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Tips & Ideas For Organizing Cookbooks

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Lots of readers have been busy organizing cookbooks in their home this week as part of the 52 Week Organized Home Challenge.

organize recipes and cookbooks Challenge
They did this as part of the Organize Recipes & Cookbooks Challenge here on the site.

The key to organizing these books is to consider which ones of them actually need to be stored in your kitchen, versus another room in your home. You can easily store these books somewhere in the house and just pull the one you need for reference when needed.

I suggest, especially if you have a very collection of cookbooks, to only keep the ones you reference frequently in your kitchen, and the cookbooks you enjoy looking at for pleasure and relaxation mainly to be in another room, where you keep your other books.

Plus, it is to really important before you begin to organize your collection to declutter, declutter, declutter these books.

If you haven't referenced a cookbook in over a year or two, at the very least, I would seriously question whether you actually need to keep it at all, anywhere in your home. You can read my article on how to declutter cookbooks here for more tips and inspiration in winnowing down your total collection.

Once you've decided which room of your home you want to keep them in, and are only keeping the books you truly love, use and enjoy, you've also got to decide how you'll categorize your cookbooks on your shelves.

There really is no right or wrong way to do it. You need to choose what works in the space you've got for the task, and also what makes intuitive sense to you.

Here are the four main ways you can categorize and organize these types of books on the shelves though:
  • By author

  • By cuisine (i.e., Mexican, Italian, Chinese, American, etc.)

  • By type (such as desserts, side dishes, quick dinners, etc.); or

  • By color and/or size
If what you see below inspires you, and you take on this organization project in your own home I'd love to see your before and after pictures too. You can submit your own pictures here and I'll add the best ones to the site.

Tips and ideas for #organizing cookbooks, showing real life examples from people's homes and kitchens {on Home Storage Solutions 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

Top photo courtesy of shoutsfromtheabyss

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Adding Cookbook Shelves To Kitchen Island

Here was an idea I came across which I liked. This family built a kitchen island and explained that, "The cabinet from other side was preposterously deep. We took some of that space and turned it into cook book shelves on other side."

Similarly, if you're designing your kitchen you could add a shelving unit somewhere else. One reader, Melissa, sent in this photo of her cookbooks held in wire baskets in built in recessed shelves above her oven.

Store your cookbooks in baskets on your shelves to keep them standing up, and all contained in one spot {featured on Home Storage Solutions 101}

Top photo courtesy of

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Organizing Cookbook Shelf Plus Creating A Recipe Binder



Crystal from Crystal's Ramblings blogged about how to organize recipes, and shared her before and after pictures from this week's challenge.

She uses a small bookshelf in her kitchen (such as the ones below) to organize and store her cookbooks, and if you've got enough room this is a great solution. Then, the books are close at hand, when you need them, but aren't taking up valuable kitchen cabinet space.

In addition, you can choose to place the bookshelf somewhat far away from the stove and oven to lessen the likelihood of heat or humidity, or splattering grease, harming the books.

Here's another example, this time inside kitchen cabinets, shown by a reader, Joan. You may prefer to have them behind closed cabinet doors, assuming you have enough kitchen cabinet space for them.

Organizing cookbooks inside kitchen cabinets {featured on Home Storage Solutions 101}

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Display Cookbooks As Decorations Above Cabinets

Shawn says:

The kitchen is very white - and plain. And I don't want to dust fake foliage - which is what most put up there. So I settled on cookbooks.

(Even though I will have to get the stepladder out to reach them - now they are decoration as well as food for thought.)

Taylor says:

This is definitely a nice way to decorate your kitchen, but I do think from a practical perspective I'd only want to keep cookbooks up there that I am keeping for sentimental reasons.

If I referenced a book a lot I would want it a lot handier, personally.

Of course, if it is sentimental you also need to consider that things up at the top of your kitchen cabinets get dusty and dirty. You can read more ideas for decorating above kitchen cabinets here.

I liked this idea from another reader, Sharon, who instead of placing them above the kitchen cabinets placed them inside her cabinet, specifically the one above her fridge.

This keeps them from getting as dusty and dirty, and solves the dilemma of what you'll place in this cabinet.

Idea for cookbook storage: Add them in the small cabinet above your refrigerator {featured on Home Storage Solutions 101}

Top photo courtesy of shawnzrossi

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Eat Your Books Helps Me Find Things To Cook In My Enormous Cookbook Collection

by Annie Goodrich
(Calistoga, CA)

Annie says:

I happened upon this website a few years ago while Eat Your Books was still in its infant stages.

I have an enormous collection of cookbooks, but rarely reach for them when trying to decide what to make.

Enter Eat Your Books. Basically, you enter in the names of the cookbooks in your library.

EYB has indexed an incredibly large collection of cookbooks and as you add your books to your "shelf," you then have access to their contents for searching.

So... let's say you have leftover bananas and are looking for something to do with them beyond banana bread. You enter "banana" into the search box and EYB will show you which recipes use bananas, all of which reside on your own bookshelf, already! It's crazy!

Now, one clarification - it doesn't show you the actual recipe but it does tell you the name of the recipe and which cookbook it is in.

I use it all the time and find that I really cook out of my cookbooks SO much more.

With EYB, you can also keep track of what you've cooked.

EYB has also indexed (i.e., made available to search) many many cooking websites and food magazines. It's an amazing resource!

I have binders of recipes, I have used MasterCook and MacGourmet and think Eat Your Books is the best option I have found for keeping track of my recipes AND allowing me to search what I already own.

Eat Your Books is free for the first five cookbooks you put on your shelf.

There are monthly ($2.50/mo) and yearly ($25/yr) subscriptions.

So much cheaper than buying and keeping cookbooks you don't use! (and less clutter, too).

Taylor says:

electronic recipe organizer options recommended by readers
Thanks so much for this detailed review Annie. This sounds like it might be another digital way to help organize recipes.

I know what you mean about owning cookbooks, but then never actually using them which makes them about the same as clutter.

This sounds like it has great potential to help you utilize items you've paid a great deal of money for, since cookbooks aren't cheap!

Has anyone else used this program? I would love to hear more about it from others. You can share your review here, and I'll add it to the page.

***Update: Here's a photo from a reader, Carter, who organized her cookbooks using Eat Your Books. She said, "I'm one of THOSE people who have quite a few cookbooks, but I went through and took out about 10 for Goodwill today. Here's what is left - they are my primary decorating element in my living room, and I think they are beautiful! All indexed to Eat Your Books and I am inspired by each and every one here."

Organized bookshelf of cookbooks, with all books indexed to Eat Your Books to help find recipes to cook {featured on Home Storage Solutions 101}

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Narrow Shelf In Dining Room Holds Everything I Need

by Jennifer

Jennifer from Life of Reilly shared how she organizes these books in her dining room.

She uses one narrow shelf.

If you don't feel like you have room for a huge bookcase this narrow but tall piece of furniture might work better for you.

Further, I like how she didn't feel constrained to have to put these items in her kitchen, but instead chose a more appropriate room for the space she had.

She explained, "All of my recipes are stored on this bookcase in my dining room. I do have quite a large collection of Gooseberry Patch cookbooks and extra cookbooks are stored in a box in the basement."

Here's a similar idea from another reader, Chel, who used her dining room furniture to store her cookbooks.

Add your cookbooks to your dining room hutch or shelves as pretty decor {featured on Home Storage Solutions 101}

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I Added A Cookbook Shelf To Display & Use Them In My Kitchen

by Adrienne
(Cibolo, TX)

Adrienne sent in this photo of how she stores cookbooks in her kitchen. She said, "When we downsized to a much smaller home my kitchen suddenly became cramped and I realized I had to get rid of some items that were not used often.

However, my cookbooks were something I was not willing to compromise on."

She further explained that "for Christmas, my father-in-law and my husband created and built a beautiful cabinet to go in a small amount of wasted space in the kitchen to utilize it better and free up storage space over the stove for less used items."

Here's another idea from a reader, Jessica, for how she organizing and stores her cookbooks in her kitchen. She said, "I've given myself a very small cupboard for cookbooks. I find I don't usually look for new recipes in books, but rather online. And if I find one I like it goes into the purple three ring binder or the small tan book, both if which are plastic protected. I got rid of one of those recipe-by-mail plastic boxes from the late 90s. I never used it but felt guilty for wasting the money on it, so I hung on to it. Gone, and I appreciate having the space back."

Limit yourself to a small space for cookbooks, like a small cupboard, and you'll be guaranteed to only keep the ones you enjoy and like the best {featured on Home Storage Solutions 101}

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Organizing Cookbooks And Recipes

by Bec @ 2012 - the year of challenges
(Adelaide, Australia)

Organized cookbooks and recipe binders on shelf

Organized cookbooks and recipe binders on shelf

Bec from 2012 - the year of challenges shared how she organized recipes on her blog post, as part of this week's challenge.

I like Bec's approach to this challenge. First, she gathered up all her cookbooks, which were scattered though out the house, and really thought about which ones she'd keep, and which she would give away.

how to organize paper recipes hall of fame
In addition, she gathered all her loose recipes, such as from meal planning services and the Internet and put them into binders and folders, so they would all be in one location.

Since the end result was just a small amount of cookbooks and recipe binders she put them all in her kitchen, in a convenient location, so she could grab them easily for reference when she needed them.

Great job Bec!

Are You Inspired To Get Organized Now?

organized home challenge
I hope seeing others get this area of their home and possessions under control and more organized has inspired you to do the same.

If it has make sure to take Week #5's challenge all about organizing recipes. The link gives step by step instructions and even more ideas and tips.

In addition, I'd love it if you'd join the 52 Week Organized Home Challenge, where we, over the course of the year, organize our entire house. It really does work!

When you've done this challenge make sure to share your pictures here and I'll add the best ones to the site.

Tips and ideas for organizing cookbooks, showing real life examples from people's homes and kitchens {on Home Storage Solutions 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

Some links on this page are affiliate links, meaning that if you purchase a product through them I receive a small commission which helps me provide this information to you for free, plus support my family. My integrity and your satisfaction are very important to me so I only recommend products I would purchase myself, and that I believe would benefit you. To learn more please see my disclosure statement.

Related Pages You May Enjoy

{A-Z} Storage Solutions For Your Home

Getting Rid Of Kitchen Clutter Hall Of Fame

Go From Organizing Cookbooks Hall To Home Page

Comments for Organizing Cookbooks And Recipes

Click here to add your own comments

what I do
by: Terry

I have 3 shelves built next to my top cupboards for the most used books. All the rest are on display on top of my cupboards by categories. Looks homy and organized.

use these clips for storing cooking magazines in binders without a three hole punch
by: Pat C

For those of you who (like me) find it hard to part with your cooking magazines, there is a little tool that will let you store them in a 3 ring binder without punching any holes in the magazine. These little clips (affiliate link) fit along the spine of the magazine and have the three holes already punched so you can slip the magazine right into the binder.

I am beginning to declutter too
by: Jackie

Luckily we have bookshelves in the living room for our nice cookbooks, the rest are stored underneath. But I started to go through and eliminate!

Cookbook Organization
by: Rachel Ann

I had my cookbooks in the kitchen. But, I moved them to a bookshelf in the dining room, right outside the kitchen door. I fall in the aspirational category. But, I do try my new recipes and techniques regularly. My thoughts are if you have to cook everyday, it better be interesting, nutritious, and yummy! Thank you for getting into such psychological detail regarding the reasons and types. That was very helpful. Although I know some may say it's only cookbooks/recipes, what's the big deal? Well, we have to eat everyday. I think it is a BIG DEAL. You do great work...keep it up : )

make your own cook book
by: Anonymous

I had a lot of recipes from a lot of books. I took them and wrote them on a single loose leaf. One for each recipe. Then I decided the grouping and put it all together. I finally got it finished. I wrote the recipes one at a time and on a single sheet so I can mix and match them until I got it perfect for me. Now I have one book in the kitchen and the rest are on a shelf unless I gave it away. Now I am ready to copy for my daughters.

I actually designed my kitchen table to store cookbooks underneath
by: Sara

I actually designed my kitchen table so that I can store all of my cookbooks underneath it with bookshelves, and bookshelves on either end. I love the table and all of my cookbooks have a home. My next step it to go through all of the books (most I never even open) and weed out the ones I can get rid of. I find that I print good recipes I want to try from my email and keep them in a recipe stand on my kitchen counter.

Organizing 900 cookbooks
by: Steve

I am a chef and a serious cookbook collector. I own close to 900 cookbooks. My method of organization is as follows:

Ethnic and country/region
Celebrity chefs/Famous cookbook Authors
Literary/Food History
Barbecue/Outdoor Cooking
Multi volume sets
Large Sized Books
Small size books

I created a commercial kitchen in my finished garage and installed several shelves to hold many of them. I also have another room that holds many others, plus I keep about 100 at my job.

Cookbook Decluttering
by: Anonymous

I have all my cookbooks in two bookcases stacked on top of each other. The top one has a drawer in it that I put paper recipes from magazine until I can sort them out and put in 3 notebooks I keep in the kitchen. I used to have another bookcase full and eliminated all of those, and recently went through the remainder page by page to see if there were even any recipes in them that I want to try as my diet has changed dramatically holding down on the fats and carbs. In all I have probably eliminated over 200 cookbooks from my collection! I boxed them up and donated them to the Library for their Friends of the Library book sale twice a year!

Organizing your cookbook shelves
by: Ellen

I may have over 500 cookbooks/magazines/booklets etc. I organize by subject i.e. books on herbs and recipe books relating to that; books from restaurants I've been to or written by chefs; type of cooking or food - Grilling, Microwave, Fondue, Slow cooking, etc.; Healthy cooking - clean, Low Carb, Vegetarian, Fiber etc.; International cooking - Asia; Mexican/Spanish; by country i.e. Korea, Philippines and U.S. Regional books bought when traveled - East Coast - or by state; Holiday cooking; Special Entertaining books; Children cookbooks - easy for them to cook from; And Antique cookbooks - that I still refer to and that has been passed down to me.

I basically feel the system to use is different for everyone. It's how you look for recipes. And I recheck every year and try to get rid of what I do not refer to anymore and what I'm not interested in. I'm constantly adding so I have to discard whenever I can. This year, concentrating on reducing more books and giving away or throwing them out. In reviewing some books, I just keep the recipes I've made and want to keep and the book is gone.

By reviewing each year, this reminds me of what I have.

Cookbook Collectors
by: Anonymous

My cookbook collection of over 1,000 cookbooks incudes books from the late 1800s and early 1900s. Often these books are fragile and definitely should not be kept in the kitchen.

Many cookbooks are kept for their historic value and not their recipes, which may indicate an entirely different category.

Response re cookbook collection
by: Taylor

You raise a good point, which is that if you're keeping an object, such as cookbooks, not for their recipes, but for some other reason, you need to consider different types of questions and factors for deciding whether to keep them or not. Here's the Declutter 365 mission for decluttering collections with more ideas for how to evaluate what collections, or portions of a collection you might want to keep or get rid of.

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