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 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.
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.
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.
Eat Your Books Helps Me Find Things To Cook In My Enormous Cookbook Collection
by Annie Goodrich
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).
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."
Narrow Shelf In Dining Room Holds Everything I Need
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.
I Added A Cookbook Shelf To Display & Use Them In My Kitchen
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."
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.
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?
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.
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