Get Your Recipes Together!
Getting Those Recipes Organized
The Family Cookbook
I have various failed systems (computer software, recipe box, and three-ring binder) for keeping my recipes organized, but I need something that works. Some of the recipes I've printed from online, others are written on recipe cards and yet more are cut out of magazines. Short of retyping or rewriting all of these onto the same size card or paper, I'm out of ideas. How do you keep them all organized?
I can help your reader with organizing her recipes. I did this one year for a Christmas present to my mom.
First, go through your recipes and decide which ones you actually want to keep. In my mother's case, I convinced her that she didn't need four different recipes for cranberry muffins.
Second, organize your recipes into categories. How you do this is up to you. Perhaps you want to do it based on main ingredients or on type of meal, but figure out what will work best for you.
Third, go get yourself a big photo album. Get one with self-adhesive pages and plastic sheets that go over the top of the pictures and start pasting!
The beauty of this system is that there isn't any extra gluing or typing to do. Simply take the recipe and put in on the page. It will stick. Depending on size, you can fit any number of recipes on one page. If you get an album that is in a ring-binder system, you can then take individual pages out when you use it, rather than have the whole book in the kitchen. As an added bonus, the plastic covers on the pages protect the recipe from spills while cooking. It is easy to add and remove recipes as your tastes change or as you find more yummy things to cook.
I sort of "cheated" in getting my favorites organized. Our church put together a cookbook of recipes submitted by members. I sent in all the ones I use on a regular basis and now those are combined with many new favorites that other church members sent in.
In the years since then, I've come across numerous others. I took manilla file folders and labeled them with sections like most cookbooks have, such as appetizers, soups and salads, main dishes, and desserts. I've started a new file of "favorites" in hopes that we'll do another cookbook sometime.
Another way to organize them is to toss some. Horrors! Yes, I agree. But the best way I've found to do it is to incorporate a new recipe into your meal planning every other day or so. If your family likes it keep it. If not, toss it! Eventually you'll get to the bottom of the pile.
I've been collecting recipes for 30 years and had the same problem. Now I've found a way to keep them nicely organized by using file folders having pockets on the inside. These folders in assorted colors usually go on sale when school is starting.
Start by writing a category on the cover of each. Then cut out a magazine picture for each category and paste it on the cover.
Next, begin organizing by putting the different-sized recipe papers into the pockets of each category folder. Later, you can take just one folder at a time and organize the recipes that were in that pocket. Tape the small ones onto loose-leaf notebook paper. Online recipes can be printed on this same size notebook paper or punch holes in the paper used for online printing.
Future recipes that you cut out can be temporarily put in the pocket of the correct folder before taping to notebook paper later. On each recipe, I like to write a date, where the recipe came from, and any comments after I try it. This file folder system saves time and the recipes will stay organized as you only need to take out one folder at a time to look for a recipe.
Bab in Nev.
I bought a couple of plastic filing boxes that look like milk crates, a box of hanging file dividers, and a box of file folders. I use the hanging dividers for the major categories, such as meats, soups, breads, etc. The file folders are used for the specifics, such as types of meats, veggies, or desserts. Then I just pitch the recipes into the folders. While the original set-up may be a bit labor-intensive, the beauty of this system is that it will handle any type of recipe without retyping. Plus you can haul the boxes to the TV room and file while you watch your favorite program. Every couple of years or so, I go through the files in an effort to group similar recipes.
I had the same problem and also used the cookbook software. I finally settled on a simple three-ring binder and a packet of page protectors. I slip all of my recipes into a page protector (one recipe for the front and another for the back) and then put them in a three ring binder. You can tape one or several index cards to a piece of paper and slip them in the page protectors. Slip magazine articles in them as well. The pages don't tear out of the binder, and your recipes are protected from any spills or splashes while you're in the kitchen.
To organize recipes, I place them in tag board envelopes with flaps on them. Each envelope is labeled with a category, such as cookies, candy, main dishes, vegetables, etc. Nine by twelve inch manilla envelopes would also work. However, they would not be as sturdy. Mine are stacked in a drawer, but they could be "filed" on a shelf or placed standing up in a dish drainer in a cabinet, etc. This has worked great for me for over 40 years. When I find a recipe is no longer being used, it is discarded. You'd be surprised how many recipes one envelope will hold.
Picking one workable format for your recipe system is up to you, whether it's all on computer, in a recipe box, or in a binder. I buy lots of lined and unlined 3 x 5 index cards. When I find a recipe in a magazine, I cut it out and scotch tape it to the card, using the back if needed. On my word processing program, I have an index card size template, so when I find a recipe online I can paste it onto the template and print it onto an index card. Or I rewrite it by hand on a lined card, which only takes a few minutes. I buy tab dividers to separate and label my own categories. I've never found a recipe box big enough to hold all my recipe cards, so my husband put wood dividers in a kitchen drawer. I now have quite a large "recipe box." The recipes stay clean and I have easy access to them.
I had a similar problem with recipes being everywhere until my husband brought home a blank journal book from work. I ended using it as a recipe book by taping the recipe into the book whether it be from a magazine, recipe cards, etc. If the recipe is too big, shrink it down by photo copying it. If you want to add some creativity, you can trim the edges of the recipe with the decorative scissors and use tabs as dividers. No more loose recipes.
I had the same problem with unorganized recipes and craft ideas. My solution was a large notebook and some double sided sticky tape. When I cut out a recipe, I then tape it to a notebook page. I also leave a few pages at the front of the book blank so I can write the name of the recipe and what page it is on. You also have to number the pages. I have two notebooks. One for recipes and one for crafts.
An inexpensive accordion file works for me. You can either use the A to Z markings that are often times on the tabs of each section or you can change it to the different recipe headings (soups, salads, desserts, etc). You can buy these to fit a regular size sheet of paper, so dropping clippings from magazines shouldn't be a problem. I usually clean it out and get rid of the recipes I've never actually tried about once a year.
After trying various methods, here is what works for me. Get rid of cookbooks you never use. Then, to organize the loose stuff, use a narrow ladies shoe box and small envelopes that fit inside. Label the envelopes by category at the top edge.
Group your clipped recipes, your index cards, etc. into the proper envelope. This way, you can flip through the envelopes to find your various meal components.
If you have a favorite recipe for a dish, but can't always remember which cookbook it's in, jot down the title, page number, and dish on a card and put that in the envelope. Don't fuss with alphabetizing the cards, just put the envelopes in alphabetical order.
Nancy, a SAHM
If you have a scanner, you can scan the magazine clips and recipe cards and set up folders in your computer. You can also save the online recipes to this folder. You can name and organize these folders anyway you would like.
Every winter, when the nights are long and there's little to do, I take out my recipe box and look through them all. I throw out every recipe that I haven't made in two years unless it's a family recipe or one that I love.
I have a heading in my recipe box called "try" in which new recipes that look tasty are put and then I take one out every weekend and make it. If it's awful, the recipe goes in the trash, or if I think I can adjust it to taste good, I keep it in another file called "maybe" with a notation of what to change next time. Anything that looks labor intensive, has hard-to-find ingredients or has tons of ingredients is usually avoided unless it looks so good that I can't pass it up.
I recopy my cards as they get dirty or ragged. I'm trying to get all my recipes converted to my computer for easy copying. I spend a half hour every weekend copying my recipes into Microsoft Word, so that I can have them all on disc for my kids when they're older and leave the "nest." It works for me and it isn't overwhelming.
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