Recipe Organization

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-recipe-box-ingredients-spaghetti-fresh-sauce-image30396190Ever since I was a young girl, I have had a thing for collecting recipes. I would find ones that I sound yummy and would painstakingly copy them onto recipe cards. I remember spending many happy hours poring over cookbooks in my spare time. Let's say not much has changed! Today, with all the many resources out on the internet, I find myself doing the same thing. But instead of copying them by hand, I would print them out on the printer. Needless to say, I have a huge pile of dishes that I would like to try someday!

However, there are a couple of problems I encounter:

1. I usually cannot find what I am sure I printed out. So I print another one. (Which equals more paper.)

2. I have way more recipes to try than time. (Which equals paper that is not serving a practical function.)

Before I go on, I want to say that there are a billion options of organizing your recipes. What I'm sharing today are some of the options we can choose from. Depending on what you prefer, you may end up with a different organizational plan than I will!

So here are a few questions to ask yourself:

1. Do I need all of these?

For me, I love to collect recipes. The first thing then, for me, will be to ruthlessly purge what I have. I have not done this yet, but this is definitely my first step. If I really don't think I'll make it, or it's no longer appealing to me, or I have a similar recipe, or if it is not realistic to hunt down some exotic ingredient, or it takes too much time than what I can do right now, then I should probably get rid of it. If I think I will need it someday, but don't think I'll need it now, then I will file it someway in storage.

Which brings us to the next task: what to do with what I do want to keep.

2. Do I prefer my collection in a particular format?

Paper or paperless, that is the question.

If you prefer paper, what size? Cards? Sheets? Other? Which works best? I prefer mine in 8.5x11" sheets, placed in a binder, so I tape my cards or loose papers onto a sheet of paper or re-type them if I need to. However, I am seriously considering how to digitize my collection and am looking into options.

3. How do I search my collection?

Next, I try to categorize them in the way that I would use them. I usually think by meal, so I put all the breakfast dishes together and all the lunch ideas in their own folders. For dinner, I subdivide them by main dish and cooking method (crockpot, stovetop, oven), bread, and sides (includes veggies, starch). We like dessert so I subdivide these into cookies, cakes, and other. Just think of how you "search" for a recipe (e.g. cooking type, ingredient, or time required, etc.), then organize them in those categories.

Whichever method you use, these become my dividers. This can be in the form of divider tabs in my binder or folders on my computer.

4. How will I handle new recipes that I find without having to print them out?

I don't want to add more while I am cleaning out. That makes no sense. And yet I'm going to be realistic. I know I'm going to find recipes that "I've just gotta try!" I'm going to need something that will help me to corral and find those recipes in the future (and those that I already have!).  I am a cheapskate, so I want do this without having to spend money on a program. So what can I do? Here were a few suggestions:

  • Pinterest. Great for visual people. Create boards to serve as your dividers.
  • Flipboard is another visual option. Create "magazines" according to your dividers. This option allows you to "flip" through your saved recipes in digital format.
  • Gmail users (or probably any email server) can copy and paste recipes into emails, then send them to yourself. Set up category files. This is an easy option, plus is searchable.
  • Delicious is another searchable option. Use tags to help. Here's a post to help you do that  from I'm an Organizing Junkie.
  • Evernote allows you to create notebooks of your recipes. No Ordinary Homestead has a detailed post on how one mom has used the standard Evernote in her recipe organization.
  • Kitchen Daily, Kitchen Monki, One tsp., Say Mmm, and We Gotta Eat were other free sites that were recommended. I have done no research on these, so look into these at your own risk. I am not endorsing or recommending any of these at this point.
  • Plan to Eat allows you to store all your recipes in one place online, drag and drop menu planning, create shopping lists, and a host of other features. The service is $4.95 per month or $39 per year.

If you have a Mac:

  • Paprika: $19.99 , with $4.99 for the iPad.
  • MacGourmet: $29 for desktop, $4.99 for iPad.

So, depending on whether you are a traditional collector or someone who wants to transfer your collection into digital format, whether you are visual, desire the ability to search, or are willing to spend money, hopefully you can find something to help you. Happy curating!