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organizing recipes

 
master steward & author
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Long ago, I wrote most of the family recipes in a book.  All beautifully organized.  Lots of room to add new ones as time goes on.... except I left too much room in some sections and not enough room in others, and I left out canning and persurving.  Basically our flavours and needs changed over time.

Only... water-soluble ink!

Not good.

I am going to get a new system for the recipes and was thinking of all the different options.

What is your favourite?

Some things I considered this morning
  • a book with index
  • bujo style where the index to find the different categories, but the recipes themselves aren't separated into sections.
  • rolodex
  • cards in a box
  • some sort of binder.


  • I'm feeling I like a smaller size book for ease of transport.  So a big 3-ring binder isn't appealing to me.  

    analogue is my style, not digital or printed.  I want to write them out by hand.  

    Ideas?  Your style?  How do you organize your recipes?
     
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    Mine are all on index cards in an index file box, along with "charts" that tell how many teaspoons in a cup etc. The reference ones are in the front section. Next is my favorite cookie recipe on a blue index card, followed by favorite recipes in no particular order. This way, I know which section to grab because the blue card separates the two sections. Keeping them in the file box keeps dust off of them and keeps them all together. I usually put the most recently used recipe all the way to the back for quick reference if I need to look at it.

    If you do the index card method, there is no problem with having too little space or too much space because they can be arranged however you want. Too many recipes? Get another box and have main dishes in one and desserts in the other, etc. You can even color code them to make finding what you want faster.

    I am very careful with my favorite recipes and would be devastated if I ever lost any, so I have multiple copies in different places.
     
    gardener
    Posts: 5086
    Location: Pacific Wet Coast
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    I have 3 systems now: a card system which is fine except when I drop the whole dang thing...
    :a binder system which allows me to add stuff where and when I want to - I have several small binders, rather than one huge one as I would find a huge one annoying in my small kitchen.
    :a system on my computer. This stretches my memory as my computer is not in the kitchen, "was that 1/2 tsp of cinnamon and 1/4 tsp of nutmeg or the other way around..."

    More seriously, if you really like writing recipes out by hand, I would either get the larger size index cards (one reason I gave up is the small ones couldn't cope with more complicated recipes without the print being annoyingly small) or a series of small binders. It would be easy to have a binder for each of various categories, just as most file card systems divvy things up.

    However, as part of planning your system, I would think about how you're going to work with the result. Is there a spot where you could mount a clipboard to mount the recipe you're about to use? If I'm using one of my cards, I magnet it to the metal stove hood, for example. I don't like doing that with regular paper as it hangs down enough to be awkward. That makes me think I should consider screwing some sort of a clip to the cupboard above the counter - I'd have to find something pretty though, as it would be there full time.
     
    gardener
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    I've been trying to figure this one out, too. At one time I found a 1inch, 2-ring recipe card binder, and it was great - not much bigger than the recipe cards,  so very portable, opened up for adding/removing/rearranging cards. Unfortunately, it was not much bigger than the cards, and only held enough cards for about one category - like 'entrees'. It would have taken a case of them to save all the recipes, not to mention all that writing, so I just have the one. My mom did a 3ring binder with page sleeves, and printed off some of her favorite family recipes, for my sister and I, and each of our kids, but I think she's the only one that uses it, because... Well. Her recipe writing style is kinda... strange, and hard to follow. In fact, one of my daughters went down to visit one time and asked her to clarify some things. When she went back home, she told me at least now she understood why the cookbook was hard to follow, and why I learned more from my grandmas, than from my mom, lol.

     
    pollinator
    Posts: 2012
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    Mine are in a A5 ringboud book with hard covers. alphabetically with the occasional "see under Fruitcake" when the name doesn't fall where you would think it would. Yes I have extra gaps in some places that will probably never get used, but there's plenty of space for everything! and yes 100% waterproof ink only. some of mine are hard to read now.
     
    r ranson
    master steward & author
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    I have a basket/box kind of thing that fits on my shelf for loose recipes.  Things I want to try or recipes I want to change and try again.

    I also want a more permanent place for recipes that are static (in so far a recipe can ever be static) like family recipes and ones that I really like just the way they are.

    But having that box for loose recipes and printed pages really helps keep things neat.  
     
    pollinator
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    I have a program to keep my recipes digital but I also print them out and put each recipe in a sheet protector and then in 3 ring binders. When I see recipes that I like I print them out or tear them out of magazines and put those in sheet protectors as well. I have found the sheet protectors invaluable for keeping my recipes clean and dry, not very permie of me, but such is life. I have lost or destroyed too many recipes from spills. I haven't seen sheet protectors for anything but 8x11 paper. I have a lot of recipes, 9 binders full and am constantly being asked for them, so being able to print off copies for friends and family has been very useful, although I often have to add more details for others. They are very much written for people who already know how to cook.
     
    gardener
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    I have used most of these methods, card file, binder and book, (as well as a great pile of 'looks interesting - try it sometime' which haven't been filed yet!) and like many of life's questions the answer is it depends....I still use my original card file that I started to go to university with 30 plus years ago.  It holds some of my family recipes that I still use and refer to.  I keep a lot of recipes to try in A4 binders organised by categories.  Some are in plastic envelopes, but lots stuffed in one because I don't have enough plastic pockets. More recently I have been making a spiral bound AZ recipe book, but as Skandi says some letters are full (so cakes are filed under ingredients rather than 'cake', which makes them difficult to find)  I do like the book however, and try to limit it to the most useful recipes.  I imagine that if I die suddenly, my DH will be able to look up my recipe for things if he needs to; although he'll probably survive on pie and beans, he does like cake too.
     
    r ranson
    master steward & author
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    I asked Amazon for some ideas and WOWZERS!  Cards and boxes are expensive.  I was expecting to spend $12 for a box, 100 cards, and 6 dividers.  Nope.  That's nearly $50!  I ain't gonna spend that.  

    A quick look in the thrift shop got me 300-500 cards for 99cents.  They had lots of boxes that were close, but not the aesthetic I want - this needs to give me much joy.  I have an old box that I got at a yardsale but it's chock-a-block with someone else's recipes. Ephemera.  A snapshot from the past.  I feel bad just tossing them so I can put my recipes in there.

    Maybe what I should have done was get a cheap plastic box and put these cards in there.  

    at least I have cards now I can start copying out my recipes into the new format.  
     
    master steward
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    When I got married, my mom gave me a big 3-ring binder full of her recipes. She printed them all up and put each recipe into one of those little three-ring binder sleeve-things:

    apparently they're called plastic sheet protectors


    Since my husband's work was throwing out a bunch of them, I happen to have insane amounts of them lying around, so I've continued the tradition of printing up my recipes and sliding them into the little sleeve protectors, and putting them in the binder. (Or, at least, I like to think I do. We're going to ignore the stack of random recipes I copied off the internet and printed, got all wet and stained, and just piled them all up, entirely unorganized....)
     
    Posts: 11
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    I have been pondering this recently, and have really been struggling to find the best way for me. As a teenager, I had one of those "ready to fill" recipe books but I soon found that I don't have an equal amount of starters and mains etc.
    Just last week I managed to find an A5 recipe folder in the local charity shop which I am going to try using now, it has dividers for the different types of meal but I can shuffle the pages around to have the right number in each section, and presumably add more in the future when I fill them all up. It also has some plastic wallets so I can add recipes from magazines or anything that isn't hole-punched, which I think will be really useful.
    *finger crossed * it works how I want it to.
     
    Posts: 8
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    Binder
    I second/third/add my vote for this.  Add, remove, or rearrange pages as needed.  I’m visual, so my binder would be ABC order by name, with image “key” in top or bottom corner of each recipe to reference category (e.g. “chicken leg” for meat; “leaf” for veg, etc.).  Or even a color-stripe along the edge of the page so I could flip through looking for “green” veg dishes, “red” meat or “blue” dessert recipes.


    Card (or page) sleeves/protectors: worth it.
    Bonus: allows you to have an image cutout or multiple cards grouped together for ease of access.
    Or, laminate the cards for long-term use.


    YES to larger index cards
    Or, if going Binder route: printer-size pages.  Enough room to paste a photo or cutout** from box/recipe source or hole-punch an online print out.

    ** It’s fun seeing what my grandma clipped out of boxes and magazines and basically decaupauged on recipe cards alongside her handwriting.  She also had a few of these neat “double size” cards that fold in half to the size of a 3x5” index card (and therefore fit in that size card sleeve/protector).  This gives you the whole front and back of a larger card, but you don’t have to get a larger organizer (although they’re technically “twice as thick” — so pros/cons to that).  The back of these cards says “1980 Coinmar Inc”. Company may be defunct. They are heavier card stock paper measuring 6x5”.


    Currently, I use (and LOVE) Paprika: https://www.paprikaapp.com/
    My first favorite software was called “Measuring Cup”. May be worth checking out if still around / can find a download. After MC, free/open source alternatives I tried in the past (all probably defunct by now):
  • Krecipes (found some info here: http://krecipes.sourceforge.net/)
  • Gourmet Recipe Manager (info here https://thinkle.github.io/gourmet/)


  • Combine Written & Electronic
    1. Write it out on card
    2. Scan it into computer (or take a good steady photo of it)
    Then, you could presumably have an organized “thumb drive” of categorized recipes in folders — the images of your hand-written notes — to pass onto the next generation!
     
    Posts: 56
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    I use a recipe box with some dividers in it. It was how mom did it, so I followed suit lol

    I've got some fancy personalized index cards in it that were given as a gift. I don't often write down a new recipe if I've printed it off. I just fold it in quarters then stick it in the box.

    I also go through it every so often to toss recipes that sounded good at the time and collected, but never tried. I don't need clutter in my recipe box
     
    Posts: 148
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    I read down through the responses and didn't see my solution so, here it is.

    The recipes that I want to keep I find on the Internet, magazines, etc. and either copy and paste into a word processing document - OR - Scan and turn into a work processing document.

    I turn each of those into a PDF (Portable Document Format) and save BOTH forms of the documents into a RECIPES FOLDER.
    From there you can add other folders for things like Roasts, Pastas, Cakes, Cookies, etc. You get the idea.

    Myself, I don't keep a lot of recipes because as a bachelor I only keep those that I KNOW that I can make - OR - maybe want to try and make in the future.

    This system is GREAT, even if I do have to say so myself. You need a certain recipe? Fine - just go find it in your "RECIPES" Folder, then print it out and take it to the kitchen with you. Mine always get marked up as to the contents of the items that are prepared, or as the contents are added to the recipe, and KAZZAM, it works!!!
     
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    We keep ours in a 3 ring binder.  My wife and I have discussed that in the event of a house fire, it will be one of the few items that we grab on the way out.
     
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    I tired each and every one of the above solutions and was only satisfied for a very short time.  I eventually had to face the fact that I simply love cooking and collecting recipes.  I found The Living Cookbook software (https://www.livingcookbook.com/) and began to organize by the harvest for easy access.  I made folders for each and every fruit and vegetable . . .and everything else!  For meats, the folder says the type of meat and inside each folder are folders displaying the cut of the meat (shoulder, rump, etc.).  This system worked miracles for me.  Hope this helps!

             
     
    Posts: 5
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    I use a bit of everything, but the bulk of my recipes are in two fat 3-ring binders on 8.5x11 pages that are hole punched.  yes they get stained!  most are printed from the web.  They are organized by divider and type, as well as sub categories like boneless/with bones or whatnot. I also clip/save recipes often digitally into Plan to Eat, which is a FAB app that I only use a fraction of the functionality of (planning and grocery list creation, "cook from pantry", sharing with friends, etc).  I can now clip recipes from anywhere online and it grabs and formats them for me, and I print out the ones I'm most interested in to try.   I pull my recipes for the week from the binders and they go on a clipboard, which gets propped up in the corner and hopefully not as splashed as it might be on my table. handwritten notes go on the printed pages. I also have a recipe box, a small one, that has some i saved of my moms and my grandmothers recipe cards, and the favorites from there get tucked in the front of the binders.  Then there are the cookbooks themselves, with sticky tabs marking the ones i want to try or just make again.  I live in a small camper and have one foot of shelf space for binders/cookbooks/health books so I currently have Nourishing Traditions, Moosewood, a couple ferment books, and 2 by Ottolenghi because I can't help myself and they're pretty and everything is so darn tasty. I'm trying to bring my herb garden up to snuff so I can make more of his recipes .  Sorry that's a bit off topic.  I do love recipes!
     
    Chris McCullough
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    OMG!  I just realized how to upload a picture here.  Warp speed.
    Living-Cookbook-Index.jpg
    [Thumbnail for Living-Cookbook-Index.jpg]
    Living-Cookbook-breads.jpg
    [Thumbnail for Living-Cookbook-breads.jpg]
    Living-Cookbook-soups.jpg
    [Thumbnail for Living-Cookbook-soups.jpg]
     
    Posts: 90
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    Google recipes for me. All saved and with an icon of their own on my phone.
     
    pollinator
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    r ranson wrote:I asked Amazon for some ideas and WOWZERS!  Cards and boxes are expensive.  I was expecting to spend $12 for a box, 100 cards, and 6 dividers.  Nope.  That's nearly $50!  I ain't gonna spend that.  

    A quick look in the thrift shop got me 300-500 cards for 99cents.  They had lots of boxes that were close, but not the aesthetic I want - this needs to give me much joy.  I have an old box that I got at a yardsale but it's chock-a-block with someone else's recipes. Ephemera.  A snapshot from the past.  I feel bad just tossing them so I can put my recipes in there.

    Maybe what I should have done was get a cheap plastic box and put these cards in there.  

    at least I have cards now I can start copying out my recipes into the new format.  



    Maybe go through the yardsale recipes, try the ones that look interesting, and keep the ones that you love, and toss the rest?  I understand that you want to honor that person's work, but you are not a museum, and using some subset of their work may be the best honoring of it.  (I recommend to take them out of the box and rubberband them together until you get through them, so that your recipes can go in the box now.)

    Personally I pay Evernote $40/year for unlimited notes and it's on every device I own.  There are lots of tutorials on how to optimize things with tags and nested notebooks and... I just use notebooks and its pretty good search function.  For recipes I save everything remotely interesting to "Recipes to Try" notebook and if it's good I move it to "Recipes" notebook.  I can search from there.  If I want to make it TODAY I might move it to my "#2do" notebook* so it's easy to find.  I have an iPad holder mounted to the wall and have been known to drag my laptop in and sit it in a book holder on the counter in time of need.

    I also have a lot of physical cookbooks that I tend to get inspired by for a while and cook out of, and then let sit for too long.  I do need to get some of their key recipes into Evernote at some point, even if it's just the recipe name and the book it's in.  Ditto for Kindle cookbooks.

    *This is supposed to be nearly empty... it is not.  Sigh.
     
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    clothespin with a magnet glued to the back will hold recipe to the stove hood
     
    pioneer
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    I simply save my recipes to Google Drive. I can share them, print them and edit them. I can access them on my phone or computer. I also keep a copy on my phone in the odd case I have no access to the internet. I just have a few recipes the wife and I like, maybe 20 recipes, but that's just mine. The wife has her own system and many more recipes than I do.
    Don't tell her I said so,  but I'm the better cook!
     
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    I like to keep my recipes in a flex notebook. Its like a binder but not as bulky, you can add pages as needed in whatever order and it comes with tabs to divide sections with little pockets in them. Perfect for putting in small cards or newspaper clippings of recipes. I think Mead makes them they are about 9$ each at our local walmart and available in many colors.
     
    pollinator
    Posts: 673
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    What I eat day to day is dependent on the season and what can be locally grown, so I can't say that I collect recipes that I organize meticulously. Most of the time, I do not operate from recipes. [Being 72 years old, I have the experience in cooking for 4 for many years, which is helpful]
    I prefer to can items singly rather than making a whole recipe. This way, I can follow my whim and make it different each time. I may add mushrooms … or not in a soup. If I have ramp scallions or chives but no onions, I will substitute. I like to add wine or walnuts to ragouts sometimes. Very often, I don't really "follow" a recipe. The only recipes I follow are the ones that must be very specific or flop, like a soufflé for example, or a cake. Those need to be more specific.
    Or say that I have a certain ingredient and it must be used today or go to the chickens. I go online and type the name of the ingredient formatted like "Recipe with XXX" and see what comes up. If I have most of the ingredients for one, that is what I'll make, and I still feel free to 'modify' it if I don't have all the ingredients.
    It isn't at all a "system", but it has a few advantages:
    - First, it is less fussing. I believe that one should "eat to live, not live to eat". In other words, de-emphasize food in my life. I could stand to lose a few pounds too, so this policy serves me.
    -Second: It makes me use what I have "on hand" in the pantry rather than having to drive to the store.
    -Third I try as much as possible to eat "local", making a few exceptions once in a while for bananas or lychees [which obviously do not grow in Wisconsin] but which I really like.
    -4th and when I say "local", I mean if it is in my garden and is perishable [asparagus, rhubarb, lettuce, tomatoes, radishes], those are the first ones I put on the table.
    It isn't at all a "system", as you can see, [in fact, it is an anti-system]
    I am more organized with financial things in my life, but with food.. Meh...
     
    Chris McCullough
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    For an emergency grab-and-go book, get this: https://www.oakhillhomestead.com/search?q=go+book
    With it, though, you'll want to include your contacts, recipes, medical info, a few good books, etc.
     
    Jay Angler
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    A few tangential thoughts: when there is turmoil in you life, "comfort food" is just that. We like to believe that the power will always be on and the internet always up, but that is simply not the case. I lived through the late 90's Ontario Ice Storm where my aunt lost power for a week, and a friend on a rural property longer than that (they had a team of locals going around in a truck with a generator on it pumping people's well water up - you better know how much you and your animals need and have space to store it because you won't have more for 2 days!
    So I'm just gently suggesting that if there are a few recipes you'd really like in a pinch or don't want to loose, pen and paper back-ups have their place.
     
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    I used to keep my recipes on my computer but eventually, I had to replace my computer. Not all of my recipes were able to transfer to the new one. Lesson learned. Now I have all of my recipes on a little thumb drive. It's easy to organize, the search is VERY helpful, and it's portable. On holidays I can take my recipes to my sister's place. I just pop my thumb drive onto her laptop and there it is. It's also easy to send a recipe to her printer.
     
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    I keep mine saved as PDFs on my computer, organize iced in folders by appetizer, drinks, beef main dishes, etc. just like Jesse suggests. The only addition is I keep mine on iCloud (or Dropbox).  At the grocery store, I can search and pull up any recipe for ingredients that I want.

    While I love my printed recipes, and still use them when I can, this works amazing.
     
    pollinator
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    I only write down recipes that I go back to over and over again and require chemistry to work properly - so baked goods for the most part.

    I also have been struggling with a system that allows growth, easy to get out and refer to while cooking, relatively protected from dough spatter and water splashes.

    At the moment I use cheapo index cards in an index card clear folder binder. That sounds weird in English... but I don't know what else to call it.

    Mostly though I only have recipes for: biscuits (southern american style), hotcakes, hummus tahini, and marmalade.

    For most everything else I use the Joy of Cooking! Best cookbook ever, even if the recipes aren't the best, the explanation of ingredients, methodology and technique goes far beyond any other cookbook I've ever seen.
     
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    Location: Bulverde, TX
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    hugelkultur rocket stoves homestead
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    I'm new to posting, so please bear with me.

    I love, love, love to cook and have amassed a huge collection of recipes. I still depend on cookbooks, of which I have collected from everywhere (much to my husband's chagrin.) But my go-to on a day to day basis is the app mentioned earlier, Paprika. It is wonderful. I have entered and downloaded thousands of my favorite recipes. I can create menu plans and grocery lists in a snap. I download a backup every month, just in case the internet goes wonkers. I cannot say enough about the app. I use it in my kitchen on a tablet when cooking, on my computer when I am meal planning, and on my phone when I'm at the grocery store and it is all synced. Perhaps it is because I'm in IT that I go to an app, but it is amazing. Oh, and when I take a dish to someone's house and they want the recipe, I send it right then and there from my phone. Did I mention I love Paprika?
     
    The knights of nee want a shrubbery. And a tiny ad:
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