6 Foolproof Ways to Organize Your Recipe Collection
Your aunt's famous baklava, your kids' favorite chocolate birthday cake, the first meal you cooked with your now-spouse—your family's most cherished recipes hold important meaning. Figuring out how to organize these recipes, whether in a binder of photocopied favorites or using a recipe organizer app, will help you find them quickly and easily. Even if you maintain a box of handwritten recipes, there are simple ways to digitize them so you can easily share them with family and friends. Follow these guidelines to curate and organize your recipes so you can spend more time cooking and less time searching.
Problem: Finding a Recipe
Solution No. 1: Download a recipe organizer app. If you find most of your recipes online, download an app like Recipe Keeper to make saving and locating them again much easier. The app lets you import recipes from any website, categorize your recipes, and even scan recipes from cookbooks or magazines. If you want a recipe organizer app geared towards meal planning, try Prepear, which lets you schedule out your dinner ideas. An added bonus: with all of your favorite recipes neatly organized on your phone, sharing that chicken curry recipe only takes a couple clicks.
Solution No. 2: Mark the page. The next time you're browsing through cookbooks and see a recipe that makes your mouth water, slip on a Book Dart ($10 for 100, bookdarts.com). Made of paper-thin metal, it does the job attractively and won't fall off, wrinkle the page, or leave a mark. Book Darts come in bronze, silver, and brass, so you can color-code to distinguish recipes you have tried from those you haven't, or entrées from appetizers.
Problem: Keeping Track of Clipped Recipes
Solution: Create a filing system. If you tend to save a lot of recipes from magazines as well as handwritten recipe cards, sort them into a three-ring binder. Use tab dividers and plastic page protectors for both full sheets (for pages from a magazine) and divided sheets (for three-by-five-inch recipe cards). The page protectors will keep paper recipes protected from greasy fingers—especially that prized recipe handwritten by your great-grandmother. To make the process even easier, order a recipe binder with customized tab dividers (from $35, theillustratedlife.etsy.com).
Problem: Locating a Cookbook
Solution: Make a kitchen book nook. Nothing personalizes a kitchen like a row of cookbooks arranged on a shelf or in a hutch. Keep a chair or a stool nearby so you have a place to sit and peruse. Avoid placing books on open shelves where they're exposed to humidity and grease, namely "over or next to the stove or over the refrigerator," advises Bonnie Slotnick of Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks in New York City. She also urges using bookends to keep books from slumping and bindings from breaking.
If your kitchen is tight on space and short on free shelves, consider adding a steel shelf with hooks that dangle below so it can do double duty as a pot rack.
Problem: Too Much Kitchen Clutter
Solution No. 1: Keep recipes; toss books. No matter how much you love a book, you probably use only a handful of its recipes, so why not scan the ones you love, and then donate the book? You can even add the scanned recipes to a recipe organizer app or just keep them organized in folders on your computer if you're not into downloading another app.
Solution No. 2: Ditch the paper. If you're currently in the habit of tearing recipes out of magazines, save them online instead. Most magazines (and many cookbooks, too!) have their recipes posted online if you just do a quick Google search for them. Then, save them online in a way that works for you—a recipe organizer app, a Pinterest board, a bookmarks tab—so you can find them on your computer or phone whenever you need them.
At Real Simple, we put all of our recipes from the print magazine online. Just search the site using the search bar at the top right corner of the page.