that I will never use again. I also write the changes I’ve made and notes "for next time" directly on the recipe and in my cookbooks. I have enough recipes for a life time so I no longer subscribe to any magazines. My America’s Test Kitchen cookbook is my go to "bound" source for recipes.

Oh my! This is me!!!!
by: L.E.

This is me!! My Husband and I are cookbook addicts! I have boxes (plural) in the basement of cookbooks. I have my daughter going through stacks of cooking magazines and the little cookbooks and cutting out what our family might like and use. Then we are going to organize a box of family recipes!

Libraries and discards
by: Anonymous

IF there is a book in the library that you really like and don't want them to discard, just check it out a few times a year. Libraries use a filter for how many times a book was read as to whether they should keep it or not.

how I did it
by: Anonymous

I actually went through all of my cookbooks about a year ago. I got rid of maybe 20, which was about half. It took me awhile, but I went and looked through every single recipe. Spent 5-10 minutes a day. If there was a recipe I thought I might try, I'd take a picture. Then at the end of the book, I'd know if there was enough recipes for me to keep it. And if not, I'd already have the recipes saved without going back through them again to find them.

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